The organ at the Basilica in Senglea has been restored – this organ has German origins and was built in the Second World War
Before the restoration by the engineer and restoration expert Robert Buhagiar, only 25% of the organ used to work. Mr Buhagiar explained that this organ has a different sound from Italian-made organs, which we find in many Maltese churches.
“Its sound is different from those made in Italy, such as those by Mascioni and Tamburini, of which there are more examples in Malta. But these German organs have a rather brilliant sound when it comes to neo Baroque, and therefore it gives some variety to the musical palette of organs which we find in our country.”
Work on the organ, which was carried out thanks to financing from the Palumbo dockyards, has taken around six months. He added that every part of the organ was restored and cleaned so that the sound will improve.
Mr Buhagiar said, “the first to be restored where the pipes, and then the windchests, on which the reeds are placed. These have a lot of valves, and if these valves do not work well then the reeds cannot be played properly, and finally the reeds themselves were restored; any dents were fixed, they were cleaned and we brought them back to perfect condition.”
The greatest challenge for the restorer was the fact that the organ was built on the balcony of the basilica which presented a problem to access it.
“It was built very high up, in order to allow access from the balcony door located on the church’s facade, so this organ had to be built in a very compact way and at a great height.”
The work was done in different phases …with the work ending with the tuning up of the reeds, 762 in all, whose sizes vary from eight feet to a centimetre, which were checked one by one for intonation, until finally, the whole instrument was tuned.