Its stated aim is to collect and make available organ-related material (music, organ building) for research purposes, and to archive it securely for the long term. The research department's organ experts are responsible for maintaining and researching the material.
Amongst the material collected are printed items, audio media and pictures, archives, manuscripts and contents of estates bequeathed by individuals, as well as institutional archives. Previous years have seen the ODZ receive a number of large bequests, including the libraries of Axel Leuthold, Giuseppe Paiusco and Hans Gugger, and the huge library of sheet music assembled by Barnabás Gyülvészi.
The ODZ comprises of the following private bequests from individuals and from the archives of institutions:
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Schweizerische Orgeldenkmalpflege archive
On 17 February 1958, a number of organists and individuals interested in Switzerland's organ heritage made their way to Olten to discuss the situation facing the country's historic instruments. What brought them together were some 300 listed organs in Switzerland requiring expert restoration. The meeting resulted in the establishment of a working group devoted to preserving the country's organ heritage, the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Schweizerische Orgeldenkmalpflege” (AGSO). After many years of successes great and small, a well-attended annual general meeting in Zurich on 31 November 2009 voted unanimously to end the institution’s activities.
Orgelbau AG Willisau archive
The history and activities of organ builders Orgelbau AG Willisau are of immense interest. A rapid rise following the departure of a section of the staff from the Goll Company; a keen awareness of the importance of quality in the building of instruments for every part of Switzerland; an abrupt collapse caused by the pre-World War Two crisis. Some of the records retained by the successor company, Wellis AG, were sorted and completed by a former member of staff.
Späth Orgelbau Rapperswil archive
A large part of the Späth company archive was donated to the ODZ in summer 2011. The archive comprises of a range of documents including tenders, contracts, inventories, photographs, correspondence, expertises, plans, sketches and handwritten notes on organs that were built, overhauled or proposed but not realised by Späth since 1909.
Victor Frund bequest
A native of the Jura region and a trained organ builder, Victor Frund (1913-1981), who had settled in Lucerne in 1929, worked for the Orgelbau AG Willisau and earned diplomas in choral conducting and organ playing. His expertise was in high demand for organ building and restoration projects alike. After his death, the remains of his archive were kept by Orgelbau Graf AG in Sursee. It has been made available to the ODZ thanks to the generous help of Rudolf Wyss, who was the manager at the Graf Company at the time.
Hans Gugger bequest
Although Hans Gugger (1921-2006) was neither a professional musician nor a historian, he studied the history of art and the organ-building traditions of the Bernese organ-building landscape extensively. His research activities earned him an honorary doctorate from the Theological Faculty of the University of Bern in 1980. Hans Gugger’s estate donated his entire archive and private organ library to the ODZ.
Stefan Koller bequest
Thanks to a string of happy coincidences and the friendly support of the Einsiedeln Monastery, the Lucerne School of Music was able to acquire the organ-building estate of Father Stefan Koller (1893-1984). In the mid-20th century, Father Koller was Catholic Switzerland's most renowned organ expert. His archive comprises documents including plans, projects, expert opinions and handwritten notes. It offers valuable insights into the Organ Reform Movement in Switzerland.
Orgelbau Kuhn AG archive
The Orgelbau Kuhn organ-building workshop was founded in 1864, when the firm E. F. Walcker & Cie. from Ludwigsburg (Württemberg) assembled an organ with two manuals and a pedal in the Protestant church in Männedorf. The two workers tasked with completing the job in Männedorf were Johann Nepomuk Kuhn (1827-1888) and Johann Spaich (1813-1885). These local organ builders applied for a contract to tune the church organ annually and then founded their own firm. In 1872, Johann Nepomuk Kuhn became the sole proprietor of the firm, which would then go on to become the largest organ-building company in Switzerland under the leadership of his son Carl Theodor Kuhn (1865-1925). After Carl Theodor Kuhn's death in 1925, the firm became a PLC with various technical managers. In 1967, Friedrich Jakob was appointed director. In 1974, he established a restoration division that operated under the leadership of Wolfgang Rehn. In 1998, all shares went to the company management (Dieter Utz). The firm is currently run by a team under the leadership of voicer Gunter Böhme. In the course of the firm’s restructuring in 2020, the records pertaining to organs which had been serviced by Kuhn over the years, but not originally built by them, were bequeathed to the ODZ.
Orgelbau Ulrich Wetter archive
Born in Muttenz, Ulrich Wetter (*1941) completed his apprenticeship as an organ builder with Metzler in Dietikon. Concurrently, he trained to be an accomplished pianist and organist and studied music theory. He founded his own company in Muttenz on 1 May 1968 and went on to build 54 instruments and train five apprentices. After his retirement in 2006, Ulrich Wetter bequeathed the records documenting his organ-building activities to the ODZ.
Werner Erdner archive/bequest
Basel-born Werner Endner (1936-2005) initially trained as a teacher in Wettingen (AG). During his studies, he took music courses in Basel, at the Music Academy in Zurich and at the Academy for School and Church Music in Lucerne. In addition to his activities as a music teacher, Endner was a choral conductor and organist for the Franziskaner Church in Lucerne and the former monastery church St. Urban until 2001. After his death in 2005, one part of his life-spanning collection of records was given to the State Archives of the Canton of Lucerne and another to its Office for Monument Preservation. Both parts, each of which comprises an eclectic collection of documents and information, are on permanent loan with the ODZ, which will analyse and evaluate them.
Werner Hermann Minnig archive/bequest
After his music studies in Bern (organ under Kurt Wolfgang Senn), Meiringen-born Werner Hermann Minnig (1921-2015) became a sought-after organ expert, particularly in the Canton of Bern and its surroundings. While working as a teacher (Hofwil/Bern teacher’s college) and as an expert in the field, he compiled extensive information on the Swiss organ world. After his death, his records were bequeathed to the ODZ and now await proper processing.
Otto Tschümperlin archive/bequest
Raised in Rickenbach near Schwyz, Otto Tschümperlin (*1935) studied at the Church Music School in Lucerne and, later, at the Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna after his academic baccalaureate at Maria Hilf (Schwyz). In addition to his teaching and political work in Schwyz, he acted as an expert for many organ building projects and organ restorations. On the occasion of the cantonal organ census from 2017 to 2019, he bequeathed the records documenting these activities to the ODZ.