Public contributes 15 million towards new pipe organ for St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral, photo: Kristýna Maková

Just as the nation contributed to the reconstruction of the National Theatre in Prague after it was ravaged by fire in 1881, Czechs are being given the opportunity to contribute to a significant part of St. Vitus Cathedral – a symbol of Czech statehood, the church where Czech kings were crowned and where they were buried. The cathedral, which is home to the crown jewels, and where the Archbishop of Prague serves masses on important occasions, still lacks a pipe organ that would crown its glory.

St. Vitus Cathedral, photo: Kristýna Maková
Founded in 1344 and completed in 1929, the cathedral has a provisional organ with 4475 pipes, built by Josef Molzer in 1932. Its capacity is not sufficient to fill the whole space of the 125-metre-long and up to 60-metre-wide church and plans are underway to get it replaced by an instrument worthy of the cathedral.

It should be installed on the neo-Gothic organ-loft, on the Western side above the main entrance, and the first notes should resound on the occasion of St Wenceslas Day, September 28, 2019 - symbolically completing the cathedral almost 700 years after work on it started.

The price of the new organ, which should have more than 8,000 pipes and would be one of the biggest in Europe, is estimated at 80 to 100 million crowns and while the lion’s share of the costs will be covered by the Catholic Church and big firms, individuals and municipalities around the country have been encouraged to make a symbolic contribution as well. Individuals can, for instance, sponsor a small pipe that would bear the donor's name and forever link the family with the historic site.

According to the daily, the public fund raising campaign has so far collected 15 million crowns for the new organ and people still have time to support this historic project. Four firms have made a bid to construct the new pipe organ for St Vitus Cathedral. A special commission is to announce the winning firm in February.

St Vitus Cathedral is situated within the Prague Castle complex, seat of the Czech President. Legally it belongs to the state and the Catholic Church uses it for religious purposes. In 2010 the Church and State signed an agreement on joint care for the cathedral that terminated lengthy legal disputes over ownership rights.