Murcia, Iglesia Catedral de Santa María
The Great Organ (1857) of Murcia Cathedral is today the largest and best preserved instrument of the Merklin & Schütze company.

The Great Organ Merklin & Schütze of Murcia Cathedral

Ordered by Cardinal Mariano Barrio Fernández, bishop of Cartagena, advised By Don Hilario Eslava a few months after the fire that destroyed the cathedral during the night of the February 3rd, 1854, the organ was inaugurated in July 1857. It remained almost intact until 1910 when major works were carried out by Aquilino Amezua. Due to the chronic lack of maintenance these works were firstly meant to bring the instrument back to its normal condition and secondly to adapt it to the new requirements of the musicians. Fortunately, this operation was more focused on the mechanical aspect of the organ than on the disposition or voicing:

Mechanical aspects:

Manuals inversion: Grand-Orgue in first position

Addition of a Barker lever on the Bombarde manual with a coupler Positif/Bombarde

Sound aspects:

Two new stops including a celestial voice on the Positif manual replacing the Flûte douce 4' (suppressed) and the Flageolet 2' moved to the Bombarde manual instead of the Nasard (also suppressed)

On the Récit, removal of Gaita Pastoril, replaced by the Voix céleste, originally in two ranks on the same register

Replacement of Merklin & Schütze's Voix humaine by a new one

Replacement of the Flûte d'écho 4' by Ocarina (Cor de nuit) 4'

Modification of swell box openings by locking the original shutters opening on the sides and the rear organ, and putting up new smaller shutters opening on the front

Firstly, changing the order of the manuals resulted in a more complex mechanical route at the output of the console with a lot of crossings - an ongoing source of problems. Secondly, the installation of the Bombarde Barker lever made the adjustments of the Grand-Orgue Barker lever impossible.

Throughout the 20th century, the organ suffered from a visible lack of maintenance and from some minor interventions without any consequences on the instrument as a whole or the original voicing. However, in the 1990's more important works resulted in the unfortunate replacement of 80% of the reed blocks.

The organ restoration

In 2003 when we were called to establish a restoration report, we discovered this extraordinary instrument in a remarkable state of historical and technical preservation but almost unplayable due to multiple problems at all levels: mechanics, wind supply and tuning.

The restoration works carried out between 2005 and 2008 involved a considerable overhaul and corrections of the previous modifications in order to bring the instrument back to the original Merklin & Schütze state.

The various interventions of the mechanical as well as of the sound aspect were easy to understand as the accurate dismantling proceeded. The comparison of our observations with the precious report on the organ established in 1870 by the organist Julian Calvo as well as with the quote by Aquilino Amezua gave us answers to many of our questions and allowed us to achieve a restoration which we hope as faithful as possible to the spirit of the builders.

Jean Daldosso