"Ludwig Mooser in Salzburg" can be read on a small, square, copper-framed plate on the console. Mooser built nearly 180 organs altogether, including the one in Esztergom which was one of his greatest instruments, in the Mooser family there were famous organ builders over three generations: Joseph Anton Mooser (1731 - 1792) and his elder son, Joseph Aloys (1770 - 1839) had the chance to work for Johann Andreas Silbermann, too. The younger son was Peter Anton (1773 - 1823), father of Ludwig (1807 - 1881). Ludwig Mooser established a workshop in Salzburg, where the metal pipes were usually made and certain kinds of woodwork were completed. In accordance with the master's method, this was followed by long work on the spot. Having settled in Hungary, Ludwig was soon elected as an honorary freeman of the town of Eger, on 2 December, 1863. His workshop was in the building of the 'Líceum', and he began to write his name in a Hungarian way, "Mooser Layos". Mooser arrived in Esztergom on 19 September 1854, accompanied by eight assistants. The finished parts of the organ arrived from Salzburg the following day, by ship. The building of the organ having 49 stops and 3530 pipes on three manuals was finished by 31 August 1856, for the dedication of the Cathedral. At the dedicational ceremony of both the church and the organ, in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph along with the Viennese Court Franz Liszt's "Messe Solennelle" [Graner Messe], commissioned by Archbishop Scitovsky was to be heard. The composition, written for symphonic orchestra choir and soloists was conducted by Liszt himself with the organ part played by Alexander Winterberger from Weimar. The Esztergom Organ had been completed very quickly, as a result of which its structure did not prove to be a lasting one. On 2 March 1857, Régens Chori Károly Seyler drew up a list of the faults. Mooser's instrument was obviously not able to fulfil the expectations. The tracker action was extremely awkward and the wind-chests were so short of air that the instrument was "choking". The third manual was on the cone chest and took place in the swell box. Except for the frontal tin pipes, which were taken away in World War I for war supplies and were later, in the twenties, replaced with zinc pipes by Joseph Angster, the organ remained in its original state until the end of World War II. As a result of war events parts of the organ case and the tracker action were damaged. Even today, the extent of further damage is unclear. What is certain, is that in 1945, at the inauguration of Archbishop Mindszenty, the organ was not working. Irreparable destruction happened to the organ in 1947. Although Mooser's creation was not damaged irreparably during the war, a small, two-manual organ with pneumatic action on cone chests built by Ottó Rieger and dedicated on 11 November 1947 was placed in the left wing of the Mooser case. How could this happen? The answer is to be searched in the history of Hungarian organ-building in the 20th century. By that time no mechanical organs had been built, the method being regarded as out of date, therefore the rejection of the given system was obvious and the original Mooser-instrument was considered worthless. This might be the reason why the original console and the tracker action were totally destroyed during the 1947 reconstruction. The Mooser pipes were used partly in the pneumatic organ, either retuned, cut down or even in a remélted state, some remained in their original place, while a considerable number just completely disappeared and for lack of inventory of the loss in the war, their later fate is not certainly known. The still current reconstruction of the organ dates back to the mid-1970's, when canon Lőrinc Bart] dr, the Regens Chori of the Cathedral and organist István Baróti (organist and choir master of the Cathedral from 1975) launched to rebuild the instrument. The first step of the work was to save the remained parts of the organ from their three-decade-long ruined state and to restore its original sounds. In the Hungary of the 1970's, the practice of restoring instruments was unknown, therefore, this work, followed by the sceptical attention of the professionals, was completed by István Baróti and his students, all of them unsparing in time and efforts. The characteristically archaic and solemn sound of the Mooser pipe-rows revived was to be the starting point of Baróti's plan which was worthy of the Cathedral and adapted extremely well to its dimensions and acoustics. Hence the next phase was to build a new instrument with the generous help of prominent organ-builders Gyula Vagi and János Farkas in 1978/79. The necessary funds were provided due to Cardinal Archbishop László Lékai's relations with Rome and Germany, so it became possible to purchase certain parts and pipe-rows. At the end of 1980 the first seven restored Mooser stops, and at the same time the Rieger organ stopped being used forever. However, the initial vigour started to diminish from 1983. The swell organ, for lack of a couple of stops, was finished by autumn 1986 and further progress was even slower: in 1988/ 89 three, in 1994 two stops, in 1996 twelve lower pipes of the Majorbass 32' stop managed to be built in. By the time of publishing the present CD (in 1999), of the 147 stops planned on five manuals only 39 had been completed, while numerous pipe-rows purchased at the time of Cardinal Lékai are still to be built in. Growing inflation and other unfavourable circumstances after the change of the regime also retarded the building. Although István Baróti has devoted the major part of his life to this cause for more than the past two decades, the completion of the building is still a dream. If the artistic intentions and the chances of realization should coincide again, then it would be possible to achieve the purpose in a reasonable time, and the new instrument including the Mooser stops would be a worthy part of the beautiful ensemble of the Bakócz-chapel and the surrounding Cathedral.

English Translation: Ágnes Izvekov

CD inlay: MZA-041 (András Mező)


Printer friendly version of the stoplist: 

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ORGANS OF HUNGARY, The grand organ of the Cathedral of The Blessed Virgin Mary and St.Adalbert, Esztergom

Published in March 2010, Organ Australia by Greg Hartay-Szabo Organist/Director of Music, Albert Street Uniting Church, Brisbane

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