Gebr. Oberlinger Orgelbau, Windesheim, Germany, is heir to the unique organbuilding tradition of the Middle Rhine region. This tradition, spanning 250 years, is the distillation of the special role that this region has played, and continues to participate, in the central crossroads of European life.
The Middle Rhine Tradition of organbuilding has historically blended the best of the German and French organbuilding traditions for over 250 years. Outstanding historic builders in the Middle Rhine Tradition include Johann Wilhelm Schöler in Bad Ems, the large dynasty of Stumm in the village of Rhaunen-Sulzbach, Jean Nollet in Trier, and many others. The Middle Rhine region has been an area of cultural cross-fertilization for centuries, and has formed the organic growth of the Middle Rhine organbuilding tradition: blending especially the characteristic warmth and richness of sound found in organs in the southern area of Germany, and traditions especially in the making of the reeds, from France. In all, the Middle Rhine organ sound is characterized as warm, rich, and clear.
Gebr. Oberlinger is the only outstanding builder today in the Middle Rhine tradition, and one of the oldest continuously building workshops of mechanical-action instruments in Germany, since 1860. Working truly in this tradition does not mean that our instruments are merely “historic” : indeed Gebr. Oberlinger has been awarded several important awards by the German Government for their innovations in organbuilding. These have included awards for:
1. The Cubus ®
A patented flue pipe stop which enables the incorporation of a 16′ stop in our Compact Organs with minimal space. The Cubus ® 16′ needs only 1/7 the space of a usual 16′ stop, allowing organists and music lovers to enjoy a 16′ stop on a residence or studio organ, without sacrificing tonal beauty.
2. The External Balancer
This invention supports the tracker mechanism in large organs with many stops and long tracker actions without interruption, so that the tracker action becomes easily playable but does not lose its precision and sensitivity. This is important for the organist who desires the finest nuances in the tracker action.
3. Wind Vortex Reduction
Our research has been to develop a device which eliminates wind vortexes caused by slowly or quickly oscillating electric blowers. This creates wind conditions corresponding to historic calcant systems, where the wind was made by feeder bellows and wind vortexes did not exist. By this the pipes’ sound is steadier and calmer.
These are just three of several important innovations Oberlinger has made recently in the field of organbuilding, and reveals that our tradition is a living one.
Gebr. Oberlinger has been responsible for the design and building of organs throughout the world: from the Far East, in Korea, Japan, and recently the largest organ in China; the Middle East in Jerusalem, through Western Europe, Africa, North and South America.
We are pleased to offer an essay on the history of the Middle Rhine organbuilding tradition, which you can see here.