How did organ builders and carpenters make organ benches back in the 18th century? In this picture on the left you can see an organ bench from the Holy Ghost church in Vilnius, Lithuania where in 1776 Adam Gottlob Casparini built an organ with two manuals and pedals which today is considered one of the best preserved historical organs in northern Europe. This organ currently is under restoration which is on hold because of lack of finances.
To me this organ has personal value as well because in 2000 I was one of the people who helped in the documentation project of this priceless instrument. I helped make various measurements, drawings etc.
I remember how I made a drawing of the very same organ bench - my task was to draw it as closely as possible to the real thing. Therefore everything had to be copied exactly as it is. It was especially difficult to copy all these ornate curved lines you can see in this picture.
The final details in my drawings were always made by an expert organ restorer from Sweden, Niclas Fredriksson who led the documentation project of this organ. He spent hours upon hours sitting inside of the organ meticulously making computer measurements so that this documentation would be as complete as possible. In fact, the documentation was so thorough, that they were able to build a replica of this organ in Rochester, NY.
Note that the bench is made without any nails - on top of it, you can see 5 wedge-shaped connectors which had to be masterfully calculated so that the vertical and horizontal parts of the bench would hold firmly together.
Incidentally, when an organist sits on this bench, there is not enough room to put the entire foot (toe and heel) on the pedals. This may well be one of the indicators that they didn't use heels in pedal playing of the early music back in those days.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.