Following the most recent reconfiguration, undertaken in 2018, the Gewandhaus organ currently comprises 91 stops, 6845 permanently installed pipes, four manuals and a pedalboard. It also features a glockenspiel and two zimbelsterns.
In addition to the main Schuke organ, the Gewandhaus acquired a smaller, mobile organ built by Kristian Wegscheider in 2018, which is particularly suited to baroque and early classical repertoire. The instrument, which can also be played in the Mendelssohn Hall, consists of a main organ and a chest organ, playable either individually or linked to one another. Together, the two parts of the organ comprise 13 stops and a total of 654 pipes.
The initial architectural designs for the main organ were completed as early as 1975, when the New Gewandhaus project’s chief architect, Prof. Rudolf Skoda, took the organ into account in his plans for the Great Hall. From mid-1976, the renowned organ builders, Schuke, based in Potsdam, participated in the planning, before being officially awarded the contract in 1977. All concerned were determined that the instrument be completed in time for the inauguration of the Great Hall. The prospect was designed by Schuke’s Friedrich Wilhelm Stendel; Rudolf Nehm was responsible for the sound concept, the disposition of the stops and the dimensions of the pipes; Jürgen Freymann oversaw the actual construction of the instrument. The cabinetmakers, VEB Deutsche Werkstätten in Hellerau, near Dresden, were commissioned to build the organ’s casing, for which they used Siberian oak.
In October 1980, while the concert hall was still under construction, the installation of all the individual parts of the organ (pipes, casing, wind chests, action, etc.) began on site at the Gewandhaus. It took over 7 months until the construction of the 15-metre wide, 11-metre high instrument, with its initial 6638 pipes and 87 stops, was completed. The voicers, Heinrich Wallbrecht and Tilo Catenhusen, began their work in April 1981, carrying out this immensely delicate task while surrounded by the continuing construction work on the rest of the building. The successful inspection and approval of the organ was confirmed on 17 September 1981, a mere three weeks before the opening of the Gewandhaus.
In 1987, the organ was augmented by means of the acquisition of a mobile console, enabling organists to play the instrument from the stage below.
The mobile organ was financed with the assistance of the Society of Friends of the Gewandhaus and numerous ‘Organ Pipe Sponsors’.