Jan-Piet Knijff: A Simple Oneness. Interview with D.A. Flentrop

by Jan-Piet Knijff | Het ORGEL | Year 95 | (1999) | Issue 18


Jan-Piet Knijff A Simple Oneness. Interview with D.A. Flentrop
het ORGEL 95 (1999), nr. 4, x-x [summary]

D.A. Flentrop (b. 1910) is the best known Dutchorganbuilder of the century. He build about 80 organs in the U.S.A. and restaured organsin the Netherlands (Zwolle) and elsewhere (Mexico City). He is not happy with the term’neo-baroque’, because he never wanted to copy old organs. Important influenceswere Mahrenholz and Schweitzer, who prophetized the importance of craftmanship inorganbuilding to Flentrop. Moreover, Flentrop’s father, had always been unhappy withthe modernisation of his Duyschot-organ in Zaandam.

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Flentrop gained important experience working in Germanyand Denmark, where Frobenius’s combination of pneumatic- and tracker-action workedvery well. From the late ’30s onward, when he took over his father’s firm,Flentrop built tracker-action instruments. The contact with E. Power Biggs led to anoverwhelming production in the U.S.A., which eventually meant half the annual turnover.Restauring late 19th-century organs, Flentrop often made changes to improve theseinstruments. In this respect he hasn’t changed his mind. Talking about Dutch organbuilding since his retirement, Flentrop highly respects the craftmanship of the youngergeneration but regrets the tendency of building predominantly style-copies.