Honorary Court and State Organ Builder to the King of Poland and Duke of Saxony
With 31 Gottfried Silbermann organs in original baroque condition located within its borders, the entire State of Saxony can certainly claim to be a Gottfried Silbermann Organ Museum!
The "heart" of Silbermann Organ Territory is Frauenstein. Gottfried Silbermann went to school in Frauenstein, and for its village church he built his first organ in 1709 (subsequently destroyed by fire).
The Gottfried Silbermann Museum can also be found in Frauenstein, located in the Schloss up on the hill. The Schloss is attached to the old Castle ruins;
from here there are magnificent views over the local countryside.
The Museum contains a wealth of information on Silbermann's life and work, together with a copy by Wegscheider Organ Builders, Dresden, of an instrument Silbermann built in 1732 for Etzdorf, and a working model demonstrating the basic principles of baroque organ construction. The Museum is open year-round, and there are several concerts or recitals in the Museum each year.
The Picturesque village of Nassau with its Silbermann organ (left) is just a few miles from Frauenstein - ask at the Museum for visiting times. Helbigsdorf (right) is worth a visit, not only for its Silbermann organ, but for the magnificent barrel-vaulted painted wood ceiling.
Freiberg is just 20Km / 12 miles from Frauenstein. In this building, on the square in the center of this small historic town, Gottfried Silbermann had his workshop.
In 1710 Silbermann received the commission to build a 3-manual organ for Freiberg Cathedral,
which he completed in 1714 (photo center).
The Cathedral is open to visitors, and there are regular tours and organ recitals.
There are Silbermann organs in two other Freiberg churches: St Jakobi (left) and Petrikirche (right).
Thereafter Silbermann built some 45 instruments, 31 of which are still extant. All are located within, or very close to the Saxon borders. In this way Silbermann minimized transportation costs; he also standardized his instruments as much as possible, thereby also saving on design and tooling costs. The savings went into workmanship and materials of the very highest quality. He could thus offer quality at a competitive price. His "silvery sounds" (a play on the name Silber-mann) were well known and widely praised.
Silbermann, like JS Bach, received an honorary title from the Royal Court at Dresden, Silbermann as Court Organ-builder, Bach as Court Composer. The two were great friends, and often discussed the techniques and acoustics of organ building. Silbermann was Carl Philipp Emmanuel's godfather and a regular visitor to the Bach home in Leipzig. The two even worked together on the escapement mechanism for the world's first pianos; Silbermann built a number of "forte-pianos" for King Frederick in Potsdam, one of which is seen below at the King's small summer residence of Sans Souci, Potsdam. It was in trying these forte-pianos during a visit to Potsdam in 1747 that the Royal Theme was elaborated by Bach as the Musical Offering.