Historical Articles and Information

Mechanical Organ (Hornwerk) at the Fortress Hohensalzburg

During the Middle ages numerous cities, monasteries and cloisters had mechanical organs built into their gateways and fortification towers. The only organ to have survived in its entirety until today is the organ at the fortress of Hohensalzburg. Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach supposedly had it built in 1502 in order to wake the town inhabitants at four in the morning and to signal the time for bed at seven in the evening. This open air instrument was constructed in the manner of a block organ; it has only metal pipes – 135 of them, for the most part original – bellows and wind box. There is no key board to play it. If the bellows are operated a much amplified F-A-C chord results in a pronounced third; the signalling “roar” that can be heard over a wide distance and which, in Salzburg, has led to the addition of the name “bull” to the descriptive term “horn”.

The Salzburg “castle horn” was originally located behind a double door to the balcony of the upper storey above the state apartments. It was allegedly moved to its present site – in an oriel on the “long corridor” above the bastion – in the northern perimeter wall in 1640. At this time the barrel organ, which has also survived, was added. It operates independently of the “horn and at first played just one piece; the “Alter Choral”. The “Stier” could thus be interrupted to give the musical sequence, (horn) – Choral – (horn).

The barrel organ has 125 principal pipes and a range from F- g2. To correspondingly increase the sound output the tones are executed twice for the deepest up to eight times for the highest.

Open air instruments are exposed, to a certain extent, to the vagaries of temperature and the weather. For this reason the organ has had to be renovated on a number of occasions over the years. In 1725, as part of a repair to the mechanism, a new barrel with three musical pieces was planned, but it never came about. In 1753, the Salzburg court organ constructor, Rochus Egedacher, was responsible for a “complete renovation and expansion of this beautiful mechanism” For the most part re-using the original pipes he rebuilt the instrument as it is known to us today, providing 12 musical pieces, one per month on a new barrel. The short musical pieces were intended to characterise the months of the year and were composed by the court musician, Leopold Mozart and Johann Ernst Ebelin. As a result of public demand, in 1759 Leopold Mozart published the twelve melodies in a piano version under the title, “the morning and the evening”; a reference to the fact that the “horn” could be heard daily in the early morning and in the evening.

Pins set into the drum relate to the notes to be played; the iron axle of the drum is turned by means of a flywheel. This causes the metal pins to come into contact with tiny levers that are responsible for opening the pipe valves and consequently brings about the desired tone. For short notes a single pin is sufficient, whereas a bridge is required for the long notes. Notches on the drum
allow the mechanism to be disengaged and the musical piece to be changed.

The organ mechanism today is, for the most part, just as it was after the renovation of Rochus Egedacher in 1753. The musical programme, however, has been changed many times:- in 1820 the Salzburg gunsmith, Gitzl, set six new pieces on the drum; in 1853 the Austrian National anthem was also added. In 1892 the drum and the pins were in such a poor state that a renovation could not be put off any longer. The organ mechanism was restored by the Salzburg organ builders, Matthäus Mauracher and the Viennese organ builder, Franz Janisch was given the task of setting the drum with the following nine musical pieces, chosen by an expert commission and representing “excellent Salzburg composers”.

  1. Joseph Haydn:- Austrian Natinal Anthem
  2. anonymous:- the “alter Choral”
  3. Paul Hofhaimer:- "Lydia, dic"
  4. W. A. Mozart:- "Komm, lieber Mai"
  5. Michael Haydn:- "Sehnsucht nach dem Landleben”
  6. Johann Ernst Eberlin:- menuetto
  7. Johann Ernst Eberlin:- lullaby
  8. Leopold Mozart:- the hunt
  9. Leopold Mozart:- menuetto pastorello

The last four pieces originate from the 1753 repertoire.

In 1938 two National Socialist songs were added to the drum, which were subsequently removed after 1945.

