The North German Baroque Organ in Örgryte New Church
The North German Baroque Organ in Örgryte New Church
Photo: Maja Kristin Nylander

Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt)

Research group
Active research
Project period
1995 - ongoing
Project owner
Academy of Music and Drama

Short description

In the early 1990s, a new building was planned to house the School of Music and Department of Musicology, including plans for a new organ. The tradition at the time was still to build eclectic organs with no particular historical profile. An idea was born to create a collection of new organs that each had a strong stylistic identity which could support both research and education, while generating new knowledge about the history of the organ. GOArt (The Göteborg Organ Art Center) developed as a research collective around the construction of these new instruments. GOArt has taken many forms over the years, while growing a strong and still expanding international network of colleagues and friends.

GOArt specializes in integrated studies of instruments and performance. The pipe organ and its related keyboard instruments – the clavichord, harpsichord, harmonium, and fortepiano – form our research field.

The GOArt Research Profile

GOArt’s research profile can be described as a dialectic between the instrument, the builder, the performer, and the music. All of these can be taken into account, investigated, and problematized. The instrument is respected as a coherent expression of an aesthetic and as such an agent that can teach the performer. Our first major research period from 1995 to 2000 included two large projects: The North German Organ Research Project (NGORP) a process reconstruction of a large Hanseatic City organ based on the work of Arp Schnitger (1648–1719) in Hamburg St. Jacobi and the Lübeck Cathedral, as well as a wide-ranging multidisciplinary study “Changing Processes in North European Organ Art 1600–1970.” 

The GOArt research workshop, established to build the North German Organ here in Göteborg, served GOArt’s next research period from 2000 to 2011, which saw the process reconstruction of two more large Schnitger organs, based on an instrument he built for Charlottenburg in Berlin. The first was placed at the University of the Arts in Seoul, South Korea, and the second at Annabelle Taylor Chapel on the Cornell University Campus in New York. In between these projects, GOArt also carried out a large-scale research and reconstruction project based on one of the best-preserved Baroque organs in Europe, the 1776 Casparini organ at the Holy Trinity Church in Vilnius, Lithuania. The project involved a reference group of six of the best organ builders in North America and resulted in an instrument for The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Materials research expanded via three major EU projects exploring questions that grew out of these process reconstructions.

From 2012 until 2015 GOArt continued as an independent Research Center focusing on tools and methods within the field of cultural heritage preservation, and since 2015, has been integrated into the Academy of Music and Drama as a prioritized research profile. Recent projects include “Creative Keyboards: Old Instruments with new Affordances” financed by the Swedish Research Council and “The Pinned Barrel as a Musical Archive” financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Since 1995, GOArt has strategically invested in collecting literature relevant for our research projects. The collection is the largest research library on organ and keyboard instruments in the Nordic countries and contains about 4450 books, and 350 other items (scores, CDs, microfilms) In 2022 it was established as a special collection at the main University Library.

Driving Force of the North German Organ Research Project

The North German Organ Research Project in Örgryte New Church has created an internationally recognized tool for performance research. Its construction, along with the installation of a nineteenth-century French romantic organ at the Academy of Music and Drama sparked a renewal of the organ park of Gothenburg in general. This environment is a result of infrastructure investments by the University of Gothenburg (GU) as well as collaboration with local congregations.

Together with the Academy of Music and Drama, the Association for Göteborg International Organ Academy, and the Göteborg International Organ Festival, GOArt constitutes a complete research and education environment for the study of organ and related keyboards.
Göteborg International Organ Academy

Researchers Include:

  • Christina Ekström
  • Per Högberg
  • Karin Nelson
  • Tilman Skowroneck
  • Ruth Tatlow

A Festschrift for Prof. Kerala J. Snyder

Our growing digital Festschrift for Prof. Kerala J. Snyder, who holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg, currently has the following table of contents.

Prof. Snyder helped establish a decades-long fruitful collaboration between her home institution – the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, New York – and the Academy of Music and Drama at the University of Gothenburg. She was awarded the honorary doctorate for her research on seventeenth-century music by composers like Buxtehude and Düben, each with important connections to Sweden, as well as for her contribution to the organ research at GOArt at the University of Gothenburg, and her much appreciated engagement in teaching and advising of a generation of doctoral candidates here. This Festschrift is edited by two of those former students, Joel Speerstra and Johan Norrback, in collaboration with her colleague from Eastman, the musicologist Ralph P. Locke.

Prof. Snyder established the first peer-reviewed online journal of musicology, “The Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music,” and in that spirit, we honor her with a digital Festschrift that will be published serially throughout her entire 80th birthday year, starting today February 28, 2016. This Festschrift will contain tributes from friends and colleagues as well as articles from the following authors (among others!):

Edoardo Bellotti, Professor of Organ at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen
"'La Notte' by Antonio Vivaldi"

Edoardo Bellotti offers his transcription of "La Notte" by Antonio Vivaldi (Op. 8, no. 3), created for the Italian Baroque organ in Rochester, dedicated to Kerala, with gratitude and in testimony of his esteem and friendship.

Hans Davidsson, "Organ Plus: Developing New Audiences for Organ Music through Collaborative Arts."

Michael Dodds, Associate Professor of Music History at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
"A Congratulatory Canon for Kerala Snyder"

Michael Dodds presents his canon in honor of Kerala Snyder, connecting it to the tradition of friendship canons in the social circle around Dieterich Buxtehude.

