Organ Builder Ingrid

How a Master Organ Builder came to be in the Low Countries

Her first memory of organ music was at church.  Once when she was a child, she went into the church, and the minister said:  “the organ’s just been tuned”.  She didn’t believe it, it had to be a joke.  You couldn’t tune an organ?!  Now she thinks sometimes that she later became an organ builder out of revenge for that thought.

She was born and trained in Germany.  “I wanted to work with my hands.  Then I read something about the training to become an organ builder.  That was very broad, you worked with various materials, you had to make a design.  Each organ is unique.  And I found the instrument really intriguing.”

In organ building, you learn the craft from an experienced organ builder.  So in 1986 she began a 3-years’ work/course with an organ builder in Berlin.

But she didn’t only learn to build organs;  after a couple of years she started taking organ lessons as well.  Since then she hasn’t stopped playing.  “Playing the organ makes me calm and happy.  I can organize my thoughts really well.”

After her study in Berlin, she followed an international career.  She worked in Germany, Austria, and Israel.  Since 1996 she has the title Orgelbaumeister (Master of Organ Building), after following a specialized course.

Then one day she saw a job advertisement.  There was an opening for an organ builder in The Netherlands.  That looked very interesting, because “the most beautiful organs are in The Netherlands.  It is really the place to be for an organ builder.”

And now she’s been working for Van Der Putten since 1996 on the greatest projects in The Netherlands and abroad.  Since 2002 she’s been the director of the company.

“You see what you do and you also hear what you do, I like that.  My work is very varied.  Each organ is different, and I work in the loveliest churches.  And I still find it wonderful to work with my hands.”

The most exciting project so far?  That would be the new organ in Bremen-Walle (Ger).  This organ was built completely according to principles from 1650.  It was a difficult project but a great challenge.  There Ingrid learned the process of casting organ metal on sand.  It is a beautiful organ in mean-tone tuning:  “that makes you feel at peace”, Ingrid says.

In all those years she’s built a lot of different organs, and also restored a lot of organs.  And those organs are just like your children.  “It is always hard to leave them behind.  You build up a close relationship with the places where you work.”

But when the work is finished and everybody happy, that gives enormous satisfaction, and the incentive to do it even better the next time.