Cover feature

March 1, 2013

Buzard Pipe Organ Builders,

Champaign, Illinois

Opus 41, Trinity Lutheran Church, 

Sheboygan, Wisconsin


From the artistic director

Sometimes great new organs result when materials from older instruments are recrafted and repurposed. Many of the best builders throughout history have reused former instruments to varying degrees in their new work. Our Opus 41 began life as a Möller organ, rebuilt and enlarged several times during its history. We happily agreed to reuse the best of the existing materials, all the while considering this project a commission to build a new organ. The façade’s casework, for example, is the original Möller woodwork, redesigned and renewed, now including speaking pipes of the Great and Pedal 8 Principals.

We respect our clients’ musical and liturgical needs, and the good work of those builders who preceded us. In this case, Trinity Lutheran Church wanted us to build them an organ that would meet the rich musical and liturgical needs of traditional Lutheran worship, honor the gifts of past donors of the existing organ, and respect the deep German heritage of the congregation and the wider community. They loved the tonal depth of our organs, but wondered if we could perhaps stretch our “Anglo-American” style and thereby create a unique work of art—just for them. 

My organ-playing roots go deep into the performance of the great works of Bach, and the exciting “turning of the tables” that the Organ Reform Movement brought to our profession at the time I was just beginning organ study. My love for romantic textures and symphonic registrational colors developed as a synthesis of these colors into the well-precedented framework of classic organbuilding, not from a rejection of the lessons the Organ Reform Movement taught. An organ for Lutheran worship must be classically conceived, with a hierarchical ordering of the divisions and the choruses within those divisions. (Oh . . .  but that’s also how we go about designing an Anglican organ as well . . .) 

The greatest artists throughout history are those who have taken existing styles and stretched them to make their own new style. So it is with styles of organbuilding. It is the classic discipline that we follow (which extends from the pipe scaling and voicing through the use of slider and pallet windchests), which allows us to craft our sound to meet a wide variety of contexts. For example, an organ for Lutheran worship should not be exclusively thin, top-heavy, and screechy (as are many examples of Organ Reform organs); on the other hand, its Principals probably shouldn’t be Diapasons because its music places a greater importance on transparency of tone. A successful organ—style, denomination, and musical use notwithstanding—needs to be able to text-paint the words being sung or the mood being communicated by the composition. A significant part of Lutheran hymnody expresses profound darkness alongside the joyous light of redemption. Therefore, ought not its organ also be able to portray darkness as well as light? Shouldn’t the organ be able to thunder and shake the floor—even when playing softly?

We were blessed to receive a strong endorsement of our work by Kantor Rev. Richard Resch from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and gratefully accepted an invitation to build this organ from Trinity Lutheran Church’s director of music, Brian Heinlein. We were asked to create the quintessential “Lutheran organ” for Trinity parish’s expansive and impressive music program, combining the overall effect of our own “house style” with the specific items that differentiate the two. The result of the full organ, and the ability to make seamless crescendos and diminuendos, is that of a Buzard organ—one simply gets to full organ a bit differently!  Principals are light in nature, flutes transparent. Strings are typically rich and warm, and in one instance explore colors created by tapered pipes. Reeds, while quite similar to those found in our other new work, are slightly adjusted to the nature of what was wanted.

The most recent previous rebuild had been undertaken by the former Schlicker Organ Company. A significant amount of the pipework added during this rebuilding was new. The Schlicker organ used low wind pressures and therefore low cut-ups in the flue pipes. Thus it was economically and artistically responsible to reuse them, altering the scales as appropriate, and cutting the mouths higher to meet the new tonal context. The original Pedal 16 open wood Diapason was retained, modified with new beards and proper tuning panels. The original Swell/Pedal 16 Lieblich Gedeckt was too small of scale to do its job, so we made four new pipes, which are mitered and bolted to the ceiling of the Swell expression box. 

Our tonal director, Brian Davis, created this magical synthesis. Even before tonal finishing began, we could all tell that this was going to be a very special organ for everyone concerned. Each of our organs is a custom-designed and custom-built musical instrument, because we draw upon an intimate knowledge of many styles and schools of voicing, as well as aspects of tonal design, for the particular musical contexts at hand. Add to that sensitivity for one’s individual style and you have the making of art.

