A Great Organ - A remarkable history
At the centre of Mosta is a magnificent domed church, known as the Mosta Rotunda built between the 1830's and 1860's. Designed by architect Giorgio Grognet de Vasse, it is said to be the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe - third only to St Peter's in Rome and St Sophia in Istanbul. In World War II, the Church took a direct hit from a German bomb during evening service on Thursday,9th April,1942. The bomb pierced the dome, but failed to explode. This event is now legendary.
The building of the church was unique in its day: the Mosta Rotunda was constructed over the old church which was later demolished. After the successful restoration of the building which took place during these last years, Rev. Joe Carabott expressed the interest in the restoration of the famous mechanical pipe organ which was installed in the same church. The instrument with a national significance has deteriorated considerably. The organ's mechanism is tired and worn but, its wind system faulty, and many of its pipes partially dogged with dirt. The organ is simply not functioning properly and this fact detracted immensely its musical capabilities.
Built in Italy by the world famous organ builder Pacifico Inzoli, the Grand Organ was shipped to Malta and installed in 1885. It was then the largest organ in Malta and is still the largest mechanical organ ever installed in Malta. It has 44 ranks spread over 2 manuals (Great and Espressivo) for a total of about 2000 pipes.
The organ firm Inzoli Cav. Pacifico was founded in 1867 by Pacifico Inzoli from Crema. After apprenticing at Antonio Franceschini's workshop, an organ builder from Crema, Pacifico Inzoli went on to apprenticeship with Cavalli in Lodi and then with Lingiardi in Pavia. As an expert organ builder, he built over 400 organs of which the most important include the magnificent organ in the Cathedral of Cremona, and the organs in the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Loreto and the Madonna of Pompei.
The first recital was held on the 8th August, 1885. As early as 1880, Rev Frangisk Camilleri drew the first proposal with an estimated cost of Lm1,000. The proposal created a lot of interest from the people of Mosta, and provoked immediate action.
In 2002 Robert Buhagiar submitted a report on the condition of the instrument, and at the same time Mosta Gunners called for an estimate of costs necessary "to restore the Organ, as near as practicable, to its original state". In its meeting of 5th February, 2003, the committee for the project of Love Fund finally made the historic decision to restore the magnificent organ. The decision is, in some respects, quite ambitious, as required funds to completely repair and restore the instrument amount to Lm40,000 (equiv. Euro 93,200).
The final stage of the organ's restoration will enable the full range of its tonal subtlety and its power to be appreciated once again.
San Lawrenz Organ, Gozo
San Lawrenz Local Council has announced that the restoration work on the church organ has now been completed. The work has been carried out by an English specialist company in this work. The restoration, was part of a project co-financed by the European Union.
The Council said that the organ will arrive in San Lawrenz this coming Sunday, the 17th of October 2011 and it will be reassembled to its former glory over the following two weeks. Michael Farley Organ Builders from England, represented in Malta by Noel Gallo Organ Works, carried out the works on the organ. Noel Gallo, their representative, told the Council “that this is the first organ of its size that was entirely restored in the workshop.
“Thus,”continued Mr Gallo, “we could view the whole picture and we could arrange and reinforce the whole structure. We could now say that this is a complete restoration with the input of various experts in every part of the organ.”
Unique, 100-year-old organ restored in Gozo
The Times of Malta
Thurs, June 26, 2003 by George Cini
A late 19th-century pipe organ that featured a number of innovations for its time, giving the instrument
a particular style, has just been restored to its former glory. The organ was made by Pacifico Inzoli of Crema,
in Italy in 1897 and is one of the works of art held by the parish church of St Peter and St Paul in Nadur. It
was restored by Robert Buhagiar. The restored organ was inaugurated with a recital at the church. Mr
Buhagiar played works by Bellini, Durante, Bach, Camidge, Vierne and Meyerbeer.
Mr Buhagiar, 27, a graduate in electrical engineering, served a one-year apprenticeship at Mascioni in Varese, the oldest organ builder in Italy. He is the first and only Maltese member of the International Society of Organ Builders. Over the past couple of years, he has also revamped the 1775 pipe organ in Naxxar and the 1778 pipe organ in Qrendi.
"Inzoli, who was a great inventor of innovative devices, devised an extremely delicate combination of a mechanical and pneumatic wind chest, making it possible for the pedal pipes to be played on the keyboard," said Mr Buhagiar. "This is a unique artifact in the Maltese organ heritage. Not all the innovative devices by Inzoli worked out well in practice but the organ shows Inzoli's pioneering spirit and ingenuity. Another example of this is the pneumatic stop action system which is unique to the Maltese islands."
The organ has a bright and crisp sound with singing stops and reeds typical of 19th century Italian organs.
The organ was enlarged by the same builder in 1914 but this extension forced the instrument into too limited a space. While the restorer has managed to take out all the pipes, he had to go through a window in the façade of the church to fine-tune the organ after all the parts and pipes had been re-assembled - a manoeuvre of the kind no restorer looks forward to. According to the original documents of the purchase of the organ, the metal pipes were coated in gold paint but somebody painted them over in grey. The pipes have been re-painted in gold coloured paint "but the parts of the pipe that were not visible from the front and still had the original gold paint were left untouched," Mr Buhagiar said.
The two bellows and the ancient hand-blowing mechanism, which is a mechanical device in the shape of a large wheel connected to feeder-bellows, has been re-leathered and restored. This makes it possible to play the organ even during a power cut.
Gozo Channel Co. Ltd, Martin's Diner and the Augustinian Priory of Victoria have supported the restoration project.