David Tannenberg, Organ Builder

Chapter 5: The Followers of Tannenberg

During Tannenberg's life, several other organ builders began constructing instruments in Pennsylvania. These builders either knew Tannenberg personally or at the very least, were able to inspect one or more of his organs for the purpose of copying them. All of the organs constructed by these builders share several characteristics which can be considered "Pennsylvania-German". Among these characteristics are the use of hand-made pipe work in the traditional early German manner, the use of little toes that fit directly into the chest for all wood pipes, a very traditional stop list and a very gentle or lieblich sound of the instruments. Below are the names of several organ builders who worked within the Pennsylvania-German style. Since no Bachmann organ is known to have survived and since he was Tannenberg's direct successor, all the organs he is known to have built are included in the list below. For the remaining builders, only the extant organs are included in the list.

Johann Philip Bachmann
Johann Philip Bachmann was a native of Thuringia. He was born in Kreuzburg, Germany on April 22, 1762. He lived for a time in Herrnhut where he learned musical instrument making. Whether he learned organ building at this point is unknown. He left for Pennsylvania at the request of David Tannenberg for someone to be his assistant. He arrived in February of 1793 and soon after, married Tannenberg's youngest daughter, Anna Maria. He immediately began to assist Tannenberg with the work in the shop. It was Bachmann who twice traveled to Salem, North Carolina to set up Tannenberg's organs of 1798 and 1800. After the second trip, however, relations with Tannenberg had become strained enough that Bachmann eventually established himself as a musical instrument maker independent from Tannenberg. However, he delivered Tannenberg's organ of 1802 to Madison, Virginia and set it up in their rebuilt church building. Bachmann also had Tannenberg make the metal pipes for his first organ for the Moravian Congregation in Schoeneck. After this, Bachmann built at least eight more organs, one of which was supposedly begun by Tannenberg before he died - the 1805 instrument for Emmanuel Reformed in Hanover. Bachmann died on November 15, 1837. See below for a list of organs known to have been built by Bachmann:
1803
Moravian Congregation, Schoeneck, Northampton County - Small 3 stop organ used until 1888. Rebuilt in 1893.
1805
Emmanuel Reformed, Hanover - This organ was supposedly begun by Tannenberg and finished by Bachmann although how much of it was actually constructed by Tannenberg is not known. The organ had one manual with eight stops - six of metal and two of wood. It was probably very similar to the 1802 organ in Madison, Virginia. In 1887, it was given to the mission church in Marietta where it was used into the 20th century and then discarded.
1808
Salem Lutheran, Lebanon - This organ had a typical five-sectional case similar to the Tannenberg organ in Madison. It was replaced in 1888.
1809
Tabor Reformed, Lebanon - Bachmann repaired the organ in 1816 and it was moved to the church's new building in 1844. It was replaced in 1903.
1810
Zion Lutheran, Jonestown, Lebanon County
1813
St. Michael's Union Church, Hamburg, Berks County - This organ was used until 1918 when it was replaced.
1818
Zion Lutheran Church, Harrisburg - The organ was destroyed in a fire on October 21, 1838.
1819
Friedens Lutheran Church, Myerstown, Lebanon County
1821
St. John's Lutheran, Philadelphia - Completion of an organ begun by Matthias Schneider in 1818.
??
Jerusalem Union Church, Annville


Conrad Doll
Conrad Doll was born in Lancaster on March 6, 1772. He and his family attended the Reformed Church in Lancaster which had obtained a two manual and pedal organ from Tannenberg only two years before Doll's birth. In fact, his father was the organist and schoolmaster there. In addition, it was Conrad's uncle, George Burkhardt, who built the magnificent case for the Tannenberg organ. It is not known exactly how Doll learned organ building, but it is very likely that he had some instruction from Tannenberg. In addition to the organ at the Reformed Church, there were at least three other organs by Tannenberg in Lancaster for Doll to see and study. He is known to have constructed at least three organs, all of which are extant. It is possible that there may have been others as the organ at Peace Church is labled "No. 5". Apparently, there was at least one other instrument after the Peace Church organ. In 1807, Conrad Doll became the organist of the Reformed Church in Lancaster. Tragically, Doll took his own life in August of 1819 as a result of an accusation. Below is a list of extant organs by Conrad Doll:
c1804
The Heritage Center of Lancaster County - Small 2 rank chamber organ
c1805
Residence of R. J. Brunner & Family - Small 2 rank chamber organ almost identical to the one built the year before.
1807
St. John's Lutheran ("Peace") Church, Camp Hill



