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Pipe Organs

Chiesa di San Matteo
Builder: Antonio Alari
Year built: 1773
Chiesa di San Matteo

The Abbey of San Matteo is in the heart of the historic center of Genova. It overlooks the square, one of the most evocative of the old town, all surrounded by the houses of Doria (XII - XV centuries). The Romanesque-Gothic church, founded in 1125, with its characteristic facade with white and black stripes. Inside the church, a rich decoration of the 16th century is superimposed on the Gothic structure. The Abbey, noble church of the Doria family, boasts the presence, among other works of art, of a beautiful organ built in 1773 by Antonio Alari, master organ builder belonged to a dynasty of organ and harpsichords builders active in Rome since 1683.

The presence of an instrument of the Roman school in Genova is a singular fact, especially when taking into account that in the period to which dates its construction, in Liguria a native organ building a school linked to the family of Roccatagliata was at the apex of his success.

The explanation must be sought in close relationships which have arisen between the Doria family from Genova and Romans particularly following the marriage of General Giovanni Andrea Doria with Anna Pamphili Landi, the only daughter and heir of the Roman prince Camillo Pamphili Landi. The marriage gave rise to the family Doria Pamphili Landi, between the Roman princes and among the grandees of Spain.

The instrument is placed in the left transept, a choir marble work of Silvio Cosini (XVI century). The organ is placed in a niche in the side wall, near the stairs leading to the rectory. The front pipes are inserted in a rich wood frame carved and gilt decorated with a dense network of palm trees and blossoming flowers.

The pipes are grouped into three bays according to the scheme 7-9-7. The profile is flat to the side spans and convex to the central one; the trend of mouths, opposite to that of the heights, gives a particular movement to the facade.

The instrument has a keyboard with 45 keys range of C1-C5 with first octave short. The lectern-shaped pedalboard has 14 pedals, the last of which is used exclusively to operate the drum, and is constantly coupled to the manual. The commands of the registers are placed to the right on two columns and operated by rods with knob.

The arrangement phonic is the following:

Principale 8'Voce umana (from C3)
Principale II (from F#2)Flauto in ottava (complete)
OttavaFlauto in quinta (complete)
QuintadecimaSesquialtera (XII, XVII complete)
VigesimasecondaCornetto a tre canne (XII, XV, XVII from C#3 to C5)
VigesimasestaTromboncini bassi (C1-B2)
VigesimanonaTromboncini soprani (C3-C5)

Basso 8' al pedale (always operational)


  • Usignoli (operated by a rod with knob on the left of the keyboard)
  • Tamburo (operated by the last pedal of the pedalboard)

Despite its small size, this organ contains, beside the classical pyramid of Italian Ripieno, reinforced by the presence of a second Principale, an unusual abundance of concert stops, which reveal the influence on organ culture of the time by the Flemish organ builder Willem Hermans, who, with his activities in some of the major Italian cities such as Roma and Genova, was one of the main architects of the introduction of these phonic sounds in the arrangement of the instruments Italian Baroque.

Entirely unique then is the scope of the concert stops (Flauti and Sesquialtera) and "spezzature": Tromboncini all'italiana, (from B2 and C3), Trombone and Cornetto alla spagnola (between C3 and C#3). All this gives this organ a particularly versatility and reveals its belonging to a cultural world not limited to a simple national scope. It must be considered a unique not only in Liguria but also at national level with regard to the Roman school of organ building, as well as one of the most beautiful historic organs of Genova.

The restoration was completed in 2004 by Bottega Organara Dell'Orto & Lanzini, Dormelletto (N0).

Campione audio
Code and graphic by Lucio Marinelli