After 1945 a second drum, with the following repertoire, was created in order to provide for a greater musical variety.
  1. Paul Hofhaimer: "Lydia dic"
  2. anonymous:- the “alter Choral”
  3. Salzburg monk:- Roisenlied
  4. Paul Hofhaimer:- "Ich hab heimlich ergeben mich"
  5. Alois Taux:- "Der Heiland ist erstanden"
  6. Folk-song:- "Still, still, still"
  7. Joseph Haydn:- Kaiserlied
  8. W. A. Mozart:- National Anthem (Bundeshymne)

Fifty years on the “Salzburg Bull” was once again ready for a complete overhaul. In the spring of 2001 the programme of the two drums was painstakingly and admirably transcribed by Renate Croll. This transcription forms the basis for the template which is jointly being put together by the Institute for Music at Salzburg University and an internationally renowned expert on mechanical organs, Jan Jaap Haspels, the director of the National Museum in Utrecht in Holland. Currently, in Utrecht the twelve pieces from 1753 are being set on the renovated drum and in the workshop of master organ builder, Ferdinand Salomon (Leobendorf/N.Ö), the pipes bellows and wind box are being restored.

A second drum with pieces, whose vocal characteristics at the speed at which they are played is more appropriate to an open air mechanical instrument than those gallant offerings from 1753, is currently in the planning stage. To mark the 500th. anniversary of the mechanical organ and after many years of restoration, the “Salzburg Bull” can again be heard on 26th. October 2002.

Gerhard Walterkirchen

Music at the Fortress of Hohensalzburg
(Abridged translation of the article "Musik auf der Festung Hohensalzburg"
by Gerhard Walterskirchen)

"As the procession passed over a beautiful roofed bridge spanning the Salzach river we could hear a trumpet concert taking place in a tower. We arrived at the palace where there were also many soldiers on guard to be seen. ..... The castle or fortress, which was situated high above us and had not issued a sound from itself until then, suddenly began with its powerful gun salvos. In short, the noise from the shots, the trumpets and the drums were deafening." - That was how the then highly acclaimed singer and writer Margarita Costa described the Salzburg visit of Grand Duke Ferdinand II from Tuscany in 1628.

This example, one of many similar, serves to illustrate the fact that music was an expected and ever present element at festivals and celebrations, bringing about a sense of conviviality and community spirit in the archbishopric of Salzburg. Archbishop Pilgrim II from Puchheim (1365-1396) was the first archbishop to surround himself with an ostentatious court along Italian lines and to actively sponsor both music and creative writing. From the 15th. century onwards the fortress Hohensalzburg, symbol of the secular power of the archbishops, was not excluded from this development. Confirmation of this fact exists in the form of travel descriptions, inventories and declarations of duties of individual musicians from that time but most definitely also through the existence of the chapel, trumpet towers and the mechanical organ (hornwerk).

St George's chapel was built during the reign of Archbishop Leonard von Keutschach. It was inaugurated on the 21st. August 1502. It's true that there was a church before this time; invoices from 1487 until 1502 in the Salzburg consistorial archive prove it, but no other evidence exists. A castle chaplain was engaged to conduct the masses and further to that, from 1655 a castle preacher from the Franciscan monastery. In 1672 Archbishop Max Gandolph had a chaplain's house built in which there was also space for the school and accommodation for the teacher. From 1676 this school service was always linked with the castle chapel. The 28 year old verger and organist, Hans Diewald Jordan, was appointed so, at least from 1676, St. George's chapel must have had an organ. Jordan died in 1686; his successor was the musketeer, Georg Trattner. The office was preferentially bestowed upon old soldiers when they possessed the necessary skills or acquired them, if need be by marrying the widow or daughter of their predecessor. Trattner's daughter took over the position after her father in 1715 and married Simon Hochmann in 1727. After his death in 1770, his daughter received permission to carry on. Despite this, in 1773 the soldier, Anton Troll was given preference on the understanding that he paid compensation of 1 fl. per month. His successor, Franz Forstner, the son of a castle armoury worker not only had to learn to play the organ -"only in so far as it was necessary for the accompaniment of the commended German hymns" -, but he also had to pay Eva Hochmann until he was promoted in 1802 to the position of clerk and porter to the court council of war. Thereafter, on the recommendation of Vierthaler, the head gunner Anton Sellinger was enlisted to the service of the church and school at the fortress.

The "ancient organ with three registers" was listed in the "inventory of valuables and other equipment for St George's castle church in Salzburg for the Solar year 1900." It was given a value of 20 Austrian crowns and was described as being in poor condition. At the end of the second world war the organ had disappeared without trace. It was repaired in 1902 by the Salzburg firm Albert Mauracher following the comments of the renowned organist, Nussbaumer, who had played the organ at the feast of the resurrection on Easter Saturday and had found that only a few notes could be squeezed out of it. In 1914 the organ broke down during the service at Corpus Christi. Following this Matthäus Mauracher was given the task of repairing it. The repair had to cover a complete inspection, cleaning, restoration, intonation and tuning and was not to cost more than 50 crowns. According to the opinion of the experts "it was no longer possible to hold a church ceremony with the accompaniment of this organ". Nonetheless the organ remained in use until 1942, when, due to fears for its safety, it was removed to the storage rooms at the fortress. In 1945 it was brought out again, pulled apart and badly damaged. All trace of the organ disappeared then until 1973, when it was unexpectedly found in private ownership.

