The Freiwiß-Organ

The Abbey Church of the former Benedictine Monastery at Irsee was consecrated in 1704. Even so, the monks had to wait precisely fifty years for an organ as magnificent as the space itself. Based on an agreement concerning a new church organ for the Imperial House of God at Yrrsee, the organ builder Balthasar Freiwiß received the commission in 1752 that made it possible to realize this goal.

_DSC2683Although Irsee was small, it was still a significant monastery, and two of its priests were members of the Mizler’sche Sozietät. The dedication of the organ in 1754 was so important to the monastery that they integrated the choir stalls into the organ case. This way the choir would always be in close proximity to the magnificent instrument and could fittingly perform the orchestral works of the famous Irsee prior → Meinrad Spieß.

The Benedictines were only able to enjoy their organ for a half century, because secularization drove them from their monastery in 1802. Yet the instrument survived, if only because the abbey church handed it over for use by the parish, and the parish did not have the necessary funds to “update” the Freiwiß organ as musical tastes changed over time. And that is how an impressive musical icon from the mid-eighteenth century has been preserved for posterity. Ever since the restoration was completed in 1990, the organ has shone again with the freshness and vitality of youth.

Firstly, the instrument that Balthasar Freiwiß completed in 1754 for the Irsee Abbey Church was designed with liturgical purposes in mind. The basis for the organ’s expressive range lies in its capacity for greatly nuanced sound, which runs the gamut from sparkling pathos and dark melancholy to exuberant joy. This organ thus bridges an acoustic “gap” of more than two and one-half centuries, providing us with access to the celebration and starry-eyed nature of the baroque attitude towards life.


This CD and numerous others, featuring the Augsburg organist Roland Götz, are available at:
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