|Wannes van der Hoeven||Petrus Stevens-Vermeersch: a Flemish organ builder in the periphery of romanticism
Het ORGEL 99 (2003), nr. 2, 27-31 [summary]
In 1822, Theodoor Smet (1782-1853) established an organ building firm at Duffel, a small town in the neighbourhood of Mechelen (Malines). From 1839 onwards, Smet was associated with Henri Vermeersch (1815-1886). Vermeersch was more modern than Smet; he built swell boxes, for example. In 1875, Vermeersch’s son-in-law Petrus Elias Stevens (1841-1892) took over the firm.
The most important Stevens organ is the one in the St. Amanduskerk at Antwerp (1878). It has been preserved almost completely, but is deteriorating. The organ at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Kerk at Gierle (1891) is also preserved; not entirely, but for a considerable part. The organ at Lint was thoroughly rebuilt by Stevens in 1888, and is important as such. Other Stevens organs that deserve mention are the ones at Antwerp (Karmel/Rosier), Vremde, Lier (De Brug) and Mortsel (St. Benedictus).
Generally speaking, organs built by Stevens have no case; they appear to have been kept out of sight in the church towers on purpose. Their actions are, as a result, rather complicated, which has a negative effect on the touch; Stevens did not build Barker levers.
The organs present themselves as quite French-oriented instruments with their Groot orgel and their expressive Positief; but in fact they function better in liturgical contexts than as concert instruments.