The Organ


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Tubos alongados para voltarem à afinação original

Restoration In the 1970s, the archbishop D. Oscar de Oliveira and the CEO of CEMIG, Francisco Afonso Noronha, invited the German organist Karl Richter to come to Mariana in order to evaluate the instrument, which had a large number of original pieces. Richter considered the organ an important instrument probably manufactured by Arp Schnitger. Thanks to his visit, and after considerable effort, the musical elements of the organ were sent to Hamburg, where the Beckerath Company restored them.

Meanwhile, a Brazilian team from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, directed by Beatriz Coelho, restored the internal and external structures of the case, as well as the instrument’s decoration. The major result of this first stage was to bring the instrument back to life using modern technology but without destroying the traces of previous phases of the organ’s history, something which was highly valuable for the later restoration which had an historical focus.

In 1984, the Schnitger organ was again the center around which the musical life of Mariana spun, accompanying masses and liturgical celebrations, as well as being presented in concerts by national and international artists that brought world-renowned organists to Mariana. Although the organ was playing and functioning well, some important characteristics that couldn’t be restored at that time. An initiative of the Archdiocese of Mariana’s Cultural and Educational Foundation, further restoration began in 1997 with the visit of Bernhard Edskes to Mariana and ended in February 2002.

The tuning was changed to a system more appropriate to the times when the instrument was built and some registers were rebuilt. Together with the restoration, research was done to gather more data about its construction and arrival in Minas Gerais, as well as its various function throughout its history. This restoration was done by the Edskes Orgelbau Company, of Wohlen, Switzerland and was sponsored by Petrobras, with support by Varig, Tam, and Vitae.

The result of the research can be found in the booklet Órgão Arp Schnitger Sé de Mariana Minas Gerais – Aspectos Históricos e Técnicos.

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