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With the inauguration of the organ in the nave on the 29th of June 1998 finally ended the unsatisfactory sound situation in Cologne Cathedral, which had lasted from the end of the second world war until then. The organ is placed at the beginning of the nave (seen from the east), a favourable spot for organs in the interior of a Gothic cathedral. Put on the northern wall of the nave it resembles a swallow's nest.
Cologne Cathedral architect Arnold Wolff planned and built the organ in cooperation with Klais, a famous organ builder firm from Bonn. It consists of a "Rückpositiv", a "Hauptwerk",a "Schwellwerk" and a pedal. 3963 pipes can be played on 53 stops.
In 1960 Cologne Cathedral organist Professor Josef Zimmermann brought these summer concert evenings -supported by the members of the cathedral chapter-into life. It is the main idea of these concerts to introduce the large variety of valuable organ music written in past and present times to interested listeners considering its artistic, intellectual as well as religious aspects. This takes place at Cologne Cathedral: a very special place (church as well as historical monument) with a very special atmosphere. The invited organ players are renowned interpreters from all over the world.
This unbroken tradition of summer concerts has now already lasted more than 40 years. From 1960 until 1985 it was directed by Professor Zimmermann. In 1986 Professor Clemens Ganz became his successor and was followed himself by the current Cologne Cathedral organist Prof. Dr. Winfried Bönig in 2001.
Each summer there are twelve concerts between the middle of June and the beginning of September. There are several reasons for placing the concerts in this unusual period: first of all the so called cultural "Sommerloch" (the usual summer break of the theatres, the opera etc.), then the fact that Cologne Cathedral simply would be too cold for a concert in winter and -last but not least- is the number of tourists, who shall also be reached nebst the large number of local regular attenders, in summer higher than in the other seasons.
The concerts always take place on Tuesdays. They begin at 20.00 hours s.t. and end at 21.00 hours. Because of the popularity of the concerts it is highly recommendable to come early to the cathedral so that you can find yourself a good place.
Entrance is free, but there is a collection after the concerts which serves to cover the (high) costs.