Dordrecht (NL) Grote Kerk Bach-organ

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Impressive style copy

On September 26, 2007, the Verschueren Orgelbouw company (Heythuysen) completed a unique project. They created the Bach organ in the Grote Kerk Dordrecht. In general, this instrument is an important enrichment of the Dutch organ collection and in particular of the Grote Kerk Dordrecht. After all, never before a style copy of the work of the famous organ maker Gottfried Silbermann has been built in the Netherlands. Moreover, from a stylistic point of view, the instrument is an important addition to the opus magnum of the organ makers Kam in the imposing ‘Dordtse Dom’ (Dordrecht cathedral).

The installation of the Bach organ was the initiative of the Bach Organ Foundation Grote Kerk Dordrecht. The aim of the board was to have a type of baroque organ not yet present in the Netherlands on which the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in particular could be optimally performed. Based on these considerations, the name ‘Bach organ’ was chosen, even if this is a term open to several interpretations and also somewhat ‘loaded’.

In order to give the foundation board the opportunity to orientate itself on East German baroque organs, in relation to J.S. Bach and his oeuvre, Peter van Dijk organized an organ tour from 17 to 19 October 2002. The organs of the Dom in Brandenburg (1725, Joachim Wagner), the Dom in Freiberg (1714, Gottfried Silbermann), the Hofkirche in Dresden (1755, Gottfried Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt), the village church of Störmthal (1723, Zacharias Hildebrandt; performed by Bach himself), the St. Wenzelskirche in Naunburg (1746, Zacharias Hildebrandt; approved by, among others, JS Bach) and the village church in Erfurt-Bussleben (1702, Georg Christoph Stertzing) were visited.

A visit was also made to the organ maker and Silbermann specialist Kristian Wegscheider in Dresden, with whom further agreements were made about the supply of data.

On the basis of this trip, the decision was made to choose the Silbermann organ in Freiberg as an example of sound and, as far as the technical structure and some registers not present in the Freiberger Domorgel are concerned, to match the Silbermann organs of the St. Petrikirche in particular Freiberg (1735) and Dresden (Hofkirche). The latter organ also offered points of departure for converting the pipe dimensions of the Freiberger Dom organ from choral pitch to the desired room pitch. The Silbermann organ at Reinhardtsgrimma (1739) was also a model for the keyboards.

The plan was also discussed with the two honorary advisors, Gustav Leonhardt and Ton Koopman. Their additional comments were gratefully acknowledged.

In consultation with the churchwardens of the Grote Kerk in Dordrecht, the National Service Monuments Care and the Monuments Department of the Municipality of Dordrecht, the Mariachoir was chosen as the site for the organ to be built, where the instrument should be installed in the choir enclosure on the ground floor. After various organ types were initially reviewed, a style copy of the work of a Saxon organ maker was chosen, either Gottfried Silbermann, especially his organ in the Dom in Freiberg (1714), or Zacharias Hildebrandt. The instrument has been standing since 2007 in the Mariakoor of the Grote Kerk and, together with the Kam organ, offers a unique opportunity to perform a large part of the organ repertoire within one room on appropriate organs.


Manual (C-f”‘)

Bordun 16′
Principal 8′
Rohr-Flöthe 8′
Viol di Gamba 8′
Octava 4′
Spitz-Flöthe 4′
Quinta 3′
Octava 2′
Tertia 1 3/5′
Cornett 5 fach
Mixtur 4 fach
Cimbel 3 fach
Fachott 16′
Trompete 8′
Manual coupler

Oberwerk (C-f”‘)

Principal 8′
Gedackt 8′
Quintadehn 8′
Octava 4′
Rohr-Flöthe 4′
Nassat 3′
Octava 2′
Gemshorn 2′
Tertia 1 3/5′
Quinta 1 1/2′
Suffloeth 1′
Mixtur 4 fach
Krumbhorn 8′

Pedal (C-f’)

Principal-Baß 16′
Octav-Baß 8′
Octava 4′
Pedal Mixtur 6 fach
Posaunen-Baß 16′
Trompeten-Baß 8′
Clarin-Baß 4′
Baß ventil (coupler Man.-Ped.)


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