Christian MÜLLER

Het Christian Müller orgel van de Grote Kerk in Beverwijk. Het meest authentieke
Müller-orgel is dat er is.

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Sound characteristics of the Christian Müller organ in Beverwijk (1756)

As a famous and well-sought after organ builder, Christian Müller was decisive in the development of the Dutch organ tradition in the 18TH century. Due to the strong increase in congregational singing in the Protestant church services at that time, more powerful instruments were required which were dedicated to this new task.

For this reason, Müller placed a double number of pipes of certain stops in the discant section in the Beverwijk instrument (see the stop list section, “Dispositie” in Dutch). This doubling of pipes for each tone in the upper part of the instrument increases the volume of the hymn melody which organists normally play in the soprano part. For Beverwijk, doubling is carried out for Prestant 16’, Prestant 8’, Superoctaaf 2’, Quint 3’ and the Sesquialter. Furthermore, the coupling of lower and upper manual is divided into bass- and discant coupling. This means that the upper part of the accompaniment can be played even more pronouncedly by the organist. This assists the singers with the melody; during the 18TH and 19TH century only the Psalms were sung. Singing by the congregation at that time was reported as very loud and of very poor quality, in particular if no organ was available as support. In fact, poor singing was the main reason the Beverwijk organ was purchased. This is further explained below under “History”. .

The Müller organ in Beverwijk is one of the best examples an 18TH century Dutch organ built to effectively assist congregational singing. This becomes further evident from additional details in the stop-list: the Cornet and Prestant 16’ are placed on the upper manual with discant coupler main>upper, the composition of the Mixture 4-6, and the possibility on the upper manual for the popular “Dutch” combination of the stops Vox Humana/Quintadena/Roerfluit with tremolo.

The organ case is relatively wide, and thus quite different from other Müller organs. In the façade there is a division based on double fields and front pipes with Dutch-style labia. The Prestant 8’ stops from pedal and manual are distributed over the side towers and the lower fields in the main front area. The Prestant 16’ is placed in the upper part of the organ front. The pedal stop-list is almost identical to the pedal stop-list of the Müller organ in the Waalse kerk (Amsterdam), both have a Fagot 16’.

The upper manual stop-list is in Dutch style, i.e., mainly consisting of flutes and reed stops. The organ case is made from pine wood, painted mahogany red, and decorated with baroque festoons.

Müller succeeded to integrate the characteristic Dutch organ of 17TH century with the new developments in organ building demonstrated by the Hamburg/Groningen school of Schnitger and Hinsz. Other examples of Christian Müller organs can be found in Haarlem (Grote- or St Bavo Church, 1738), Amsterdam (Waalse church), Leeuwarden (Grote- or Jacobijner church, 1727) and Alkmaar (Kapel church, 1762). The sound characteristic of the Beverwijk instrument is typical Rococo. For many years, the instrument was tuned according to Kirnberger. During a recent renovation by Dutch organ builder Flentrop, the tuning was changed to Valotti (415 Hz). The Prestants are very clear with a silvery tone, flutes have full tone and the five reeds stops each have a very characteristic and pronounced sound. The Sesquialter is sparkling.

The best way to find out more about the sound characteristics of the Christian Müller organ in Beverwijk is to enjoy the many recordings that are available on YouTube or CD (see links on this website) or visit the summer recital series (July/August, see and the “nieuwsbrief” section for more details on the recitals).

Organist, musicologist and music theorist Gerben Gritter obtained his PhD in 2014 with a thesis on organ builder Christian Müller. On page 225 you can read (Dutch) about the Beverwijk Müller organ. The thesis can be downloaded here.


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