The contract for a new organ for the Benedictine church of St. George in Villingen was signed in 1751 by Abbot Hieronymus and the brothers Johann Andreas and Johann Daniel Silbermann.
Although the instrument was to comprise 20 stops on three manuals, a larger organ was built in four phases:
1) 1752: otherwise than stipulated in the contract, three extra stops were installed, a place for a Trompette 8’ was reserved in the main division, and the pedal compass became C – c‘ instead of C – g.
2) 1753: the envisaged Trompette 8’ was installed on the main manual.
3) 1758: the Echo (treble) was added, with a Tremblant fort.
4) 1759: the Echo (bass) was added.
Thus a three-manual, 30-stop organ was completed stage by stage. Father Coelestin Wahl was the driving force behind the larger instrument. The final stoplist has been preserved in a description of the organ by Johann Andreas Silbermann.
The case was not constructed in Silbermann’s workshop, as was customary, but in the church itself by the master carpenter Martin Hermann. It was marbled in 1760 by Johann Michael Schmadl from Bregenz.
After the secularisation in 1806, the organ was dismantled and moved to Karlsruhe, the residence of the Grand Duke Karl Friedrich von Baden, where, in 1812, it was erected in the Protestant town church by Johann Ludwig Bürgy (Durlach). After various rebuilds, it fell victim to a bomb attack on 27 May 1944.
After renovation of the Benedictine church at Villingen, a plan arose to reconstruct the Silbermann organ, a project completed by Gaston Kern (Hattmatt) in 2002. Since nothing was known about the original case, the new one was modelled on the Silbermann organ in the church of St. John (built in 1765 for the former church of St. Stephen) in Mulhouse.The following additions were made to the stoplist: Rückpositiv Larigot 1 1/3’, Hauptwerk Flûte 4’, pedal Prestant 4’, Bombarde 16’ and Clairon 4’. The manual compass is 51 notes (as in Mulhouse), the pedal 27 notes; a pedal coupler was also installed.
by Marc Schaefer