‘An organ is a machine, but it makes magic’ – Interview with three players of famous Bätz organs: Sander van den Houten, Jan Hage, and Matthias Havinga

by Bert den Hertog | Photo's: diverse makers | Het ORGEL | Year 116 | (2020) | Issue 4

V.l.n.r. Bätz-orgel in Amsterdam, Utrecht en Den Haag. Foto's: Jan Smelik

The work of all generations of the organ-building family Bätz and later Witte occupies an exceptionally important place in the Dutch organ landscape. The ‘Bätz-jaar 2020’ provides, besides information on recent restorations of the family’s instruments, the opportunity to get acquainted with a number of players of these organs. Sander van den Houten (*1987) is organist of the Evangelisch Lutherse Kerk in Den Haag since April, 2017, where he plays the Johann Heinrich Hartmann Bätz organ of 1762; he also works at the Burgwalkerk in Kampen. Jan Hage (*1964) is since 2011 organist of the Jonathan Bätz-orgel from 1831 in the Domkerk te Utrecht. In 2016 he defended his dissertation on Willem Mudde. Matthias Havinga teaches at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam, is organist of the Oude Kerk te Amsterdam, and organist of the Jonathan Bätz-orgel from 1830 in the Ronde Lutherse Kerk in Amsterdam.
All three are well known as concert organists, both nationally and internationally. ‘Their’ organs are among the largest and best-known Bätz organs.
The interview treats three main themes: first the choices in restorations, including the question of whether the composition of an organ monument should remain unchanged; second the question of the character of the ‘Bätz sound’: is this the ultimate ‘Dutch organ’?; and third an inventory of how these organs are used in current practice.