The Church Organ of Alexanderhausen
by Dr. Franz Metz
Published by Banater Post Nr.12, 20 July 2009
Translated by N. Tullius
The Catholic parish
accommodates one of the
most interesting organs
of the Banat. It is an
instrument built by
Temeswar organ builder
Paul Gály in 1840 for
this village. The church
itself had been built
only few years earlier
(1836/37). In the
beginning, the village
had only a prayer-house.
chronicle contains the following interesting entry about this organ: „Songs of
the believers since autumn 1840 accompanied by majestica vox Organi to 3600 fl.
from Paulum Gály Temesvariensem Organopegum fabricatur. The village paid 900
fl., the feudal owner paid 2700 fl."
Unfortunately, not much of this majestic organ
sound, as the chronicler described it, is left
today, although some registers still produce
particularly nice sounds. We are talking about
an organ with mechanical play- and register
mechanics. What is special about this organ, is
that the keyboards are in the front housing, a
sort of front positive which, however, has no
prospectus. The lower keys are white and the
upper ones are black. Both manuals can be
connected to each other by means of a sliding
According to a note in the housing, Ferdinand Gonda from Temeswar repaired this instrument in 1916: „Gonda Nandor Temeswar, in 1916 oct. 28 repariert". Paul Gály repaired the small organ of Fibisch in 1832, as a note in the organ housing reads: "Reparavit hoc opus Paulus Gály, organifex die do Julii in 1832 A. St B.M.V.D.O.S.S." The organ of the Catholic church of Johannisfeld also comes from the workshop of Paul Gály.
The organ of Alexanderhausen was expanded in the 19th century; originally it had only one manual and pedal with the following arrangement: Principal 8’, open flute 8’ (wood, further metal covered, eng.), octave 4’, top flute 4’, covered 4’ (wood), fifth 2 2/3’ (wood, openly), mixture III 1 1/3’ and the pedal registers sub bass 16’, octave 4’.
Kantors und Kantorlehrer (teachers and organists) in Alexanderhausen were Fuchs, Franz Lampl, Nikolaus Nikola and after 1945 as organists and choirmasters Michael Tillger, Michael Sieber, Magdalena Schannen and Helen Knaup.
Teacher and organist Philipp Schmidt (1879-1929) came from Alexanderhausen and was active in Orzydorf, took part in choirmaster courses given by Desiderius Járosy in Temeswar, and was seen as a supporter of the choral music of the Banat and of the German song. On Sundays and holidays, when he played ceremonious preludes and sequels on the organ, the believers said: „Jetzt ploost de Schmidtlehrer de Staab aus der Orgel." („Now teacher Schmidt is blowing the dust from the organ").
Philipp Josef Brandl (born on January 5th, 1922) came from Alexanderhausen. He attended the conservatory and studied theology between 1946 and 1953 in Temeswar, and was also active as a church musician. Brandl composed more than 186 songs, choral works and chamber music works. Between 1930 and 1940 Brandl worked in Alexanderhausen as a singer, violinist and organist. Kantor Nikolaus Nikola taught him a lot of practical and theoretical musical know-how. Franz Brunner (Brandl’s brother-in-law) was a Kapellmeister (band leader) and taught him to play the bass flugelhorn, gave him lessons in harmony and instrumentation. Brandl received the final polish in singing from Kantorlehrer Michael Sieber.
During vacation time, chamber music was never neglected. Chamber music evenings took place regularly in Alexanderhausen, performed by the following: Priest Prof. Julius Lamoth (1st violin), Kantorlehrer Sieber (cello), theologian Nikolaus Muth (lute) and Brandl (2nd violin).
Note: J. Lamoth served as priest in Alexanderhausen from 1949 to 1960, but spent part of the time serving a sentence as part of the trial of bishop Augustin Pacha of Temeswar. N. Tullius