Introduction Adam Gottlob Casparini


On this web-page, information and photographs of a few instruments built by Adam Gottlob Casparini (1715-1788) is provided.

When I started this web-site back in 1998, no detailed treatment of this organ builder had been published.

In 2006, Dr. Girėnas Povilionis completed his thesis on the baroc organ building of Lithuania: "Vilniaus Vėlyvojo Baroko VargondirbystėS Mokykla".
He kindly provided some corrections by mail to this site. The most important correction is that there is not any proof whatsoever that the organ of Polock was built by A. G. Casparini. Also, any reference to Casparini fails with regard to the organ in Vilnius St. Michael. Both instruments were built by Nicolaus Jantzon (Dr. Girėnas Povilionis pers. comm.). Both instruments have therefore been consequently deleted from this Casparini-site.

Another dissertation was published in 2006 in Nebraska. Is is about Adam Gottlob Casparini and his organs and is written by Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene (see literature list). This document should be read with some care, however. See my comments at the end of this page.


In 2008, two important Casparini-contributions were published: JANCA & FISCHER 2008 in Acta Organologiaca and RENKEWITZ, JANCA & FISCHER 2008 in their publication of the Prussian organ-history part II.

The biography of A. G. Casparini is described in the latter publication (page 298-326).

The importance of A. G. Casparini is internationally recognized nowadays. There has been organized a conference on the 1776 Adam Gottlob Casparini Organ in the Holy Ghost Church of Vilnius in 2004. As a direct result of this conference, several papers were published among which: MELNIKAS 2005 and POVILIONIS 2005. The last author provides a wealth of references to sources where Casparini-organs are mentioned.
Since then, the Vilnius organ has been partly restored to its original state, a copy has been made in the USA (Rochester), the Adakavas organ has been discovered and restored and as a result, the name Casparini as organ builder is getting more and more known to organ enthousiasts.


Adam Gottlob Casparini built ca. 43 new organs until his death in 1788 (RENKEWITZ & JANCA 1984: 233).


Mr. Marcin Zgliński (History of Art Institute of the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw, Poland) kindly attended me to the fact that two of the organs mentioned on these pages as being from A.G.Casparini actually do not belong in his worklist. It concerns the following instruments:

Mr. Zgliński is preparing a doctoral thesis on organ-building in the ancient Polish-Lithuanian federation, especially in Lithuania. This study covers a part of Europe, totally neglected in Western Europe after WWII, in which the churches contained organs at a very early stage of history. The influence of Casparini will receive a due treatment, no doubt.
Hopefully, this study will be available to the general public. Of course, I am exited that such a study has been undertaken and the results of Mr. Zgliński's study are eagerly awaited.


The worklist of newly built organs follows RENKEWITZ, JANCA & FISCHER 2008 (326-330), but details have been corrected as the result of new sources to which I was kindly attended by Mr. Krzysztof Urbaniak.

Mühlhausen Dorfkirche 1741-1745 1/P 20
Königsberg Vorstädtisches Georgen-Hospital 1742? 1/- 6?
Stradaunen Dorfkirche 1742-1746 1/P 12
Königsberg Altroßgarter Kirche 1744-1747 2/P 26
Königsberg Tragheimer Kirche 1744-1752 2/P 30
Leunenburg Pfarrkirche 1745 1/P 17
Soldau Dorfkirche 1748-1749 2/P 25
Abschwangen Pfarrkirche 1749-1750 1/- 10
Barten Church 1750 12 1/-
Hafstrom
(to Scharnau)
Pfarrkirche 1750 1/- 7
Alt Pillau Vorref. church 1751 1/- 8
Kumilsko Kirche 1751 ?/? ?
Jerutten Kirche 1752 1/P- 8?
Königsberg Haberberger Kirche 1752 42 2/P
Königsberg Altstädtische Kirche 1752-1763 (1755-1761) 69 3/P
Gumbinnen Luth. Pfarrkirche 1752-1756 1/P 16
Mierunsken Kirche 1753 ?/? ?
Neukirch Kirche 1753 1/- 12
Gumbinnen Franz. Ref. Kirche 1754-1760 1/P 20
Königsberg Neuendorf
to University K.
1755 1/- 6
Buddern Kirche 1755 ?/? ?
Sensburg Kirche 1756 1/- 8
Coadjuthen Pfarrkirche 1756 1/- 8
Zinten Pfarrkirche 1756 1/P 18
Rößel Katholische Pfarrkirche 1765 2/P 30?
Germau Ev. Kirche 1767 2/P? 20?
Nordenburg Church 1770 2/P? 20?
Vilnius Dominican (Holy Ghost) church 1776 2/P 31
Neu-Pillau Luth. Pfarrkirche 1785-1794 (completed by Braveleit) 1/P 17

Notes:

Of two organs I formerly referred to on this web-site, it is clear that they cannot have been built by Casparini, as he aquired the Royal Privilege only in 1741, after taking over the workshop of Georg Sigismund Caspari after his death. Casparini's first organ in Ostpreußen was in Mühlhausen (now Mlynary, PL).

