The Müller Organ in the Grote Kerk
Organ Recitals:
May-October, Tuesday 8.15-9.15 PM, Thursday 4-5 PM, entrance free

The main eye-catcher in the Great Church is the impressive Müller organ dating from 1738, which is the most depicted instrument in the world. It covers the whole west wall of the church and measures almost 30 metres from the ground. In the towering middle part the ‘werken’ (Rugwerk, Hoofdwerk en Bovenwerk), placed above each other, are clearly distinguishable; they are flanked on both sides with two enormous "pedal towers" in which pipes of almost 11 metres (32 feet) are placed. The organ is richly gilded and decorated with more than 25 larger than life-size statues, all made by Jan van Logteren, a sculptor from Amsterdam. The pinnacle is crowned with two lion figures holding the coat of arms of Haarlem.

Soundfragment: Toccata from the 5th symphony by C.M. Widor,
played on the Müller Organ
Soon after its completion the organ became a tourist attraction with international fame and it still is. It was played by G.F. Händel in 1740 and ’50, who travelled to Haarlem especially for this purpose, and in 1766 the ten-year-old Mozart was on the organ. In summer the city organ concerts attract many visitors each week. This flocking of the public is even more supported during the biennial International Organ Festival.

With the organ of Haarlem its maker, Christiaan Müller, a German by origin, has placed himself among the great organ builders not only of his time, but of all times. Although it has been radically restored several times – the last big restoration was carried out in 1959-60 by the Danish company Marcussen – the organ has retained its original concept with yet about 90% of the pipes.

During the past years the organ building company Flentrop from Zaandam, that is maintaining the organ, has carried out a number of retunings, through which the sound again closely approaches the original. The sound can be described as broad, prominent, and despite the countless nuances exceptionally homogeneous. Famous is the Cornet, the register that is placed to enable strengthening of the melody of the psalm, and the Vox Humana, or imitation of the human voice, with which Händel was very charmed, as we know. Of course, the superb acoustics of the church contributes to the beauty of the instrument's sound.
Some technical data: The organ counts more than 5000 pipes, divided over 64 registers, with three manuals and a pedal. The case is made of pinewood and painted in mahogany; all pipes are made of metal (an alloy of lead and tin), the play-register action is mechanic (renewed in 1960). The tuning is even, which is a concession to the present concert practice, in which not only Baroque music, but also music from all style periods is performed.

The Müller organ is played mainly in the summer period at the mentioned city concerts and during the church services on Sunday. Apart from public excurcsions there is a possibility of private concerts by one of the city organists, which is becoming a more and more popular outing for companies and institutions.

Gemeente Haarlem, Sector Stadszaken - Afd. Economie & Cultuur
Tel: 0031 (0)6 15 378 374
E-mail Anton Pauw: E-mail