Thomaskirche I


J. S. Bach's longest tenure (1723-1750) was as Cantor and Director of Music of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. Although he was not the organist in Leipzig, his later organ works were written while he was there:

  • Clavierübung III
  • Prelude and Fugue in B minor (S. 544)
  • Prelude and Fugue in E minor (S. 548)

There are records of an organ having been there from around 1500 until Bach's time, and we know of two that were there in the early eighteenth century.

  • A large instrument in the gallery built at the West end.
  • A smaller organ located near the East end.
Both instruments received what we would call today "heavy maintenance" during Bach's lifetime, although there appears to have been no extensive rebuilding as was done at Arnstadt. Neither of the instruments survives today, and there are questions about details of each of them.170

Large Organ Disposition

Hauptwerk Rückpositiv Brustwerk Pedal
Prinzipal 16 Prinzipal 8 Gedackt 8 Subbass 16
Quintadena 16 Quintadena 8 Prinzipal 4 Posaune 16
Oktave 8 Gedakct 8 Nachthorn 4 Trompete 8
Spillflöte 8 Oktave 4 Nassat 2 2/3 Schalmei 4
Oktave 4 Gedackt 4 Gemshorn 2 Kornett 2
Quinte 2 2/3 Querflöte 4 Sesquialtera II
Oktave 2 Violine 2 Zimbel II
Sesquialtera II Waldflöte 2 Regal 8
Mixtur IV-X Rauschpfeife II Geigenregal 4
Mixtur IV
Krummhorn 16
Trompete 8

Small Organ Disposition

Oberwerk Rückpositiv Brustwerk Pedal
Principal 8 Lieblich Gedackt 8 Spitzflöte 2 Subbass 16
Gedackt 8 Principal 4 Sifflöt 1 Fagott 16
Quintatön 8 Hohlflöte 4 Trichterregal 8 Trompete 8
Octave 4 Nasat 2 2/3
Rauschquinte II Octave 2
Mixtur IV-X Sesquialtera II
Cymbel II Trompete 8
Dulcian 8

Some elements found in common on the two organs should be noted:

  • Neither instrument has a reed on the primary manual division. This is not usual in instruments of Central Germany in the early eighteenth century.
  • Each Rückpositiv had color stops including reeds; although there was no mixture on the small organ, each also provided a secondary principal chorus.
  • Each Brust division reveals an origin in the "consort" divisions of an earlier century.166
  • Both pedal divisions consist primarily of stops that add "gravity." There is no principal chorus in either Pedal.

© 2000 AD James H. Cook