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Sweet organ tones from Beckenried

Gollorgel in der Pfarrkirche St. Heinrich / Bild: Andreas Schmidt

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Even after all this time, the organ sounds as sweet today as it did when it was first built. It ranks amongst the oldest preserved organs in Switzerland.

The beginning of many stories

The large organ in the parish church of St. Heinrich zu Beckenried was inaugurated on 11 May 1913 and still sounds as fresh now as it did back then. It has always featured in church services, weddings and funerals; since its anniversary in 2013, it is regularly heard at organ concerts featuring guest organists from Switzerland and abroad. The instrument was inaugurated by the music director J. Schefold from Rorschach, who probably also oversaw its building.

A rarity among organs

The Beckenried organ was made by Goll & Cie in Lucerne: an Opus 404 with 29 sounding voices, thus making it one of the larger organs in Canton Nidwalden. Together with the organ in the Maria Rickenbach Chapel of Grace, it's one of the very few last remaining and entirely intact instruments of the Romantic organ era. Romantic organs are characterised by many striking register voices and powerful bass voices. A total of 1,972 pipes can be heard in the mighty organ on the second gallery.

Appreciated by organists

On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, well-known performers such as the former Mainz Cathedral organist Albert Schönberger and the Heilbronn Cathedral choirmaster Michael Saum gave concerts on the historically valuable Goll organ, which, as a protected historic monument, is becoming increasingly well known. Albert Schönberger was enthusiastic about the sound of the Beckenried organ, declaring that he had seldom performed on such a beautiful romantic organ. It's thanks to St. Heinrich's former organist Pius Reichlin that the organ still delights congregations and audiences. In 1976 he actively advocated preserving the instrument, convincing the relevant committees not to replace it with a new organ.

Restoration

In 1980 and again in 2006 organ experts confirmed that the organ was "absolutely worth preserving" and that it was "a rewarding task – indeed, it was an obligation – to play and preserve the instrument for the purpose of praising God".

In 2008 Sursee-based organ builders Graf submitted the instrument to a comprehensive restoration while essentially maintaining its original condition. In the course of equipping the church with a new LED lighting system in 2016, the organ case was also equipped with LED illumination under the pipe fields; the consultants were organ builders Graf. Thanks to the tasteful illumination, the historical organ assumes centre stage at festive occasions and concerts.

 

Location and contact

Pfarrkirche St. Heinrich
Kirchweg 1
6375 Beckenried
+41 (0)41 620 12 32
pfarramtbeckenried.ch
www.pfarrei-beckenried.ch