The Walcker - OESA organ in Barcelona Palau Nacional

'No' means kind of Yes

On the edge of legality

As an early student I arrived to Barcelona from the beautiful city of Salamanca where I have had some of the best years of my life studying organ, continuo, composition, Philosophy and a lot of bohemian life. My interest in art and history brought me to the Museum of Romanic and Gothic art in Barcelona, in the Neo-Classical 1920s National Palace in Montjuic. Between both museums there is a huge Oval Hall where I got shocked when discovering an enormous silent organ. When investigating on it I discovered some locked doors, but who cares about locked doors. Those are actually the most interesting ones to open.

'No' means kind of Yes

When asked about the instrument, authorities remark that only the front pipes are left, being the machinery and rest of pipes lost. When official events get broadcasted on TV in that Hall, the organ gets hidden. So how can that be possible?

The original instrument, a walcker from 1929 was donated to the city of Barcelona by the German Consulate after the Universal Exposition. In the 1960s, OESA (the State organ building company from Franco times) did enlarge the already huge instrument to the bigger organ in one case in Europe at that time (now Royal Albert Hall is bigger). Including 6 keyboards, a double 32' Principal and an insane chamade section with horizontal 16' full lenght reeds. Fernando Germani played the opening recital.

'No' means kind of Yes

The instrument was so insane, that it literally ruined the structure of the hall. In the early 1970s part of the ceiling fall down destroying tables set up for a party dinner while the organ was being played, so authorities decided to close it until the Hall could be fully restored and secured. To guarantee the conservation of the organ while work progressed in the Hall, a committee of local organists was created.

In early 2000 the Hall was finally re-inagurated as completely restored. So what about the organ? ---"Nothing, it is empty!"

As an organ student I requested to acces behind the front pipes but the answer I got was NO.

Anyway, I have always found those "No" very challenging and funny. So enjoy the pictures of the empty organ.

--- Raúl Prieto Ramírez

Pictures taking inside the empty organ. Right behind the front pipes
The stop list from 1929

Here below I'm including the stop list from 1929. I used to have the one after the enlargement in 1960s, but can't find it. I was even given a recording of arrangements of sardanas for organ made in this instrument before it was locked in the early 70s. The recording is from the last main organist of the Hall, Rev. Roma, who used to play a concert every Sunday evening here. His nephew made the copy for me. If I can find that I will be happy to add those clips here. Don't hesitate to add your comments here below and share this article if you like it!

Raul Prieto Ramirez, 2020

Photografía: Maika Risquez, Christian Herrera - Barcelona, Robert Lang