at St. Stephen’s Cathedral

An organ at St. Stephen’s Cathedral is first mentioned as far back as 1334. It was probably moved to the magnificent organ base by master Anton Pilgram in 1513. In 1507, the Bolzano master Burchhard Tischlinger created his ‘great’ organ on the balcony above the ‘Füchselbaldachin’ canopy next to the large sacristy. Back then, it was likely the most cathedral’s most famous organ.

In the course of the Baroque renovation of the cathedral, the Choir Organ with ten stops above the old choir stalls was built by the imperial organ builder Ferdinand Römer in 1701 and followed by the large Roman Organ with 32 stops in the west gallery in 1720. In 1797, the two oldest organs were removed and the great organ in the west gallery was enlarged to have 41 stops.

In 1886, Friedrich Walcker from Ludwigsburg created his famous ‘Giant Organ’ (named after the so-called ‘Giant Gate’ located below the west gallery) with 90 stops behind the ‘Römer Prospekt’. The organ fell victim to the flames when the cathedral burnt down in 1945. The valuable Walcker organ’s ‘little sister’ can still be heard today at another of Vienna’s churches, the ‘Votivkirche’.

After the cathedral fire of 1945, the Viennese organ builder Johann Marcellinus Kauffmann created an electric choir organ in 1948/52 as well as a large organ in the west gallery in 1956-60 with 4 manuals, 125 stops and about 10,000 pipes. At the time of its construction, it was already one of the last organs to still have electric cone valve chests. The organ façade is still one of the most remarkable exposed pipe façades in the world. The instrument was decommissioned after the completion of the new cathedral organ in the 1990s.

The liturgical constitution of the Second Vatican Council spoke of church music as a “necessary and integral part” of the service, giving church music a new status. This also had consequences for St. Stephen’s: in 1991 a new cathedral organ with 55 stops on four manuals was built in the southern (right) aisle near the crossing by organ builder Rieger from Vorarlberg. This modern universal organ consists of a Baroque positive with swell function and one romantic swell manual and great manual each. The crowning sound is the solo manual with trumpet, clarion and cornet.

With the renewal of the Giant Organ in the west gallery by Rieger Orgelbau in 2017-2020, both cathedral organs were connected and can now be played together from the mobile central console. With its 185 stops, the Vienna Cathedral organ is one of the largest cathedral organs in Europe.