On organ building in Lithuania in the Baroque period: instrument and facade

  • Rimantas Gučas
Keywords: organ, organ building, craftsmen, privileges, craftsmen workshops, transportation, Jesuits


In the beginning, the term “organ building” is clarified. One can find many sources which claim that the questions connected with the instrument and the organ case with the facade sometimes were solved separately. The majority of available sources say that this was the work of craftsmen of different specialties. Their relationships were rather strictly regulated by the system of workshop rules and privileges. Organ building in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was strongly connected with the neighbouring Prussia and Kurland. In the 18th century, the most important organ building centre of the lands on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea was Königsberg. The most influential masters worked there, and from there the most well-known organ builders of that time settled to work in Lithuania. In the 18th century’s Lithuania, the work of the Jesuits was very influential. A lot of young people became educated in the Vilnius Jesuit novitiate and academy. Craftsmanship was also taught there. At the Vilnius Jesuit novitiate there were many students of German origin who continued to work in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Prussia. The capenters trained in the novitiate of Vilnius later worked installing churches in the entire Grand Duchy. They also made organ cases. No names of Jesuit organ builders have survived. Transportation possibilities had a significant importance on the spreading of the pipe organ. Towns situated near water ways were at the convenient situation, they could acquire instruments from afar. There is no agreement about who was the author of organ facade – the organ builder or the carpenter with the carver who made the case. It seems likely that usual structures and templates prevailed and organ builders mainly created the instruments into the cases made by others. Small one-manual instruments were prevalent in Lithuania, their interiors as well as the specification were very similar to the organs of the same size in neighbouring countries. The Lithuanian style facade layout was usual in a wide area.