This makes a total of 22 known organs of A. G. Casparini. MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006: 11) claims that Casparini built 44 organs without substantiating the claim, however. The worklist she provides (ibid. p 15-18) summs up only 26 new organs, but even without taking Alt-Pillau, Soldau, Germau or Nordenburg into account


In addition to my comments on the worklist above, I have some other comments on the thesis of MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006).

1. The worklist is only partly chronological, leaving a the reader a bit puzzled as to the sequence. It is partly on starting date, partly on end-date of the organ building projects.

2. It is a pity that MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006) did not include photo's of the organs in Stradaunen, Königsberg (Altroßgarter, Haberberger), Germau, Nordenburg or Scharnau in her book, although these are available. Also, the available pre-war picture of Leunenburg differs notably from the current state of the facade and should have resulted in a more critical description of the present state. As Chapter V of the book ( p. 59-70) is dealing with a comparison (actually, not more than a description only) of 5 organ facades (of which one is not from Casparini at all), the comparison of 10 (11) facades would have resulted in better substantiated theses.

3. The organ in Döbern (now Dobry, PL) was not built by A. G. Casparini but, according to RENKEWITZ & JANCA (1984: 112 note 6), by Georg Sigismund Caspari. The prominent place this organ receives in the discussions by MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006: 59-61) is therefore very unfortunate.

4. Including the organ formerly in Polock (now in Vilnius) in the Casparini-worklist is based solely on the authority of the unsubstantiated statements of GOLOS 1967. Furthermore, it is a way of discarding the evidence found by Dr. Povilionis that the organ was built by Nicolaus Jantzon, as published in his thesis and presented in the Casparini-conference in Vilnius in 2004. As a matter of fact this is not discussed in a proper way by MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006) in the worklist (p. 16, where this discussion belongs) but only mentioned in a footnote (note 64, page 42).

5. It is therefore that I hesitate to include all entries of MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006) in the worklist of this site. The supposed Casparini-organs of Polock, Pilawa, Neukirche, Gabin, Grodno, Sensburg and Szirowicz are, in absence of more definite proof and data, not included.

6. The organ of Marggrabowa, included in the worklist of MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006: 15) was completed after the death of Georg Sigismund Caspari by Johann Heinrich Westhoff (RENKEWITZ & JANCA 1984: 250) and not built by Casparini.

7. The most interesting chapter of the book is without doubt that (IV) in which eleven Casparini specifications are compared. It is also the most elaborated part of the book (MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE 2006: 22-58). However, the 8 pages describing in detail the organ of the Holy Ghost Church in Vilnius provide no new information, but draw on information published by GOArt in 2001. The comparisons itself are interesting enough. But the noted difference between the specification of the Polock organ with all other treated specifications (see MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006: 43) does not result in a critical appraisal of the attribution of this organ.

8. The chronology of Casparini´s biography provided by MOTUZAITE-PINKEVIVIENE (2006: 11-12) does apparently contains some mistakes. I'll cite the statements and provide some comments as well:
     6-1. Page 11: "His first instrument were built together with his father in St. Adalbert Church in Breslau and in the Dominican Church in Glogau".
These organs were built in 1737 and 1740 respectively.
     6-2. Page 11: "He subsequently spent six years in Saxony and Thuringia"
This means between 1740-1746.
     6-3. Page 11: "From 1735 till 1737, he apprenticed with Heinrich Gottfried Trost."
The Altenburg organ was built between 1735-1739.
     6-4. Page 12: "After Georg Siegmund Caspari's death in 1741, Casparini assumed his cousin's workshop in Königsberg, and in 1742 became the privileged organ builder of the Königsberg court."
Thus, it was not possible for him to built organs in Ostpreußen before 1741.

According to this chronology, it is not possible that A. G. Casparini was involved in the building of the organs in Schaaken and Döbern although the latter organ is an explicit subject of investigation in the book.
Casparini spent six apprentice years before 1737 (not subsequently after 1740), so from 1731 to 1737. As he was born in 1715, this date (Casparini being around 16 years of ages then) seems a reasonable starting point for his career.

9. For the first time, information about A. G. Casparini and several of his organs is easily available on one place in English. That makes this book an important contribution. But it is certainly not "the book about Casparini". The book would have profited from a more critical attitude towards and closer reading of the various sources, more completeness and especially more discussions on the used data. Well, I am sorry that my comments are not so favourable as I wish they should have been, but then I am a little disapointed in the result.


As I am still collecting photo's, stop-lists, CD's and publications about Casparini, I would ask all readers if they can sent me references, pictures or information or provide references to interesting sites.

Do you have any other pictures or information about Casparini-organs? Please send me E - mail:

about Casparini-organs to: Dr Rob Kruijt, The Netherlands.


Last update: June 22, 2012