Mary E. Frandsen, Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana
"The Anthologies of Ambrosius Profe (1589–1661) and Lutheran Spirituality"

Mary Frandsen examines Lutheran sacred art music of the seventeenth century using anthologies published by Ambrosius Profe as a lens, and casts new light on the close relationship between devotional music and devotional literature in early modern Lutheranism.

Frederick K. Gable, Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of California, Riverside
"A Favorite Magnificat for Kerry"

Fred Gable discusses aspects of performance practice in one of Kerala Snyder’s favorite motets: Heironymous Praetorious’ Magnificat 5. toni, and presents a recording by Prof. Manfred Cordes and the Bremer Baroque Consort.

Sverker Jullander, Professor in Musical Performance at Luleå University of Technology
"Fantasia and fantasy: Some Notes on Two Homonymic Genres of German Chorale-Based Organ Music"

Sverker Jullander explores the origins of the large-scale chorale fantasias for organ, and surveys the development of modern Chorale Fantasies and Fantasias in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ralph P. Locke, Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, New York, and senior editor, Eastman Studies in Music (University of Rochester Press)
"Exotic Elements in Kapsberger's Jesuit Opera (Rome, 1622) Honoring Saints Ignatius and Francis Xavier"

Ralph Locke presents a detailed exploration of the unique and rarely studied sacred opera by the Venetian composer Giovanni Kapsberger.

Hans van Nieuwkoop, "The Importance and Context of Seventeenth-Century Organ Registration Practice."

Johan Norrback, Associate Professor and former Director of GOArt, University of Gothenburg
"The Pinned Barrel as Music Archive"

Johan Norrback presents new research on the Swedish eighteenth-century flute clock maker Pehr Strand, including a survey of the music contained on the surviving barrels at Årsta Castle.

Ibo Ortgies, independent music historian
"Gottfried Frietzsch and the Subsemitones in the Large Organ of Hamburg, St. Catherine's"

Ibo Ortgies revisits the final important phase of Gottfried Frietzsch’s organ-building career. Frietzch worked intensely in the principal churches of Hamburg in the last decade of his life, and Ortgies asks new questions about how broadly the Hamburg organs were equipped with subsemitones during this period.

Paul Peeters, Editor of The Organ Year Book and an Organ Consultant, Gothenburg
"The 'Carillon' Organ Stop: A Short History – with a Special Focus on Cavaillé-Coll"

Paul Peeters explores the 18th-century origins and 19th-century development of a particular organ stop called the Carillon. This unusual mixture stop was designed to imitate the sound of small bells being struck.

Marjorie Roth, Professor of Music at Nazareth College, Rochester, New York and Amerigo Fabbri, Professor of Humanities and the History of Art at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut
"Theology and Theatre in the Poems of Orlando di Lassos's Prophetiae Sibyllarum"

Marjorie Roth offers new scholarship on Lasso's Prophetiae Sibyllarum, while Amerigo Fabbri provides new translations and commentary on preserved fifteenth-century theatrical writings and engravings of the Sibyls cycle.

Sally Allis Sanford, professional singer, voice teacher, and independent scholar
"A Re-Examination of Port de Voix in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries: Possibilities in Vocal Performance" (The file is large because it contains audio.)

Sally Sanford investigates the port de voix in French vocal music and demonstrates her results in nine sound examples.

Alexander Silbiger, Professor Emeritus of Music at Duke University, Durham, NC
"The Notation of Meter and Tempo ca. 1620–1670: Theory and Practice."

Alexander Silbiger leads us through the complex seventeenth-century landscape of meter and tempo notation that lies between the old mensural system and modern practice.

Joel Speerstra, "Georg Muffat's Apparatus Organisticus – an Emblem Book Fit for an Emperor."

Jürgen Thym, Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York
"A Tribute to Kerry Snyder."

Jürgen Thym's personal reflection on Kerala J. Snyder launches our Festschrift and begins our celebration of her jubilee year.

Ruth Tatlow, Bach Researcher, author of the recently published Bach's Numbers: Compositional Proportion and Significance (2015) and co-founder of Bach Network UK
"An English Paragram for Professor Emeritus Kerala Snyder."

Ruth Tatlow's paragram is a celebration of Kerala. It is based on historical models like those of Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), who was one of the most important poetic sources for J. S. Bach's vocal compositions

Joris Verdin, Head of the Organ Department at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp and professor emeritus at the University of Leuven, Belgium.
"New Light on the Use of the Metronome in Organ Music by Lefébure-Wely, Lemmens, and Franck"

Joris Verdin asks us to re-evaluate what we think we know about the dialog between metronome markings and subjective performance instructions in 19th-century French organ music, and invites us to renew our approach to its...

Harald Vogel, "Aspects of Communion Music Practice in North German Churches in the Seventeenth Century."

Paul Walker, "Johann Rosenmüller and the Rehabilitation of Vocal Fugue in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century."

Daniel Zager, Associate Dean for Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, New York
"Vespers Hymnody as a Context for Organ Composition and Improvisation in Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Italy."

Daniel Zager introduces us to an interesting repertoire for the organ  composed specifically for liturgical use. His study of the rich tradition of Italian Vespers versets opens a new window onto a long and stable historical improvisation and composition practice.