Apple shelf

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An apple shelf, played by Paul Hofhaimer (left). Detail from the wood engraving of Emperor Maximilian, hearing mass by Hans Weiditz from 1518.

An apple shelf , also known as a button shelf or apple pipework , is a historical keyboard instrument . The small portable organ is a special embodiment of a shelf .


The sound of reed pipes has the Apple shelf an apple-like shape, which this musical instrument is his name.

In his work Syntagma musicum , Michael Praetorius describes the structure:

"Apffel or Knopff Regal is 8 feet of clay; Because of its proportions / that it stands like an apple on a stalk / so called; The largest corpus is about 4 inches high / has a small tube / the size of its mouthpiece / and on the same tube a round button full of small holes / drilled like a pintle button / because the sonus has to go out again: It is also on the shelf Kind of more lovely and much quieter / because listening to another shelf / is intended to be used in Positiffen / so in rooms. "

- Michael Praetorius: Syntagmatis musici , Volume 2, De Organographia , Holwein, Wolfenbüttel 1619 (published 1620), p. 148

The apple-shaped resonance bodies reduce the volume of the comparatively loud shelves and the sound becomes softer. In addition, the extraordinary optics cause a stir. Like all shelves from this era, the apple shelf is built with a chorus. The key range (Gothic) is F, G, A, B-g``a ''. The sound is related to that of trombones , bassoons and sordoons .

The organist Paul Hofhaimer played in 1506 on an apple shelf in a mass in front of Emperor Maximilian I. This is recorded in the wood engraving of Emperor Maximilian, hearing the mass by Hans Weiditz from 1518. Maximilian had this instrument built for his court organist Hofhaimer. Johann Gottlob Töpfer describes this apple shelf in his work The Theory and Practice of Organ Building:

“One sees a the keyboard, b the wind chest and c the bellows, which is lifted on a crutch d and weighed down by a dolphin-like weight e . The shelf has four rows of reed pipes, which seem to form only one register. The sound bodies, apparently made of brass, have a strange shape, which they are spherically shaped and provided with incisions, which are reminiscent of those of the bells. It is a so-called button shelf. The apple shelf is constructed similarly, only the spherical bodies have several sound holes. "

- Johann Gottlob Töpfer: The theory and practice of organ building BF Voigt, 1888, p. 278

Töpfer derives the origin of the term shelves from “royal instrument” (Latin regalis = 'royal'; 'worthy of a king').

Orgelbau Kögler made a reconstruction of the Maximilian apple shelf.


  • Jakob Adlung : Musica mechanica organoedi: That is: Thorough instruction of the structure, use and maintenance, & c. organs, clavicymbals, clavichords and other instruments, as far as an organist needs to know something about such things, Part I, Chapter VII, p. 72, 1726 (published posthumously, FW Birnstiel, Berlin 1768).
  • Johann Gottlob Töpfer : The theory and practice of organ building. BF Voigt, 1888, p. 278 ( limited preview in the Google book search).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Apple pipework . In: Universal Lexicon of the Present and Past . 4., reworked. and greatly increased edition, Volume 1:  A – Aufzwingen , self-published, Altenburg 1857, p.  596 .
  2. August Reissmann (Ed.): Handlexikon der Tonkunst. R. Oppenheim, 1882, p. 21 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  3. Friedrich Jakob: The organ and the flora. Orgelbau Th. Kuhn, 1986, p. 14 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  4. ^ Description by Praetorius
  5. a b Martin Kirnbauer: Instrumental artist at the court of Maximilian I. In: Musical life of the late Middle Ages in the Austria region. 2016
  6. a b Apple shelf website of the Kögler Orgelbau company in St. Florian
  7. Note: also called Knöpfling shelf, see: Otto Wangemann : History of the organ and the art of organ building from the first beginnings to the present. Sendet, 1881, ISBN 3500303706 ( limited preview in Google Book Search)
  8. Apple shelf at Adlung 1726.