Cathedral for art and history

The Organ

The organ add to the cathedral’s acoustics and architecture. They play a key role in the cathedral’s musical and liturgical life and contribute to the beauty of the services and to Notre-Dame de Paris’s spiritual and artistic influence.

They are three at Notre-Dame de Paris:

- the great organ, which has five keyboards, one hundred ninety ties and eight thousand pipes; it is the largest organ in France and without a doubt the most famous organ in the world;
- the choir organ, an instrument with thirty ties and two thousand pipes, whose 19th century neo-Gothic buffet is perched on the choir stalls on the North side;
- a positive organ with one keyboard and five ties, a portable instrument for continuo to accompany the Notre-Dame de Paris choir school’s ensembles and soloists.

There were doubtlessly organs at Notre-Dame Paris from the time it was built in the 12th century, but Léonin, organ composer, founder of the Ecole Notre-Dame and optimus organista, then Pérotin the Great(1160-1220), most probably only played on small instruments in the choir. Still, a “great organ” was definitely built at Notre-Dame in the 13th century. In 1330, the cathedral’s accounts mention paying an organist’s fees. A few years later, these accounts mention Jean de Bruges, an organist and possibly organ maker. It was suspended like a swallow’s nest under an upper window in the nave: it was (...)
The choir organ in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is 30-stop instrument with two keyboards and a pedalboard.
Its history began in the early 19th century, just after the Revolution, when the choir organ “trend” was spreading to churches to offset the lack of religious musicians. This instrument is at the heart of the cathedral’s liturgy and has always been carefully maintained, just as the organists who played there were carefully selected.
Making a major contribution to music at Notre-Dame de Paris, the choir organ plays several roles made possible by the richness and diversity of its (...)
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