Heidelberg, Christ church
The Walcker organ of Heidelberg’s Christuskirche was built in 1903 and consecrated in 1904, at the same time as the church itself. While Max Reger was still alive – himself a frequent guest in Heidelberg  – many of his works were performed on this instrument.

In 1954, having successfully survived two world wars, the 43-stop organ was the subject of an extensive neo-baroque conversion. This resulted in the destruction of many of the instrument’s valuable Romantic voices, as well as the original pneumatics.

During 2009-2011, the organ was fully restored to its original condition and is now one of southern Germany’s largest purely pneumatic instruments. Alongside the instrument in Heidelberg’s ‘Stadthalle’ (civic hall), the Christuskirche organ is today the city’s only symphonic expressive organ of the late-Romantic era. The instrument features 43 stops, two swells, a crescendo roller and a multitude of other playing aids, including the modern addition of a combination system. These characteristics give the organ a range and flexibility that make it particularly well suited to the German organ music of the late-Romantic period, as well as that of the early modern and French Romantic eras.

Among the special features of the organ’s disposition is the 16’ foundation on all manuals, successfully reinstated during the restoration, as well as the free-reed clarinet and the extremely rare ‘Synthemato- phon’. This is a variety of diapason using generously proportioned conical pipes with double mouths on opposite sides. Invented by Walcker around 1902, it is said to produce a tone three to five times as powerful as a conventional diapason. Its inclusion in the Christuskirche organ may well have represented the first ever use of this technology.