Organ music in the Frauenkirche

The organ of the Frauenkirche is a new instrument made by the reputable organ builder Daniel Kern from Strasbourg in 2005. 

Located prominently above the altar, every visitor of the church can see it straight away. In order to hear it, they are welcome to attend a Sunday service, a midday or evening devotion or one roughly 40 concerts a year.

BACH cycle

The BACH Cycle is characterised by the works of the composer who is considered as the epitome of Protestant sacred music: Johann Sebastian Bach. 2008 and 2009, 2010 and 2011 in 20 varied concerts, the choir master of the Frauenkirche Matthias Grünert and the organist of the Frauenkirche Samuel Kummer present all organ pieces by the Saxon ‘Court Composer, Court Conductor and Choir Master’.  

Ending with a wealth of artistic choral adaptations, which have been handed down in collections such as the Organ Book, the Schübler Chorales, the Leipzig Chorales, the third part of the Piano Practice as well as the Kirnberg Neumeister Collection, the concert programme orientates itself primarily on the feast and fast times of the church year. 

All BACH cycle concerts 2014/15 at a glance:

20142015
Sat, 04/01 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus I
"Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern"

Sat, 24/01 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XI
"Christ, du bist der helle Tag"

Sat, 22/03 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus II
"Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig"
Sat, 28/02 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XII
"Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ"
Mon, 21/04 | 20 Uhr | BACHzyklus III
"Christ lag in Todesbanden"
Fri, 27/03 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XIII
"O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig"
Fri, 16/05 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus IV
"Vater unser im Himmelreich"
Mon, 06/04 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XIV
"Christ ist erstanden"
Tue, 03/06 | 8 p.m. BACHzyklus V
"Dritter Teil der Clavierübung"
Tue, 26/05 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XV
"Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott"
Fri, 05/09 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus VI
"O Gott, du frommer Gott"
Fri, 21/08 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XVI
"Herr Gott, dich loben wir"
Tue, 23/09 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus VII
"Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr"
Fri, 18/09 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XVII
"Jesu, meine Freude"
Sun, 31/10 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus VIII
"Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott"
Fri, 16/10 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XVIII
"Die Kunst der Fuge"
Fri, 21/11 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus IX
"Vor deinen Thron tret' ich hiermit"
Mon, 30/11 | 8 p.m. | BACHzyklus XIX
"Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland"
Thu, 25/12 | 9 p.m. | BACHzyklus X
"Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt"
Sat, 25/12 | 9 p.m. | BACHzyklus XX
"Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ"

Dresden Organ Cycle

With the consecration of the Frauenkirche, a triumvirate of major city-centre churches exists, whose organs now sound as part of the Dresden Organ Cycle, each taking a weekly turn. The organs of the Cathedral, the Kreuzkirche and the Frauenkirche come from the workshops of Gottfried Silbermann (1755), the brothers Jemlich (1963) and the organ-builder firm Kern (2005). The three instruments will be played every Wednesday at 8 p.m., each being played once every three weeks. As a result, it will be possible to listen to and compare the three organs and to experience the different characters of the instruments in contrasting church buildings.  

The organists of the Cathedral, the Kreuzkirche and the Frauenkirche have put together an extensive concert programme. The high points every year are the international Dresden organ weeks. In the summer month it is  possible to listen to guests from the USA, Great Britain, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Japan und France, as well as the house organists.

This is an overview of the concert dates of 2014 in the Frauenkirche:

Wed., 12/02 | 8 p.m. Susanne Rohn (Bad Homburg) plays works by Dieterich Buxtehude, Franz Tunder, Johann Sebastian Bach and Josef Klicka
Wed., 05/03 | 8 p.m.  Domorganist Frank Dittmer (Greifswald) plays works by Gustav Busch, Sigfrid Karg-Elert and Gerard Bunk
Wed., 26/03 | 8 p.m.  Frank Scheffler (Bad Nauheim) plays works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Louis Vierne and Olivier Messiaen
Wed., 07/05 | 8 p.m.  Monica Melcova (Granada/Spain) plays works by Jacques Boyvin, Johann Sebastian Bach, César Franck, Bert Matter and improvisations
Wed., 28/05 | 8 p.m.  Frauenkirchenorganist Samuel Kummer (Dresden) plays works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Gustav Merkel and Adolph Friedrich Hesse
Wed., 18/06 | 8 p.m.  Frauenkirchenkantor Matthias Grünert (Dresden) spielt Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy u. a.
Wed., 09/07 | 8 p.m.  International Organ Weeks Gerhard Weinberger (München) spielt Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach, Max Reger und Peter Wittrich
Wed., 30/07 | 8 p.m.  International Organ Weeks Bernhard Gfrerer (Salzburg/Austria) plays works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Felix Alexandre Guilmant
Wed., 20/08 | 8 p.m.  International Organ Weeks Orgelduo Ai Yoshida & Alex Gai (Japan/Italy) play works by Johann August Homilius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Padre Davide da Bergamo
Wed., 10/09 | 8 p.m.  International Organ Weeks Frauenkirchenorganist Samuel Kummer (Dresden) plays works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jeanne Demessieux, Maurice Duruflé and Charles Tournemire
Wed., 01/10 | 8 p.m.  Rie Hiroe (Tokio/Japan) plays works by Johann Sebastian Bach, César Franck und Maurice Duruflé 
Wed., 22/10 | 8 p.m. Abteiorganist Johannes Trümpler (Maria Laach) plays works by Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Sebastian Bach and Louis Vierne
Wed., 05/11 | 8 p.m.  Domorganist Thomas Lennartz (Dresden) plays works by Charles-Marie Widor, Pierre Cochereau and Charles Tournemire

Tue., 25/11 (!) | 8 p.m.  Frauenkirchenorganist Samuel Kummer (Dresden) plays works by César Franck, Louis Vierne and Improvisationen

 (The dates of the concerts in the Church of the Holy Cross (Kreuzkirche) and the Cathedral you can find in the flyer.)

