Marco Fracassi is the artistic director of Casa Pedrini Cremona Organi, an organ maker’s workshop founded at the beginning of the 20th century.

How did you get started in this business?

The Pedrini family (on my mother’s side of the family) opened the firm in 1908. It has since been handed down from generation to generation. I was fortunate enough to find my trade within my home, and I love it intensely. I was trained as a musician and I am also a performer, so my role as artistic director and in charge of the instruments’ acoustics satisfies my artistic needs.

Our skilled artisans make every component of our organs by hand: from the pipes (which are made from either wood or metal) to the decorations.

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How much work does it take to build an organ?

It takes seven/eight months to make a medium-size organ that has between 3 and 40 registers (the registers refer to the ranks of pipes controlled by a single stop). In our workshop we also restore antique organs. Our skilled artisans make every component by hand: from the pipes (which are made from either wood or metal) to the decorations.

How do you design an organ?

In order to create an organ, you have to imagine it in its final setting. For example, I designed the organ for the Gesù Redentore church, in Modena, cooperating with the architect in charge of the project. The organ took shape in parallel with the construction of the church. This was a very gratifying and stimulating experience.

Not only do we have to make sure that the organ’s design blends perfectly with the architectural style of its destination. The sonority, too, must be carefully studied for that place. The client himself often requests a specific sonority, which may be northern European, or French, or Italian Renaissance and so on. My work is to integrate these requirements with my personal artistic expression in the field of organ making. Building copies of ancient organs is not interesting to me, there’s no creative tension.

How much does tradition count versus new ideas and modern technology?

The organ has an age-old tradition, with a history spanning twenty-five centuries. Unlike other instruments, it has experienced an extraordinary evolution. The organ maker experiments, invents and researches more than any other artisan... it would be anti-historical and anti-cultural not to recognise the history of the organ’s evolution. At the same time, when we are restoring an organ we always take the utmost account of the documents that come to us from the past. Because in this case, we cannot superimpose our personal taste, but only interpret the documents in the best possible way.

What future lies ahead for the organ?

The organ is such a versatile and expressive instrument that it does not run the risk of oblivion or obsolescence. Since it has always been closely associated with the Church, it should start frequenting concert halls more regularly. I see many positive signals: organ concerts attract a young audience, and in Italy we have excellent organists between the age of 30 and 50 who have a potential even from the point of view of their international standing.

What are your hopes for the future of your career and for organ making in general?

I hope that the quality of organ making in Italy will continue to grow, so that we will be able to present ourselves to the world without inferiority complexes, especially with regards to France and Germany, where the institutions have always shown a greater interest and commitment. As for me, I hope that I will continue to express my inner aspirations when creating new instruments, and to cultivate the philological aspects involved in restoring antique organs. When the moment will come, I will pass the baton to the younger members of our family, who are already developing a passion for this work.