Unique organ in the Chapel of mission House Saint Joseph!
History of the organ.
The well- known French organ builder Cavaillé-Coll and his assistant Mutin built an organ for the chapel of the Mission House in 1912. These men built organs in many big cathedrals in France: Notre Dame and Saint Sulpice in Paris, in Rouen, in Caen.
Father Jan Suylen CM visited Mutin’s workshop in Paris during the summer of 1911 on his way from a major seminary on Sicily to his new job in Panningen, together with a student Guillaume Willem Janssen (from Panningen). Organ builder Mutin told them that he had been educated by the Vincentians and he therefore considered it an honour to build an organ for them.
Since the Vincentians in Panningen depended financially completely on the General Superior’s office in Paris, permission had to be asked from the Superior General. It was suggested that “the new chapel looked incomplete with bare galleries”. The Superior General is said to have answered with “the child can barely walk and already wants an organ”. But permission was granted in January 1912 under condition that “ the instrument is of good quality, isn’t very big, and the price doesn’t exceed 10,000 French francs”.
This being said it turned out that the total costs reached 12,550 francs (at the present rate about € 500.000). Construction of the organ is estimated to last half a year, and the progress can be read in an extensive correspondence to be found in the CM archives. But there was a hitch somewhere. Towards the end of November a message arrives saying that 16 cases have been sent by train to Venlo via Maastricht. Two engineers from the Paris workshop are being sent to put the organ together in Panningen where they are met with a surprise.
How a Panningen blacksmith is offered a job in Paris
Oral tradition has it that the engineers seeing the chapel got a shock. Drawings they had seen showed the chapel having high Gothic arches. These were originally planned but were replaced by lower ones because sleeping rooms were being built on top of the chapel.
The front of the organ as built in Paris didn’t fit. A solution to the problem came from the blacksmith Straeten (“the tall blacksmith”) in Panningen. He constructed heavy angle irons to attach the front of the organ to the organ case standing on the gallery. The two pinnacles which were to adorn the front of the organ to the right and the left, ended up at the attic.
The blacksmith was invited to start work in Paris, an offer he didn’t accept.
The quality of the organ
At the inauguration on December 21, 1912 both professional and amateur musicians lauded the organ being played by a Paris organist. One was very happy with how the organ was placed as well. The superior of the House, Fr Hubert Meuffels, expressed his gratitude to the General Superior a couple of months later and reported that they were very happy with the organ.
The organ in the chapel of the Vincentians in Panningen is unique in the Netherlands because it is still in its original state. (In Hilversum and Wassenaar a salon organ by Mutin can be found , and the Mutin organ in the chapel of the sisters of St. Benedict in Oosterhout has been changed completely).
The organ in the chapel of the Vincentians in Panningen has 12 registers (stops), two keyboards and an independent pedal board. It has a clear-voiced romantic character. Its pipes are still very good and even after 100 years the mechanics are still in good order. Organ builder Verschueren in Heythuysen has maintained the organ for many years with special care.
Limburg province informed the Vincentians in 1994 that the organ had been added to the national heritage list because of its place in the history of organ building, and because of the unique quality of this ‘rare organ from the well-known Paris workshop of A.Cavaillé-Coll and Mutin’.
The future of the organ
For over 70 years the organ has been used solely for liturgical purposes. It is only in 1986 that the instrument was ‘discovered’ as a concert instrument and ever since GAKU Helden has organized one or more annual concerts via SOL (foundation cooperating organ friends Limburg). And so the organ became widely known.
Technical details of the organ (in French):
Disposition Mutin organ
• Grand orgue (C-g3 )
• Montre 8
• Prestant 4
• Flûte harmonique 8
• Bourdon 16
Recit Expressief (C-g3)
• Viole de Gamba 8
• Cor de Nuit 8
• Flûte Octaviante 4
• Voix Celeste (C-g3) 8
• Trompette 8
• Basson Hautbois 8
• Soubasse 16
• Basse Ouverte 8 (transm.Flûte Harmonique)
Tirasses(t.) en Copulas (c.)
• t. Grand Orgue
• t. Récit
• t. Trompette (van Récit)
• Expression (trede)
• c. Recit Uni (I/II)
• c. R.O.G. (= Récit Octave Grave, I+II 16)
More information on the organ
For more information on the organ please check with the website of Orgelkring Peel en Maas