Xaver Varnus plays Toccata and Fugue in D minor on the great Sauer Organ of the Berliner Dom. Recorded live on the Opening Night of the Berliner Internationaler Orgelsommer 2013. At the time of its dedication in 1905, the great Sauer Organ of the Berliner Dom was the largest in Germany, with its 7269 pipes and 113 registers, distributed across four manuals and pedals. The court organ builder Wilhelm Sauer, from Frankfurt on the Oder, created an instrument that embodied the newest technical and musical developments of German organ building at the time. In that way, the organ met the high expectations of both the organ builder and his client: in the Protestant Cathedral of the capital city, there was to be a monumental, modern, and in every way extraordinary instrument of the highest quality. The organ of the Cathedral of Berlin represents the highpoint of Sauer’s career. At the same time, it marks the end of the long development of Romantic orchestral organs, whose sound corresponds to the characteristic sound of a symphonic orchestra of that period. Today, the organ in the Cathedral of Berlin is the largest late-Romantic pneumatic action organ in the world that has survived in its original condition.

Born in Budapest, Varnus’ his first piano teacher was Emma Németh, one of the last pupils of Claude Debussy. Xaver Varnus has played virtually every important organ in the world, including those in Bach’s Thomaskirche in Leipzig (2014), Berliner Dom (2013), Notre-Dame (1981), Saint-Sulpice (2006) and Saint-Eustache (1996) in Paris, National Shrine in Washington, D.C. (1985), and Canterbury Cathedral (2004), as well as the largest existing instrument in the world, the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia (1985). His Quadruple Platinum Disc winning album From Ravel to Vangelis, released by Sony BMG in 2007, is the best-selling organ CD ever. As a Canadian citizen, Xaver Varnus resides in Berlin, Germany. “Put simply, Varnus is a monster talent, every bit as stimulating and individual as the late Glenn Gould” (The Globe & Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper).