Special: Hofkirche St. Leodegar (Collegiate Church), Lucerne / Switzerland

A Short History of the Great Organ:

Johann Geissler of Salzburg/Austria built a great organ for the Abbey Court Church with 48 stops on two manuals and pedal. What was then unique was the fact that he placed the Subcontra C of the Principal 32' in the main tower right above the console. This impressing pipe is 10 m (33') tall and 57 cm (23") in diameter and it weighs 383 kg (840 lb) which makes even the 16' giants in the flanking Hauptwerk (Great) look sweet and tiny. Out of this original Geissler organ 19 stops (among them the 32' Principal) and the beautifully carved main casing are still preserved.

After several renovations in the meantime the Rückpositiv was now replaced by an enlargement of the organ on the balcony.

The organ was reorganized and enlarged to four manuals by Friedrich Haas (Basel/Lucerne, CH). He added a Swell as well as an Echo Organ in the church attic the sound of which comes out of the ceiling rosette in the middle of the nave. The initiation ceremony at which even Aristide Cavallé-Coll was present is euphoric. Haas is said to have built the absolute masterpiece, with the Echo a "most forward-looking concept".

Friedrich Goll changes the organ's action to pneumatic and replaces some of the stops. Later on the organ is electrified and the console is replaced. This organ though was more and more prone to breakdowns so that sooner or later it had to be completely revised, which was finally done in the 1970's.

Restoration and enlargement of the organ by Kuhn Organbuilders (Männedorf, CH) - during this process the Rückpositiv was reintroduced so that the organ then had 81 stops on 5 manuals and pedal. Of these stops 19 dated back to Geissler and 32 to Haas. Many Romantic stops (about 1,600 pipes) were removed and stacked in the church attic. If it had not been for church organist Wolfgang Sieber they most probably would have been discarded.

General revision of the organ by Kuhn Organbuilders, introduction of three free reeds (original Haas pipes) into the Echo organ, some of which were retrieved from the church attic and were now restored, the rest was donated from the private collection of Wolfgang Sieber.


The Great Organ of the Abbey Court Church presently has 115 ranks, 84 voices/registers and 5,949 pipes on 5 manuals and pedal. When the next enlargement is completed it will have more than 144 ranks and 103 voices/registers.
This would make it the second largest organ in Switzerland next to the Engelberg Abbey Church organ.

è Complete Stoplist (will open up in a separate window).

Sound samples:

  Joh. Seb. Bach (1685-1750): Choral Prelude "Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes-Sohn" [426 KB]
  Joh. Seb. Bach (1685-1750): Choral Prelude "Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott" [721 KB]
  Max Reger (1873-1916): Toccata from "12 Pieces for organ" op. 59 [517 KB]
  Max Reger (1873-1916): Pastorale from "12 Pieces for organ" op. 59 [437 KB]
  Max Reger (1873-1916): Canon from "12 Pieces for organ" op. 59 [798 KB]
  Max Reger (1873-1916): Capriccio from "12 Pieces for organ" op. 59 [764 KB]
  Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944), arr. Wolfgang Sieber: "Valse de Ballet" [585 KB]
  Scott Joplin (1868-1917), arr. E. Power-Biggs: "Cake Walk" [650 KB]
  Gabriel Käslin (1867-1951), arr. Wolfgang Sieber: Schäfli-Schottisch [632 KB]

The sound samples are taken with kind permission from several CDs by Wolfgang Sieber. To obtain these CDs please click HERE.

By the way:
You will find loads of organ music for download at the Organ Site's MP3 download portal
among others the complete CD program of Motette, Psallite, ifo and organ publishing companies.

Enlargement of the organ until October 2015:

It is planned to have all of the approximately 1,500 historic pipes (dating from 1862-1919) restored and reintroduced into the organ. So a second choir organ is planned on the south choir balcony (as it used to be originally) to take up those pipes as well as another four ranks to round it off. This division then would be the second Echo division playable from the main console as an auxiliary division (i.e. it can be coupled to any manual or pedal that is most convenient). The stoplist includes the following:

Abteilung 1 (Aux.)
Bourdon 16'
Violon 16'
Flûte harmonique 8'
Flötenschwebung 8'
Gambe 8'
Dulciana 8'
Harmonica 8'
Gedacktquinte 5 1/3'
Holzflöte 4'
Violine 4'
Flautino 2'
Piccolo 1'
Harmonica aetherea V-VII 5 1/3'
+ Swell
+ Flügeltremulant

Abteilung 2 (Aux.)
Streicherkornett II-V 8'
Alphorn 16'
Alphorn 8'
Alphorn 4'
+ Sennschellen
+ Bätruef

Echobass 16'
Violonbass 16'
Quinte 10 2/3'
Flöte 8'
Violoncello 8'
Sousaphon 32'
Euphonium 16'
+ Sennschellen

C-d' from Echobass (pedal); d#'-h' tin, new; ab c'' tin, old
wood, open, old
C-f' wood; from f#' tin, old
from c0; tin 50%, new
tin, old (forte)
tin, old (mezzoforte)
C-a0 wood; from b0 tin, old (piano)
wood, old
wood, old
C-H new, from c0 old (formerly Fugara 4')
tin, old
tin, old
tin, old and new

tin, 40-70%, new
extension from 8', tin 50%, new (english tune)
tin 50%, new (english tune)
extension from 8', tin 50%, new (english tune)
3 octaves, new
5 wooden pipes: d',c#,a,h,g

C-C# new, from D wood, stopped, old
transmission from Abt. 1
wood, stopped, old
wood, open, old
tin (formerly Viola from manual), old
extension from Euphonium 16', tin 50%, new
tin 50%, new (free reeds)
transmission from Abt. 2

Apart from this a second, movable console is built with which the entire organ system can be played. All this is done by Kuhn Organbuilders, its costs are estimated about 1.6 million CHF / EUR.

Any donations are highly welcome :-)

The Collegiate Church and especially organist and choirmaster Wolfgang Sieber who has been pushing this project with much personal initiative by giving countless concerts would be very grateful for any donations. Donation receipts will be gladly provided!

Organist of the Collegiate Church, Lucerne • Wolfgang Sieber
Kastanienbaumstr. 292
CH - 6047 Kastanienbaum (Luzern) • Switzerland
Tel.: +41 41 / 342 16 86
e-mail to Wolfgang Sieber

By the way, if you would build this organ from scrap today it would cost you about 10 million EUR (11 million US$).


Hoforgel-Luzern: Wolfgang Sieber's homepage containing information on the organs, concerts in the Hofkirche and CDs recorded there
St. Leodegar im Hof: Homepage of the Hofkirche (Collegiate Church) containing information on church services, special events and the history of the Hofkirche
Picture gallery: 8 megapixel photo gallery of the Collegiate Church organ on the Organ Site