Restauration and partial renewal of the big organ on the west gallery of St. Stephan's cathedral by the organ construction company Rieger, Schwarzach / Vorarlberg.
„Shut down since 1991 the biggest music instrument of Austria, also known as the Kauffmann-Orgel, will be restored and partially renewed during the next three years“, master of music Markus Landerer announced in an interview with the press agency KATH PRESS. „The experts will dismantle the organ entirely just leaving the casing. This will start in November 2017.“
Most of the 10.000 pipes will be transferred to Rieger's workshop to be checked and cleaned. As many as possible will be used again. Technically the organ will be entirely new with a realignment of the pipes for better acoustics. The beginning of the reconstruction is planned for 2019.
The beautiful facade of the organ designed 1950 by Kurt Stoegerer (1923-1992) as a classified protected monument won't be changed, especially the view with the big stained glass window behind. But inside the organ the newest technic and the alignment of the pipes will bring the best acoustic, the sound filling the entire cathedral.
The small organ built in 1991 situated in the front right aisle will also be included in the project. It will be linked to the big organ so that in the future both instrument can be played from the same keyboard (180 stops). The acoustic will be at its highest level and compares to other important cathedrals in the world. This will close the last big wound of the big fire of the cathedral in 1945 at the end of WW II when the very former organ of F. Walker from 1886 was entirely destroyed.
The existing organ was built 1956-1960 by Johann W. Kauffmann with four keyboards and 10.000 pipes. The inauguration was celebrated by Kardinal Joseph Frings (1887-1978) of Cologne, Germany, and by Archbishop Kardinal Franz König (1905-2004) of Vienna. But soon problems were noticed. There had not been enough room on the gallery to place the pipes in a satisfactory order, as a lack of space in the front of the cathedral. The choir and the orchestra also performed on the gallery. That meant that the beautiful sound did not fill the church and therefore the organ was not played anymore.
In 1991 a new organ found its place in the front right aisle (55 registers and 4 keyboards) and is played to this day.
The cathedral's chapter ordered six concepts from international organ builders. After expertise and consideration the concept of Firma Rieger was accepted. The first sound can be appreciated in 2019 during the intonation of the new organ.
The finances will be covered, like after the war, by the subventions. The total cost will be 2.6 Millions Euro, a third covered by the Cathedral Chapter.
On Ester Sunday, April 12, 2020, exactly 75 years after the big fire and destruction, the new organ will be consecrated.