5 July until 3 November 2019
Manufacturing Sound
2000 Years of Organ Building and Organ Playing

With over 300 organs, Hamburg is home to a unique and widely varied organ landscape. In addition to those in the city’s churches, there are numerous other instruments located in schools, in the Elbphilharmonie, in the studio of the NDR public broadcasting station, in the State Opera House, at the University and even in the prisons. To mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Arp Schnitger (1648–1719), one of the world’s most famous organ builders, the city of Hamburg has declared 2019 the Year of the Organ, with the motto ‘Hamburg Pulls Out All the Stops’. Concerts and events throughout the city, along with a major exhibition at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG), are arousing public curiosity about this impressive instrument and its history. The exhibition Manufacturing Sound. 2000 Years of Organ Building and Organ Playing invites visitors to learn more about the design, construction and technical finesse of the marvellous invention that is the organ. The show is centred around organ construction and organ music, which UNESCO added to its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017. Over 30 exhibits, including 14 historic instruments and reconstructions, allow visitors to immerse themselves interactively into the cosmos of the organ. How does an organ actually work? Where does the ‘organ wind’ come from? What are stops? What do the different organ pipes sound like? The exhibition answers these and many other questions by means of models, interactive displays, media presentations and films that make the mysterious technology of the instrument visible. Using a model constructed especially for the exhibition, guests can try out the interplay of bellows, windchest and pipes, and produce sounds for themselves. An organ simulator allows them to operate organ keys and pedals and experiment with ‘registration’ techniques. Using photographs of spectacular organ constructions as inspiration, visitors can even design their own unique organs with the help of virtual reality glasses.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the MKG and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, in cooperation with Orgelstadt Hamburg e. V. and the Musikfest Bremen. The project receives additional support through the close cooperation with Rudolf von Beckerath Orgelbau, Hamburg; Johannes Klais Orgelbau GmbH & Co. KG, Bonn; the MultiMediaKontor Hamburg GmbH and the Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Norddeutschland. With the kind support of the Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media and the Ministry of Culture and Media Hamburg.

Photo: Emerich von Koczma, console for the Arp Schnitger organ in Hamburg St. Jacobi (Detail), 1950, on loan from the Church of St. Jacobi, Hamburg, © Hauptkirche St. Jacobi, Hamburg, photo: MKG