Welcome to the first ever web page dedicated to the pipe organs of Kalaallit Nunaat, or Greenland, the only Inuit culture in the world with a vibrant and living pipe organ tradition. These pages are an expansion of an article from the January, 2010 edition of The American Organist, “The Church of Greenland and the Inuit Organ Tradition”, the culmination of ten weeks of independent research in Greenland sponsored by the Presser Foundation. For more background on Greenland and the goals and findings of this research I would direct you to the TAO article. This study represents the most complete documentation of the organs of Greenland to date and the first time all of this information has been made available in one place. A note to future researchers: Greenland is also home to dozens of reed organs, dating back 150 years in some cases. A detailed study of these instruments is simply waiting for the right scholar to take the challenge, though I estimate such a study would require at least 6 months travel in Greenland and a budget of at least $30K – but don’t let that discourage any of you adventurous organologists out there!
To further explore Greenland and its churches and organs, please use the map below to link to various Greenlandic towns. You will find additional information and see pictures of the town, the churches, and the organs. Additionally, you can hear sound samples from organs in Nanortalik, Narsaq, Qaanaaq, and Qaqortoq.
Kalaallit Nunaat is a vast, uncompromising land where just over 56,000 inhabitants, primarily of Inuit or mixed Danish-Inuit descent, live in towns and villages spread over an area more than three times the size of Texas (or four times the area of France). In a land mostly covered in ice and almost entirely devoid of trees, the Greenlandic culture is a unique blend of Inuit traditions centered on the ebb and flow of nature with decidedly European flavors inherited from Denmark. The Church of Greenland, currently a diocese of the Lutheran Danske Folkekirke (though it is moving toward full independance), reflects the missionary history in Greenland from both the Danish Church and the Moravian Brethren since the 18th Century. Thus, out of this remarkable country’s complex history comes a, until now, very little known sacred music and pipe organ tradition.
Please click on the Map below or from the list to left for information, photographs, and recordings about the pipe organs in particular towns.