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Freytag, Heinrich Hermann

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Freytag, Heinrich Hermann

(b Hamburg, c15 April 1759; d Groningen, 11 April 1811). Dutch organ builder of German birth. He was the son of a cabinetmaker from Württemberg. It is not known where he received his earliest training; he went to work for Hinsz just a few years before the latter’s death in 1785. Hinsz’s stepson and co-worker Franz Caspar Schnitger the younger inherited the business after Hinsz’s death, and went into partnership with Freytag. Their first organ, a small 4' instrument built for the Mennonite Church, Groningen (1785), had the same specification as a late Hinsz Rugwerk. In 1789 they added an independent Pedal and a small Borstwerk to the Hinsz organ of the Bovenkerk, Kampen (completed in 1790). This was followed by: a rebuilding of the organ in ’t Zandt (1791); a new organ in Bierum (1792), which had a Hoofdwerk façade in the style of Hinsz with a fake Onderpositief façade (for the Praestant 16' treble) harking back to Arp Schnitger’s organs; and another small organ in Zuidhorn (1793). They then built their largest new organ for the church of Zuidbroek, following a contract that had been drawn up by Hinsz. It had two manuals, an independent Pedal and 28 stops, and was the only new organ with independent Pedal built by them or by Freytag alone. Their last joint organ, with two manuals and pull-down pedals, was built for Bellingwolde (1796–8); a curiosity was that it had a roof-like structure over the Vox humana.

Freytag’s first work outside the province was for the Zuiderkerk, Enkhuizen, where he added a Rugwerk and rebuilt the old organ in 1799. The metal plates for the Trompet 8' for this organ were cast on sand. In 1802 he reduced and updated the now famous organ of Noordwolde from three manuals to two (the Vox humana of the Rugwerk was given a resonance box, covering the entire stop). In 1803 he carried out a rebuilding project in Loppersum, followed by work on the large organ of the Laurenskerk, Rotterdam (1806–7 and 1809–11, incomplete). A large one-manual organ with 15 stops, including two 16' labials and a 16' reed, was completed in 1808 for the village church of Finsterwolde. Another rebuilding project was carried out in Noordbroek (1806–9), where the Pedal was moved from behind the organ to two visible side Pedal towers. After a renewal with new façade of the small organ of the Doopsgezindekerk, Bolsward (1808–9), Freytag built one more new organ with two manuals and pull-down pedals for Oostwold in 1811. He died during its construction and it was erected by his master pupil Johan Wilhelm Timpe (1770–1837) who also completed the organ designed and perhaps partially built by Freytag for his widow in Warffum in 1812.

Most of Freytag’s organs are preserved, and his work belongs to the best of the Schnitger school. He was enormously inventive with his case designs, continuing an age-old tradition and showing tremendous respect for old pipe material whenever renewing an old organ. Despite his conservatism, he was nevertheless willing to adopt ideas, styles and designs from other organs, such as the organ of Nieuwolda by Wenthin, which inspired him to introduce instruments with Hoofdwerk and Bovenwerk (Bellingwolde, Oostwold and Warffum). While no two organs look alike, their stylistic relationships remain unified. Three cabinet organs by Freytag survive.

After his death the business was continued on a small scale, mainly by his son Herman Eberhardt (1796–1869), who retired in 1862. The firm was then sold to N.A.G. Lohman.


J. Jongepier: ‘Enkele bijdragen over de orgelmaker H.H. Freytag en zijn werk’, Het orgel, lxxxvi/2 (1990), 52–73

K. Tiggelaar: Freytag & Snitger in compagnie: een introductie tot het werk van Heinrich Hermann Freytag en diens compagnon Frans Caspar Schnitger junior, ‘afsluiters’ van de 18de eeuwse Gronings-Hamburgse orgelmakersschool (Oostwold, 1990)

J. Jongepier and others: Het orgel in de Zuider of St Pancraskerk te Enkhuisen (Enkhuizen, 1991)


Frezzolini [Frezzolini-Poggi], Erminia

(b Orvieto, 27 March 1818; d Paris, 5 Nov 1884). Italian soprano. She is identified with Romantic opera and especially with Verdi, two of whose heroines she created: Giselda in I Lombardi and Giovanna d'Arco, at La Scala, Milan (in 1843 and 1845 respectively). Trained mainly by her father, Giuseppe Frezzolini (1789–1861), a noted bass, and Domenico Ronconi, she had bel canto skills but sang in the new manner called for by Verdi's works, uniting smooth legato and dramatic power. Her sensational début, at Florence in 1837, was in the title role of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda; this remained one of her most effective parts, along with Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia (in which she caused another sensation, at La Scala in 1840), Bellini's Elvira (I puritani), and Verdi's Giselda, Gilda (Rigoletto) and Leonora (Il trovatore). She was compared to Maria Malibran for boldness, intensity and pathos, with an added sweetness of timbre; Fétis wrote of her beauty and nobility on stage. After an early London season (1841) and many Italian engagements, she spent the years between 1847 and 1857 in St Petersburg, Madrid, London and Paris. Vocal decline and financial extravagance led her during the years 1857–60 to tour, at times hazardously, in the USA and Cuba and, as late as 1874, to appear in minor Italian theatres; Mark Twain records a concert in Naples in 1867 greeted with both applause and hisses. Her brief marriage in 1841 to the tenor Antonio Poggi ended in legal separation; her letters (in I-FOc) show her aware of the difficult position of women in a male-dominated world. After Poggi died (1875) she married a French doctor.


ES (R. Celletti)


M. Twain: The Innocents Abroad (New York, 1869), ii, chap.2

A. de Angelis: ‘Erminia e Giuseppe Frezzolini’, RMI, xxxii (1925), 438–54

J. Rosselli: ‘L’apprendistato del cantante italiano: rapporti contrattuali fra allievi e insegnanti dal Cinquecento al Novecento’, RIM, xxiii (1988), 157–81

J. Rosselli: Singers of Italian Opera (Cambridge, 1992)


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