Neue Kirche (Bonifatiuskirche)


Bach's first position as organist was at the Church of St. Boniface in Arnstadt, called the "New Church" as it had been for years when Bach started to play there. The organ was built by J. F. Wender, who signed a contract with the church in 1699. Bach tested the instrument in 1703 and subsequently became organist there - - at the age of 18.

Scholars disagree about the specific disposition of the organ during Bach's tenure. It is not surprising that the organ was altered over the years, but even though the specifics of the contract are known, there is no certainty that it was built exactly as the contract describes. Parts of the organ survive, including the case and some of the pipe work, but there can be no assurance that any stop is today as it was in Bach's lifetime. 163

The stoplist as given below is based on a composite reading of several different published copies.


Oberwerk Brustwerk Pedal
Quintadena 16 Stillgedackt 8 Sub Bass 16
Principal 8 Principal 4 Principal 8
Viola da Gamba 8 Spitzflöte 4 Posaune 16
Gemshorn 8 Nachthorn 4 Cornet 2
Grossgedackt 8 Quinte 2 2/3
Quinte 5 1/3 Sesquialtera II
Octave 4 Mixtur III
Mixtur IV
Cymbel II
Trompete 8

Please note these characteristics. They are typical of organs in the area of central Germany where Bach spent most of his life:

  • Only two manual divisions, both in the same case.
  • A small pedal division.
  • Several 8' color stops on the Hauptwerk.
  • A string stop - - the Viola da gamba.
  • Two 4' flutes of different timbre on the Positiv.
  • Incomplete principal chorus in the Pedal.
  • No second manual reed, but a Sesquialtera for color on the Positiv.

© 2000 AD James H. Cook