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The Silbermann organs
in Marmoutier

The Friends of the Silbermann Organs :

> The cycle of masses at the abbey

During this cycle, which takes place in May and June, the Friends of the Organ give a broad public to chance to (re)discover sacred music in the liturgical setting for which it was originally composed.
In this remarkable place, with its exceptional acoustic, marked by more than 1500 years of history and spiritual life, renowned ensembles perform dominical masses. Reputed organists play the Silbermann organ, an instrument designed to give its full breadth to French music.
> The summer Silbermann organ festival
Each Sunday at 17h, during the months of July and August, an organist invited by the Friends of the Organ presents the organ and the works he is subsequently going to interpret. Free admission, a collecting plate at the exit for donations towards the upkeep and future work on the organ.
> An exhibition
This is held in the abbey from May to June and offers a journey through the 300 years of history of the Marmoutier organ.
> Future plans
1709-2009 – it's nearly the 300th anniversary of the installation of the organ!
There are plans to completely clean the instrument and restore the woodwork and the balustrade using elements which still exist, etc.

CD of the organ are for sale in the tourist office.

André Silbermann's family :

Originally from Saxony, André Silbermann (1678-1734) arrived in Alsace in around 1699 and settled in Strasbourg in around 1702.

First organ:
In 1702, he constructed his first instrument in Strasbourg and taught organ building to his younger brother, Gottfried (1683-1753).

Parisian period:
Between 1704 and 1706, he left the management of the workshop to his brother to go to Paris to train in French organ building with François Thierry (1677-1749).

First big contracts:
In 1707, the flourishing abbey of Marmoutier place an order with him for a large organ in the French style. In 1708, Gottfried returned to Saxony as laid down in his apprenticeship contract.

André Silbermann died in 1734 and his eldest son, Jean André (1712-1783), succeeded him in the workshop. He was quickly recognised as the equal of his father. In 1746, as stipulated in the 1707 contract with the abbey of Marmoutier, he completed the positive divisions and the pedalboard, which was free-standing, and added an antiphonal.

André Silbermann's other sons:
Jean Daniel (1717-1766) constructed organs in Saxony with his Uncle Gottfried, who remained unmarried. Jean Henri (1727-1799) delivered harpsichords, clavichords and pianofortes throughout Europe.

The works of the Silbermanns:
In 80 years, André and Jean André constructed 91 organs. In 1786, the renown of the Silbermann dynasty came to an end with the death of the last descendant of the Silbermanns, Jean Josias (1765-1786), the son of Jean André.

Jean-André Silbermann
at the age of 30

(Pastel by F.B. FREY)

Cross-section of the organ and details of its mechanics :

Composition of the Silbermann organ in Marmoutier :


Great Division

Positive Division





(49 notes)

(49 notes)

(25 notes)

(25 notes) +2 in 1955








Show pipes 8

Drone Pipes 8

   Drone Pipes 8

Flute 16*

André S.


Drone Pipes 16

Diapason 4

   Diapason 4

Flute 8

Jean-André S.


Drone Pipes 8

Nazard 2 2/3

   Nazard 2 2/3

Flute 4



Diapason 4

Borrows 2

   Borrows 2

Bombardon 16*



Nazard 2 2/3

Thirds 1 3/5*

   Thirds 1 3/5

Trumpet 8



Borrows 2

Furniture 3 rows





Thirds 1 3/5

Krumm Horn





Cornet 5 rows


* In the positive: the Thirds are not new and are not by Silbermann
* In the pedal: the worm-eaten bodies of Flute 16 and Bombardon 16 have been replaced
Great Division / Chest Positive coupling
Soft tremolant Great Division + Positive
Suspended mechanical traction, entirely by Silbermann
Wind chests by Silbermann
Diapason: 392 Hz, i.e. 1 tone below the A 440 Hz.


Furniture 3 rows



Cymbal 3 rows



Trumpet 8



Bugle 4



Human voice 8





The Silbermann organ... Three centuries of history :

> 1707: contract signed between André Silbermann and Anselme Moser, Abbott from 1702 to 1733.
> 1709-1710: installation of the organ but certain divisions remained empty. André Silbermann nearly lost his life because of a blow from an adze inflicted by a drunken workman.
> 1719: order for a positive for the abbey choir.
> 1746: completion of the Marmoutier organ and the one in St.Quirin in Moselle by Jean André Silbermann.
> 1755: improvement of the blower (Jean André+ Gottfried).
> 1765: dust removal after work in the choir (Jean André + Jean Daniel).
> 1772: repair of the blower (Sauer, a workman from Silbermann's team).
> 1805: threat of the organ being bought by the parish of Saint Jean in Strasbourg.
> 1872, 1887, 1915, 1930: various tunings, renovations and denaturation: nazard on the positive converted into 4-thirds flute of the positive removed.
> 1951: Birth of the association, the Friends of the Silbermann Organ of Marmoutier on the initiative of Marcel Thomann with the support of Albert Schweitzer.
> 1954-55: renovation to its original condition by the Strasbourg organ builders, Mulheisen and Kern.
> 1975: dust removal after interior renovation of the abbey (Kern of Strasbourg).
> 2009-2010: Renovation and birthday of 300 years of the Silbermann organ.

Albert Schweitzer at the organ
in 1955

Silbermann organs in Alsace :

Organs in the Land of Marmoutier 

Organs in Alsace are a rich part of our churches' heritage.
Here is a brief list of those which can be found in the
land of Marmoutier :

Reutenbourg : Church of Saint Cyriaque
STIEHR-MOCKERS organ, 1861.
: Repaired by Alfred Kern
Authentic organ (except for the pipes on the facade and the fan). Oak case, well preserved.

Schwenheim : Church of Saints Vincent and Anastasia
Xavier STIEHR organ, 1865
1934 and 1937
: repairs by Kriess
Oak case, well preserved

Dimbsthal : Church of Saint Symphorien
Organ by Paul ADAM of Lingolsheim, 1950

Singrist : Church of St Rémy
Charles WETZEL organ, 1881
: Aloïse LORENTZ added an independent console and a 2nd keyboard
: conversion by Edmond-Alexandre ROETHINGER
: Restored by M. KERN
Oak case

Lochwiller : Eglise Saint-Jacques
Orgue Martin WETZEL, 1860
1916 :  réparation Edmond Alexandre ROETHINGER
1944 : Ventilateur électrique posé par Edgard WETZEL
Actuellement en travaux de restauration
Buffet en chêne
Organs in Lochwiller