Esa-Pekka will inaugurate Europe’s biggest new organ

Esa-Pekka will inaugurate Europe’s biggest new organ


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2023

The town of Katowice in Poland will baptise on Fridays what its claims is Europe’s biggest modern concerthall instrument.

The organ has more than 7000 pipes and 105 stops. It rises 13 meters high.

It will be inaugurated with the world premiere of an organ concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen, with the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer. The soloist is the Latvian organist Iveta Apklana.


  • Maestro says:

    A quick look on Esa-Pekka Salonen’s website will tell you the soloist is Iveta Apkalna.

  • Leporello says:

    I hope they make a recording of it because I’d sure like to hear it !

    • Jan Kaznowski says:

      It will be nothing to frighten the horses. EPS is like somebody from another age. He came to London promising us modern music (like we were all country bumpkins) and what did we get ? Err, Rite of Spring, Miraculous Mandarin and the EPS piano concerto.

      he talks big……

      • showbusiness schmobusiness says:

        I don’t think that the London orchestras had much repertoire beyond Mahler in their books prior to Salonen arriving. Philharmonia’s programming up until his arrival was definitely very old-school.

      • Roy Humphrey says:

        He also brought Lutoslawski’s Symphonies to London – some conducted by the composer.

    • CL says:

      There will be a direct transmission by the 2nd program of Polish Radio today at 19:30 CET (and probably a podcast at a later time):,Dwojka/688
      (click “SLUCHAJ” on the right upper side)

  • Sisko24 says:

    So Katowice inaugurates a new pipe organ, while here in New York, they make excuses for not having one in either Carnegie Hall or in Geffen Hall. How pathetic (for New York).

    • Bill Ward says:

      Be careful what you ask for. I recently heard the Poulenc Concerto at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and its organ was awful. The organist, Cameron Carpenter, got only one curtain call and looked disgusted. (This was the first time in years that the soloist didn’t get a standing ovation.) I would have much preferred the organ he usually travels with.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      Be careful what you ask for 2… Here in Dallas the orchestra’s concert hall was built around a fabulous organ but the repertoire only uses it once or twice a year and they struggle to get audiences to turn up for organ solo events. It’s a huge expense that doesn’t return in ticket sales.

  • JackofAll says:

    And let me guess… another Saint-Saens 3rd (snore)? A great work mind you, but could we have a little originality in programming, please?

    • Sisko24 says:

      I upvoted your comment because I believe you are absolutely ‘spot on’. There ARE a greater number of orchestral works which use organ and those, like so much of other classical music repertoire, are almost never heard probably due to a lack of a pipe organ…which is a pity for those of us who want and need to experience it in person with a real, i.e. pipe, organ.

  • So? says:

    Total nothing burger on all fronts.

  • An organist says:

    So it’s Iveta Apklana that will inaugurate the organ. Salonen will conduct and has composed the piece, but the headline gives him a role he doesn’t have.

  • Oscar Boulevard says:

    Best composer awards 2023 nominations:

    (Catagory- unmemorable fluff)

    Salonen. Philip Glass. Robin Holloway. Ades. Widmann. Weir.

    Best conductor awards 2023 nominations:

    (Categories – mannerism, micro management, ruining Bruckner, modelling watches and perfumes on Instagram)

    Paavo Jarvi. Thielemann. Viotti. Makela

  • L Fields says:

    I went to hear Essa -Pekka’s violin concerto in San Francisco in 2020. I’m a professional violinist and I’m pretty up on new compositions. This was an open rehearsal with the San Francisco Philharmonic. As we left the hall the people around me were all saying that they were glad they hadn’t paid any money to hear that work! Truly, it was awful!! I sure hope his Organ Concerto is a lot better!! Otherwise, The St. Saens Symphony No.3 or the Widor Organ Symphony No.5 would definitely be a much better choice!!

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Is that the concerto he recorded with Leila Josefowicz as soloist, or a newer one? The recording reveals a captivating work, in my opinion. De gustibus disputandum non est, as usual.

    • Craig Campbell says:

      Wayne O’Quinn’s work Resilience for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Organ is superb! Juilliard faculty.

  • Ben Weston says:

    The Henry Willis organ at the Royal Albert Hall has 9,999 pipes, 147 stops and is also 13 meters in height. So on what grounds can the Polish instrument claim to have stolen its crown?

    • An organist says:

      The RAH organ is also 100 and more years old. It’s claimed as the largest *modern* concert hall organ.

      Admittedly by the standards of historic organs the Willis in the RAH is a stripling (and a monster) but it’s not too much of a stretch.

    • Craig says:

      The Cavaille Coll at Saint Sulpice is 100 stops with a British Barker lever action

  • Craig Campbell says:

    Interesting. That is a large instrument for 2023! My favorite 100 stop instrument is by Cliquot-Cavaille Coll from 1862 at Saint Sulpice where I concretized in 2007. M. Daniel Roth titulaire is still in command! Successor of Widor and Dupre.

  • R. Hulsewe says:

    It’s a good thing this is a new organ. No petered pipes when Esa-Pekka picks Apkalna!

  • MMcGrath says:

    Size doesn’t matter, so let’s just hope the instrument is musically on top of the world.