The Organ in the Jerusalem Synagogue
Jeruzalémská 7, Nové Město, Prague 1
The newly built Jerusalem Synagogue in Jerusalem Street in Prague opened in 1906. In the same year a new organ made by Prague organ builder Emanuel Štěpán Petr (1853 – 1930) was installed there.
Born in Opočno, Emanuel Štěpán Petr built about 350 organs in Bohemia, Moravia and abroad as well during his life. Since 1884 he had a workshop in Prague and his organs are noticed for their high quality of sound and for their flawless craftsmanship. And this is why in 1904 The Prague Jewish Community asked him to design and build an organ for the Jerusalem Synagogue.
This instrument was the 159th created by him. The organ is preserved in the original design and it’s sound is authentic. It has 24 organ-stops in two keyboards with 54 keys to be played manually and a pedal-board with 27 keys. It’s worth noting that amongst these are three reed stops – clarinet, trumpet and trombone and these add to the grandeur of the sound.
Emanuel Petr often used unique original components in the air-operated control system of the
air-inflow to the pipes and this system was used in the Jerusalem synagogue too. When the electric voltage changed in the sixties of the last century this original air-inflow system was disconnected and electrical air pump was installed but its output is not enough for all the organ-stops.
Time, dust, dryness and inactivity relentlessly had their impact and the organ now can be hardly used. Dryness cracked the wooden air-ducts and the more than hundred years old leather chapped and so the organ is silent and only now and then it is possible to bring the organ and some of its organ-stops to life.
There are only few instruments with the original organ-stops and sound left. The organ of the Jerusalem synagogue is a perfect witness to the time of its origin and is an integral part of the synagogue. Even though it was silenced through the period of 1942 – 1961 its sound was always heard again. Now it is up to us whether we shall find enough strength and sources to bring the organ back to life once again and be able to hear its sound in full beauty.
The Jewish Community of Prague will finance the planned reconstruction of the organ and voluntary donations to this cause are gladly accepted.
Česká spořitelna a.s. Dlouhá tř. 9, Prague 1
Bank account: 1936531399/0800
Variable symbol: 52007
IBAN: CZ49 0800 0000 0019 3653 1399, BIC: GIBACZPX
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