The Schnitger organ in the Grote Kerk is one of the most important European organs from the 18th century. The Baroque Organ was designed in 1719 by the most famous organ builder of the time, Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), and built by his sons Frans Casper and Johann Georg. The family came from the vicinity of Hamburg in Germany and, in addition to that city, also had workshops in Magdeburg, Bremen and Groningen.
In 1669 the almost 115 meter high tower of the Grote Kerk, the highest in our country, was struck by lightning. In that impact, the wooden spire was lost and the tower was so badly damaged that it collapsed with a thunderous roar on December 17, 1682. The old organ was partly destroyed.
In the years that followed, no more organ music was played in the Grote Kerk and Zwolle had to make do with an organ in the Bethlehemkerk that did not function very well. The city had no money to build a new organ. The repair of the heavily damaged Grote Kerk took precedence. Moreover, it was not easy to find a good organ builder.
Arp Schnitger had acquired great fame as an organ builder in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. He was also known in our country. He built organs in Groningen and Friesland, among others. In 40 years he built more than 80 organs. In 1718 he was invited by the city council to make a design and a quotation. He came to Zwolle and that same year he presented the city council with a detailed plan for the construction of a large organ. An organ, as he wrote to the city council, that "sich sehr füglich in der schönen Michaelis Kirche here in der Stadt Zwoll nach derselben guthe proportion sich schicken könte."
On January 3, 1719, the Zwolle administrators signed the contract for the construction of the organ. Father Schnitger died a few months later, after which his sons finished the work. The specifications still assumed an organ with 46 voices (a group of pipes that produce the same timbre is called a voice). During construction, the number of stops of the organ was increased twice, so that the timbre of the Schnitger organ in Zwolle is still determined by 63 stops today.
In September 1721 the organ was inspected by three well-known organists from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. They gave the Schnitger family a lot of praise, although they also cracked some critical notes. The Schnitger brothers ignored the criticism, so that the organ remained unchanged.
In the years 1953-1955 the organ was skilfully restored by the Flentrop company. The Schnitger organ also plays an important role in the ecclesiastical and cultural life of Zwolle in our time. It is regularly played by well-known organists from home and abroad. Performances take place almost weekly. The month of September is the now traditional Zwolle Organ Month.
This organ can be ordered with all our Cambiare organs through supplier Sonus Paradisi.