The pipe organ, called by the French composer and writer Guillaume de Machaut “queen of instruments”, has earned such a privileged place, thanks to “divine” music, which can still be heard today, especially in Catholic cathedrals, as part of the religious ceremony or in the big concert halls.
The pipe organ (a word derived from the Greek “organon” and the Latin “organum”, both meaning “instrument”/”mechanism”) is one of the oldest musical instruments. According to Greek legends, the ancestor of the pipe organ is the “aulos”, a wind instrument invented by the goddess Athena, used by the satirist Maryas, in frequent musical competitions with Apollo, the God of music and poetry, the patron of the lyre. Strictly historical, the construction of the first keyboard instrument is attributed to the Greek engineer Ktesibios, a true genius of invention, from the 3rd century B.C.
How Much Does a Pipe Organ Cost?
The price of a pipe organ is greatly influenced by the size of the instrument. For example, the cost of a medium-size pipe organ for a church may cost around $200,000 or even more. The price of a pipe organ starts at around $30,000 and goes up to more than $1 million. Though, most of the pipe organs are sold at a price of anywhere between $75,500 and $155,000.
Besides the cost of the pipe organ itself, you should consider some other costs such as transport, installation, and maintenance, if you want to have and play this instrument.
How much does it cost to restore a pipe organ?
In some situations, you may have to pay more to restore a pipe organ instead of purchasing a new one.
Expect to pay anywhere between $250,000 and $1 million if you want to restore a pipe organ properly.
Depending on your budget, you may benefit from different services. For example, for replacing the leather diaphragms and incorporating a new pipe you will have to pay around $250,000, while for changing the mechanical system and this way avowing the maintenance for at least 50 years, you will have to pay almost $500,000.
If you want to rebuild the pipe organ with new pipes, you should expect to spend almost $1 million.
How much does it cost to transport a pipe organ?
Usually, the pipe organ you buy is not located in the same geographical area where you are living and you will have to budget for the shipping fees as well, this leading to an increase in the overall cost of the instrument.
Taking into consideration the great size of a pipe organ, it would not be possible to transport the entire instrument and you will have to disassemble it. Depending on the size of the pipe organ, you will have to pay anywhere between $2,600 and $4,100 for this operation.
How much does it cost to maintain a pipe organ?
Like with any other musical instrument, you have to always maintain the pipe organ so it looks and sounds as good as possible.
Tunning of the pipe organ is one of the most important maintenance jobs. This should be done twice a year or at the change of the seasons from hot to cold.
In order to maintain and tune a pipe organ, plan on spending anywhere between $85 and $155 per hour of work, depending on the size of the instrument and its location.
Why is the pipe organ so expensive?
The classical pipe organ is not an ordinary musical instrument, having a series of absolutely exceptional characteristics. It can have monumental dimensions (like a house with several floors), can be made of several rows of keyboards (the largest organ in the world has seven rows), a complicated system of tubes of different sizes, made of metal or made of wood, which allows interpretation in several registers (ranges), with sound heights ranging from 33 Hz to 16,000 Hz.
You will have to pay so much for this instrument because each one is different and made for a certain purpose like being installed in a church or teaching at a university.
When purchasing a pipe organ, you don’t pay only for the cost of making it, but also for a detailed engineering study that starts from the available place and finishes with the creation of sound.
Pipe organs are so expensive because each piece is installed by hand, no matter the material it is made from, metal or wood.
Also, the building of the pipe organ is not an easy job. It requires the installation of all pieces, checking the sounding properties and after that disassembling it, transporting to the location, reinstalling, and checking the sound. This whole process requires a well-prepared team.
Can I purchase a pipe organ?
Definitely yes! If you want to purchase a pipe organ you can do it, but you must have a minimum space available for the instrument to work properly.
If you decide to purchase a pipe organ, it would be ideal to assess your space with expertise that will guide you in the best solution for your area, optimizing it in the best possible way.
However, you may need some permits and authorization from an organ committee.
Which is the most expensive pipe organ in the world?
At the Lausanne Cathedral located in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland, you will find the most expensive pipe organ. This costs $6.6 million. It took almost ten years for this great instrument to be made and it was inaugurated in December 2003.
This pipe organ is made of 7000 pipes and two consoles. Also, it is the first pipe organ that contains all four of the principal organ styles: German Romantique, Classic, Baroque and French.
So, there are many things you should take into consideration before buying a pipe organ. You will have to evaluate the available space, the size of the instrument, and the location of the seller.
The price of a pipe organ is one of the highest, but it is worth every penny because the sound it makes is unique.