DataBases Organs in Belgium

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An electronic documentation center on the organ in Belgium

The recent death of Jean-Pierre Felix (who had already written an article on the subject: "Une quarantaine de programmes d'inauguration d'orgues des années 1950 aux Archives de l'État à Namur" in L'Organiste n° 153, 2007/1, pp. 8-11) underscored the importance of giving ready access to anyone interested in organ dedication concert programs, which, by nature, are generally dispersed: Patrick Roose and he had gathered a list of no fewer than 400 programs (limited to Belgium) of which 150 now await cataloguing in the boxes of the «Fonds Felix» at the music department of the Royal Library of Belgium.

Uploading scanned programs will allow all owners and collectors of such documents to circulate them while keeping them in their collection, and providing a search engine will give researchers and interested amateurs easily access to them at . So it is now possible to consult completely scanned documents and to select them by entering the location (city and building), the name of the organ-builders or the organists and the date of the event. Each file will indicate whether or not the document includes a photograph of the instrument, the detailed musical program, the disposition of the organ, a list of instruments built by the organ-builder, and finally the name of the document’s owner.

It is a known fact that the history of the organ in Belgium is not limited to the present administrative, linguistic or political limits. It would have been unreasonable to narrow this database to only one Belgian region or community. The Vlaamse Gemeenschap is represented by Orgelkunst, the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles by the Union Wallonne des Organistes, and the German Speaking Community by Musica Viva Eupen. These three associations are participating actively in creating the DtBOB. The website is quadrilingual: English has been added to the three national Belgian languages.

If you possess the program of the dedication of an organ in Belgium, please scan all the faces of your document (resolution: 300 dpi, colours, minimum 750 pixels wide), send it to and your contribution to this unique documentation will soon be on line!

A second field of activity will be essential as soon as the dedication programs database has proven its utility and its success: old postcards also represent documentation that until now has rarely been exploitable. Future possibilities can be imagined: one may think of including in DtBOB a general bibliography of the organ in Belgium, encompassing not only books and articles, but also the tables of contents of periodicals, present-day (L'Organiste, Orgelkunst) or from the past (De Schalmei, De Praestant, Musica Sacra…).

Finally, already under study is the organisation of a central encoding of organ concerts in the country, whereby the organisers of every concert and organ-oriented manifestation will be able to reach all press relays in the organ field with a single and unique encoding.

But let us be realistic and pragmatic: these tabs, already on the home page of DtBOB, will only be activated when the first one has achieved the hoped-for success…

One can predict that the launching of DtBOB will reveal unknown sources and bring to light isolated documents such as those one can find in many church archives.