Today we made our way north from Leipzig to Berlin. Our destination was the Berliner Dom (Cathedral). We arrived in Berlin early enough to enjoy the “Museum Island” area around the Cathedral on a glorious crisp fall afternoon. The renovations of the buildings in this area are magnificent and this was the place to join tourists and locals alike for a Sunday afternoon stroll through this historic area.
We arrived at the Cathedral in time for the Sunday evening service and got our first glimpse of the Sauer organ presiding majestically over the sanctuary from its balcony home. The organ was built in 1905 at the same time as the building itself and is part of the church’s original furnishings. It was at that time the largest organ in all Germany and embodied the newest technological advances of the time. Today, the organ in the Cathedral of Berlin is the largest late-Romantic organ that has survived in its original condition.
Following the magnificently played evening service full of wonderful improvisational hymn accompaniment, we met Dr. Sieling for a tour of the Sauer organ. While Dr. Sieling served as registrant, I had an opportunity to play this huge organ–an organ totally unlike any other we had yet encountered on our tour. Another remarkable experience for this organist!
Dr. Sieling was a charming host. Following the introduction and exploration of the Sauer organ, he took us on a guided tour of the Cathedral. The history of the Cathedral is indeed filled with pathos–with the bombing of the Cathedral in WWII the dome of this magnificent building was destroyed. However, the organ because of its location in a side balcony was still playable. The organist played services with the Cathedral open to the sky. Later under the Communist regime, the members of the Cathedral agreed to have large part of their building destroyed in exchange for having a cross erected on the top of the rebuilt dome. What a witness to their faith.
(To see photos of our tour visit Pro-Motion Music and click on Germany Recording Tour.) Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist