History of Metzler Organ Builders Ltd.
Jakob Metzler was born in 1855 in Schwarzenberg, in Vorarlberg, the son of a farmer. He received thorough training as a furniture craftsman and took up an apprenticeship as organ builder in 1879 at the organ building and carpenter’s workshop of Anton Behmann in Schwarzach. His apprenticeship years led him to the then well-known Austrian organ building firm of Mauracher Brothers in Linz. As a competent organ builder he entered into employment with the Klingler Brothers in Rohrschach in 1885, who received a number of commissions for instruments in Graubünden.
So it came to pass, that in winter 1890 the young organ builder Metzler made the decision to set up his own company in this same mountain canton of Graubünden, more precisely in Jenaz in Prättigau. One of his first projects was the building of an organ in the little mountain church of Furna.
It soon became apparent that the development of the firm would be better served by being situated near the centre of Chur. This consideration led Jakob Metzler to moving his company to Felsberg.
With his diligent and conscientious work he soon gained the trust of many communities, enabling him to make a modest living for his family in these difficult times during which there was little money available in this mountain canton for cultural projects.
Jakob Metzler did not possess any machinery, but relied solely on handcraftsmanship. As well as the construction of new instruments, modifications and repairs to old mechanical instruments in a poor state of disrepair formed the basis of his daily work. Some of these organs are still in service today (among others Luzern, Maienfeld, Ramosch/Remüs, Ardez, Susch/Süs, St. Maria in M., Zernez).
He was not a fan of the pneumatic system which was flourishing at the turn of the century, which was the reason why he at first turned down a number of commissions. However, he found himself having to bow down to the march of progress in the early 20th century. However, the later course of history shows impressively that his belief that the fully mechanical action would once again gain prevalence was well-founded.
Jakob Metzler died in 1925, after the management of the company had been passed into the hands of his two sons Oscar and Albert.
In 1931 Oscar Metzler, who, before entering into his father’s firm had been educated as a teacher, organist and conductor, moved to Dietikon with his family. The industrialized region of Zurich promised a better basis for the economical growth and development in personnel within the company.After hiring rooms in various garages for a number of years he laid the foundation for the firm’s new premises at Zürcherstrasse 154 in 1934. There were soon ten people working there, many of them originating from the good German craftsmanship tradition. Also the in-house production of metal pipes – essential for the optimal conformity of the pipe construction with the requirements of the voicing process – followed shortly after.
Oskar Metzler junior, - an advocate of Baroque organ building - was influential in matters of craftsmanship. In the early days of organ reform he fought with some vehemence for a return to the mechanical action and solid wood cases. To ensure quality he even had the firm’s own sawmill built.
His brother Hansueli Metzler specialised in voicing and tonal design. His characteristic and rich sounding organs were received with enthusiasm in international professional circles.
Company premises, Zürcherstrasse 154, Dietikon (ZH)
Foundation of the company by Jakob Metzler in Jenaz /Graubünden
(ca.) The company moves to Felsberg/ Graubünden
Foundation of the firm J. Metzler and Sons
The company changes its name to Metzler and Co.
A branch of the company is set up in Dietikon
The company’s main office is moved to Dietikon
The company premises are built, still existing today
The company changes its name to Metzler and Sons
Extension of the premises to include machine shop, metalworking shop and tin workshop
The branch in Felsberg is dissolved
Construction of the pipe workshop
Foundation of the subsidiary company Felsberg Organ Builders Ltd.
Sale of the remaining shares in Felsberg Organ Builders Ltd. to its manager R. Freytag. End of Metzler Organ Builders’ activities in Felsberg.
Retirement of Oscar Metzler (Sr.) from the firm and change of the company’s name to Metzler Organ Builders Ltd.
Retirement of Oskar Metzler (Jr.) from the company
Foundation of a subsidiary company in Szeged, Hungary
Retirement of Hansueli Metzler from the company
Acquisition of all shares in the company by Hansueli Metzler and his two sons Andreas and Mathias