Thursday, 21 June 2012 10:00

Stockholm, Katarina Kyrka (62/III/P, 2000)

Anton Doornhein: Louis Vierne - 3 Improvisations:
Anton Doornhein: Pierre Cochereau - Suite Française:

The church

"Katarinakyrkan", a Stockholm landmark, stands on historic ground; the site was first mentioned in 1303, and the first chapel built at the end of that century, by Papal Bull of 1388 sanctioning a pilgrimage site to be known as the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

King Johan III ordered building of a small chapel commemorating the Sture family. The new Maria Parish of south Stockholm quickly outgrew it, and a larger church was erected in the early 1600´s. After appealing to the king, the parish was divided in 1654, and architect Jean de la Valle (1620 - 1696) was chosen to design a cross-shaped church, with altar and pulpit in the center. Building began in the spring of 1656, first services 21 April 1656, and the new church was finally completed in 1695. The Karl XII steps were completed in 1715. During the witch hunts of the 1670´s, trials based largely on false accusations took place at that site, followed often by burnings at the stake.

In May 1723 the Katarina church was burnt in a great fire in the Katarina quarter. In 1724 it was reconsecrated after provisional repairs. Several improvements were made during the mid-1700´s, including pulpit, altar and organ. Exterior restoration took place in 1784. In 1862, the Church Council noted the "need of a heating system in our cold climate", so heating pipes were installed under a new wooden floor. Major restoration took place in 1952-54, and a new copper roof completed in 1988.

May 17, 1990 was a sad day for the congregation, as their church burned to the ground, fortunately without loss of life. Only a medieval cross and items in the vault were saved. Collections began the day after in Stockholm, and people throughout Sweden became involved in the "Save Katarina" project, through gifts of funds and services. The 700 choristers of Katarina gave concerts to build and install a new organ.
The rebuilding of the church, which started on 3 December 1990 under the architect Ove Hidemark, has so far cost Sk 240 million ($ 34 million), the insurance covered Sk 145 million. Only the walls of the church survived the fire; it was therefor considered appropriate to use building techniques from the 17th century, despite the fact that there were no old drawings left.

An analysis was made from what was left after the fire and the old walls; old photographs and measurements taken in de 30s were used. Wooden beams were brought from the forests of Mellanskog in Helsingland, and older skilled craftsmen have been employed side by side with young apprentices. The fire protection has been increased, though sectioning, sprinkler systems and electronic fire alarms.
The interior of the church is a meeting of the old and the new. The reconstructed organ facade and the reconstructed altar (original design by architect Carl Frederik Adelcrantz, 1732) are intended to represent the old, the large, low pulpet and the space for religious performances and meditation the new.

The organ

In February 2000 the new organ built by Jan L. van den Heuvel was inaugurated by organ consultant Torvald Torén. This organ is built in a symphonic style, owing much to Cavaillé-Coll, while not being a direct copy of the French master's work. The new organ case at Katarina church is made of oak and is a copy of the 1751 case except for some ornaments and sculptures. The organ possess 62 stops, divided over three manuals and pedal, both thesecond manual (Positif) and the third manual (Récit) are built in a swell box. The manual compass is 61 notes (C-C"") and the pedal has 32 notes (C-g').

The organ possess very large classical folding bellows. These bellows have a stimulating effect on the organ sound, especially in the full organ. The wind pressures of both the Grand-Orgue and Récit are divided in bass and treble. In addition classical folding bellows were made for C and C-sharp positions of the flues and reeds of the pedal. The traditionally manufactured key action possess Barkers for all divisions, which have been placed in a triple-isolated case.

The detached console is made in the style of the organs built previously by Van den Heuvel. The organist is situated with his back to the organ and thus can overview the liturgical centre. The stops are conveniently arranged in terraces, which makes it easier for the organist. The stop action is provided with an adjustable combination system with a set of 999 programmable combinations. These can be locked in 99 separate groups.

Unique is the effect of the two swell boxes; due to the very special construction of the swell shutters and the triple isolation of the ceiling and walls, they work very effectively. Besides this the inside walls and ceiling are floating using vibration demper, thus contributing to an optimal sound expression.

From a sound-technical point of vieuw, the harmonic upper partial rich intonation is remarkable. In particular, the increase in the sound of the overblowing flutes, the strings and reeds is highly expressive. Another striking characteristic is the Flûte traversière 8'(two ranks), a stop which Van den Heuvel developed. In order to enhance its solo performance, this stop, manufactured in an exceptional scale, was placed on a high situated toe-board.

Some details


To guaranty a good and quiet speech of the pipe work we make our note channels no longer than 100cm. Thus we have to employ more windchests and/or more ventils per chest. Both the Grand-Orgue and Récit Expressif are equipped with two windchests with each two ventilschests, allowing for the lowest notes even up to four ventils per tone. The Pédale has six main windchests with double ventils where needed. Besides those windchests the Pédale has nine off-set chests for the 32' and 16' stops which are directly fed from the bellow system to ensure enough wind for both the larger and smaller pipes.


The organ has very generous scaled foldingbellow system; especially in large registrations this system provides the organtone a very stimulating speech. To provide an equal wind for al divisions the organ has four Swiss Meidinger windmachines each equipped with it's own independent bellowsystem. The bellows are placed as close as possible to the windchests, causing Pédale to have for both the C- as the C#-side it's own bellows.
To have an expressive voicing, which is so characteristic in a symphonic organ, both Grand-Orgue and Récit Expressif have two different windpressures for bass and treble.
Even when using all the "Octaves Graves" couplers the windsupply is still generous and stable.

