Sightseeing - The Organ


The organ: a work of art of the sixteenth century

In the Christ’s Holy Body Church is the only Venetian organ of the sixteenth century still working in Italy, built by Vincenzo Colombi. With its casing, finely decorated and carved, it represents a masterpiece of the Venetian instruments of the sixteenth century and it is also the best preserved one.

The promoter and the financial backer of its construction were the Counts of the ancient family Valvasone, depositary of the artistic and musical culture of the village.

The anchoring to the right wall of the Church started in January 1533 and in the same year a small building with arcades was built on the side of the Church, in order to hold the bellows. At this time the organ was already working.

Two years later, Stefano di Venezia completed the architectural elements of the casing which were carved by Girolamo di Venezia and gilded by Tommaso da Udine. On Christmas 1538 the work was ended.

Meanwhile Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone was asked to paint the doors of the casing, but he died in 1539 leaving its work uncompleted. It was finished by his son-in-law, Pomponio Amalteo from San Vito al Tagliamento, ten years later. The latter painted also the five panels of the choir stall and the frescoes on the sides of the casing. In 1552 the organ was completed in every single part according to the aesthetics of its times.

L' organo.Because of the constant use of the instrument, it required periodical maintenance works and renovations by the most important organ builders, among whose Vincenzo Colombi himself who, in 1558, carried out the first finickin control that lasted 12 days. In this occasion it was added the so called “fiffaro” (a register).

During the different controls other important additions were made: a red cloth was put under the keys in 1611 by the “mistro Bortolo veneziano”; in 1753 Lorenzo Canciani welded some broken pipes and added the pedalboard; in 1754 he substituted the keyboard, 5 pipes of the Flauto (a register) were remade on wood and a small wind chest with three pipes was added; in 1755 the register of the Voce Umana (human voice) was installed.

In 1766 Angelo Morassi proposed a radical renovation. He lowered the diapason of half a tone; added 7 keys to the keyboard and 63 new pipes corresponding to the different registers. A new wind chest was now needed to contain the new pipes. The register called Cornet was added as well as 15 basses with a new wind chest and the “Tromboncino” with its wind chest.

Only 3 years later a new renovation was needed. For several years Lorenzo Canciani took care of the works but the instrument gradually fell into ruin. Therefore Giovanni Gaetano Tolfo was called to limit the damages and bring back the organ to a better state. He remade the main wind chest (dating back to the times of Vincenzo Colombo ) and removed the wind chests added during the centuries. He substituted 5 lines and the “Tromboncini” with new ones. Finally he remade the mechanic transmission. In 1856 Valentino Zanin substituted two swells, controlled the keyboard and tuned the “Tromboncini”.

Later on the organ was dismantled, lost and found again in the actual conditions in 1970, when the renovation works to bring it back to its original beauty started.

The renovations carried out by Alfredo Piccinelli started in 1972 by using original materials of the sixteenth century. The nineteenth-century wind chest was kept as a mark of the past times. The keyboard was reconstructed. The pedalboard of the eighteenth century was kept too and Piccinelli re-established the panel of the braces and the mechanic elements introduced by Tolfo. The casing and the paintings were renovated too.

Finally, in 1999, Francesco Zanin brought the organ back to its original appearance, after long analysis and researches that allowed a faithful reconstruction of the elements. The most important point of the works dealt with the renovation of the venetian wind chest of the sixteenth century that assures an excellent sound production. The organ is powered by 3 bellows which are still in the room built behind the instrument in the sixteenth century. The keyboard was reconstructed on the pattern of the nineteenth century one. The pedalboard has 20 short pedals connected to the keyboard. Other important point of this renovation is the recovery of the sound system and of the registers. According to the normal practice of the sixteenth century, the instrument has been tuned in medium key. To bring back the original sound effects a red cloth was hanged on a wooden frame behind the pipes in order to reduce the depth of the casing and create a particular reflection of sound.


Creation date : 03/01/2009 @ 14:46
Last update : 18/08/2013 @ 17:25
Category : Sightseeing
Page read 3546 times


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