Ensemble voor middeleeuwse muziek
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The medieval organ and carillon in the Mauritius church in Marsum.

Winold van der Putten relied on many sources and conversations during the reconstruction, in particular with Jankees Braaksma, the leader of Super Librum, an ensemble for medieval music. The most important starting points for the construction of the instrument are two old texts: 'De fistulis Organis' ('About Organ Pipes') by a 10th-century anonymous author from Bern, and the tract 'Schedula Diversarum Artium' ('Overview of the Various Arts'), written by the Benedictine monk Theophilus towards the end of the 11th century. A beautiful image from the Rutland Psalter, also known as the Belvoir Castle Psalter from around 1260 (British Library MS add. 62925) is the most important source for the appearance of the organ.

The intriguing sound of the organ, mild and slightly hoarse, is the result of a nowadays unusual way of making pipes, based on a single basic conical shape. As a result, the large pipes are relatively 'narrow', so that they sound super-rich, and the smaller pipes are relatively 'wide', so that their basic tone becomes more prominent. There are two wooden pipes per key, each with their own pitch, with a fifth difference between the two pipes. Both tones merge in such a way that one sound is produced per key.

The appearance of the organ is largely determined by the way in which the wind provision is made. There are two large bellows on each of the short sides of the wind chest: 'geminos folles' (twin bellows). The organ is made of plane wood, and is painted in the colors that the Rutland Psalter shows, with linseed oil-based paint, as prescribed by Theophilus.

The medieval carillon

Simon Laudy of the Bell and Art Foundry Reiderland built this unique medieval carillon for the Super Librum ensemble in 2006, as an addition to the medieval organ. In the manufacture of the 14 bronze bells, Laudy, like the construction of the organ, was guided by the tract of the Benedictine monk Theophilus from the 11th century. The appearance of the organ and the casing for the bells are based on a picture from the Rutland Psalter, a medieval psalms book from around 1260. The tones of the carillon: C, D, E, F, Fis, G, A, B, H , c, d, e, f, g. Carillon and organ are precisely aligned, in a pythagorean mood. The clocks can be played by one or two clock players. The carillon could be realized through contributions from the Van Beek Family Fund Foundation, Klaas Dijkstra Fund Foundation, Simon Laudy and Orgelmakerij van der Putten. Thanks to the kind cooperation of the Oude Groninger Kerken Foundation, the bells have also been given a permanent place in the choir of the 12th-century church of Marsum.

Sound examples of this carillon can be heard in 'Anna' by composer Peter Lunow and on the Media page on this site.

Research into early organ music

The earliest sources that show that the Middle Ages had a rich organ tradition were found in the north of the Netherlands and Germany. The little bulky but important organ tablatures from Winsum (1431) and Oldenburg (1448) contain a number of changes of the proprium chants, the fixed parts of the mass: Kyrie, Credo, Agnus Dei. These manuscripts, which are unique in Europe (and therefore throughout Western music culture), point to the existence of a Northern medieval organ tradition based on improvisation (with a demonstrable unique 'regional' style). This laid the foundation of the 'Groningen' (international) organ tradition.

Thanks to this beautiful medieval country organ (the first playable reconstruction of such a medieval organ), research into the earliest organ tradition and Gregorian chant has entered a new phase. The Super Librum Foundation contributes to this research with concerts, CDs, symposia, master classes, publications, lectures and lessons.

Jankees Braaksma, artistic director of Super Librum gives concerts, demonstrations with reading and lessons on the organ.

Use of the medieval organ for concerts and study

The Super Librum Foundation gladly gives other ensembles and individual musicians the opportunity to use the organ frequently for concerts. You can contact us about the possibilities: contact

Orgelmakerij Van der Putten

The medieval organ was built by Orgelmakerij Van der Putten in 1999 for the Drents Museum in Assen, the Super Librum Foundation, and the Organeum in Weener (Germany). The organ was partly realized, thanks to the contributions from the Anjerfonds, the VSB Fonds, the J.B. Scholtenfonds and Orgelmakerij Van der Putten. In 2001 the Stichting Familie Familie van Beek enabled the Super Librum Foundation to acquire the instrument. From 2001, the Oude Groninger Kerken Foundation made the 12th-century church of Marsum available to the Super Librum Foundation as the permanent home of the medieval organ.