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Zacharias Hildebrandt (Organ Builder)

Born: 1688 - Münsterberg, Silesia, Germany
Died: October 11, 1757 - Dresden, Saxony, Germany

Zacharias Hildebrandt was a German organ builder and instrument maker. In 1714 his father, a cartwright master, apprenticed him to Gottfried Silbermann in Freiberg. He worked under Gottfried Silbermann from 1713 to 1722 and became an expert tuner. In 1721 Hildebrandt finished his masterpiece, the organ of the Nikolaikirche Langhennersdorf. In 1723 J.S. Bach composed the Festival Cantata BWV 194 for the dedication of Hildebrandt's new organ at Störmthal. From 1724 to 1726 the organ in Lengefeld. On this project, a dispute developed with Gottfried Silbermann, who treated him as a rival and sued him. The dispute was settled by an agreement in which Hildebrandt obliged himself to take over only orders rejected by Silbermann. Therefore he moved his work to the region near Leipzig and to Thuringia. In 1727he had repaired the Swallows' Nest organ at Thomaskirche to make it playable again. He may have done this at J.S. Bach‘s request in time for the first performance of J.S. Bach‘s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) in 1727. Unfortunately the church records here are listed only by year and not specific date which would confirm this possibility. In 1730 he became court organ builder to the Prince of Saxe-Weißenfels. Throughout the late 1730’s and 1740’s Hildebrandt was a colleague of J.S. Bach's in Leipzig. He tuned the harpsichords at the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, and built a Lautencembalo (lute-harpsichord) for J.S. Bach about 1739. In 1748 he became overseer of the Leipzig organs. J.S. Bach and Silbermann were the advisers for his 53-stop organ of 1743-1746 (still extant) in Naumburg, near Leipzig, where Johann Christoph Altnikol became organist in 1748. In describing the organ, J.C. Altnikol said that Hildebrandt followed Johann Georg Neidhardt's style of temperament.

Among Zacharias Hildebrandt’s own, which normally have elements of the Hamburg Baroque organ with more string-tone stops and richer mixtures than Silbermann's, that at St Wenzel, Naumburg (1743-1746; extant) is considered outstanding. His son Johann Gottfried (1724/5-1775) assisted him, also building the organ of St Michaelis, Hamburg (1762-1767 and 1769).

Zacharias Hildebrandt constructed the following organs:
Langhennersdorf, near Freiberg (1722; 21, II, P; restored 1990-1996)
Störmthal, near Leipzig (1723; 14, I, P; restored by Eule 2008)
Hilbersdorf, near Freiberg (1724; 5, I; restored, now in Leipzig)
Liebertwolkwitz, near Leipzig (1725; 13, I, P; destroyed 1813)
Lengefeld i. Erzgebirge (1726; 22, II, P; modified 1933)
Sangerhausen, Hl. Geist-Stift (1727; 6, I; not preserved)
Sangerhausen, St. Jacobi (1728; 27, II, P; restored 1976-1978)
Pölsfeld, near Sangerhausen (1728; 11(?), I, P; extended by Hildebrandt)
Sotterhausen, near Sangerhausen (1730; 9, I, P; restored 2005)
Lindenau near Leipzig (1732; 10, I, P; not preserved)
Eutritzsch near Leipzig (1736; 10, I, P; not preserved)
Naumburg, St. Wenzel (1746; 53, III, P; restored 1993-2000)
Großwiederitzsch, near Leipzig (1748; 10, I, P; demolished 1902)
Hettstedt i. Südharz, St. Jacobi (1749; 31, II, P; only facade preserved)
Goldbach near Bischofswerda (1756; 10, I, P; modified 1908)
Dresden, Dreikönigskirche (1757; 38, II, P; destroyed 1945)


Source: Wikipedia Website (December 2009); Website (from Oxford Grove Music Encyclopedia); Article by Mark Lindley in Malcolm Boyd (Editor): Oxford Composer Companion - J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999)’
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2011)

Organ in Places associated with Bach



Organ [main specs]

Bach Connection



Thayssner-/Hildebrandt-/Ladegast Organ (1697/1716/1734/1855)

Visit in 1735



Swallows' Nest Organ

The organ was repaired by Z. Hildebrandt in 1727 to make it playable again, probably at Bach's request for the 1st performance of SMP (BWV 244) in 1727.



Hildebrandt Organ (1746) [new: 53, III, P]

Organ examination 1746: Bach Report



Hildebrandt Organ (1728)

Successful application for a post as town organist in 1702; by ducal interference, the post is given to someone else



Hildebrandt Organ (1723) [new: 14, I, P]

Organ examination & performance of Festival Cantata BWV 194 1723

Links to other Sites

Zacharias Hildebrandt (Wikipedia)

Zacharia Hildebrandt (



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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 14:59