Pipe Organs of Indonesia
P. Furtwangler & Hammer, Honnover
Semarang is capital of the province of Central Java and is a large and busy place, located on the north coast. It is a major port and industrial area with a population of 2 million people. The city was developed under the Dutch rule as a commerce centre and, before colonisation; it had been capital of a Javanese kingdom. Near Semarang are the cultural and religious focal points of Gedong Songgo, Borobudur and Prambanan. So, in one way or another, this city is of major importance to Indonesian culture. It remains the only port open to large ships on the Central Java coast and is an interesting place to visit.
Crowded into the maze of narrow streets near the main railway station in the old part of Semarang, is the large Gereja Blenduk. This is a protestant church, built in 1753. The church exterior has been renovated under a National Monument scheme. The interior of the church has been maintained in good condition and the stained glass windows, whilst not greatly detailed, glow with gentle colours. The church design is circular and a huge dome forms the roof and ceiling. There are three balconies inside the sanctuary: one is now the church office and another is used for overflow seating. In the north gallery, however, is the finest looking organ I have ever seen.
The organ appears to date from the 1700's but no local information was available. The organ was overhauled or rebuilt by P. Furtwangler & Hammer, Honnover (sic.) in 1921. Emil Hammer Olgelbau has kindly provided me with historical records of the organ and construction of the pneumatic action installed in the 1921 rebuild.
Sadly, nothing workable remains of the interior and mechanism of the organ. There was, at some time, a horrific attack of termites that destroyed everything except the magnificent Rocco style case. The main organ case is set back into the wall of the church, leaving a space about 1.5 metres to the section of the organ mounted on the balcony rail. The console was located in this space and not visible from the congregation because "the organist was not to be the focal point of the instrument - only a servant of the church".
The overall layout is some 4 metres high and 6 metres wide. It is lavishly decorated in gilt and fine woods, the trim forming a sinuous grape vine and the theme is repeated across the pipe feet and the balcony organ. The case is surmounted by beautiful carvings: King David plays a harp on the balcony organ case and two herald angels play trumpets on the main case. Two large urns occupy space at the top of the main case, representing the ascending smoke of incense. Above the central tower is a representation of the sun and clouds. The overall picture scape shows heavy impressions of heaven and heavenly things, perhaps suggesting that the organ poured out heavenly music in its day. Such a pity it is now lost to the world in all but visual remains.
Specification of the organ in 1921 was:
Various console accessories including preset pistons and a registerschweller (crescendo) mechanism. Detached console facing the congregation.
A.P.G. van Binnendijk played this organ in 1948 when he was stationed
in Indonesia as a soldier. He described the specification of the Semarang
organ as follows:
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