Prague’s famous St. Vitus Cathedral, a symbol of Czech statehood and home to the Czech crown jewels, is to get a very special gift on its 700th birthday in 2019. The Catholic Church has commissioned a renowned Spanish firm to make an organ that would crown the cathedral’s glory.
The Cathedral of St. Vitus, where Czech kings were crowned and where they are buried, is a majestic house of prayer within the Prague Castle compound. Just one thing mars its perfection. The cathedral’s organ with its four and a half thousand pipes, built by Josef Molzer in 1932, is not strong enough to fill the whole space of the 125-metre-long and up to 60-metre-wide church.
Two years ago the Czech Catholic Church announced plans to give the cathedral a new, bigger, pipe organ which would resound on its 700 birthday in 2019. On Monday, Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague, signed an agreement with the renowned Spanish organ-maker Gerhard Grenzing on a pipe organ for St. Vitus. The Cardinal said it was a very special moment for him.
“This is a joyful day for me because we have made a firm commitment to realize our goal. It is a relief that our long search for a suitable organ maker has come to fruition and I will now look forward to the year 2019.”
The new organ will be installed in the neo-Gothic organ loft, on the Western side of the cathedral above the main entrance. Its maker, Gerhard Grenzing, founder of the renowned company, came to Prague in person to sign the contract for what he said was a very special commission.
His firm has made more than 130 pipe organs, including instruments for the cathedrals in Madrid and Brussels and he says that each organ must resound with a unique voice. I will listen to the melody of the Czech language and try to project it into the instrument, he said. It should be suited to classical organ music as well as new compositions.
The organ should cost around 80 million crowns and while the lion’s share of the money is to be covered by the Czech Catholic Church, private sponsors and small donors have been invited to contribute to it as well. The organ’s first notes should resound on the occasion of St. Wenceslas Day, on September 28, 2019, symbolically completing the cathedral almost 700 years after work on it first started.
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