Go to content


Informations > Instruments

The N. Niehoff organ (1551) der St. Johanniskirche, Lüneburg

The first indications of an organ in the St. Johanniskirche, Lüneburg date back to 1374. In 1551 the city’s municipal council commissioned a new instrument from Hendrik Niehoff and Jasper Johansen of s’Hertogenbosch, completed two years later; in 1578, Dirk Hoyer of Hamburg added a 16-foot Untersatz. On the instructions of Dietrich Buxtehude, the organ builder Matthias Mahn built a new case to accommodate an 8-foot Tromba and a Feldflöte. In his Syntagma musicum, published in 1619, Michael Praetorius hailed the organ as ‘the most important in Germany’. In 1635, the instrument was restored by Franz Theodor Kretzschmar, and many of the pipe ranks were replaced. Further revisions to the specification were carried out between 1651 and 1652, by Friedrich Stellwagen.
In 1683, Arp Schnitger found the organ to be in a parlous state and proposed building a new instrument, but negotations came to nothing. Three decades later, in 1714, the municipal council offered the job to Matthias Dropa, who accepted; instead of a complete rebuild, Dropa reused components of the organ and added various new stops. The pedal towers were decorated with Baroque-style embellishments, the spring chests were replaced by slider windchests, and the Renaissance casework was also remodelled in Baroque style.
Georg Böhm, the church’s organist from 1698 to 1733, may have given lessons on the instrument to the young Johann Sebastian Bach during his residence in Lüneburg from 1700 to 1703.
In another restoration, in 1850, Eduard Meyer replaced the slider chests; Oskar Walcker did further work on them in 1926, installing pneumatic action and adding a fourth manual. Between 1952 and 1953, Rudolf von Beckerath carried out a major rebuild, restoring the organ to mechanical action; this lasted until the 1960s, when work was required to repair cracks in the wood due to drying out. In 1975-76, von Beckerath fitted new windchests and removed the fourth manual; in 1992 a 32-foot Trombone was added. In interviews, von Beckerath declared that his intention was to return the instrument, tonally, to the era of Georg Böhm. A further restoration was undertaken (2007-9) by Orgelbau Kuhn, Männedorf, Swizterland.
The organ is now completely mechanical, operating on wind pressure of 75mm, pitched at A = 453Hz, and tuned to equal temperament. The specification is as follows:

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

Back to content | Back to main menu