History of the organ

Arp Schnitger (1648-1719) made a new organ in 1695-96, with 20 sounding registers divided among Hoofdwerk, Rugwerk and a Pedal division placed beheind the case. The organ was tested by Petrus Havingha, organist of the Martinikerk in Groningen and Schnitger’s ‘agent’ in the area. The original Schnitger disposition is unknown can only be hypothetically reconstructed.

In 1752 and in 1768 Albertus Anthoni Hinsz (1704-1785) made important changes in the organ. Probably in the first place due to changing views as to the best manner of accompanying congregational singing, it was decides to enlarge the Hoofdwerk bij adding a Quintadena 16’. A Vox Humana was also added to the Hoofdwerk. A Dulciaan was added to the Rugwerk. This was possible since he had to make new chests for the manuals anyway, in order to include the tones missing from Schnitger’s short octave. The Hoofdwerk and Rugwerk cases had to be made deeper as well.

Although the rebuild by Heinrich Hermann Freijtag (1759-1811) of 1806-1809 was visually more radical than of his teacher Hinsz, he remained closer to the artistic vision of the original design. He placed on either side of Schnitger’s case a pedal tower and a two-story flat, giving the instrument an impressive wideness. Freijtag made the most changes in the pedal division. He made new wind chests, a new front, a new Gedekt 8’and a new Bazuin 16’.

Petrus van Oeckelen (1792-1878) worke d on the organ in 1855. He moved the Quintadena 16’ up by two whole tones and made a Bourdon  16’of it. In addition, the Octaaf 2’, the Sexquialter and the Scherp had to make room for stops which were at that time more customary.  Van Oeckelen also added a pedal coupler.

From 1946 to 1983 Simon Graafhuis was organist in Noordbroek. In the fifties a reconstruction of the three stops which had been removed from the Rugwerk was carried out, together with Cor Edskes. It is to the credit of Simon Graafhuis that this valuable instrument survived this period without damage.

From 1983 to 2000 Winold van der putten and Berend Veger took care of the organ. First of all they changed the temperament  to Werckmeister III. In 1994 the two pedal chests were restored.

Since 2000 maintenance has been in the hands of Mense Ruiter Orgelmakers of Zuidwolde. In 2001 the four bellows of Freijtag were restored. In 2002 a revoicing of the three new stops of the Rugwerk was carried out. The Noordbroek is a unique instrument, that – unlike most other important Groninger organs – has experienced no drastic restoration in the twentieth century.