Literary Organ Nights by Candlelight

“When words and music inspire each other, a harmonious whole emerges and in the evening glow of candlelight, a very special atmosphere is created.”

Samuel Kummer, organist of the Frauenkirche, chose these words to describe the special kind of organ recitals that came into being in 2006 and have taken place each year since then on Friday evenings in June. 

At the Literary Organ Nights by Candlelight, you will experience the wonder of a poetic summer night in the form of a harmonious mingling of music and the spoken word. These evenings are enhanced by the unique mood created by the atmospheric lighting n the church nave and by the sight of the illuminated altar of the Frauenkirche and the messages this conveys.

The Literary Organ Nights feature a dialogue between outstanding organ music – mainly improvisations in the musical idiom of the 19th – 21st centuries – and carefully chosen prose which reaches the heart, stirs the conscience or opens new perspectives of the familiar. The music is supplied by Frauenkirche organist Samuel Kummer and the texts are spoken by actors from the Dresden Staatsschauspiel. 

Literary organ nights 2015:

Fr, 12 June, 10 p.m.
Fr, 19 June, 10 p.m.
Fr, 26 June, 10 p.m.

Nocturnal Organ Music by Candlelight

A concert in the “Nocturnal Organ Music by Candlelight“ programme has exactly the right atmospherics to end a Sunday in Advent. On the four Sundays in Advent when the evening is getting late, the Frauenkirche invites you to let your mind drift as you listen to the magnificent tones of the Kern organ. 

The night time music brings new life to the inner city: after a visit to the hectic Striezelmarkt, the inspiring tones of the organ offer a moment of peace. Pastoral words pick up the theme of the music and welcome you with the message of Advent as candles flicker: a pleasing final chord for the soul to close the day. 

Nocturnal Organ Music by Candlelight 2014:

1st Sunday in Advent | 30 November | 9 p.m.
2nd Sunday in Advent | 07 December | 9 p.m.
3rd Sunday in Advent | 14 December | 9 p.m.
4th Sunday in Advent | 21 December | 9 p.m.

Church Explanations and Organ Sounds

This (German language) programme brings together words and music: accounts of the history, architecture and of life today in the Frauenkirche are accompanied by the music of the organ. 

What is it that makes the Frauenkirche one of the most important Protestant church buildings? What motivated well over one hundred thousand donors and supporters to give money for the restoration of the church?  There is a lot to tell about the history, restoration and architectural expression of this place of worship. An experienced church guide is there to give visitors a closer understanding of what makes the Frauenkirche unique.

The event is accompanied by selected organ music. Works of well-known composers such as Bach, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Mozart, Franck and Rheinberger resound from the magnificent Kern organ of the Frauenkirche played by alternating organists. 

Church Explanations and Organ Sounds 2015:  

Fri, 11 April | 8 p.m.
Fri, 01 May | 8 p.m.
Fri, 16 May | 8 p.m.
Fri, 06 June | 8 p.m.
Fri, 10 July | 8 p.m.
Fri, 31 July | 8 p.m.
Fri, 14 August | 8 p.m.
Fri, 11 September | 8 p.m.

Organ Music in Church Services and Devotions

As a symbol of Protestant church building, the Frauenkirche seems predestined to be a place where church music is keenly nurtured. Now as in days gone by, music is an essential component of life in the Frauenkirche. Its architecture – with the organ located centrally above the altar – points impressively to a Protestant understanding of church music – music as a medium for the divine message and as mode of worship.

As befitting its historic function as a house of God, a special emphasis is placed in the Frauenkirche on religious services and sacred music activities.  This involves the performing of quintessentially Protestant music: in addition to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the programme of sacred music is considerably enhanced by performances of works by the former Kreuzkantor and Frauenkirche organist Gottfried August Homilius and other baroque masters. 

Organ music plays a significant part in this: together with the vocal music of the church, it creates a setting for the religious services: its defining role in devotions is self-evident: after the bells are silent, the tones of the magnificent Kern organ herald the start of weekday organ devotions.   On two further occasions during the twenty minute service, the music of the organ resounds throughout the baroque interior of the church, creating a unique setting. 

From Silbermann to Kern: the organs of the Frauenkiche

Both the tradition and the reputation of the Frauenkirche regarding performances of sacred music are based on the oeuvre of gifted choir masters and organists and on the special instruments that they could play in the baroque church room.

The historic Silbermann organ

The organ in Bähr’s Frauenkirche was installed in 1736 and deemed one of the greatest works of Gottfried Silbermann. Johann Sebastian Bach gave a concert on it shortly after its installation. However, by 1769 the organ was retuned for the first time. A further retuning was carried out in 1819, because the organ, which was developed for the sound of baroque chamber music, stood ‘a half a tone too deep in relation to the present instrumental ambience’. Also in the period that followed, the organ was expanded several times and restructured so that its original sound form has not been handed down. The organ together with the organ case was completely destroyed in 1945. 

The new Kern organ

The new organ was built in 2005 by Kern, an organ-builder from Strasbourg. It impressively combines the organ building principles of the brothers Gottfried and Andreas Silbermann. The instrument is tonally enriched by the typical sounds of a French romantic organ work, so that the new organ possesses an impressive versatility. As a result, the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach can be played just as authentically as the symphonic organ works of César Franck. The extremely adaptable instrument possesses 69 sounding stops which are distributed over four keyboards and one pedal. Of the 4,876 pipes, of which only a small part is visible, the smallest measures less the one centimetre and the biggest measures over five meters.

(You can find the disposition ... here.)