The Organ of the Bonifaciuskirche in Arnstadt

Arnstadt, Bonifaciuskirche: view of church and organ


The first two images provide the original situation, with the organ on the uppermost gallery, highly placed in the church. The situation as it is illustrated here prevailed until 1911, when the organ was rebuilt and lowered to a position on the first gallery. This is illustrated on the color photograph further on.


Below, a detailed view of the organ is given. The situation is what remained of the original instrument after the rebuilding by Hesse & Meißner in 1863 - 1878. Spitta (1873-I: 221) remarked that "until 10 years ago, the instrument was still in place" (By "the instrument", Spitta means of course the instrument in the state in which it was played by Bach). The case and even several stops dating back to Bach's time survived the then so called "restoration".


Arnstadt, Bonifaciuskirche: detailed view of the organ


The console which can be seen on the photograph above dates from 1863 and is not the original one which was played by Bach in the years 1703 - 1708. Although it is NOT 100% certain that the keyboards in the museum in Arnstadt are indeed the keyboards played by Bach (WILLIAMS 1984: 120), the photograph below gives at least a very good impression as to how the keyboards may have looked at the beginning of the 18th century.


Old keyboards of the organ of the Bonifaciuskirche, Arnstadt


The stoplist is also subject of several discussions, starting with SPITTA (1873-I: 220), over TERRY (1933: 60) to WILLIAMS (1984: 119). The listing here follows WILLIAMS (1984).


Oberwerk Brustwerk und Positiv Seiten Basse oder Pedal
Principal 8 Principal 4 Principal 8
Viola da Gamba 8 Stillgedacktes 8 Sub Bass 16
Quinte dene 8 Spitzflöte 4 Posaunen Basse 16
Grossgedacktes 8 Quinte 3 Cornet Basse 2
Offene Quinte 6 Sesquialtere doppelt
Octave 4 Nachthorn 4
Mixtur IV Mixtur IV
Gemshorn 8
Cympel doppelt III
Trompete 8


Before the last restauration, the organ was situated on the first gallery. This situation is illustrated on the photograph below.


Arnstadt, Bonifaciuskirche: organ, previous situation


In the years 1911- 1913, Steinmeyer (Oettingen) erected a pneumatic instrument with 3 manuals and pedal comprising 56 stops, more than doubling the original number of 21 stops. Of the original Bach - instrument, 7 stops (33%) were incorporated. A portrait of Sebastian was placed above the console, clearly visible to the church and on the photograph below.


Arnstadt, Bonifaciuskirche: detailed view of the organ, previous situation


During the last restoration, which was completed end 1999, the organ was restored to its old place. The Steinmeyer instrument was put behind bars and the reconstruction of the Wender-organ (including a reconstruction of the keyboards) was build on top of it. See below.


Arnstadt, Bonifaciuskirche: detailed view of the organ, newest situation


Under the given circumstances, it is not such a bad solution. But it tastes like a compromise: the old romantic Steinmeyer organ had to be saved. The resulting situation is certainly not as harmonious as it is on the first picture (top of this page).
It is good that it is possible to listen to an organ in the state as it was, when played by Sebastian Bach


Arnstadt, Bonifaciuskirche: detailed view of the organ, newest situation


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