Hermann Binder - (Sibiu/Hermannstadt)
Mr. Binder maintains a home-studio in the city of Sibiu (Hermannstadt) (more) in Transylvania. He is president, too, of the organ makers association that includes eight companies. While much of his work is accomplished by himself, he also trains young craftsmen, at present two Hungarians and one Romanian.
"It is my job to teach the inheritors of this craft," he says.
A highly skilled craftsman, Mr. Binder restores and builds organs. Many are located in old Saxon churches still retaining hand pumped mechanisms and wooden pipes. More than 400 Saxon towns and villages were settled in Transylvania starting in the 1300s. These remained ethnically insular and maintained old traditions far into the 20th century. One of the principal architectural features of Saxon villages are their fortified churches. These served as refuges for villagers during many periods of invasions and attacks. Many of these churches survive intact in medieval character though depleted of their 'Saxon' populations due to large out-migrations to Germany in communist and post-communist times.
Sibiu's old town center retains its medieval architecture and streets patterns and is home to one of the largest organs in Europe located in the Evangelical Cathedral. Recent efforts to bring the old city to life have been successfully coordinated by the current mayor, Klaus Johannis, with help from German, Luxemburg, Dutch, French and British governments and foundations. Many early 'Saxon' settlers, originally from Flanders, were lured by Imperial Germany's offer of free land and control over their affairs in return for providing soldiers in times of strife against Eastern tribes and southern Turkish expansionist aspirations.
Color Photos: Dan Dimancescu (Lincoln, Mass)
B & W photos: Dragos Lumpan more (Bucharest, Roman