Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Fritz Heitmann playing excerpts from J. S. Bach “Kunst der Fuge”

This is the second, but hopefully not the last, release with Fritz Heitmann. On May 19th in 1950 Fritz Heitmann recorded parts of J. S. Bach’s Kunst der Fuge in the Gruft-Kapelle in the Berliner Dom. This recording was afterwards released on an LP on the German Telefunken label.

Again we are faced with a impressive display of organ playing. This recording was made in just one day, and that required quite an amount of work and technical precision in a time when cutting and splicing was still very limited.

The cathedral was heavily damaged in 1944, and among other things the entire dome was destroyed. A temporary roof was set up in 1953 and until then the cathedral was unusable. Church services and other activities were held in the crypt under the cathedral. Historically speaking this recording must have been very emotional. It was recorded in 1950, so it was made when the cathedral was still in a terrible condition with much damage due to weather and vandalism.
I’m not sure, but as I read it on the Berliner Dom website, it looks like the organ used in the recording was an Alexander Schuke organ built in 1946 just after the war, but please help me with details.

I would like to thank former cathedral organist in Aarhus (DK), Anders Riber who has made this transfer from the original LP from his own huge collection. I’m sure this is not the last transfer coming from him. Also thanks to Anders Riber for tracking down a picture of Mr. Heitmann.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed it has been the Schuke organ. This organ was build in 1946, and has the number op. 206 in the list of works by Alexander Schuke Orgelbau Potsdam. Originally set up in the crypt of Berlin Cathedral, it was moved to the cathedral's christening chapel in the 1970s. The organ's dispositon (II/P/16) was probably designed by Heitmann himself. In 1990 the organ was renewed by the company A. Voigt. Some registers have been replaced.

    On some occasions the organ still is played.