Ours is one of few modern commercial organbuilding firms that dares to believe it can create a unique place in the profession and its history by developing an individual artistic style. All of our visual and tonal designs, the engineering and execution, are accomplished in-house by our own artists and craftsmen. True, our style is inspired at its core by what some specific instruments have had to say to me. But it is the timeless concepts of classic organbuilding that provide the perfect framework to allow our style to thrive on its own, or be molded, shaped, and finessed to satisfy other contexts. When an organ bears the Buzard name, you know that the Art is never “outsourced!”

—John-Paul Buzard, President & Artistic Director


From the tonal director

The project for Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan was full of tonal challenges from the very beginning. We were commissioned to build an organ for the parish that would meet the needs of the Lutheran liturgy as well as perform the huge treasury of music written for the church. On top of that, this instrument also needed to be able to convincingly play more modern and romantic repertoire. The old instrument had been redone several times by various firms and was leaning in the direction of bright and thin. Some stops individually sounded pretty, but had nothing else in the organ with which to blend. Herein was the largest problem of the old instrument. It did not meet the first and foremost requirement in organs that I voice, which is that the stops must blend, blend, blend! A copy of a set of pipes from “Saint So and So” doesn’t automatically mean that it will be successful in a coherent instrument! You can scale things properly so that they will blend, and still capture the essence of the sound you are seeking.

And so we set forth on conceiving a tonal design that would blend well, fill the sanctuary with sound, and satisfy the musical needs of the congregation. Scales needed for the job were drawn up. When old pipes could be fit into the scheme they were reused. Several were liberally rescaled to make them work in the new sound scheme. Where there were gaps in the scaling concept, new pipes were ordered to fill these in. In this way, a pool of properly scaled pipework was ready to be voiced, with the intention of having a bit brighter sound than what we would do otherwise. Nicking is light, and the pipes have a light speech to them, which is charming but never dominates the tone itself. The result is an organ in which the flues are warm and singing and crowned by upperwork that is bright, but does not overshadow the lower pitches. It is very much a concept from the Organ Reform Movement. Many organs in Europe that inspired the Organ Reform Movement are like this and perform as such in their own environment. That is the key! We do not copy what we see and hear in older organs but rather strive to recreate the essence of this sound in our rooms, changing what is necessary about pipe construction in order to achieve this.

The reeds in the organ are what give the instrument its special character. Overall they are brighter than what we normally would use, as the instrument as a whole is also this way. Stops more traditional to what one would find in a Lutheran organ are also employed in the instrument. The Schalmei, Dulzian, and Fagott are all present in the organ as well as a variety of trumpets. Following the concept of creating what is needed, rather than just copying what was done in an organ of the past, led to new sounds coming out of a Buzard organ. Many hours of consulting with our pipe maker, Christoph Ulmer at Killinger Pfeifen Freiberg, went into developing these reeds. He would look at the scale and shallot suggestions I proposed, shake his head and call me a crazy Texan, and then use them to create unique and truly beautiful voices for the organ, which make the instrument so versatile. Only one old reed was of use in the new instrument. The old swell Oboe 4 had a new bottom octave made for it. The stop was originally too soft to be useful, but the scale and lengths of the pipes were good. The shallots were therefore milled open here at our shop and new tongues were cut so that the revoiced Oboe would sing at an appropriate volume.

Reusing old pipework in a rebuild of an organ is infinitely more difficult than simply starting from scratch with a totally new instrument. I am honored by the trust placed in us by Kantor Richard Resch and the music director at Trinity Lutheran, Brian Heinlein. The support of the entire congregation was wonderful! You will not find better people to work with anywhere. It is my hope that our creation will serve God and them as well for years to come!

—Brian K. Davis, Tonal Director

From the director of music

The organ at Trinity Lutheran Church was first installed by the Möller Organ Company in 1927. Over the next 85 years the instrument was rebuilt or revoiced three different times by three different organ companies. The tonal scheme changed dramatically during that time period as the organ increased in size from 20 to 39 ranks. In the late 1990s, we realized something needed to be done to break the cycle of organ alterations that were being made once every decade. Plans were made to install a completely new instrument, but the project never moved forward.

