During the 1700s the organ held such importance in the church that the interior was not considered complete before the organ was in place. The Gloger Organ was inaugurated in 1765 and its magnificent façade filled the area of the church above the pulpit. This organ, constructed in the Baroque style, was without doubt a true masterpiece.
Gottfried Heinrich Gloger (1710-1779)
Gloger was born in Hannover and received his first organ-building training under his father, Johann Heinrich Gloger. Gloger came to Norway as early as 1738, and in 1746 the King awarded him the royal privilege of organ builder. He was the greatest organ builder in Norway during the 1700s - the golden age for the European organ culture.
A demanding contract
On 19 July 1760, Gloger signed the contract to build an organ in Kongsberg's new church for the price of 2 200 riksdaler (old Norwegian currency). He was personally responsible for all expenses incurred in connection with the building.
The finished instrument had 42 voices distributed over three manuals and pedals. The Organ was equipped with six large bellows. Via a separate register bell, the organist passed a message to the calcants (bellow treaders) to tell them when they should begin treading. This arrangement is also used today in some concerts.
At that time, the Gloger Organ was considered an organ of considerable size, and it was the largest Gloger would ever build.
The Organ was finally finished in 1765, and it was a considerably impoverished and reduced organ builder who was ultimately paid 4 000 riksdaler for his work.
The fate of the Gloger Organ
In the years leading to around 1850, the Organ underwent a number of repairs, one of these being to the bellows which were exposed to a lot of wear and tear and also hungry mice! The first major repair was probably made in 1780.
In 1849, there was great uncertainty as to whether the Organ was playable. Because of this concern, the country's leading church-music authority, Ludvig Mathias Lindemann, was asked to come to Kongsberg and advise on the matter. The Organ was then repaired in 1850 by the young Norwegian organ builder, Paul Christian Brantzeg.
At the end of the 1800s, the organ-building tradition was undergoing a period of conflict, and many people believed that Baroque organs were old-fashioned.
During a fire in the church loft at the end of the 1880s, the Organ was severely water damaged and, instead of repairing the Gloger Organ, the church had a new organ built by a German, Albert Hollenbach.
As time passed, the church community became increasingly keen to have the old Gloger Organ restored to its original playing condition. However, efforts always fell short owing to a lack of funds.
Drama around the Organ
In 1928, Tinius Olsen (a Kongsberg citizen who had emigrated to Philadelphia, USA) donated a large sum of money towards the Organ's restoration.
In brief, what happened was that the Organ's original air pressuriser and playing mechanism were removed and placed in the church loft. An electric console was installed in the gallery on the opposite side to the organ balcony, and everything was connected together using electric cables. Contrary to the wishes of the national antiquarian, most of the pipework was rebuilt in order to accommodate the musical preferences of the 1930s. The Gloger Organ from 1765 was therefore not restored in accordance with the conditions of the donation. In fact, it was a completely new organ which was now behind the Baroque façade.
Fortunately, most parts of the Organ had been looked after and were stored in the church loft. The next attempt to restore the Organ took place in 1974 on the initiative of the young and newly employed organist, Reidar Hauge, but the time was still not ripe for the restoration.
Scandinavia's greatest Baroque organ is restored
There are a number of preserved organ facades built by Gloger, but when the Gloger Committee began work on the restoration process in 1993, it was only in Kongsberg that there were enough organ parts to enable restoration of the organ itself.
Following a long period of fund-raising for the restoration, in 1997 the Committee was able to sign the contract with the renowned German organ builder, Jürgen Ahrend from Leer in northwest Germany.
In January 2001, the Gloger Organ was finished, restored to the original Baroque organ from 1765.
With the addition of newly cast pipes, Jürgen Ahrend had recreated in the restored Gloger pipes the authentic sounds of old.
We must assume that the sounds from the Organ today are the same as those that were heard in the second half of the 1700s.
A national treasure
Kongsberg now owns Scandinavia's greatest historical instrument with 42 voices. Because of this, Kongsberg has international status as a concert church, and the town has made significant strides in its development as a cultural centre.
The work of taking care of and restoring not only a national treasure but also the greatest Baroque organ in Scandinavia, was a major example of voluntary work involving many players, not least a vast number of the people of Kongsberg itself.