Images from The Pressler
Swiss House Organ, 1786
NMM 4897. House organ by Josef
Lüppfertsweil, Gemeind Cappel, St. Gall (Switzerland), 1786.
Engraved on center pipe: 1786 / isl.
Single manual, tracker action, C-c3 (49
keys). Six stops; 294 pipes. Case exterior
of the Toggenburger valley.
carvings in front of pipes and at top
of marbled cornices. Ex coll.: Lady Berkeley, Assisi, Italy. Purchase
funds gift of Margaret Ann and Hubert H. Everist, Sioux City, Iowa,
Copel 8' (wood)
Principal 4' (wood and metal)
Floten 4' (wood)
Octav 2' (wood and metal)
Quint 1/3' (wood and metal)
Subteroctav 1 (wood and metal)
Joseph Looßer's signature, handwritten in ink, on paper glued
back of the pallet box:
Durch Joseph Looßer Orgeln Macher Von
Lüppertsweil in der gemeind
Cappel in Toggenburg / 1786:
One of the most colorful instruments on exhibit at
the National Music Museum is this magnificently painted house organ, built in 1786 by
Josef Looßer in a workshop attached to his house just outside
Ebnat-Kappel, a village located on the Thur River in the Toggenburger
Valley of northeastern Switzerland.
The case is painted in the
traditional style (a free rococo with stylised
flowers) of the Toggenburger region, complemented by gilded carvings in
front of the pipes and at the top of the marbled
Such organs were built to be used in homes to accompany
singing of canticles and sacred songs, at a time when music was banned in
many Swiss churches. The Museum's example is the only 6-stop organ by
Looßer known to survive. A smaller, 5-stop organ built by Looßer in 1807
survives at the Heimatmuseum in Ebnat-Kappel. The house and workshop in
which the organs were built still stands alongside the highway on the
south edge of the small town.
The Museum's house organ, which was restored by Edward
Bennett in England,
has not been electrified. The wind pressure is supplied by a bellows,
which is filled when the organist pushes down on the pedal.
The Museum long wanted to acquire a Swiss organ, but
had little hope of
doing so because they are considered national treasures, making their
export difficult. Early in 1990, however, this one was offered. Having
been kept for many years in Assisi, Italy, in the music room of Lady
Berkeley, an English woman, it was already out of Switzerland.
The organ was purchased with funds generously given by
Margaret Ann and
Hubert H. Everist of Sioux City, Iowa, and the instrument was first heard,
on American soil, when the Museum's Pressler Gallery was opened on May 6,
André P. Larson, "Swiss House Organ by Josef Looßer,
Ebnat-Kappel, 1786," The South Dakota Musician, Vol. 31, No. 3
(Spring 1997), cover and page 22.
Close-up views of the traditional case painting and
gilded carvings, done in the
of the Toggenburger region of Switzerland. The names of the stops are
also painted on the case.
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A postcard of this organ is available from the Gift Shop
National Music Museum
The University of South Dakota
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Most recent update:
March 3, 2014
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