In a report about this, the author was of the opinion that the organ had been built in 1753 by Rochus Egedacher. This was inconsistent with a number of details (the casing, the princely coat of arms on the organ base balustrade.....), which were dealt with in full in a later study. The organ had the registers coupler 4', flute 2' and doublet 2' +1' and had been restored by the Swiss organ builder, Ziegler (Uetikon). According to the picture provided, the range of tones extended from C to c3 (with shorter octave). The register stops were situated on the right next to the keyboard, the woodwind register, coupler 4', was located, without cladding, in the centre of a beautifully decorated harp shape. The measurements, as given by P. Anselm Ebner in his work " guide to the art and antique monuments of the Salzburg region " (1895-1899, in the library of St. Peter's abbey) are :- width 97 cm., height 92 cm.(maximum), depth 48 cm. Luckily the original appearance of the organ and its position in St. George's church has been preserved in a photograph from Hofrat Alois Schmiedbauer, taken in 1941.

On Corpus Christi Saturday and the following octavo processions were held. A high mass was celebrated on the inauguration days of St George's chapel and St. Leonard's chapel, at which the town's parish musicians had to play. Brother Franz Heinrich Pichler from Kremsmünster abbey recounts St George's day at the fortress in his diary on the 23rd. April 1746. He wrote that everybody was allowed up to the palace quarters because it was a Sunday and patron saint's day and describes how, together with Brother Alexander, he was welcomed by the administrator, who's name was Kaiser. In 1802 a secular celebration took place and in 1903 a triduum; the pupils of the school and members of the Dominican order formed the choir. The fortress organ played "we praise you, almighty God" to welcome the Archbishop Katschthaler and his entourage. After the sermon and the ceremonial blessing the 'Lauretanish' litany and the Te Deum were sung.

The sources relating to the two trumpet towers go further back; the lower, square tower, situated above the Mayor's gateway was erected in 1506, the round, upper tower, earlier in 1465. Lorenz Hubner described in 1794 how at night an enormous lantern would be hung out from the upper tower and during the day a flag. A magnificent panorama over the town and surrounding countryside was to be had from here;. strangers - friends or foes, approaching dangers or lively celebrations could all be quickly recognized from the tower and with trumpets or horns signalled to the garrison at the fortress as well as the inhabitants in the town below. Taman Veldpacher was the first trumpeter to be mentioned in a document from 1450. Further names of trumpeters from 1482 onwards can be found in declarations of duties and bills kept in the state archives in Vienna. In 1490 Bartholomäus Ostermayr was engaged at the fortress Hohensalzburg as a tower trumpeter. His successor was Wilhelm Wergker from Vilseck. It can be seen from his pay declaration from 1497 that he was paid 20 pounds a year by Archbishop Leonard; apart from that he was provided with court clothes and a sinecure as a servant to the Prince Bishop. He had to be obedient and honest and his playing was not restricted solely to the trumpet. This is shown in an agreement between Archbishop Lang and the musician, Ulrich Schubinger in 1519; Schubinger was taken on with the understanding that he would play the violin, the trumpet, various wind instruments, the lute and any other instruments that he was able to play. In 1526 the names of two trumpeters and two singers appeared on the palace staff list. In the inventory from 1593 descriptions such as pipers' chamber and drummers' chamber indicate the presence of other musicians at the castle.

