Karl and Rupert Riepp | Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne . Dijon [France]

Georg Asperger_CC BY-SA 3.0 crop

Photography by Georg Asperger
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The Dijon organ is located in a benedictine abbey and was built from 1740 to 1745 by Karl and Rupert Riepp, two brothers from Ottobeuren.

At its completion, the instrument had 45 stops distributed across 4 manuals and pedal and was considered one of the most important organs due to the extremely uncommon Grand Orgue 32’ stop – it was, in fact, the first 32’ stop in the French region – and the remaining extensive bass section, with 16’ basis on the major manual and pedal sections. This disposition continued the French tradition of placing the lowest register in the Grand Orgue (unlike German instruments, with the lowest registers in the Pedal) but this time an octave lower than usual. Today the 32’ stop is borrowed to the Pedal, even though it belongs to the main manual, so it can be used in both sections.

In 1787 Jean Richard changes some parts of the organ, increasing the compass from 51 to 54 keys, replacing windchests and making stop disposition changes.

Later, from 1846 to 1848 the organ is changed again in register disposition by Daublaine-Callinet and in 1860 Joseph Merklin moves the 32’ stop to the pedal section – disfiguring the French organ typical disposition – and installs Barker traction.

In 1953 starts a major modification work carried out by Roethinger under the “Commission des Orgues historiques”. Organ sections are completely transformed and registers are mixed over 3 manuals and pedal, key action is changed from mechanical to electropneumatic and voicing is changed to a Neoclassical taste.

From 1987 to 1996 there is another major intervention, this time by Gerhard Schmid in order to restore the instrument from all changes made during the 19th century. The entire organ is modified back to the 18th century state, leaving the work from Riepp and Richard and removing the remaining stops to an expression box behind the main case. The 32’ stop is moved again to the manuals and mechanical action is reinstalled. Only the stop action is duplicated between mechanical action and electrical action, allowing to use electronic combinations.

The case is crowned by sets of angels and the main part presents a low center with an abrupt descent from the main side towers. The Positif case reveals an inverted layout, higher at the center. The overall layout shows a clear intention of a pronounced V shape case, with a large wooden plinth containing two giant atlantes and allowing the pipes to be higher than what would be usual, increasing the ascending visual effect.


1740-1745 – organ construction
1787 – organ changes by Jean Richard
1846-1848 – organ changes by Daublaine-Callinet
1860 – organ changes by Joseph Merklin
1902 – electric wind supply installation by Kuhn and Dreschler
1953 – organ changes by Roethinger
1987-1996 – organ restoration by Gerhard Schmid


Positif Grand Orgue Récit expressif Récit Pédale
Bourdon 16′ Montre 32′ Gambe 16′ Bourdon-Flûte II 8′ Principal 32′
Montre 8′ Montre 16′ Flûte harmonique 8′ Cornet V Flûte 16′
Prestant 4′ Bourdon 16′ Bourdon 8′ Hautbois 8′ Flûte 8′
Bourdon 8′ Montre 8′ Salicional 8′ Flûte 4′
Flûte 8′ Bourdon 8′ Gambe 8′ Echo Bombarde 16′
Prestant 4′ Flûte 8′ Voix céleste 8′ Flûte 8′ Trompette 8′
Flûte 4′ Gros Nasard 5 1/3′ Octave 4′ Cornet V Clairon 4′
Nasard 2 2/3′ Prestant 4′ Gambe 4′ Trompette 8′
Doublette 2′ Grande Tierce 3 1/5′ Octavin 2′
Tierce 1 3/5′ Nasard 2 2/3′ Piccolo 1′
Larigot 1 1/3′ Doublette 2′ Sesquialtera II
Cornet V Quarte de nasard 2′ Plein Jeu V
Carillon III Tierce 1 3/5′ Fourniture III
Fourniture IV Grand Cornet VI Bombarde 16′
Cymbale III Cornet V Trompette 8′
Trompette 8′ Grande Fourniture III Basson-Hautbois 8′
Cromorne 8′ Fourniture IV Voix humaine 8′
Voix humaine 8′ Cymbale V Clairon 4′
Clairon 4′ Bombarde 16′
1ere Trompette 8′
2eme Trompette 8′
3eme Trompette 8′
Clairon 4′

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