Der Aa Church boasts a superb organ that was built by Arp Schnitger, the celebrated organ builder from Hamburg. Read more about the organ’s history below. Want to know more about playing the Schnitger organ? Contact us at or 050-3181433.


Der Aa Church finally has its own organ. It was built by the Van Hagerbeer brothers.


Only four years later this extremely costly organ is lost in a fire.


Two decades go by before a new organ project is finally tackled. The eminent organ builder from Hamburg, Arp Schnitger, is commissioned  to build it. This masterwork, the biggest organ Schnitger ever built in the Netherlands, is completed in 1693. He himself was very proud of it: ‘I have spared neither time nor effort and have made everything wonderful’.


Unfortunately this masterwork is not granted a long life either. Due to faulty reconstruction the church tower collapses again in 1710, taking the Schnitger organ down with it in its fall. The famous Dutch author Belcampo blamed it all on Bach. According to Belcampo's story, it was the great Johan Sebastian himself who sat at the Schnitger organ that day, so enraptured by the sound, that his enthusiastic playing caused the tower to tremble on its foundations.


The congregation has to wait for more than a century for a new organ. But on 23 September 1814 King William I grants permission to move the organ from the Broerkerk to the Der Aa Church. This organ was also made by Arp Schnitger and it was built in 1702 for the Broer Church, which was located where the university library now stands. Organ aficionados consider this Schnitger organ to be one of the most magnificent organs in the world.  


The organ undergoes modifications making it more appealing to the taste popular at the time. Unfortunately much of the character of the original instrument is lost.


A transept organ is placed in the southern transept. This organ is from the Broerekerk in Bolsward and was  originally built for the Martini Church there


After 14 years of costly restoration the big Schnitger organ is once again in full working order. Much of what was lost in 1857 has now been restored to  former glory. The Schnitger’s Dream Festival attracts visitors from all over the world.

Share this

Subscribe to our newsletter