Flentrop Orgelbouw

Organ building since 1903


In Flentrop’s long history, we have gained broad knowledge of the most diverse historical organ types, each with its own specific sound idiom. Sometimes instruments from as many as five different centuries were in our workshops.

H.W. Flentrop (1866-1950)
Establishment Flentrop
H.W. Flentrop - geschiedenis

Hendrick Wicher Flentrop, organist at the Westzijderkerk since 1893, establishes a piano and organ business in Zaandam.

New building
First newly built organ

In the early days, Flentrop does maintenance work, many restorations, transfers and extensions of organs. The focus is on disposition and voicing. In 1915, the company makes the first newly built organ for the Baptist church in Hoofddorp.

Artisanal organ building
Intonatie Flentrop geschiedenis

Flentrop establishes contact with Albert Schweitzer; the ideas of the 'Orgelbewegung' influenced father (H.W.) and especially his son (D.A.) Flentrop. The organ movement - originating in Germany - left the path of industrial organ building, in favour of craft organ building. D.A. Flentrop is considered the pioneer of this in the Netherlands.

Foreign influence
New perspective on sound
Werkplaats Flentrop 1934

Dirk Andries gains experience in organ building at several foreign companies before joining his father. For his later work, his apprenticeship with Frobenius in Denmark is of particular importance. D.A. Flentrop's rediscoveries focus increasingly on mechanical traction and wind chests and the whole new view of sound that appeared to be connected with these.

Flentrop orgel
World Expo Paris
Parijs, Flentrop Wereldtentoonstelling 1937

For the World Fair in Paris in 1937, Flentrop builds an organ for the Dutch pavilion. Organist Cor Kee of the Lutheran Church in Amsterdam plays the organ (polygon newsreel).

Koororgan Alkmaar
Vision on restoration
Alkmaar - Flentrop geschiedenis

Restoration of the choir organ in the Grote- of St Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, an instrument built by Johan van Covelens in 1511. The starting point for this restoration is that the original instrument should not be changed to suit the musical taste of the moment. This method of restoration has been giving startling results for a number of years.

D.A. Flentrop (1910-2003)
D.A. Flentrop 1952

D.A. Flentrop takes over his father's business. He is also organist for many years, in the Reformed Church of Westzaan.

Leading role
Traditional and classic organ
Werkplaats Koog - geschiedenis

Flentrop chooses the classical, mechanical organ as the starting point for new instruments. From 1948, the company built only mechanical organs and started its own pipe workshop. By opting for the classical organ and traditional organ building, Flentrop played a pioneering role in the Netherlands. This also led to recognition abroad.

Big restaurations
New line of thinking
Alkmaar - geschiedenis

The knowledge acquired by Flentrop with the restoration of the large Schnitger organ in the Laurenskerk in Alkmaar (1949) and the restoration of Schnitger's organ in the Grote Kerk in Zwolle (1953), is directional for the newly built organs in the 1950s. The organs for Doetinchem and Eslöv (Sweden) are icons of this new mindset.

Abroad and America
Deepening and contemporary style
Duke D.A. Flentrop - geschiedenis

Experience in applying this knowledge leads to its further deepening and a more contemporary style. During this period, Flentrop builds many instruments abroad, especially in the US. The company also carries out many restorations there, including of both organs in the Cathedral of Mexico City, one of the first projects in which Cees van Oostenbrugge is involved. During this period, D.A. Flentrop has considerable influence on the development of organ building in America. For this, he receives two honorary doctorates.

De Koff

The firm De Koff goes bankrupt. Ongoing operations and some employees are taken over by Flentrop.

Royal visit
Visit Juliana
Bezoek Juliana Flentrop

Queen Juliana pays a visit to the Zaan region on 8 June 1972. During the day, the company visits the Flentrop Orgelbouw firm in Koog aan de Zaan for a guided tour.

Steketee (1936-2010)
Hans Steketee -Flentrop

Johannes Steketee, who started as an apprentice organ builder in 1958, succeeds Dick Flentrop. Hans Steketee is also an organist, in the St. Jozefkerk in Zaandam. One of the first projects under his direction, is the reconstruction of the 1712 Duyschot instrument in the Westzijderkerk in Zaandam, the organ of which H.W. Flentrop was organist.

From 1976
Flentrop standards
Correct proportions and dimensions

In restorations and new instruments, Flentrop pays increasing attention to restoring or realising correct proportions and measurements, as found in classical instruments. Consistently, the company involves more and more parts of the organ in the process to achieve the intended quality.

With the insights gained, the new restoration of the Schnitger organ in Alkmaar in 1986 provided a unique opportunity to learn once again from this instrument. Many of the Flentrop standards are based on this organ.

Organ building in the Netherlands and abroad
Chicago Holy Name Cathedral, Flentrop organ

Besides the United States, where the organ for Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago captures the imagination, Flentrop builds and restores Flentrop organs in Taiwan, Riga, Tokyo, Dunblane, Kazan and Yerevan.

In the Netherlands, the company carries out major restorations of the organs in the Westerkerk and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the OLV Basilica in Maastricht and the Sint Jan in Den Bosch, among others.

