Organ of Frederiksborg Castle

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Organ of Frederiksborg Castle
place Frederiksborg Castle
Organ builder Esaias Compenius the Elder
Construction year 1605-1610
epoch Renaissance / early baroque
Technical specifications
Number of registers 27
Number of rows of pipes 27
Number of manuals 2
Organ in the closed state

The organ of Frederiksborg Castle was created by Esaias Compenius the Elder between 1605 and 1610 with 27 wooden registers for Hesse Castle near Wolfenbüttel . It is artistically made from precious materials and is now in Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark . Due to the unchanged state of preservation, the organ is one of the most important original instruments on the threshold from the Renaissance to the early Baroque.

Building history

New organ built 1605–1610

The new organ was commissioned in 1605 by Duke Heinrich Julius von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel for his summer residence at Schloss Hessen. For this purpose, he appointed the famous organ builder Compenius as the Princely Braunschweig organ and instrument maker in his service in 1605 . The new organ in Kroppenstedt , which Compenius had been working on since 1603, was postponed and could only be completed with a considerable delay in 1613.

Since 1594 Michael Praetorius , who played a major role in the planning of the organ, worked as a chamber organist at the castle in Gröningen . Heinrich Compenius the Elder from Nordhausen, the father of Esaias Compenius, in whose workshop the son had worked until 1589 , was among the 53 most renowned organists of the time at the examination and inauguration of the legendary Gröninger organ on August 2, 1596 . In 1604/05 Esaias Compenius was entrusted with the maintenance and repair of the Gröninger organ.

According to a Latin inscription, Compenius completed the organ work on February 7, 1610 (" Ao 1610 den 7 fbris EC fecit "). Praetorius mistakenly stated 1612 as the year of construction. Compenius was supported by his nephew Johannes Heckelauer. The duke gave the precious instrument to his wife Elisabeth.

Realizations and restorations

Bellows on the back

After the Duke's death in 1613, the organ only stayed in Hesse Castle for a few years. In 1616 the widow bequeathed it to her brother, the Danish King Christian IV. Compenius himself transferred the organ to Frederiksborg in 1617, where he suddenly died and was also buried.

Inside the castle, the organ was moved to the knight's hall in 1693. In 1793 it was moved to Frederiksberg Palace in Copenhagen . In this way she escaped the fire in Frederiksborg Castle in 1859. After the rebuilding of Frederiksborg Castle, it was brought back there in 1868.

The French consul in Helsingør and organ expert CM Philbert published a scientific study of the instrument in Le monde musical in 1891 , which he described as “an artistic gem of the greatest beauty, particularly valuable as one of the richest, most peculiar and most authentic, in short one of the most significant monuments from the History of organ building art from the beginning of the 17th century ”. This was followed by careful restoration in 1895 by Felix Reinburg from the Aristide Cavaillé-Coll workshop together with the French employee Jean Lafon and the Danish organ builder VH Busch. In the 1940s and 1950s, the instrument provided significant impulses for the Danish organ movement . For example, the Danish organist and editor Finn Viderø (1906–1987) developed registration specifications based on the Compenius organ.

The bellows were restored by Frobenius Orgelbyggeri in 1981/82 . Organ builders Mads Kjersgaard (Uppsala) and Jürgen Ahrend restored the case in various stages from 1985 to 1988, Kjersgaard until 1992 and Peder Moos (Frederiksborg Museum) 1987/88.


Michael Praetorius not only reproduces the original disposition in his Syntagma musicum , but also offers a detailed contemporary description of the instrument and the individual stops.

“To Hessen at the castle. The wooden / but very wonderful organ work made by M [eister] Esaia Compenio An [no] 1612. But now the king is venerated in Dennemarck / and in 1616 he was placed in the church at Friederichsburg / is strong from 27 voices / Coppel to beydn manuals. Tremulant. Big buck. Bagpipe. Petty. "

- Michael Praetorius : Syntagma musicum . Volume 2: De Organographia

The wooden organ stands in the Italian tradition of organo di legno , as it is also found in the organ at Wilhelmsburg Castle , which Daniel Mayer completed in 1590 with six wooden registers. Compenius himself built the breastwork of the organ in Bückeburg, also with visible wooden pipes in the prospectus . Only the reed voices in Frederiksborg are partly made of metal, all other pipes are made of oak, maple, pear, nut and ebony. The instrument has a total of 1001 pipes.

Only selected materials were used: precious woods, silver and ivory, which were skillfully processed. The cabinet-like housing is 3.62 m high and 2.88 m wide. Hermann van de Velde decorated it with rich carvings, inlays and veneer work. The corner pilasters are covered with bas-reliefs in the lower case and are dominated by female figures wearing coats of arms in the middle. The casing is closed by a cornice supported by consoles and is crowned with carvings. When closed, the middle part of the front is divided into four fields by three pilasters. The 45 prospect pipes of the Klein Prinzipal 4 ′ are only visible when they are open, in line with the principle of the “wonder cabinets” common in the Renaissance. In the raised central field there are nine pipes, in the flanking fields 18 pipes each, which are set up in a pyramid. They stand under three round-arched pipe fields that end at the top with putti, mythological creatures and openwork carvings. The wooden case, with its different wood tones, contrasts with the prospect pipes, which are covered with large ivory pieces and have labia made of carved ebony. The pedal keyboard can be pulled out like a drawer and is also covered with ivory. The register slides are made of pure silver, which are designed as women's heads for the upper manual, men's heads for the pedal and lion's heads for the lower manual. The lower keys are covered with thick ivory and decorated with silver at the front, the upper keys are made of ebony. The mechanical system is constructed with great refinement. The wind chests of the pedal are made conical both in width and in height in order to give the larger pipes more space. The action of the upper manual is hanging, that of the lower manual is designed as a rocker. The pipework inside completely fills the entire housing, which is characterized by an extremely compact design.

