The "Hamburg façade" was the external hallmark of North German organs, a design developed in the workshops of the important organ building families Huß, Scherer and Fritzsche in Hamburg and the surrounding area during the 17th century. The outer edges were formed by the pedal towers, which flanked the main organ (with a possible chest or a top positive). Larger organs were given a parapet positive, which outwardly and technically resembled a faithfully reduced image of the main organ. The chest or top positive - within the main case - got their own specific designs and were thus also recognizable from the outside as separate organ parts. This form of façade spread over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries and marks the outward characteristic of what is perhaps the largest organ landscape in Europe in terms of area. Since some workshops such as Arp Schnitger's exported organs at a considerable extent, individual organs with a Hamburg façade even occur in Portugal and Brazil.
The facades often show a clear division into (mostly) five pipe fields: The center forms a high protruding round tower with the deepest pipes of the main organ, the pedal towers are pointed. In between there are two flat pipe fields grouped in (often) two levels; the upper level pipes are often mute, since their wind supply would usually have been too complicated.
The North German organ of the 17th and 18th centuries is an impressive testimony of both architectural and sound planning. The design concept is focussed at a tonal balance of its individual parts, which should contrast with each other in terms of sound, but harmonise in terms of volume and sound presence. From the very beginning, this was to form the ideal basis for playing trios of two manuals and pedal, which became particularly important in the course of organ history. Following the example of organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, his students shaped a musical style that became a model for generations for Protestant organ music spread by the works of Vincent Lübeck or Dietrich Buxtehude. Genres such as chorale prelude, choral fantasia, but also the traditional pair of prelude and fugue emerged in this environment and became a guideline, on whose requirements the organ playing as well as the organ building was measured. Unlike other landscapes, like Central Germany for example, the North German organ is primarily conceived as a solo instrument.
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