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The secret sounds of santanyi

The secret sounds of Santanyi

August 17, 2014Next

The 18th Century Church of Sant Andreu in Santanyi, in Mallorcas central east corner, is home to one of the most impressive musical instruments in Europe: The Organ of Santanyi. A breathtaking example of the carefully preserved works of Mallorquin organ builder Jordi Bosch, the intricacy of its beautiful façade and its super rich sounds are certainly unique.

Jordi who came from a family of organ builders, built this particular organ in 1762 at the age of 26 for the Gothic style church of Santo Domingo in Palma, supposedly one of the most beautiful churches in the Mediterranean. Due to the dispossession of the monasteries in 1835, the organ was dismantled and sold to the parish church in Santanyi; the Santo Domingo church was later demolished.

“They brought it here by boat from Palma to Cala Figuera, then by donkey and cart to the church” says Father Gabriel Rosselló, the parish priest of Santanyi, who describes the organ as “magnificent because it sounds like no other as it was completely hand made”. The organ suffered some damage and lost its 3rd keyboard (manual) during its journey or perhaps whilst in storage, as on arrival at the church it could not be fully mounted due to lack of space and many parts were kept in the church vault.

The organ remained in need of repair until 1984, when it was carefully restored by German organ builder, Gerhard Grenzing, who carried out added restoration work in 1999 and continues to maintain the organ in a perfectly playable condition. Although it was not possible to regain its original size, its 9 strong “trumpeteria” and fan shaped spacing of the trumpets carry its sounds to every corner of the church and with its 25 ranks and 1104 pipes, it still has the largest existing mixture (Ple) in the world. Although the actual organ itself was made by Jordi Bosch, the façade was built by Fra Albert Borguny.

Irmtraud Tarr, the world famous concert organist, confesses that it is her favourite organ on the island and perfect for playing Iberican music because of its design. She is currently using this organ to record her 26th CD, this one for Haas-Verlag, the international music publishers in Cologne. “I love it because of the different kinds of sounds it produces and it is a joy to play”. 

Concerts are held in the church each year, organised by The Friends of Historical Organs Society or the Balearic Government and recordings have been made by Irmtraud Tarr and other renowned organists such as Miquel Gonzalez, David Lines and Timothy Roberts.

The church is open to the public 365 days of the year from 19.00h to 20.30h so that you may indeed hear these heavenly sounds yourselves.

The music of Irmtraud Tarr is available from her website

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