Johann Hencke| Augustinerstift . Herzogenburg [Austria]

JHenk Her Uoaei1 2_CC BY-SA 3.0 AT crop

Photography by “Uoaei”
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The Herzogenburg organ is the biggest organ known of Henke works, composed of a divided Hauptwerk case and a double Positiv case – with Großpositiv and Kleinpositiv. The Hauptwerk case is divided into C and C# chests, contrary to the usual placement of Hauptwerk in one case and Pedal in the other one, which shows a preoccupation from Hencke to ensure sound balance and good tonal distribution. The tradition of divided cases is typical especially in Southern Germany and some places in Austria, allowing light to enter in the church through the West window. In Herzogenburg case the window is substituted by a trompe-l’oeil fresco of King David with his harp, adapting the church decoration and the organ case as an ensemble.

The Großpositiv section was strong enough to accompany the congregation and the special Positiv placement allowed for an easy use with chamber groups. Moreover, the detached and reversed console were good not only for the cited continuo practice but also for liturgical accompaniment, as the lower middle part permitted the organist to easily see the altar in front. The keyboards are made of inlaid red tortoiseshell, tin and brass.

By the end of the 19th century the church underwent repair works and the organ had plans to be refurbished according to the current taste, including a pneumatic action. Fortunately the economic possibilities of that time were not enough to achieve the complete plans so the organ was just minimally repaired, some voicing works were done and the old bellows were replaced by two parallel bellows, by Leopold Breinbauer. Later, already in 1964, Gregor Hradetzky restored the organ by trying to undo voicing changes, but expanded the Hauptwerk and Pedal compass (letting both Positiv sections with the original compass). In 2007, after a strong storm destroyed the southern window, near the organ, the instrument was again restored, this time to clean and repair parts damaged during the storm and to add a new Posaune 16’ to the Pedal, according to Gottfried Silbermann references, as Hencke hadn’t any existing organ with a 16’ Posaune. The choice of Silbermann as reference was due to his correspondence with Johann brother – Andreas Hencke.

The Hauptwerk case parts are joined by a tripartite arch with vegetable motifs, an inscription with “Laudate Dominum in Organo” and a set of flying angels and small clouds.


1749-1752 – organ construction
1850-1886 – organ voicing and maintenance contract with Franz Reusch
1894 – organ repair and voicing by Leopold Breinbauer
1964 – organ restoration by Gregor Hradetzky
2007 – organ restoration by Joseph Diethard Pemmer


Hauptwerk Großpositiv Kleinpositiv Pedalwerk
Prästant 16′ Principal 8′ Holzgedackt 8′ Principalbass 16′
Octav 8′ Quintadena 16′ Holzflöte 4′ Kontrabass 16′
Principalflöte 8′ Coppel 8′ Principal 2′ Subbass 16′
Waldflöte 8′ Salicional 8′ Quinte 1 1/3′ Octavbass 8′
Quintadena 8′ Octav 4′ Sedecima 1′ Gedecktbass 8′
Octav 4′ Gedecktflöte 4′ Choralbass 4′
Spitzflöte 4′ Dulciana 4′ Nachthorn 2′
Nachthorn 4′ Quinte 2 2/3′ Pedalmixtur
Superoctav 2′ Superoctav 2′ Großposaune 16′
Rauschquinte III Mixtur V Octavposaune 8′
Mixtur major V-VII Cimbel II
Mixtur minor IV-V Krummhorn 8′
Trompete 8′

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