Play the Pipes of Peace...

The Ulm Minster organ

This is the organ in Ulm Minster. Ulm, a city with a population of about 120,000, is situated on the River Danube in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. This magnificent instrument lies at the west end of the church.

It's quite a number of years since I had lessons on a church pipe organ, in Holy Trinity Church in Hull. It's completely different to playing the piano. First, you're often playing with left and right hands on different keyboards, one above or below the other, and then you're playing a bass part, or sometimes a counter-melody, with your feet. Then you're often changing the stops to create different sound textures several times during the piece, so there's quite a bit of coordination that you have to get used to. But the thing I found to be most challenging was the delay in the sound. Depending on the proximity of the organ itself to the organ pipes (they're not always situated together), there can be a delay - in the case of the Hull church, about half a second - in the sound of the notes you have just played reaching your ear. Of course, by the time they do, you've already moved on to the next notes. This can be pretty disconcerting, particularly in fast pieces, and took quite a bit of getting used to.

The foundation stone of Ulm Minster was laid in 1377, but, for various reasons, the building was not completed until 1890. It is the tallest church building in the world, the steeple being 161.5 metres (530 feet) high.

Ulm Minster, Germany