Façade of the Walcker Organ in the Palau de la Música, Barcelona
Extract from a booklet by E.F. Walcker & Cie in 1902, celebrating its opus 1000
Side view of the organ façade
In 1907, the Choral Society, the Orfeó Català, opened its new headquarters in the a Art Nouveau building designed by the architect Domènech i Montaner. A new organ was to be built by the prestigious German firm Walcker in Ludwigsburg.
The instrument was built between 1906-1908 with a completely pneumatic transmission and 60 stops spread over 4 manuals and pedal. (Three divisions, the Positiu, Recitatiu Expressiu and Eco Expressiu were all enclosed).
In 1915 Walcker replaced the pneumatic transmission between the console and the organ with electric transmission. In 1973, a big Spanish organshop altered the organ. It modified a few stops, gave the instrument a new console and removed the fourth manual. From that point on, the instrument began to deteriorate quickly. In 1982, the building was refurbished and the Eco chamber disappeared. In 1997, the instrument was totally dismounted and stayed like that until restoration was begun in 2002.
Although Walcker built a large number of organs at the beginning of the XXth century (around 600 instruments in 10 years), very few have been preserved from this period, especially Concert Hall instruments; most of them were either destroyed in wartime or were substantially altered in accordance with the latest aesthetical trends and fashion.
Thats why instruments such as this one in the Palau take on special significance; they are representative of that historical time and provide an important link to the development of organ building in historical perspective. Any work done on an organ must aim primarily to recover an instruments original characteristics, both from a technical view point as well as soundwise. These two factors are closely bound up one with the other.
Although as organ builders we have had quite a bit of experience in the field of restoration with similar instruments (the 90 stop organ in the Cathedral of Seville built by Aquilino Amezua in 1903) we called in Christian Scheffler and his team who specialize in Romantic style organs.