Christian Müller | Sint-Bavokerk . Haarlem [Netherlands]

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Photography by Welleschik
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The existing instrument was built from 1735 to 1738 by Christian Müller to substitute the former medieval instrument. The church had a swallow’s nest organ in the North wall since 1466, built by Peter Gerritsz, and this medieval organ had its case rebuilt in 1633 by Hagerbeer. The new organ by Müller was commissioned in 1735 and construction began almost immediately, preparing its place on the West wall. For the organ construction there was also participation from the architect Hendrick de Werff and painter Hendrick van Limbourgh.

When construction finished it was the biggest organ in the world with 60 stops and with a total cost of 21700 guilders for the instrument and 37300 guilders for the case. The inauguration took place in 14 September 1738, by the two organists Henricus Radeker (Haarlem organist) and Gerardus Havingha (organist in the Grote Kerk of Alkmaar).

On subsequent decades it was played by some of the most famous musicians – Mendelssohn, Händel and Mozart – and appreciated by several musicians who came just to play the new organ.

Later, in the 19th century it was altered by C. Witte, not only in the stoplist but also in wind pressure and overall voicing, in order to create a new sound balance between the several registers. The 1904 intervention by Maarschalkerweerd was directed to the substitution of the twelve wedge bellows to three horizontal bellows, and to the addition of pneumatic traction to the pedal, besides the change of manual traction to Barker action. On the second half of the 20th century it was restored for two times, one in 1959-1961 by Marcussen, to change the instrument as close as its original state, and another one from 1987 to 2000 by Flentrop in voicing recovery.

The instrument is currently with a pitch half a tone higher than Kammerton (at A=435Hz, approximately the classical pitch) and equal temperament. All pipes are made of metal, with a composition of 99% tin in the façade pipes and 29%/71% of tin-lead alloy on other pipes.

The organ case was designed and built mainly by Jan van Logteren, who was also responsible for the figures of the main case. Jan Baptist Xavery contributed for the instrument by creating the figures over the Rugwerk, which represent Music and Poetry.

The façade is composed of two 32’ pedal towers and the stacked sections of Hoofdwerk and Bovenwerk, between the pedal towers. All the case has a vertical dominance, reinforced by the high pedal towers and by the several long pipes across the façade, distributed in narrow but high pipe fields. The case is painted in deep mahogany red, with a bluish crowning where the main figures stand, chromatically detached from the organ case.

Two lions on top support the Haarlem city coat of arms, with the phrase “Vicit vim virtus” (“Virtue conquers strength”), and two human figures below complete the composition over the pedal towers – King David with a harp, on the south pedal tower, and Asaph with a lute and the text of Psalm 81 (verses 1 and 2), on the north pedal tower.

The bottom is decorated with an angel that apparently holds the instrument, as an atlante, and four smaller angels play around with wreaths.


1735-1738 – organ construction
1866 – stoplist, wind pressure and bellows changes by C. Witte
1904 – intervention by Maarschalkerweerd in bellows, new pneumatic tractions and new couplers
1959-1961 – restoration by Marcussen to the original stoplist, and restoration of wind system, traction and voicing to a lower wind pressure
1987-2000 – restoration in voicing by Flentrop


Hoofdwerk Rugwerk Bovenwerk Pedaal
Praestant I-II 16′ Praestant II 8′ Quintadena 16′ Principaal 32′
Bourdon 16′ Holpyp 8′ Praestant 8′ Praestant 16′
Octaaf I-II 8′ Quintadena 8′ Baarpyp 8′ Bourdon 16′
Roerfluyt 8′ Octaaf 4′ Quintadena 8′ Roerquint 12′
Viola di Gamba 8′ Fluyt Does 4′ Octaaf 4′ Octaaf 8′
Roerquint 6′ Speelfluyt 3′ Flagfluyt 4′ Holfluyt 8′
Octaaf 4′ Super Octaaf 2′ Nasaet 3′ Quintpraestant 6′
Gemshoorn 4′ Mixtuur VI–VIII Nagthoorn 2′ Octaaf 4′
Quintpraestant 3′ Sexquialter II–IV Flageolet 11/2′ Holfluyt 2′
Woudfluyt 2′ Cymbaal III Mixtuur IV–VI Mixtuur VI–X
Mixtuur IV–X Cornet IV Sexquialter II Ruyschquint V
Scherp VI–VIII Fagot 16′ Cymbaal Bazuyn 32′
Tertiaan II Trompet 8′ Schalmey 8′ Bazuyn 16′
Trompet 16′ Trechterregal 8′ Dolceaan 8′ Trompet 8′
Trompet 8′ Vox Humana 8′ Trompet 4′
Hautbois 8′ Zink 2′
Trompet 4′

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