The arrangement is conceived in a chamber music-like manner and, unlike the Gröninger organ, has no full principal choir , no mixtures and no plenum. Instead, the flutes and tongues allow numerous solo registrations, sound combinations and contrasts in the style of the consort style as it was cultivated in the late Renaissance. Praetorius describes the organ as follows: “ Its strange, gentle, subtle sound and loveliness, however, cannot actually be reported in writing ”. The original mid-tone tuning has been preserved unchanged. The action and bellows are also completely original; the organ has never been fitted with an electric wind system.


The disposition corresponds to the information in the Organographia by Praetorius:

I In the sub-manual CDEFGA – c 3
1. Quintadehna 8th'
2. Small Gedactflute 4 ′
3. Super Gemgemhörnlein 2 ′
4th Nasatt 1 12
5. Klein repeats cymbal I.
6th Principal D 4 ′
7th Block whistles D 4 ′
8th. Krumbhorn 8th'
9. Fiddling shelf 4 ′
II In the upper manual CDEFGA – c 3
1. Principal 8th'
2. Small principal 4 ′
3. Gedact flute 8th'
4th Gemhorn or small Violn 4 ′
5. Night horn 4 ′
6th Block whistles 4 ′
7th GedacktQuint 3 ′
8th. Supergedack floitlin 2 ′
9. Rancket 16 ′
In the pedal CDEFGA – d 1
1. Big Gedact Flute Bass 16 ′
2. GemhornB. 8th'
3. Quintads B. 8th'
4th Flutes B. 4 ′
5. Night Horn B. 2 ′
6th BawrflöttenBäßlein 1'
7th Sordunas B. 16 ′
8th. DolcianB. 8th'
9. JungfrawenShelfBass 4 ′

Technical specifications

  • 27 registers made of wood
  • Action :
    • Tone action: mechanical
    • Stop action: mechanical
  • Wind supply:
    • 4 wedge bellows
    • Wind pressure: 55 mm water column
  • Mood :


  • Gerhard Aumüller : Esaias Compenius and his Family . In: Det Nationalhistoriske Museum Frederiksborg Slot (ed.): The Compenius Organ / Compenius-orglet . Hillerød 2012, ISBN 978-87-87237-73-4 , p. 64-83 .
  • Gerhard Aumüller, Wolf Hobohm, Dorothea Schröder: Harmony of sound and appearance - the importance of the organ building families Back and Compenius for the central German organ art of the time before Heinrich Schütz . In: Schütz yearbook . tape 32 , 2010, p. 51-105 .
  • Hans Jacobs: Brunswick organ in Frederiksborg. In: Braunschweigischer Kalender 1971. Joh. Heinr. Meyer, Braunschweig 1971, p. 32.
  • Werner Lottermoser: Acoustic investigations on the Compenius organ in Frederiksborg Castle near Copenhagen. In: Archives for Musicology . Vol. 15, 1958, pp. 113-119.
  • Michael Praetorius : Syntagma musicum . Volume 2: De Organographia. Wolfenbüttel 1619, pp. 189-190 ( online ).
  • Joseph Wörsching: The Compenius organ at Frederiksborg Castle. Rheingold, Mainz 1946, OCLC 504801851 . (Organ monographs; 16).

Web links

Commons : Compenius organ in Frederiksborg  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The organ of the castle chapel , as seen on December 29, 2012.
  2. a b Gottfried Rehm: The Compenius organ , seen December 29, 2012.
  3. online , viewed December 30, 2012.
  4. Dorothea Schröder: Organs and Organ Building in the Duchy of Wolfenbüttel 1580–1650 ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , P. 12 (PDF file; 438 kB), viewed December 30, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Sven-Ingvart Mikkelsen: 400 Years of Danish Organ Music (PDF file; 58 kB), viewed December 31, 2012.
  6. ^ A b Praetorius: Syntagma musicum . Volume 2, p. 189 ( online ), accessed December 29, 2012.
  7. a b c Dorothea Schröder: Organs and organ building in the Duchy of Wolfenbüttel 1580–1650 ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , P. 11 (PDF file; 438 kB), viewed December 30, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. ^ Lottermoser: Acoustic investigations on the Compenius organ. 1958, p. 113.
  9. Mads Kjersgaard: The David Beck organ, Gröningen, and the Compenius organ, Hessen / Frederiksborg - a comparison , p. 12 (PDF file; 1.3 MB), viewed December 30, 2012.
  10. ^ Praetorius: Syntagma musicum . Vol. 2, p. 141 ( online ), accessed December 30, 2012.

Coordinates: 55 ° 56 ′ 6 ″  N , 12 ° 18 ′ 3 ″  E