Arad Palace of Culture gets organ after 100-year delay

More than 100 years after the first public fund was set up for it, the Palace of Culture in the western Romanian city of Arad finally got its long-awaited organ.

Deputy Mayor Levente Molnár told local newspaper Nyugati Jelen that the construction of the organ, which cost a total of 400,000 euros, was fully financed from the municipality’s budget. The organ has 2,000 brass and wood pipes in 36 ranks, which will be later expanded to 42 ranks with the addition of another 2,000 pipes.

A significant part of the costs went towards reinforcing the load-bearing capacity of the building, as the organ weighs almost 13 tons. The organ was built by a manufacturer in Pécs, southwest Hungary,  that has built or restored 130 organs in Hungary as well as in Japan, Poland and Portugal.

The construction was completed in June, but the wood parts of the organ needed time to settle in, so its tuning was only completed in August. The inaugural concert will be tomorrow, December 12.

The Palace of Culture was completed in 1913, when Arad was still part of Hungary. It was designed by local-born architect Lajos Szántay (1872-1961) in the popular eclectic style of the era: It has a Neoclassical facade supported by Corinthian columns; two sides are in Italian Renaissance style; and there are also Gothic elements borrowed from the Vajdahunyad (Hunedoara) Castle. The building now houses the County Museum and local philharmonic orchestra.

Whether as result of an oversight or lack of funds, the building did not have an organ, but the local community first began to gather funds for it in 1916, when World War I was in full swing. Although none of the original contributors who gathered those 1,572 crowns are alive today, the citizens of Arad finally can enjoy the sounds of a state-of-the-art pipe organ.


Title image: Organ and building of the Arad Palace of Culture (source: specialarad.ro)

Author: Dénes Albert