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From Anderlecht to Paris: Belgian commissioned to build Notre-Dame organ

16:03 13/01/2024

Belgian craftsman Johan Deblieck has been commissioned to build a small organ to celebrate the reopening of one of Paris’s most famous landmarks.

The stunning French Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, a symbol of the city of light, is scheduled to welcome people through its doors again by the end of the year.

Notre-Dame, founded in 1163, hit the headlines on 15 April 2019, when a huge fire engulfed the cathedral, resulting in worldwide shock.

The two main organs were mainly spared from the blaze, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault or a cigarette, although one instrument was damaged because of the water firemen used to fight the fire.

Deblieck, from Lennik in the Flemish Brabant, will craft this ‘positif’ (small) organ with just over 200 pipes. It will be 1.25m wide, 1.15m high and 75cm deep.

Positifs are small pipe organs built to be mobile. This type of instrument is often selected for performances of St Matthew’s Passion – one of German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s most well-known works.

Deblieck has gradually become a global authority in positifs. Indeed, in 2001, he was entrusted with constructing an organ for the Bach-Archiv, a cultural institution in Leipzig, Germany, dedicated to the German master of church and instrumental music.

Eight years previously, in 1993, Deblieck opened his workshop in Anderlecht. The firm builds box, study and church organs that are used throughout Europe by leading international ensembles.

Written by Liz Newmark