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Church Organs in Mallorca

Bosch_organ

Mallorca is blessed with a rich choice of outstanding church organs. We are quite lucky here in this respect. And we are privileged when we can hear this instrument being played by a talented musician.

I chanced upon such an opportunity yesterday morning in Santanyí. Like every Wednesday and Saturday, it was market day in Santanyí, busy with lots of tourists, mainly Germans. Instead of strolling amongst the crowds I decided to visit the Museu Parroquial de Santanyí, which is an annex of the Capilla del Roser which in turn leans against the Temple Parroquial de Sant Andreu.

I shall tell you about the church museum some other time, which just like the chapel, dating back to the 16th century, and the church itself would warrant a separate blog entry. Today music, and organ music in particular, is the topic at hand.

I had heard the organ being played in Santanyí once before, during a concert. Yesterday, there was no concert nor was the organist rehearsing. But the organ was being played. It appears that a young, non-professional musician comes to play the Bosch organ in Santanyí every now and then, particularly during the Summer period, just for the pleasure that this seems to give him. There was hardly anyone in the church at 11h30 when I was there, no more than perhaps half a dozen visitors of the Museu Església del Roser. It was a wonderful sensation hearing this beautiful organ music in a virtually empty church in such unexpected circumstances. The church accoustics are fantastic and even more so when the church is empty.

The Santanyí organ dates from 1762 and was built by the outstanding Mallorcan organ builder Jordi Bosch for the Convent de Sant Domingo in Palma de Mallorca. Neither the convent nor the church there exist any longer, but the church is reputed to have been the most exquisit of churches in the Mediterranean region. The convent was abolished, like many others, during the Spanish Desamortización in 1837 and the church organ was sold; that’s how the instrument came to Santanyí. The organ is quite renowned for its pure sound. I understand that Jordi Bosch, the organ builder, created the most monumental pipe register of any organ known at that time, encompassing a total of 1,104 pipes. The organ was too large to fit into the Santanyí church space and thus, the instrument had to be modified and reduced in size.

The organ has since been restored and modified on a number of occasions. In 2005, the most recent extensive restoration was undertaken by Gerhard Grenzing and his team at their workshop in El Papiol, near Barcelona. If my ear can be trusted the Catalan organ restorers have done a perfectly balanced job.

There are other outstanding organs in Mallorca, such as in Palma the organ in the Claustre de Sant Francesc, the organ of the Parroquía de Santa Cruz, and the one in the La Seu cathedral. In Mallorca’s Part Forana, there are historic organs in most parish churches, but the organs in the Convent de Inca, in the Esglèsia de Manacor, in the Parroquía de Sa Pobla, in the Parroquía de Moscari and in the Parroquía de Sant Miquel in Felanitx are particularly renowned. Alaró, Binnissalem and Porreres are also famed for the organs in their parish churches. Last but not least, the basilica of the Santuari de Lluc is adorned by a splendid organ from the 17th century.

Many people, however, claim that the purest and fullest sound of any of Mallorca’s organs can be heard from Jordi Bosch’s organ in Santanyí.

The photo was taken in Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 12th, 2009. The time was 11:25:26.

3 replies »

  1. We are visiting Mallorca between October 20 and 25. Knowing about the Santanyi organ for several years now, we were delighted to read the blog about the organist who plays this instrument from time to time.
    I am an organist, and would be delighted (a) to hear this instrument and/or (b), if it can be arranged, to try it at some convenient time during our visit.
    So who should we contact to find out about either possibility? We shall be at the Hotel Born in Palma for the 5 nights starting on the 20th (Wednesday).
    Many thanks in advance to whoever is kind enough to reply.
    (Mr and Mrs) P J Walker

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