(6) Toccata Organ – A Man’s Organ

An organ, found and lost

Man's Organ (1)

The sentimental value of a technical artifact often survives even if it long ago ended in deadlock and was disposed at the vast graveyard of industrial equipment. This is true for the Toccata Organ, which is a prominent exhibit at the industrial museum ‘Industriesalon Schöneweide’ and the only existing instrument of that kind today.

The technical signature of this organ is “K 2”. This may sound like a backward predecessor model of Starwar’s “R2D2”, but in fact “K 2” was a superbly performing electronic organ and frequently in operation at the Berlin opera house “Komische Oper” from 1961 to 1989. This bulky Toccata Organ, built as a prototype of highest electronic sound quality, needed more than 250 electronic tubes, complex tone generating circuits and special frequency dividers in order to imitate a pipe organ to hence unknown perfection. But tube electronics proved to be a technical blind alley and transistors took over for good. Just four instruments were built, three were lost completely, only “K 2” could be reanimated after it had been dumped by Samsung Electronics and it now remains to tell the story of the Toccata Organ. That was achieved by the very same man who had held the organ alive at the opera for nearly three decades.

Toccata Orgel Text groß

The man behind this technical artifact cannot be resurrected like an electronic organ, just his name survives in an explanatory note at a museum, in a booklet or in research papers – until the name has lost its meaning for the next generation. Considering, that all those years at the “Komische Oper” the Toccata Organ was cared for and held alive by a single man as if the electronic instrument had become a part of his own organism, you wonder, if the fully completed separation of man and machine won’t turn machines into cyborg beings on the one hand and, on the other hand, will gradually wipe out man’s ethical self.toccata-orgel-exhibit-3

 

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