Go to content

Lausanne St.François

Informations > Instruments

The Scherrer/Walcker/Kuhn Organ of the St-François church in Lausanne
The church of Saint Francis was built in 1272 by the Friar Minors of the Province of Bourgogne. The Counts of Savoy restored it in 1387, after the fire of 1368. It was sacked in June 1476, after the battle of Morat and as a result of the Reformation it was abandoned by the Franciscans in1536. During the time of Berne, the church underwent various modifications. The tribune and the altars were demolished and the width of the church was given a new positioning in front of its 15-century pulpit, which can still be seen today. Due the demographic increase, new galleries were built around the nave in the 17 and 18 centuries; these have now been suppressed. A new tribune in the west was installed in 1776 for the organ. The 15-century stalls are the oldest in Switzerland, like those of the Cistercian monastery of Maigrauge near Fribourg. The pulpit of Saint Francis is the only one still to be found in its original space among those of the Mendicant Orders in Switzerland. It was from this pulpit that Pierre Viret preached the reform for the first time in Lausanne, at the beginning of 1536. Samson Scherrer was a Swiss constructor of organs from Toggenburg. After building approximately fifteen organs in France, he constructed [for this church] an instrument with 22 registers, but unfortunately its composition is no longer available. Today, of his organ remains only the case of the Great Organ and the Positive Organ (case and pipes). This organ has functioned for nearly a century before being substituted in 1866 with a German organ by Walcker, who also enlarged it in 1880. Since 1906, numerous interventions have been made by the firm Th. Kuhn; they have modified and shaped the instrument according to the fashion of the time and of its organists, while maintaining a sizeable amount of the Romantic phonic material by Walcker. In 1990, in preparation of important works of restorations in the church, the City of Lausanne decided to rebuild the instrument, reutilizing – for the composition of the new organ – almost half of the old pipes built by Scherrer and Walcker, and many of those by Kuhn. Yet, this was not a reduction of the instrument to return it to a classical form, now considered too limited. The composition of the new organ has been elaborated in collaboration between the Institute of Historical Monuments, the Kuhn firm, and the titular organist. The transmission is mechanical and the number of stops remains identical to the one prior to reconstruction, but distributed on five manuals instead of four, plus pedals. The weight of the mechanics caused by the couplers of the keyboards is compensated by completely original, rather small, pneumatic assistance, which have been developed by Kuhn. The tribune is aesthetically closer to the original and shows well the front of the Positive which has been silent since 1865. Previously the façade had been hidden by a disproportionately enlarged tribune. This organ is an unique example of symphonic synthesis in Francophone Switzerland, which was inaugurated in 1995. (D.Coenca)

Home page/Basket | Products | How to order | Video samples | Distributors | Informations | Contacts | Site Map

Back to content | Back to main menu