“How can we make Amsterdam and Haarlem realize that Alkmaar is on the map as well?” That is more or less what our city officials must have had in mind when they had a new organ built for the Grote Kerk. In 1646 this was the biggest of its kind. A whole orchestra could be simulated on it. And although it was hanging in the church, it was not meant for the church. On a daily basis music was made for the population, for their entertainment. During church-services it remained silent. The town could afford it because it had come out victorious in a lengthy lawsuit against Haarlem: who were the rightful heirs of the assets of the monks of De Blinken monastery in Heiloo, who had to leave the area at the end of the 16th century. This fetched Alkmaar as ‘nearest parish’ the tidy sum of 60,000 guilders. Until the present day our big Van Hagerbeer-Schnitgerorgan is considered one of the greatest organs in the world. The organ-player, who, hidden behind the organ-pipes, displays his muscial skills, must be in top shape. He plays four sets of keyboards with both hands and both feet. The town already owned an organ, from 1511, built by Jan van Covelens. Another gem, but much smaller. Fortunately the town has taken good care of it. To this we owe the oldest playable organ of the Netherlands.
Caesar van Everdingen painted the big organ hatches. We can distinguish Saul and David aflush with victory. A metaphor for Alkmaar’s Victory in 1573. The largest and costliest work of art in our town, the Grote Kerk organ, is proof of the prosperity awaiting Alkmaar after 1573.