The Rieger Organ

The Rieger Organ

The Rieger Organ Company of Schwarzach/Vorarlberg, Austria, was founded by Franz Rieger in 1845. In 1922 it was acquired by Josef von Glatter-Goetz, Sr., who in 1936 was joined in partnership by his two sons, Egon (killed in action in 1940) and Josef, Jr. By 1939 the company had 340 employees, three factories, and had built over 4000 organs throughout Europe. Rieger lost all three factories during World War II: one was destroyed by action in Mocker, Poland; the other two were expropriated by Hungary (Budapest) and Czechoslovakia (Jagerndorf, now in the Czech Republic) and are now state-owned. In 1946, the present location was established in Austria.

In recent years under the direction of Josef von Glatter-Goetz, Jr., Rieger Organ Company has built outstanding organs throughout the world including several in the United States. Most notable is a magnificent one in All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. that has been featured on many recordings by Columbia Records.

Our organ was installed by Casper von Glatter-Goetz (son of the builder) and voicer Klaus Knoth. Even though the organ was assembled and fully tested in the factory, these men devoted four weeks to re-assemble it and then to complete the highly skilled task of “voicing” it (i.e. tailoring its sounds to the specific acoustics of our sanctuary).

The silver colored hand-polished “Principal” pipes (made of 75 percent tin and 25 percent lead) form a screen across the front of the case for the remaining pipes. These 1,472 pipes are housed in a gently contemporary case of solid natural oak that has been fitted into a supporting frame of large rectangular steel tubes.

The Rieger organ utilizes complete mechanical action. Sometimes called tracker action, it denotes a system that makes no use of electrical assistance except to provide power for the blower and lights. Many believe that the most beautiful sounds and the most responsive playing mechanisms can be achieved only from organs that use mechanical action. It makes possible the use of lower wind pressures for sounding the pipes, which results in the clear, gentle tones that usually are associated only with certain old English organs.

Those Honored

The Rieger organ was a gift to the church in memory and honor of Mr. And Mrs. A.R. Updike, Sr., from their children, Mr. And Mrs. A.R. Updike, J., Mr. And Mrs. John C. Updike, and Mr. And Mrs. Horace F. Herndon. Their parents were childhood sweethearts in Trenton, New Jersey: the son of a Presbyterian minister and the daughter of a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer who came to the city to establish his own lumber business. After college they were married and several years later moved to Sebring, Florida, with their three pre-school children. In 1941 Mr. Updike’s dream was fulfilled to move to Lake Wales and acquire Alcoma citrus holdings as the start of a family business. Their two sons and son-in-law joined the business after World War II.

Mr. Updike served this church as Sunday School teacher, elder, and trustee of Erskine College. Mrs. Updike, after her husbands death in 1964, carried on an active participation in the life of the church and was head of the family, which included eleven grandchildren and five great- grandchildren.

The Specification of the Rieger Organ

The Rieger organ has four divisions: Pedal, Positiv, Hauptwerk (Great) and Swell.  The Pedal division is placed in two towers that flank the Hauptwerk.  The Positiv is located above the Hauptwerk and is under expression.  There are 32 stops, each of which produces a different sound.  The stops may be played separately or in combination to provide a variety of sounds.  Six of the stops are assigned to the Pedal division, eight to the Hauptwerk, eight to the Positiv, and nine to the Swell.

All the stops in the Swell division are digital and were added in 2018 by the Walker Technical Company.  The Walker Technical Company also added couplers from the Swell to the Great, Positif, and Pedal divisions

Rieger Organ

Positiv (I)Hauptwerk (II) Swell (III) Pedal
Tremulant Tremulant Tremulant Fagott 16’
Krummhorn 8’ Trompete 8’Viol 16’Mixture III 2
Cimbel II 1/3 Mixtur IV 1 1/3Principal 8’Choralbass 8'
Principal 2’ Nassat 2 2/3Holtzgedackt 8’ Octavbass 8’
Praestant 4’ Octav 4’Harmonic Flute 8’Subbass 16’
Holzgedackt 8’Principal 8’ Erzahler II 8’Gedackt 8’
Koppelflote 4’Rohrfloete 8’ Flute Celeste II 8’
Quinlein 1 1/3 Blockfloete 2’Octave 4’
Terzsept III 1 3/5 Terz 1 3/5Mixture IV
CimbelsternII/POboe 8’