The restoration of the Le Picard organ in the St. Martinus church in Houthalen will make it possible to again play this listed monument of the famous Liege family of organ builders. As a result, music lovers will be able to once more enjoy its rich sound, increasing the appreciation of this cultural heritage from Liege and Limburg.
The old St. Martinus church has a tower and choir that date back to the 15th century, with an 18th-century plaster ceiling in the choir. The church was expanded between 1938 and 1940. The old nave between the tower and the choir was replaced by a new, transverse, Neogothic nave designed by the architect J. Deré. This gave the church a new appearance, typical for the so-called Limburg ‘mine cathedrals’.
The old organ was taken down and stored at that time. It had been installed in the period between 1720 and 1740 and is a masterpiece by the Le Picards, a Liege family of organ builders. The archives that remain are not entirely clear whether it is the work of Master Philippe Le Picard, or one of the first works of his son, Jean-Baptiste.
The Le Picard was family came from Noyon in Northern France but above all became famous in the Prince-Bishopric of Liège as organ builders. Houthalen lies in the province of Limburg, which is a name stemming from the French period for the former county of Loon that from the 14th century onwards was part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, that in turn was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.
Only a few Le Picard organs have been preserved in the former territories of Liège and the only Le Picard organ that has already been restored can be found in the village of Gronsveld in Dutch Limburg. So, this project is not only of historical and musical importance, but it also has a European aspect. It is supported by the Flemish regional government.
The Joseph Schepers – Germaine Lijnen Fund has granted the St. Martinus church administration financial support for restoration costs that are not being borne by the regional government.
If you wish to offer additional support for this project, please transfer to this account:
King Badouin Foundation
J. Schepers-G. Lijnen
IBAN BE 10 0000 0000 0404
Structured code: ***015/0600/00132***