What was the original organ at Rudolfinum?
It was an instrument made by the German company named Wilhelm Sauer, based in Frankfurt an der Oder. In total, it produced about 1,100 tools throughout Europe, which was possible only thanks to factory production. They were able to adapt each instrument to the hall or, in most cases, the church for which the instrument was intended.
How long did this organ last in the hall?
Until the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic, when the Parliament moved to Rudolfinum. The organ did not return until the Second World War, but it was different. At that time, it was built by Rieger, a company based in Krnov. But even this organ did not last forever, nor was it of the best quality. I think that there was a descent from glory after Sauer. I know it because I still remember them from my youth.
Who built the instrument that we can hear at Rudolfinum today?
Rieger-Kloss, therefore the successor company from Krnov. This happened in 1974. It was the time when the Iron Curtain was closed. This meant, among other things, that experts for anything had no longer any contact with foreign countries, which is crucial for the development of craftsmanship, not to mention the artistic one.
So, how did it go with the current instrument? Is it an organ that is not of good quality then?
Rudolfinum was extremely lucky to have a professor from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Dr. Jiří Reinberger, who was one of the few people from the music field that regularly traveled abroad. He had very good contacts and managed to arrange not only with the Krnov company, but especially with the mighty men of the time, that it would not be a problem if they invited Rudolf von Beckerath, an important organ builder from Hamburg, to cooperate.
So it is to these two gentlemen that we owe the sonic splendour we can enjoy at concerts?
All those who lived through that era and were present at the time unanimously testify that Jiří Reinberger never forgave the organists anything, no incompletion, no transgression. And when Beckerath proposed something, Reinberger, with the power of his personality and against the will of the management of the Krnov factory, pushed it through. Thanks to this, the Rudolfinum organ can probably be considered the best thing that was built in Krnov after the Second World War.
You can learn more about the Rudolfinum organ at our YouTube channel.