It is almost outside the bounds of possibility to keep the instrument in a working condition. It is covered in dust and dirt and cannot be tuned. Pneumatic valves contained within the windchests and also in organ's console are at their end-of-life period. Woodworm beetles have widely spread across the instrument. The most affected parts are the organ console, wooden pipes, wind chest and other wooden structures including frames and air ducts....
Bohumil Žloutek, pipe organ builder
PIPE ORGAN IN JABLONEC
There are over 5700 pipe organs in the Czech Republic but just a small number can be considered a concert instrument. Even smaller number can boast as many as 43 ranks, additional ranks and three keyboards ( manuals). Such a unique piece can be found in The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord in Upper Square in Jablonec nad Nisou. The overall number of our organ pipes is over 2 600.
This pipe organ was constructed by a renowned company Rieger from Krnov for a much awaited new catholic church in Jablonec nad Nisou which was consecrated on 24th April 1932. The pipe organ was first played at the opening ceremony of the church on 9th April 1932. Present were the company’s managers and the Jäger brothers who donated the instrument to the church. Serial number of the pipe organ is 2535 which means that it was 2535th organ made by the company. You can read more about the history of the company in this article at
Introducing our pipe organ
It is a tubular-pneumatic type of organ with cone shaped pipes and wind pressure system. The instrument boasts three manuals and a pedalboard. The organ’s case is an impressive looking part that can be seen in the organ loft. Architect Josef Zasche himself designed the appearance of the case as well as other furniture parts of the church interior. The instrument is located at the back of the organ loft in its rearview frontage spanning almost fully across its eight meter dome.
The whole instrument including its pipes is still in its original condition without any adjustments. The case of the organ consists of veneered plywood frame and two veneered columns with decorated heads. In front of the organ there is an independent console containing three pneumatic manuals which faces the altar. All technical parts including both bellows are located inside a grandiose organ framework/case. Its air pressure system consists of a pump windchest and a bellow. The windchest blows air into manuals I and II and the pedalboard while the bellow provides for manual III and pneumatic parts. Zinc pipes alternate with tin ones which used to be common practice in the days the organ was built. The organ ventilator is kept in a separate room in the organ loft due to its noise levels.
Long and eventful history
The pipe organ has served at liturgical events as well as classical music concerts in its 85 years long history. A great number of organ players have touched its stops to resound its ranks in a space with great church acoustics. Over the years the instrument only needed tuning and very few minor repairs. There was no major reconstruction after fifty years of its lifetime as would be recommended with this kind of instrument due to adverse historic events. At this point our organ is well beyond its lifetime and without a much necessary revival its tones will die out forever.
It is not only the fact that the instrument has been in operation for such a lengthy period that is a worry. An even more concerning aspect is that the instrument is in a seriously deteriorating state due to an infestation of woodworm. It is widely spread not only across its structural framework and consoles but also across its wooden base pipes. There are many frass hills, the powdery bore dust hills, under the insects’ exit holes. The framework contains a large number of big holes that will eventually lead to its collapse. Some of the tunnels the woodworm created between individual organ airducts cause air pressure leaks making pneumatic control faulty. The infestation is on such a large scale and the framework structure so complex that treating it in any way as one piece is out of question, as 90pc of the affected areas cannot simply be reached.
The only way that this pipe organ can be saved is to take it apart. Each wooden piece has to be treated with cobalt radiation therapy. Each piece has to be cleaned and then and treated with preservatives to prevent future damage. All woodworm tunnels have to be filled and closed and a final layer of paint and conservant needs to be applied. Metal parts have to be straightened and treated with conservant to restore their timeless beauty. Meanwhile the organ loft needs to be attended to, equipped with new electric wiring and prepared for the organ reinstallation.
Does that sound easy ?
We estimate that several trucks will be needed to transport the wooden parts for the cobalt radiation therapy. This is the only way to fully restore the pipe organ in compliance with preservation regulations, and maintain its intrinsic historical value. We can either see the organ serve its last years or to pull together and save it. Lets relive the enthusiasm of Jablonec citizens who were able to raise enough money for the organ to be built in a difficult post-war period. Thanks to many significant sponsors and donors money was also collected to build the whole church at the same time. If you wish to financially contribute to this historic project we can facilitate you in many different ways. Thank you sincerely, in anticipation of your much needed support.