During his lifetime, Johann Sebastian Bach was not just famous as a harpsichord and organ virtuoso; he also had an excellent reputation as an organ expert. From Lübeck to Karlovy Vary and from Mühlhausen to Dresden, people entrusted him with many, often well paid, organ inspections; he worked with the likes of Gottfried Silbermann.
In 1739, Johann Sebastian Bach was invited to the royal city of Altenburg to examine the organ in the palace church. It had been built over four years by the ducal court organ-builder Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost (circa 1681–1759). With its tonal beauty and variety, coupled with its magnificent casing, the instrument is considered an outstanding example of baroque organ-building in central Germany. Even Johann Sebastian Bach, who played Trost’s organ shortly before its inauguration in early September 1739, regarded its qualities highly. One record states: “Various musicians, particularly the famed Capellmeister Bach in Leipzig, have deemed this organ to be long-lasting, and have commented that the organ-builder has achieved a unique quality and a melodious sound in every voice”. The organ was examined by Gotha court music director Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel in October 1739. Bach’s playing of the Altenburg organ was likely an unofficial examination of sorts, based on his friendly ties with Heinrich Gottfried Trost. A memorial plaque today continues to commemorate Bach’s time at the Altenburg palace church.
Thuringia 20 km