The ideas for the current organ were developed around 1930 by dr.W. Kerssemakers, professor at the minor seminary Beekvliet in St. Michielsgestel. The register composition or disposition of the organ shows the main lines of the baroque, with a clear “working division” (each keyboard has its own function) and with many high-pitched stops. The whole is supplemented with some romantic registers. Due to the acoustics of the church, all the pipework has been taken in fairly wide dimensions, with a broad wind. The organ was built by the leading company Verschueren from Heythuysen at the time. It became an organ of 71 registers (of which 5 derivatives or transmissions) to be constructed in two parts. On November 8, 1936, the new organ was festively inaugurated.
During the high mass and praise, the church choir of the Catharinakerk led by G. van der Zande was accompanied by Piet Madlener. After the praise, Mr. C. de Rooij from Venlo gave an organ recital. In the evening there was another organ recital by Flor Peeters from Mechelen. , positive (11), swell (15) and pedal (16), and an altar organ above the sacristy door, in the apse of the church, with 15 registers. The latter voices could be divided over the two manuals and the pedal of their own console downstairs, and could be played together on a separate fourth keyboard upstairs. From the beginning, this organ influenced the architectural style in the Netherlands and Belgium, especially in the work of Verschueren. We speak of this organ in the past tense, because it suffered heavy damage during a bombing raid on December 6, 1942: the altar organ was destroyed, the large organ was badly damaged.
In the following years, leaks due to the broken vaults and windows also led to even more malfunctions. When a new organist took office in 1945, Hub. Houët (*1915), only one keyboard was still playable. After the Second World War, the organ was gradually restored and even expanded to 76 registers. This made it the largest organ in the Netherlands; it was only surpassed in 1973 by the new Laurens organ in Rotterdam.
In February 1950, Hub. Houët presented the rebuilt organ to the parish in a festive concert. From that year 1950, the Catharina organ has been played intensively. In the first place for worship, in which the accompaniment of the choirs, later of the folk song, and the alternating solo playing of the organist was provided. In contrast to the decline in church services in the 1970s, concert practice flourished. From the very beginning, organists from home and abroad were invited to play, when this was still completely unusual in Catholic churches. This is how the concert tradition with which the people of Eindhoven are now familiar was born.
Between 1987 and 1990 the organ was thoroughly overhauled. The biggest intervention was the revision of the playing transmission or action, because with today’s electronic means the former voluminous electro-pneumatic combination machine has been made superfluous. The resurrected instrument offers endless possibilities for concerts, so that in principle all organ literature can be performed on it. Yet the organ bears unmistakably the stamp of the thirties and fifties; it is – like any good organ – dated. Because while the designers had opted for a sound structure that, in their eyes, ideally suited baroque music, the prominent soloists who perform on it today testify that the romantic and modern works come into their own particularly well.
The Verschueren organ was taken care of last year by the Fa. Klais from Bonn. It was the first phase of an extensive multi-year restoration, in which especially the traction modernized. The entire action in organs and consoles was renewed, using fiber optic technology, among other things. Main and altar orgel are now fully playable from both gaming tables and the movable gaming table below can be connected in several places.
Laukhuff’s Espressivo system provides the most advanced control imaginable and is fully customized and configured by the factory as desired. Touch screens display all desirable information and an advanced setter is provided for both organs. In addition, the four thousand diaphragms were renewed, the 32′ registers improved and the three wind machines and the swell device are now electronically controlled.
The organ has two consoles: the large main console with 4 manuals and pedal and a small console in front of the sacristy door with 2 manuals and pedal. The entire instrument can be played from both consoles. The total number of pipes is 5725. Due to the presence of a large rose window, a low and open pipe arrangement has been chosen. The three statues in front of the main organ come from the pre-war organ and represent Cecilia, David and Gregorius.
The altar organ is located in the choir above the sacristy door.
The instrument can be heard during the organ concerts on the 4th Saturday of the month at 3 p.m., during the Open House celebrations on Friday at 12:15 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays, before and after services.
Download the document here: Disposition organ Catharinakerk Eindhoven (pdf) – (after works 2017)
The organ of the Catharina Church has been played for more than 400 years. A complete overview can be found on the Organists page.