On the 10th. July 1587 the princely trumpeters played from the trumpet tower high up on the fortress to accompany a splendid banquet in honour of the newly elected archbishop, Wolf Dietrich. The Christmas and New Year celebrations were always accompanied by the festive music of horns and trumpets at the court, in front of the town hall, at St Peter's, the convent at Nonnberg and in front of the patricians' houses. In return the musicians were rewarded in coins of the realm. Brother Pichler also made a note of the new year musical customs in Salzburg in his diary, remarking that here, as in the rest of the world, everybody was busy with New Year celebrations and that in Salzburg the custom had established itself many years earlier that from three in the morning virtually everything that moved would be greeted with music . He recounted how first the local inhabitants would come , closely followed by soldiers, all intent on hailing the Archbishop with drums and pipes. Last, but not least, the court trumpeters would parade with their trumpets and drums past all the canons' houses and official buildings in the town until nearly 7 o' clock. Very little had changed up to Brother Pichler's time; he describes the contemporary participants touring the town with oboes, faggots and hunting horns and tells us how at 12 o clock the tower trumpeters would reach the Convict yard and then four court trumpeters with drummers to play music for the New Year; Accounts of the above mentioned 'processions' and the considerable numbers of people involved are to be found in the manuscripts from the late 17th. and early 18th. centuries, which have been preserved in the Nonnberg convent.

The effect that the Renaissance and Humanismus had on music was quite simply a direct involvement in all areas of human endeavour; music encompassed every possible aspect of life's expressions. The centre point of this impact was still via the church, yet the two opposite supporting poles were the grandeur of the court and the peacefulness of the private chamber. The inventory of the estate of Cardinal Matthäus Lang from the year 1540 kept in the Salzburg consistorial archive serves to illustrates this point.

It's fascinating for us to imagine the music of Paul Hofhaimer, Heinrich Finck or Gregor Peschin played for the first time by members of the Salzburg court orchestra in the Golden Room, the Golden Hall or one of the other rooms within the state apartments How versatile these musicians were is shown in a report from 1540 of the investiture celebrations for Ernst Duke of Bavaria, successor to Matthäus Lang. The report describes how, during the banquet, musicians played the harmonium, lute, and flute and afterwards the singers were accompanied by violins. In later inventories a harmonium is only once mentioned; in 1597. Entries in inventories and other documents from 1806 list the following instruments under the heading ' requisites for players and types of drum:-. 7 fifes; 3 horns for the tower guards; 7 brass drums; 4 Turkish wooden drums; 9 ordinary wooden drums; 3 ordinary brass drums plus cases, carrying straps, skins and drum sticks.

So it can be seen that the only remaining musical witness to this golden era in Salzburg. albeit not in its original condition, is the mechanical organ at the fortress Located high above a bastion, it overlooks to the east the upper trumpet tower. From here, in an oriel like construction on the 'long passageway', it has withstood all the trials and tribulations that have come its way.

Tradition has it that the organ, which was later to become known as the "Salzburger Stier" (ox), was built on the instruction of Leonard von Keutschach. It doesn't have any keyboard, consisting only of pipes, wind box and bellows. When it was actually constructed is nowhere documented. The reason for this is undoubtedly due to the fact that the organ was first brought to its present location much later. The previously mentioned inventory and old pictures leave no doubt that this symbol of Salzburg was to be found behind the winged altar in the protruding tower like construction above the State Apartment . The Salzburg chronicler, Stainhauser (died:- 1626), who was for many years in service to Archbishop Wolf Dietrich, indirectly confirms this in the conclusion to his account on " Wolf Dietrich's life and way of life" He writes that during Wolf Dietrich's imprisonment at the fortress the organ, which was normally played every day at four in the morning and seven in the evening and , which, in his opinion, had a far from pleasant tone, was given a rest as Wolf Dietrich's accommodation was located directly above it. From the same account we also know that Wolf Dietrich inhabited inter alia the first room next to the Golden Hall'. Exactly when the organ was carried over to its present location within the northern surrounding wall we don't know. Schlegel suggests that it was in the year 1644. when Archbishop Paris Lodron had the tiled roof to the palace tract removed; this however, contradicts an inventory, still to be found in the consistorial archive, of household equipment in the upper floor inner palace rooms. The inventory is dated 22nd April 1650 and states that the first chamber on the top floor was too near to the mechanical organ Quite possibly the relocation took place during the time of the restoration work to the organ in 1668. A picture of the fortress dated 1735 shows quite clearly the situation as it is today.

