Christiaan Vater | Oude Kerk . Amsterdam [Netherlands]

ChVat Ams_Oude Kerk Hans-Jörg Gemeinholzer_CC BY 3.0_crop

Photography by Hans-Jörg Gemeinholzer
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Christiaan Vater (1679-1756) is the organbuilder responsible for the construction of the main organ in Oude Kerk. Vater was from Hannover and had worked with Arp Schnitger from 1697 to 1702, so the organ in Oude Kerk shows some signs of the North German organbuilding school influence.

The instrument, built from 1724 to 1726, substituted the former organ from the 16th century where Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck played. In 1738 the church tower began to subside and maintenance works were needed, so the Christiaan Vater organ had to be disassembled. Some years later it was rebuilt by Caspar Müller, which added new registers and introduced double ranks in some registers. This intervention by Caspar Müller changed the instrument character to a Dutch sonority and with a higher wind pressure. The sound intensity was also increased in the organ reconstruction, so that it could be heard easily over the congregation singing.

The organ case was built by Jurriaan Westerman (1677-1748) and despite the North German influences, the main case presents two levels of composition, instead of just one as usual with North German instruments; this means that there are two superimposed sections, not just the small pipes in the flat parts but also the larger pipes on towers, arranged in two stacked levels. Over the top of the organ there is a clock on the center, the old Amsterdam city seal on the left and the city’s coat of arms on the right. Over the Rugwerk two figures crown the small case, representing Poetry (left) and Music (right).


1724-1726 – construction by Christiaan Vater
1738-1742 – church tower problems and dismantling of organ; reassembly by Caspar Muller, along with some changes
1869-1870 – revoicing by Christian Gottlieb Friedrich Witte


Hoofdwerk Rugwerk Bovenwerk Pedaal
Prestant 16’ Prestant 8’ Quintadena 16’ Prestant 16’
Bourdon 16’ Holpijp 8’ Prestant 8’ Subbas 16’
Prestant 8’ Quintadena 8’ Baarpijp 8’ Prestant 8’
Holpijp 8’ Octaaf 4’ Quintadena 8’ Roerquint 5 1/3’
Quint 5 1/3’ Gemshoorn 4’ Viola di Gamba 8’ Octaaf 4’
Octaaf 4’ Quint 2 2/3’ Octaaf 4’ Nachthoorn 2’
Roerfluit 4’ Octaaf 2’ Gemshoorn 4’ Mixtuur VI
Roerquint 2 2/3’ Woudfluit 2’ Nasard 2 2/3’ Bazuin 16’
Octaaf 2’ Cornet V Sexquialter IV Trompet 8’
Fluit 2’ Sexquialter II-IV Cymbel III Trompet 4’
Sexquialter IV Carillon III-IV Trompet 8’ Cinq 2’
Mixtuur V-VIII Mixtuur V-VIII Dulciaan 8’
Scherp IV-VI Scherp III-V Vox Humana 8’
Trompet 16’ Fagot 16’
Trompet 8’ Trompet 8’

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