THE ORGAN

To talk about the Organ of the Basilica is to present two artistic treasures of high value: on the one hand its high-quality sound, on the other the beautifully carved housing, contemporary to the construction of the church; a housing that is not only the simple piece of furniture, often missing, that encloses the tubes, but, rather, something that is an integral part of the decoration of the church: the organ rises from the wall fitting into the rest of the architecture through a continuous double moulding that runs through the circuit of the church; decoratively, the medallion of the sanctuary bears perfect symmetry with the corresponding original of the top section of the organ, as noted by Professor Bonet Correa in  “The evolution of the Housing of the Organ in Spain and Portugal” (Compluntense University, Madrid 1983) and can be contemplated in the photo nº, of the year 1962.

The first graphic document of a transformation of the baroque housing of the organ is “The baroque churches of Madrid” (Madrid, 1945) of Alberto Tamayo: the Housing, originally semicircular in its sides, appears in the photographic reproduction, with a square structure du to the addition of flaps on both sides. The only notice that we conserve about the baroque organ is in the “Annals of the Province of Spain” of the Order of the Redemptorist Fathers, to whom the daily celebration of the Cult in the church of St. Michael had been entrusted. The church bore, since 1892, the rank of Pontifical, for having been destined official see of the Apostolic Nunciature: (...) “the Lord Vico (Nuncio) and the Lord Ragomesi decking the floor of the church and fixing the organ” (1895,fº359).

The definitive disappearance of the baroque organ and the structural and aesthetic change of the housing will have taken place around 1908 because, according to the Annals cited, “(...)” the choir was widened and the organ was completely renewed; of course the Order did not pay a single cent, the Nunciature subsidising all the expenses” (1906-1912,fº. 219). The only reason for widening the choir lies in the fact that the new pier table, placed outside the housing, could not fit in the narrow space that was given the characteristic baroque choir; the most illuminating detail of this new breadth of the choir is the placing of the pontifical emblem on both sides of the balustrade.

In the “Chronicles of the House of St. Michael” of the Redemptorist Fathers corresponding the year 1954 (fº. 319) features documented a change of the engine: (…) “Fr. Román Martínez Gamboa, of the Residence of Santander, comes to stay for a period. He comes to tune the organ (…).The distinguished Fr. Román continues with the Organ of the Basilica, which he found very deteriorated and even lacking some of the pieces and conduction tubes. It looks like repairing useless registers and it is clear that here there are tubes that have not functioned in years”. (fº.331,332).


 


 


Since 1959, when the Apostolic Nunciature entrusted the liturgical activities of the Basilica to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, together with the architectonic and decorative restoration of the Basilica, the Organ was also transformed: (...)” the French organists-the brothers Maurice and Robert Gouaut –have done much more than what would be a restoration: they have given the organ a sparkle it had never had and they have added to the radiance of that which is called, in technical language, mixtures. In the opinion of the experts, the organ is now more complete and better than the original” (...) in the restoration the system of wind conduction is maintained, the manual key boards and the pedal, the 17 original registers, in addition to the three new registers, distributed among the two manual key boards and the pedal. (...) “The inauguration concert was performed by the Master Juan Arteaga, son of Luis (q.e.p.d.), former organist of St. Mary of St. Sebastian and presently of the parish of St. John of the Light (France). The program was divided in three parts reflecting the feasts of Christmas, Holy Week and Pentecost: (...) The concet was illustrated by the explanations of Jesús Urteaga, also son of the late organist-composer Luis, who had ordered the restoration of the organ” (...). (Tesoro Sacro Musical, 1963, pp. 75, 76).

In 1971, having been reorganised the musico-liturgical activities of the Basilica by the singer and director of Choirs, José Luis Ochoa of Olza, and these directed to medieval, renaissance and baroque music, the construction of a new organ was planned, with baroque characteristics, similar to the church’s architecture. Among the proposals presented by the organists De Graff, with workshop in La Almunia, Zaragoza, Gabriel Blancafort, of Barcelona, Juan Dourte of Bilbao, and Gerhard Grenzing, the German organist Gerhard Grenzing, of El Papiol, Barcelona, was chosen, with the council of the Professor of the Organ of the Conservatorio Superior de Música of Barcelona, Montserrat Torrent, and the support of the Dirección General de Bellas Artes, to execute the project. The Organ constructed by Mr. Grenzig is a sounding technical return to the central European baroque organ; for that he recovers the original form of the housing, whose original frame used to be in the interior part of the housing of the romantic organ.  Once again, the pier table is in the window and the composition is structured in three manual keyboards of 56 notes, a pedal of 30 notes and 38 registers; mechanic transmission for the entire system and electro-pneumatic transmission for the registers.

In 2005 the housing and tubing was cleaned, incorporating the digital system of free combinations. Musically, the quality of registers of Castellan, French and, above all, German roots, makes it possible to interprete all the French and Spanish baroque and, in the apex, the German era of Buxtehude and Johan Sebastian Bach. Since 1975, the new organ has been used to make recordings and to play concerts of the most prestigious organists, both Europeans and Spanards: Montserrat Torrent, who inaugurates the Organ Grenzing, in the liturgy of the solemn Mass of San Miguel of 1975; José Rada, among other activities, recordings for the Radio Nacional de España of separate feature programs with the work of Dietrich Buxtehude, Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia...María Teresa Martínez Carbonell, Andrés Cea, José Enrique Ayarra, that played the reinauguration concert of the Organ after the repairs of 2005, Michel radulescu, André Isoir, Gustav Leonhardt... On various occasions, the organ has been chosen for congresses, national and international, of Organists.


ARRANGEMENT OF THE REGISTERS


LEFT HAND SIDE:

II Major Organ:

Flautado
Octava
Docena-Quincena
Lleno
Bordón Mayor
Flauta
Flauta
Quincena Cónica
Corneta
Tolosana
Trompeta
Trompeta Batalla
Bajoncillo-Clarín


II Cadereta:

Bordón
Flauta
Quincena
Nazardo
Sesquialtera
Sobrecímbala
Enanos
Temblante

RIGHT HAND SIDE:

I Organ of echos:

Corno
Octava
Quincena
Címbala
Bordón
Flauta
Nazardo 12
Nazardo 17
Viejos
Oboe
Temblante

Pedal:

Contras
Bajo de Flautado
Octava
Lleno
Quinta
Corno
Bombarda
Trompeta
Clarín


Couplings: I / P, II / P, III / P. I /II, III / II.


For the crypt of the Basilica the very Mr. Grenzing constructed in 1977 a small organ (photo 3), with ideal acoustics for the dimensions of the crypt: 2 keyboards, pedal, 8 registers: 3 in each keyboard, 2 in the pedal; all that by mechanic transmission.


ORGANISTS :


Joaquín Pildaín, Organist, composer, professor of the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid, occupied the tribune of the organ from 1963 a 1970.


Titular organist:
Luis Lozano Virumbrales, organist, musicologist, director of the groups of Ancient Music “Alfonso X el Sabio” and “Voces Huelgas”, occupies the post of organist since 1972.

Contacto:
Website: http://es.wikipediaorg/wiki/Luis_Lozano_Virumbrales
email: llozanov@terra.es