Nicholas Houghton tuning his Goetz & Gwynne chamber organ at Birmingham Town Hall

Baroque Chamber Organ

In addition to playing continuo, Nick can supply (and tune) his own portable Goetze and Gwynn chest organ, a beautiful 17th century style instrument with pipes that are copies of an original north German organ built by Arp Schnitger – about which you can read more below.

The organ is ideal for all Baroque continuo work including Monteverdi, Gabrieli, Schutz, Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel, Bach and on into the Classical era, with works by Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.

Nicholas Houghton with his Goetze and Gwynn Chamber Organ

About the organ

“I commissioned this organ in 1985, before Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn had really made their name. I wanted a continuo instrument with German voicing appropriate for playing Bach and other baroque music. They went over to the Netherlands to measure and copy pipes by Arp Schnitger, the great builder of J.S.Bach’s era.

My organ has three stops (ranks of pipes):

8′ Holpijp (Flute) – a clear but gentle sound that I can happily play and listen to for hours. It is a firmer, slightly stronger sound than most similar chest organs, which tend to be voiced in a lighter English style, more appropriate for playing with viols, rather than violins which my organ suits.

4′ Fluit (Flute) – this stop sounds an octave higher and therefore when added to the 8′ Holpijp, the two create a stronger, but still gentle and beautiful sound.

2′ Octaaf (Fifteenth) – this stop sounds another octave higher and can be added to just the 8′ Holpijp for a light bright sound, or with 8′ and 4′ and 2′ all together for a brilliant sound, strong enough to support a chamber choir on its own.

Most of the pipes are made of metal, with the lower notes of the Holpijp being oak. All the Holpijp and Fluit are stopped pipes and all but the lowest octave of the Octaaf are open pipes.

The case is made of English oak with carved panels on three sides.

Having made the organ, Martin and Dominic decided that, whilst they loved the sound of the pipework, they should concentrate on building English-style organs, for which they now have an unrivaled reputation. This is therefore the only Goetze and Gwynn with German voicing you will ever hear.

After over 30 years of reliable service, the organ was completely cleaned and restored in 2017 by Edward Bennett of Goetze and Gwynn, and is as good as new!