The Aebi Organ in St. Georg, Switzerland
It's hard to imagine a 335 year old mechanical music instrument. Harder still is imagining that this music instrument still works. But that's exactly the case with the historic Christoph Aebi organ in the church of St. Georg in Ernen, Switzerland. First built in 1680 and repaired only minimally, and with very few modifications over the years, Aebi's pipe organ looks and sounds much as it did when he built and installed it in the beautiful town church.
Christoph Aebi, organbuilder from Solothurn, was contracted to build an instrument for the church in 1680, with the first delivery of parts occurring that year. The table or tablet of the organ where the pipes would eventually stand was delivered first. We might today call that the windchest. Eventually an instrument of one manual and pedal with 11 ranks, and in a beautifully painted gothic case would take shape.
The organ plays regularly for church services and programs. A seminal 2011 recording by Hungarian composer Zsigmond Szathmáry on the Ars Musici label, entitled Die Historische Aebi-Orgel in Ernen-Schweiz, highlights the beautiful sound of theChristoph Aebi pipe organ. Featuring works by Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Sweelinck, and Frescobaldi, the instrument beautifully renders each piece with a sweet sound, from the softest 8' Coppel flute; but with enough power to support even the largest passages.
The organ has mechanical slider chests and a mechanical stop action, with one pull-down manual to pedal coupler.
The organ stoplist as it is today:
Manual I, C - d'''
Prinzipal 8 '
Coppel 8 '
Oktave 4 '
Flöte 4 '
Quintflöte 2 2/3 ' (addition)
Superoktave 2 '
Hörnli 2 ' + 1 3/5 ' (addition)
MixturIII 2 '
Quinte 1 1/2 '
CymbelII 1/2 '
Pedal, C - d'
Subbass 16 ' (addition)
Flötbass 8 '
I hope someday to play this organ built by my great, great, great, great, great, great, great uncle, Christoph Aebi. I own the recording and have studied as much history on the instrument as I can find, and know this to be a beautiful example of his work.
This page will give, in German, a fantastic history of some of the modifications over the years.