Chamber Organ

Franz Casppar Hofer German

Not on view

The chamber organ is a moderately-sized piped organ. It typically has a single manual, a limited number of stops, and a limited pedalboard or no pedals at all. It is generally intended for use in small chapels, in homes, or other intimate rooms. As it is capable of long sustained tones, it is sometimes preferable to harpsichord as a continuo instrument in chamber ensembles.

This chamber organ is built in two parts with the bellows in a rectangular base on top of which sits the keyboards and pipes of a positive organ. The front of the base features a painted panel with St. Cecilia playing an organ, accompanied by an angel playing a string bass. This painting is signed by Franz Casppar Hofer with the date 1758.

Technical description: Two-part chamber organ consisting of a rectangular base containing the bellows, surmounted by a two-foot table positive organ; bellows include a wedge-shaped feeder beneath a wedge-shaped three-fold reservoir, the whole mounted at an angle; feeder operated by a strap (missing) which draws over a roller and out through a hole on the right side of the base. A rectangular wind duct (3 x 6 cm) rises from the narrow end of the bellows, penetrates the wood base of the positive above, and enters the left end of the pallet box. The positive case has a chromatic 2-foot arrangement of front speaking pipes that descend in height from left to right; the space in the upper right is filled by a large cloth-backed gilded pipe shade. Above this is a horizontal cornice which extends back along the sides; this is surmounted by a pierced, gilded ornamental carving displaying two coats of arms. The keyboard, at the base of the front pipes, extends forward almost to the front of the base. Range: C/E-c3 (short octave), 45 notes. Keys are hinged at their backs with parchment; they stand above the pallet box with each key directly over its pallet. Short stickers pass down through the chest table into grooves where they engage the tops of the pallets. The bungboard, directly below the key fronts, is accessible by removing a painted panel. Pallets are of oak; some have had helper springs added to assist the pallet springs in holding the pallets shut. Chest table and pallet box are pine; grid frame is oak. Chest table, of thin stock, is glued to the grid in the usual way; there are no sponsils. The three sliders of oak run on leather glued to the table and toeboards. Toeboards are of pine. Sliders are moved by three wrought iron rollers whose iron handles project upwards through a side jamb right of the keyboard. The stops are unlabeled but may be listed thus: 4' Gedackt (45 pipes, wood); 2' Principal (45 pipes, tin); 1' Octave (45 pipes, tin, top octave common metal). The bass of the Principal is used for the facade; the lowest two pipes are mitered over backward -- there are no other mitered pipes. The Principal treble stands on the same toeboard with the Octave. The Gedackt has its own toeboard toward the rear. The Gedackt pipes are from at least four different sources; it is not clear which are original. The most numerous have large inked note designations, thick caps, no nicking. Others have quite a lot of nicking. The 2' and 1' ranks are largely composed of tin pipes from one source, not, however, the original, in all probability. These pipes have inscribed triangular upper lips and round lower lips. They originally had fine nicking; many now also have coarse filed-in nicks. The tin front pipes (2') are neatly slotted and scrolled; these slots, cut into the backs of the pipes, do not begin at the tops. Irregularities in scaling, and an assortment of note and stop designations, indicate that these pipes may have come from another organ. Languids are reasonably thin; they employ a moderate angle and appear to have no gegenphase (counterface). The 1' stop is largely composed of tin pipes from the above-mentioned source, but the top octave is composed of common metal pipes with inscribed vertical lines at the sides of the mouths and a flattening pattern that carries the flat both upwards and downwards from the mouth for a considerable distance. These little pipes might be original. (Laurence Libin 8 Mar 77)

Lowest metal pipe sounds G, 22 cents flat of standard pitch at A-440.

Chamber Organ, Unknown [maker], Wood, various materials, German

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