Mechanical organs, in the same way as bells, served as acoustical reminders and could consequently have several functions. According to the requirement of Archbishop Leonard, the Salzburg 'castle horn' should act as an alarm to wake the inhabitants of the town or to indicate the time for sleep or otherwise to act as a means of communication, in a similar way to the alpine horns used in the valleys. A much enhanced 'screaming' horn like sound was achieved by playing the harmonised tone of the triad F major through 135 metal pipes, ordered into octavo and fifth ranges. The Passau organ builder, Michael Rytzinger, from whom the mechanical organ in the gate tower of Kremsmunster (1518) originates, and Christian Taler from Wasserburg/Inn, who set up the giant organ in St. Peter's abbey in 1505, were consulted. No evidence of the involvement of either of them, however, exists, the mechanical organ first being mentioned in the inventory of 1540.

Still in the 16th. century Quoika suggests that a barrel organ was added to the organ mechanism before 1560 in such a way that although connected it was its own entity. Its purpose was to soften the effect of the inflexible shrieking chords of the mechanical organ by the interspersion of a musical piece, which Leopold Mozart already called the 'old choral'. Despite this, the origin of the piece or its composer still couldn't be traced. Although already categorically rejected in 1927 by Hermann Spies, the theory of Engls that the Pallinger canon, Augustin Ebler, was the composer has a certain tradition, generally being preferred to the other composers named in this connection, Hofhaimer and Glanner. The melody seems in its three line structure like a compilation from many known choral parts and was apparently to be found amongst the body of songs set down in the hymn books, which themselves were listed in the previously mentioned 1540 inventory. The constructor of the barrel organ has also remained anonymous; one possibility could be the Salzburg organ maker Caspar Bockh, who is known to have improved the technically similar mechanical organ at Admont abbey. That organ has 125 pipes for the notes F to g2, in order to be able to intensify the effectiveness of the upper range notes, and was built in the same blockwork manner; that is, without a division of the stops. The fortress mechanism has in addition a drum, where the pins have been hammered in to mark the registers corresponding to the piece to be played. The drum can be moved on an iron axle by means of a flywheel. This causes the pins to rub against tiny levers which then open the organ pipe valves and thereby trigger the notes. For short notes a single pin is sufficient whereas for long ones a so called bridge or comb had to be constructed. At first the Salzburg barrel organ played only one piece, the 'old choral', introduced and concluded by the stretched chord of the organ mechanism. During the course of the innumerable weather-related repairs - it is, after all, an open air organ - the repertoire was constantly extended. In 1668 the organ played three pieces; by 1753 this had increased to 12. The Salzburg court musician, Leopold Mozart, and Johann Ernst Eberlin had used the repair of the organ by the court organ maker Rochus Egedacher as an opportunity to compose additional pieces for the new drum. The original versions may have disappeared but the music was preserved 'on the request of many music lovers' within other pieces by the two composers; one such piece was an arrangement for the piano by Leopold Mozart. Six pieces originated from Leopold Mozart and five from von Eberlin, so, together with the 'old choral', which was maintained, there were a total of twelve pieces; one for each month of the year. In 1820 a new drum with six musical pieces was attached to the old barrel shaft and, ten years later a seventh piece was added; the old Austrian anthem. In 1893 during another overhaul the repertoire from 1753 was discovered in Augsburg; as a result of this the 'old choral', two pieces each from Leopold Mozart and von Eberlin as well as pieces from W.A. Mozart, Joseph and Michael Haydn and Paul Hofhaimer were put onto the drum by the Viennese organ builder, Franz Janisch. The last restoration of the organ mechanism was undertaken by the Salzburg organ manufacturer, Reinisch. Until recently the organ was played every day at 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 6. p.m. between Palm Sunday and the 31st. October (*) following the Carillon and, similar to this, offered an incongruous mix from which only the 'old choral' and the hymns from Paul Hofhaimer maintain the connection with the former repertoire. This belies a unique example of gothic organ building of which the world should still be proud.

As we have seen, the fortress Hohensalzburg, has always had an effect on the town; its music drifting down from the heights above. To this day, nothing has changed, even though the former symbol of princeley might no longer penetrates the cacophony of a large town to reach the inhabitants. The organ and drum mechanisms, however, demonstrate a continuity in the music of the fortress since the 16th. century. Just as the church music from that time, celebrating the patron saint, has been kept alive by incorporation within the music of the cathedral Occasionally concerts offer the appeal of blending the music together with a historical location. With its setting and historical connections the fortress Hohensalzburg possesses the prerequisites to bring life into a cultural art form.

Source:- "900 years Fortress Hohensalzburg", published by the Salzburg Regional Government Press Office to accompany the festival at the Fortress Hohensalzburg 4th. until 12th. June 1977.

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