Palace of Versailles

Creation of an organ for the Château de Versailles

The instrument is based on an organ we restored for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg. This historic organ, built by André Silbermann in 1719, was installed by Jean-André Silbermann in a convent in the town of Haguenau (67) in year 1730.

The project, based on the concerts presented at the Château de Versailles, consists in placing “Grand-orgue” at the center of the orchestra. Small chest organs, which are commonly used, have nothing historical about them, at least not for large ensembles or religious music. Most of the time, they were used for salon music in the 18th and even late 17th centuries. It was to provide a highly dynamic instrument with a rich palette of colours that this instrument, made up of three tonal divisions, one of  which is a pull-down pedal, was built.

There are many testimonies to the fact that the continuo can be varied from the smallest Bourdon to a large 16’ pedal reed. We have therefore designed and built an organ based on a large Positif which, can nonetheless be moved and tuned according to variations in temperature and in the different temperaments required by the musicians. Clearly, it will take some time for this instrument to be tamed by concert performers, who will have to adapt and probably research in historical texts the different ways of using the stops depending on the context and number of musicians.
Various devices have been conceived to facilitate the tuning of the pipes, including the fact that the tuning wires of the Régale emerge from the box that surrounds them, so that tuning can be carried out even when the box is closed.

This continuo instrument, with its couplers and pedalboard, has been enriched notably with the Basson (based on a Silbermann model measured in the 19th century) or with the presence of a 16', but it is nonetheless a concert instrument, and can even be used to play the organ répertoire.

Premier clavier : tirants à gauche
- Principal 8’ en étain – 1ère octave emprunt Bourdon 8'
- Prestant 4’ en étain
- Quinte 3’  en étain 
- Basson 8’ C à c’ en étain à 415 Hz

Deuxième clavier : tirants à droite
- Bourdon 8’ en plomb – 1ère octave en bois
- Flûte à cheminée 4’ en étain
- Doublette 2’ en étain 
- Régale 16’ ou 8’ en étain
- Accouplement II/I
- Tirasse I ou II

The two 53-note manuals (CD-f'''), whose naturals are veneered with amourette wood and the feints with boxwood, are transposable in the pitches 392, 415, 440, 465 Hz. The 29-note pedalboard can be transposed to 392 and 415 Hz.