5 July to 3 November 2019
Manufactory of Sound
2000 Years of Organ Building and Organ Playing

With over 300 organs, Hamburg has a unique and diverse organ landscape. Apart from those in the city’s churches, there are many more instruments in schools, at the Elbphilharmonie, in the studio of the NDR public broadcasting station, at the state opera, at the university, and even in Fuhlsbüttel prison. 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 announced that 2019 will be the year of the organ, under the motto Hamburg Pulls Out All the Stops. Concerts and events will be held throughout the city and a major exhibition will be presented at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) to arouse curiosity about this imposing instrument and its history. The exhibition Manufactory of Sound: 2000 Years of Organ Building and Organ Playing invites visitors to learn more about the design, construction, and technical finesse of the marvel that is the organ.

The show focuses on organ building and playing, which were added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017.  The exhibition recounts the 2000-year history of the organ from ancient times to the present, showcases the various designs and artistic ornamentation of the instrument, and offers insights into the diverse facets of the instrument’s musical repertoire from church music to contemporary pieces. As part of the exhibition, selected organs around the city will be made accessible to the public so that people can experience the organs being played live.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, in cooperation with Orgelstadt Hamburg e. V. and the Bremen Music Festival. The project is also supported by the close cooperation with Rudolf von Beckerath organ builders in Hamburg and Johannes Klais organ builders in Bonn. With the kind support of the Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien ant the Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg.

Ill.: Hans Sebald Beham (1500–1550), “Music” from “The Seven Liberal Arts,” engraving, Frankfurt am Main, between 1530 and 1550, © MKG