The church organ is an iconic instrument. It’s nearly impossible not to imagine an organ inside of any of the great churches or basilicas of the world. The two are almost perfectly interlinked. The grand size and imposing sounds of the church organ have earned it the title of “King of Instruments” from many.
But what makes this wonderous wind instrument the monarch of music? Join Viscount Organs as we explore the history of this moniker, and discuss reasons why, even today, the church organ reigns as the King of Instruments.
Wearing The Crown
The organ first found its way into churches in sometime in the 900s. The original purpose of putting the organ in the church is unknown, but by the 1400s, organs were a common part of churches across Europe. They were used in festivals and celebratory events, in addition to their liturgical purposes.
The pipe organ was a popular choice because of its ability to support the church choir and the congregation during the singing of chants and hymns. The depth and breadth of tone, the ability to sustain notes nearly indefinitely, and it’s incredible dynamic range made it an incredibly versatile instrument that does justice to any genre of music.
Because of its prominence, and the strong connection to the church, many of history’s greatest early composers wrote for the organ. In many ways, it was the only instrument capable of expressing the feelings, emotions, and concepts that composers like Bach and Mozart wove into their compositions. Indeed, the title of “King of Instruments” likely came from Mozart himself, who was quoted as saying, the organ “in my eyes and ears… [is] the king of instruments.”
Maintaining Its Status
But the appeal and status of the church organ did not diminish with time. Over the course of its centuries-old lifespan, the organ has undergone many transformations and reiterations. Early organs were simple wind instruments and required someone to pump a bellows to provide air while someone else played. In the 16th, the “modern” organ was developed and made use of stops and mechanical bellows. This granted the organ a greater dynamic range and made it easier to play.
In more recent years, the development of electric and digital organs have made this ancient organ more relevant than ever. Unlike the piano, the organ can produce a greater variety of sounds and dynamics. No longer just in churches, organs now share the stage with rock bands, jazz groups, and even modern-day pop bands.
Long Live The King
It’s no surprise then, that even as recently as 2006 the church organ is still being called the King of Instruments. In blessing the new organ at the Basilica Alte Kapelle in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI said: “the organ has always been considered, and rightly so, the king of musical instruments because it takes up all the sounds of creation.
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we continue to offer these spectacular instruments. At Viscount Organs, we provide only the finest quality organs. We offer both digital and hybrid organs that can add a greater quality of sound and dynamics to your existing pipe organ. Visit us today to find out more.