NEW ARTICLE (ENG): "A Rieger treasure in the Czech town of Terezín", in: "The Organ", No 399, February-April 2022
Abstract: Although we all admire large organs for their power, majesty and splendour, true organ lovers know that the size of the instrument does not always follow its quality. We are often surprised profoundly by the craftsmanship and perfection of the creators of small or medium-sized organs built in less significant places. Standing on the side of the mainstream of the historical events, these instruments survived until the present, being witnesses of their times and cultural dimension of humanity. One of these treasures I met at my concert route this Summer was a small but powerful Rieger organ in a calm and historically-experienced city in the West Czech Republic, Terezín.
The history of the Rieger organ company started in the first half of the 19th century thanks to Franz Rieger (1812–1885), who was interested in music and the arts of craftsmanship. After graduating from school in his hometown, Jägerndorf (currently Krnov, Czech Republic), he moved to Vienna, the capital and royal residence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where he started to work at Joseph Seybert organ workshop. In 1844 he obtained the Master’s exam and, as a 32-year man, returned to Jägerndorf being a qualified master of organ building craft. Opus 1, built for the castle church nearby Jägerndorf (20/2M+P), was his success. The business developed into a large company known for high-quality organ building. In 1852, it was included in the Austrian Monarchy’s commerce and trade address book. Two of his sons, Otto Rieger (1847–1903) and Gustav Rieger (1848–1919), showed interest in organ building and practised under Franz Ullmann (1815–1892) in Vienna and under Balthasar Schlimbach (1807–1896) in Würzburg, one of the best-known organ builders of the time. Being 26 and 25 years old, the firm, Franz Rieger and Sons, was founded. The brothers were outstanding organ builders and excellent business people: the quality of their instruments was not adversely affected by the firm’s rapid growth. The company started to receive medals at the Viennese World Exhibition, in Germany and Russia. The orders started to gain from Vienna, Norway, Istanbul, Gibraltar, Rome and Jerusalem.
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