The used windpressures are:

  • Grand Orgue bass: 95 mm
    Grand Orgue treble: 110 mm
  • Positif Expressif: 90 mm
  • Récit Expressif bass: 115 mm
    Récit Expressif treble: 130 mm
  • Pédale:
    Foundation stops: 105 mm
    Reeds: 112 mm
  • Main folding bellow: 150mm
  • Barkerlevers: 102mm

In total there are 11 foldingbellows.

Key- and stopaction

Barker levers for all manuals and pedal assist the traditional constructed keyaction. The enormous force at which those levers operate can cause annoying sounds in soft passages. A sound absorbing room with triple walls in which they are placed together with the couplers will prevent this. Besides that the Barker levers, couplers and action keeps dust free, also de room can be climatologic controlled.


Van den Heuvel constructed the console in the same style as other consoles as build for Paris, Geneva and Munich. The organist sits on an ergonomic bench with his back facing the organ and can have visual contact with the liturgical center.
The stops are placed besides the manuals in horizontal rows. The electronic stopaction is assisted by a 99 level channeled combination action with 10 combinations per channel. Channels can be easily locked for visiting organists. The checks are enhanced with inlay works of ivory.


The swellboxes of the Positif and Récit are constructed with 60mm thick shutters with three contacts. The boxes themselves have also triple walls of which the most inner one is floating to provide a minimum of sound transport through the box construction.


The increasing generous scaling of the pipework towards the treble provides a solistic and expressive sound. This will ensure that the soprano melody will always be clear. Harmonic flutes, strings and reeds benefit most of this effect. The increasing windpressures enhance it even more.
A notable feature is the Flûte traversière I-II 8' of the Grand-Orgue. This stop was developed by us and used at first in the organ of the St. Eustache, Paris (101VP) in 1989. To enforce the solistic character even more the exceptional large scaled stop is in this organ place from c1 on a mounted toeboard. De acoustics of the church (6-8 sec reverb) makes this organ sound very impressive.

Internal layout

Direct behind the reversed console the Barker chamber followed by the main bellow system, which supplies air for the individual bellow systems for each division. Centrally placed above the Barker chamber in the middle of the organ are the two chests of the Grand-Orgue. Behind them and above the main bellows the large swellbox of the Récit which has also two windchests. Above the Grand-Orgue the Positif is placed in it's swell box. The pedal stops are divided on both sides of the manual divisions.


There are 40 pictures of the organ under construction taken at the builder's ateliers and assembly hall assembly.

The organ stood till june 14th fully assembled in the builder's assembly hall: 26 pictures.

The re-assembly in the Katarina Church which started at August 2nd was finished August 26th 1999: 26 pictures.

Additional Info

  • Location: Stockholm (S)
  • Inauguration: Saturday, 05 February 2000
  • Activity: Nieuwbouw
  • Stoplist:
    Pédale, C-g1
    Soubasse 32'
    Flûte 16'
    Contrebasse 16'
    Soubasse 16'
    Flûte 8'
    Octave 8'
    Bourdon 8'
    Flûte 4'
    Octave 4'
    Contre-Bombarde 32'
    Bombarde 16'
    Basson 16'
    Trompette 8'
    Clairon 4'

    Grand-Orgue (I), C-c4
    Principal 16'
    Montre 8'
    Flûte Traversière 1-2r. 8'
    Bourdon 8'
    Gambe 8'
    Prestant 4'
    Flûte Ouverte 4'
    Quinte 2 2/3'
    Doublette 2'
    Sesquialtera 2r. 2 2/3'
    Fourniture 5r. 2'
    Cymbale 4r. 2/3'
    Grand Cornet 5r.
    Bombarde 16'
    Trompette 8'
    Clairon 4'

    Positif Expressif (II), C-c4
    Bourdon 16'
    Montre 8'
    Flûte à Cheminée 8'
    Quintaton 8'
    Salicional 8'
    Unda-Maris 8'
    Prestant 4'
    Flûte d'Echo 4'
    Nasard 2 2/3'
    Flûte à Bec 2'
    Tierce 1 3/5'
    Larigot 1 1/3'
    Piccolo 1'
    Fourniture 3-4r. 1'
    Trompette 8'
    Cromorne 8'
    Récit Expressif (III), C-c4
    Flûte 16'
    Diapason 8'
    Flûte Harmonique 8'
    Viole 8'
    Voix Céleste 8'
    Bourdon 8'
    Octave 4'
    Flûte Octaviante 4'
    Octavin 2'
    Plein-Jeu Harmonique 3-6r. 2 2/3'
    Cornet 3r. 2 2/3'
    Bombarde 16'
    Trompette Harmonique 8'
    Basson-Hautbois 8'
    Voix Humaine 8'
    Clairon Harmonique 4'

    Tirasse Grand-Orgue
    Tirasse Positif Expressif
    Tirasse Récit Expressif
    Accouplement Positif Expressif/Grand-Orgue
    Accouplement Récit Expressif/Grand-Orgue
    Accouplement Récit Expressif/Positif Expressif
    Octaves Graves Grand-Orgue
    Ovtaves Graves Positif Expressif
    Octaves Graves Récit Expressif

    Mechanical key action with Barker-levers for all manuals and pedal.
    Electronic stop action:
    Crescendi 1, 2 (programmable), Tutti (programmable), Piston sequencing (99 channels, 10 per channel).

Read 14583 times Last modified on Saturday, 11 June 2016 16:58


Gregory Lloyd plays Johann Sebastian Bach, Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV 542, Church of Catherine in Stockholm.

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