Ten years later we contacted John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders and asked them for a proposal for an extensive organ renovation that would use the best components of the old organ to craft a new instrument. We desired an instrument that was similar to the neo-baroque sound to which we were accustomed, but with more warmth and foundational pitches than were present in the existing instrument. We also wanted an organ that would last for 100 years without a need for major repairs or modifications. The Buzard Company identified exactly what we were looking for and built us an instrument that exceeded our expectations in every aspect.

Most of the principal chorus and mixtures were reused from the previous instrument. Under the skillful hand of tonal director Brian Davis, the mixtures were voiced to maintain the brilliance we desired, but without being as harsh and strident as they were previously. Many of the existing flutes were also rescaled and revoiced. Prior to renovation, the instrument contained three 8 flutes that were almost indistinguishable from one another. Today we now have four 8 flutes with unique timbres and varying dynamic levels. All new strings were also added to the instrument. When the Swell Salizional and flutes are played together, they blend so perfectly that one would think it was a Stopped Diapason.

The most noticeable tonal improvements were made in the reeds. Aside from a reused Oboe, all of the reeds in this instrument are new. The Swell reeds have a fiery brilliance that contrasts nicely with the darker timbre of the reeds in the Great division. Where the previous instrument had all half-length reeds, we now have new full-length 16 reeds that provide a solid foundation to the new organ sound. While the Festliche Trompete is absolutely thrilling to hear, the new Dulzian is equally as impressive. Its tone is a cross between a Krummhorn and a Clarinet and possesses the best characteristics of each stop.

All of these improvements result in an instrument that looks and sounds as it never has before. Parishioners have commented on how much easier it is to sing with the new organ than with the previous instrument. The sound is clearer and the pitches are in the proper proportions between high and low registers. Through the skillful engineering of Chuck Eames, all 52 ranks of the instrument fit in the same space as the previous instrument, and yet the pipes are more accessible for tuning and maintenance.

As Lutherans, our weekly time together in the Divine Service is filled with sung liturgy and hymns. We have identified the pipe organ as the best instrument to lead congregational singing, as it is able to “text-paint” the hymns in meaningful and varied ways. This project has preserved the best pipework given to us by our predecessors and blended it seamlessly into a new instrument that will serve many generations in the years to come. Soli Deo Gloria.

Brian Heinlein

Director of Music


Buzard Pipe Organ Builders, Opus 41 

Trinity Lutheran Church, Sheboygan, Wisconsin



16 Lieblich Gedeckt (Sw)

8 Prinzipal (polished tin in façade)

8 Rohrflöte

4 Oktav

4 Flöte

22⁄3 Quint

2 Oktav

Mixtur IV

16 Englisch Horn

8 Trompete


Zimbelstern (digital)

Chimes (25 notes, digital)

8 Festliche Trompete 

    (horizontal inside case)


* Festliche Trompete stops are not affected by any couplers in any division, nor by couplers between divisions.


16 Lieblich Gedeckt (wood)

8 Spitzflöte

8 Holz Gedeckt (from 16)

8 Salizional

8 Schwebung (TC)

4 Prinzipal

4 Kleinflöte

22⁄3 Nasat

2 Flachflöte

13⁄5 Terz

Groß Mixtur IV

16 Fagott

8 Trompete

8 Oboe

4 Klarine (from 16)


8 Festliche Trompete (Gt)



8 Harfenpfeife

8 Metal Gedeckt

4 Prinzipal

4 Blockflöte

Kornet II

2 Oktav

2 Pfeife

11⁄3 Larigot

Zimbel III

8 Dulzian


16 Festliche Trompete (Gt)

8 Festliche Trompete (Gt)

4 Festliche Trompete (Gt)




32 Untersatz (digital)

16 Holz Prinzipal

16 Subbass

16 Lieblich Gedeckt (Sw)

8 Oktavbass (polished tin in façade)

8 Gedeckt (ext 16 Subbass)

8 Lieblich Gedeckt (Sw)

4 Choralbass (ext 8)

4 Nachthorn

Mixtur IV

32 Kontra Posaune (digital)

16 Posaune

16 Fagott (Sw)

8 Trompete (ext 16)

8 Schalmei

8 Festliche Trompete (Gt)


40 independent speaking stops, 52 ranks across three manuals and pedal


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