Faculty & Staff

Opus 45 Features

Three Features of the Daniel Jaeckel Opus 45 Pipe Organ
for Emerson Concert Hall at the Emory University
Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts


Daniel Jaeckel’s Op. 45 three-manual mechanical-key-action pipe organ is built specifically for Emory University’s Emerson Concert Hall at the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

I.

It is one of the first pipe organs built in America that uses as a starting point the work of eighteenth-century Alsatian organ builder Andreas Silbermann1. Moving as a young man from his native German Saxony to cosmopolitan Strasbourg, capital of historic Alsace, Andreas Silbermann went on to build 35 organs integrating both the French Classic and the German Baroque. In like manner, Op. 45 enjoys the internationalism of its maker: Daniel Jaeckel worked extensively with organ builders both in Europe and the United States before setting up his own shop in 1978 in Duluth, Minnesota.

Similar to the tonal design of Andreas Silbermann organs, the 54-stop Jaeckel Op. 45 includes the judicious mixing of organ-building traditions from different countries. For example, the rounded pedal towers, high tin content in façade pipes, and five-rank mounted cornet all bear a French Classic imprint. Southern German and Austrian Baroque organ design influences are heard in generously scaled flute stops. The organ’s main two keyboard divisions, the Hauptwerk and the Oberwerk, feature more Central German principal choruses and mixtures necessary for Bach polyphony, while the Romantic harmonic reeds and harmonic flutes of the Recit sound forth colors of the French Symphonic builder, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

II.

Our Daniel Jaeckel Op. 45 has links to another famous Alsatian, Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965). Schweitzer enjoyed an international reputation as a concert organist who championed the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, authored a Bach biography and co-edited with French organist, composer, and educator Charles-Marie Widor Bach’s complete organ works, a publication still used by organists today. Similar to the late nineteenth-century Alsatian Organ Reform movement that drew attention to Andreas Silbermann’s organs, so Albert Schweitzer also contributed to the rediscovery of the integrity of older, mechanical-action pipe organs, recognizing how special Bach sounded on them.

Humanitarian Albert Schweitzer’s interests ran broad and deep. With a reverence for all life and contributions to theology and philosophy, the Nobel Peace Prize- winner served many years as medical doctor and missionary in his African jungle hospital in Lambarene, Gabon. Indeed, common ground exists between Albert Schweitzer’s life work and several of Emory University’s departments and professional schools found in close proximity to the Schwartz Center. How fitting that the inauguration of our Emory University Jaeckel pipe organ takes place in 2005, the 130th anniversary of Albert Schweitzer’s birth!

III.

A third distinctive aspect of the organ project is connected with its extremely long gestation period, which first began with correspondence from Emory to Daniel Jaeckel in December 1991. Little did we know that the organ would not become a reality until six years into the new millennium! However, one advantage of this long waiting period is that Emory reaped the benefit of exhaustive deliberation affecting the instrument’s ultimate appearance, design and function. Located on the back wall of the choral balcony, rising high above and behind the stage, the cherry wood case of the Jaeckel organ stage is the visual focal point of Emerson Concert Hall. Visually, the Daniel Jaeckel instrument honors the golden section in many ways, one example being how the relationship of the distance from stage to the bottom of the organ case vis-à-vis that of the height of the organ case is the same relationship as this organ case height compared to the entire distance from stage to top of organ case. The organ’s tonal design, with the starting point that of Alsatian organ builder Andreas Silbermann, includes international traditions mixing compatibly. The function of the Schwartz Center Daniel Jaeckel organ is three-fold: serving as partner for orchestral and choral literature requiring organ accompaniment, complementing other campus organs as important teaching instruments, and authentically performing solo repertoire, especially that of the French Classic, French Romantic, and organ music of the one many find the greatest of all composers, Johann Sebastian Bach.

In May 2004 the 14-ton, custom-built instrument was installed in the Schwartz Center. Voicing of all 3,605 continues throughout the summer of 2005, prior to its Fall 2005 inauguration.

1. Both Andreas Silbermann (1678-1734) and his brother Gottfried Silbermann contributed significantly to Baroque organ building. Unlike his younger sibling Gottfried, known for building Central German organs in Saxony, Andreas Silbermann adopted a more cosmopolitan approach. Born in Kleinbobritzsch, he may have already learned Italian-based organ voicing techniques helping build the 1697 Eugenio Casparini instrument in Görlitz, located today on the Polish-German border. In 1699 Silbermann moved to the Alsace, soon settling in Strasbourg. After an additional study period in Paris from 1704-1706 with organ builder François Thierry, Silbermann returned to Alsace to build, over the next three decades, 35 organs incorporating different national traits. Today, well-preserved Andreas Silbermann instruments at both Marmoutier and Ebersmünster are historic and musical landmarks of the Alsace. During a research trip in June 2003 Timothy Albrecht, Emory University Organist, played and studied these and several other Andreas Silbermann instruments.

Timothy Albrecht, Emory University Organist

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