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 project
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 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" 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 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 centre 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 Gothenburg 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 as well as collaboration with local congregations.

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