The Dieffenbach Family
While the Dieffenbach family of organ builders began with John Jacob, it was his son, Christian (1769-1829) who was responsible for the construction of at least eight organs between 1803 and 1820. For Christian's son, David (1798-1872), organ building seemed to have been more of a hobby. David's son, Thomas (1821-1900), however, built at least ten organs. The organs built by John Jacob and Christian were very similar in construction as well as appearance to Tannenberg's organs. It is interesting to note that the case for Christian Dieffenbach's organ of 1808 is almost identical in measurements and design to the one housing Tannenberg's organ of 1770 for Zion Lutheran Church in Moselem Springs. While evidence of direct contact with Tannenberg has not been found, they must have at least met him on several occasions. All of these early Dieffenbach organs seemed to have been housed in a traditional five-sectional case with a recessed key desk. It is very interesting to note that the mouths of the front pipes on these organs were all in a straight line as they were on the early (pre-1787) Tannenberg organs. (On all the later Tannenberg organs, the mouths are stepped or have varying pipe feet length.) The organs produced by Thomas Dieffenbach depart rather dramatically from the earlier, more traditional 18th century German style. The case work of Thomas often reflected the current, more Victorian styles. In addition, Thomas was not known to have included any Mixture stops on any of his instruments. In fact, for a couple of rebuilds, he actually removed Mixture stops in favor of additional 8' stops. The Dieffenbach family lived in Bethel in the western end of Berks County. Below is a list of the extant organs by the Dieffenbach family:
1800
Epler's Church, Bern Township
1808
Zion Lutheran Church, Orwigsburg
1816
Altalaha Lutheran Church, Rehrersburg - Christian Dieffenbach. Rebuilt in 1886 by Thomas Dieffenbach who added a pedal with a 16' Subbass and a reversed console. Rebuilt in 1973 by Thomas Eader who removed the pedal and reversed console.
c1835
Residence of Carol Dieffenbach Kantner - David Dieffenbach. 4 rank organ - possibly built as a house organ.
1872
Salem Reformed Church, Bethel - Thomas Dieffenbach. Entirely original but presently not playable.
1874
Zion and St. John's Church ("Reed's Church"), Stouchsburg - Thomas Dieffenbach. Entirely original but presently barely playable.
1877
Epler's Church, Bern Township - Thomas Dieffenbach. 2 manual and pedal organ. Unfortunately, this organ was recently (late in 2003) destroyed by its owners. This event reminds all of us of the necessity for keeping careful watch on those historic organs that still exist.
1879
Rebuild of 1800 J. J. & Christian Dieffenbach organ - Thomas Dieffenbach.
1891
Friedens Lutheran Church, Shartlesville - Thomas Dieffenbach. 1 manual and pedal organ. Fairly original, the organ was restored in 1991 and in 2003 by R. J. Brunner & Co.



The Krauss Family
The Krauss family were Schwenkfelders, which, like other plain sects, did not use organs in their churches. For this reason, it is remarkable that they chose to work in the profession of organ building. John (1770-1819) and his brother Andrew (1771-1841) were the first to build organs. Their first instrument was apparently a small house organ built in 1790. In April, 1798, Tannenberg's eldest son, David, Jr. came to work for the Krauss brothers. It is very probable that he was able to share a significant amount of knowledge of organ building with the Krausses. With this in mind, it is no accident that the 1799 casework at Bally bears a very strong resemblance to a Tannenberg organ. Later case designs, however, are of a somewhat different design. The two brothers built at least ten organs before John left the business in 1812 to pursue farming. From this point, Andrew continued working on his own. Their shop was on their family farm located near the present village of Kraussdale. Later, Andrew's sons Joel (1801-1852), George (1803-1880) and Samuel (1807-1904) also worked in the family business. Eventually, however, it was George who took over and built organs on a more or less a full-time capacity. George moved the shop to Palm in 1840. George's son, Edwin (1838-1929) continued working on organs after his father's death. Like Thomas Dieffenbach, Edwin Krauss rebuilt organs that had been originally built by his father and grandfather and his style was a dramatic departure from the earlier German style organs of the first two generations.

The Schwenkfelder Library in Pensburg has in their possession, the diary of John Krauss as well as an extensive collection of papers from the Krausses. Among these papers are numerous drawings of organ cases, stop lists and contracts. Another item of great significance is a copy of Georg Andreas Sorge's treatise that David Tannenberg owned. Below is a list of the extant organs by the Krauss family:

1799
Most Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, Bally
c1818
RECENTLY DISCOVERED! Unknown owner / location - John and Andrew Krauss. Small 3 rank chamber organ now located in the Franklin County Historical Society in Chambersburg, PA. To see a picture, click here. Courtsey of the Franklin County Historical Society.
c1820
Unknown owner / location - George Krauss. Small 2 rank chamber organ now located in the Schwenkfelder Library in Pensburg.
1852
House organ for Maria Krauss Heebner now at Old Norriton Presbyterian Church
1852
Completion of 1852 John Ziegler organ - George Krauss.
1865
Huff's Union Church, Huff Church, Berks County
1869
House organ - Edwin Krauss. Small 3 rank chamber organ. Entirely original. Located in a private residence.



Philip & John Wind
John Wind was the son of Philip Wind who was apparently also an organ builder. Philip Wind was known to have purchased metal pipes from John and Andrew Krauss. His son John was born on March 21, 1783 and by 1809 was living in Lancaster. There he established himself as a builder of instruments. In addition to organs, John Wind is known to have built several piano-fortes and at least three of these have survived. Below is a list of the extant organs by John Wind:
c1810
Small 2 rank chamber organ - Originally combined with a pianoforte which is now missing. Now in the R. J. Brunner residence.
1814
Small 2 rank chamber organ - This organ is almost identical to that of the c1810 instrument except this organ never had a piano with it. Restored in 1982 by James R. McFarland and is now located in the Priestly Chapel in Northumberland, PA.



William & John Ziegler
John Ziegler, who was born on October 23, 1795 was a Mennonite farmer and cabinet maker. For him, organ building was a hobby. He apparently learned to build organs from his cousin, William Ziegler who lived and worked in Germantown near Philadelphia. John Ziegler's work is very similar to the organs built by the Krausses so he may have learned most of what he knew about organ building from them. He is known to have built four organs, three of which are extant. His home and shop are still standing in the village of Skippack in Montgomery County .Below is a list of the extant organs by John Ziegler:
c1830
House organ for Henry Kolb - Reconditioned in 1982 by Brunner & Heller. Now located in the Goschenhoppen Historical Society, Green Lane.
c1835
Small 3 rank chamber organ - Altered and in poor condition. Located in the Landis Valley Farm Museum
1852
Small 2 rank chamber organ - This organ was completed by George Krauss. Now located in the Montgomery County Historical Society, Norristown.


Previous Chapter
Home Page
Next Chapter

 

This page was created & is maintained by
Philip T. D. Cooper
Organist & Organ Historian