Vermeulen Alkmaar

The Vermeulen Alkmaar firm is transferred to Flentrop. Joost Vermeulen is head of the maintenance department until his retirement in March 2010. One of his employees still works at Flentrop.

Van Oostenbrugge (1947-2008)
Cees van Oostenbrugge en Prins Claus

Cees van Oostenbrugge, who started as an apprentice organ builder in 1969, succeeds Steketee. Having been involved for many years in the preparations of new instruments and restorations, it goes without saying that he will continue the classical line without fail. He is especially a driving force on a technical level in the search for the
applying historical constructions, dimensions and use of materials. Under his management it was decided to start casting on sand. Cees is organist of the Reformed church of Zaandam, the organ of the Westzijderkerk is also part of his remit. Cees died on 10 December 2008, six months before he was due to retire.

Vermeulen Weert

The firm Gebr. Vermeulen Weert becomes a subsidiary. Frans Vermeulen works at Flentrop until his retirement in 2004.

Reconstruction and rebuild
Trace research resounding result
Van Covelens restauratie, sporenonderzoek

Flentrop is completing the restoration of the choir organ in the Grote- of St Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, built in 1511 by Jan van Covelens. This project contains many reconstructive elements, with trace research playing a very large role in achieving the sounding result. In the same year, the rebuilding of Schyven's last organ from 1907 in the Petrus en Pauluskerk in Ostend (Belgium) was completed. Greater contrasts in one workshop are hardly imaginable. The oldest playable organ in the Netherlands and an instrument built from an industrial idea, each judged and treated on its own, different qualities.

New knowledge
Organ documentation
Rijksmuseum voorhal orgel

Flentrop is asked to document several important organs. Such as the former instruments from the front hall of the Rijksmuseum (2004). The Dropa/Niehoff- organ in the Johanniskirche in Luneburg, together with John Brombaugh and Koos van de Linde. And the Brebos/Lorentz organ in Torrlösa, together with historian Ingrid Hultkvist, and David Burmester of the National Museum in Copenhagen.

After 2004
More knowledge
Historical knowledge inspires projects

The documentation projects supplement our historical knowledge with even more knowledge about how historical organs are put together. This inspires us in various restorations, but also in new building projects, which follow logically from our newly acquired knowledge. For instance, the organ in Dypvag, Norway and Birmingham Conservatoire, United Kingdom are constructed as a Schnitger organ would have been made at that time.

New technique
Introduction 3D drawing

For the restoration of the Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Philharmonie in Haarlem, Erik and Michel introduce AutoCad. From 2007, Flentrop also draws in a 3D environment. These techniques make it possible to present designs better and to plan spatially with greater precision.

Proces reconstruction
Casting on sand
Het gieten - maakproces van een orgel

The commission for the construction/reconstruction of the organ at St Katharinenkirche in Hamburg is prompting us to take the next step. We meticulously examine an unprecedented number of historical organs to find an answer to the question of why Johann Sebastian Bach praised this organ so much. One of the answers we find: casting the organ metal on sand. During intonation, the great added value of this became apparent. In addition, the compositions of the alloys, bold mensuration, and -again- the importance of the cohesion in the concept. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Frits Elshout (1952)
Frits Elshout

Frits Elshout, who started as a pipe maker in 1971, succeeded Van Oostenbrugge. Under his leadership, Flentrop manufactured complete reed stops for the first time under its own management in the 1970s. Over the years, he acquired extraordinary knowledge and skills in that field. Later, he worked as intonator on many large and small projects, achieving remarkable results. Consequently, in 1998 he was given the supervision of voicing as deputy director. After all, the potential of a well-built organ is redeemed by tasteful voicing. Frits was active as an organist in the Gereformeerde Gemeente in Zaandam.

Erik Winkel (1971)
Erik Winkel

Erik Winkel, who started in the drawing office in 1998 and became deputy in 2009, succeeds Elshout. As assistant to Cees van Oostenbrugge, he participates in the work preparation of many projects, during which Cees transfers a lot of knowledge. He also learns a lot from organ consultant Jan Jongepier, including during the restoration of the Garrels organ in Purmerend. From 1999, Erik was captivated by the Katharinen organ in Hamburg. He keeps special memories of making photogrammetric reconstruction drawings of the front. He works intensively on historical research, documentation of sister organs and preparation of the reconstruction of this organ. In his spare time, Erik is active as an amateur singer and (continuo) organist.

Broad view on sound & guts
Panfluit, NMF

Pan flautist of the Netherlands Matthijs Koene and the Netherlands Music Instruments Fund (NMF) knock on Flentrop's door to develop and build a new metal pan flute. That we embarked on this project together says something about our broad perspective on sound, but also about possessing a healthy dose of guts.

End 2022
Slooff Orgelbouw

Slooff Orgelbouw will cease its own operations. Slooff's people will be employed by Flentrop and will continue to serve their own customers as much as possible. In this way, Slooff Orgelbouw's knowledge and craftsmanship will remain available in a sustainable way.

Deepening knowledge
Blijvend leren
Het ontwerp

To this day, we continue to learn from much restoration work. Applying our experience and knowledge in newly built organs adds depth to that knowledge.

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