The family Hofbauer occupies a very significant chapter in the history of German organ-building.
In 1923 orgen-builder Carl Hofbauer founded the company in the town of Mindelheim in Allgäu/Bavaria. Hofbauer’s strong point was the specialisation in the reliable and precise manufacture of organ pipes. These – set in an imposing housing – are still extant today in numerous churches in Bavaria, Switzerland and in Germany, which they enrich with their sonorous, typical and honest sounding character. The upheavals following the war drove the family Hofbauer up to Göttingen in Lower Saxony. Here, in this delightful university town near the north border of Hessen, adjacent to the Harz mountains, Carl Hofbauer built the company up anew. The organ-builder of Göttingen was able to deliver the first pipes at the beginning of 1946.
The company developed superbly, every customer is impressed and convinced by the quality of this company. Carl Heinz Hofbauer, the only son, was at that time a student in natural sciences at the Georgia Augusta, that university of rich traditions. At the beginning of the 50’s he has to climb into the parental business due to his father’s illness. His first, so to speak, compulsory contact with this wonderful “music-mechanical arts-handicraft” never lets go of the student. The apprentice- and journeyman years pass quickly and in 1955Germany’s youngest organ-builder-master receives his certificate of mastership.
Start of a new development. Carl Heinz Hofbauer is his father’s successor and, from the beginning, finds himself confronted by a completely new era in German organ-building.
Carl Heinz Hofbauer, marked by a permanent drive to newer and further developments, with the constant need to activate and enrich the organ and everything around this “Queen of the Instruments”, shows plainly in which direction organ-building is going. The Varia organ, a pipes organ out of a building set surprised the organ world in the 70’s. A possibility for a true pipes organ to compete effectively against the electronic organ.
The development of the organo-coders and of the organo-players was revolutionary. With these, Carl Heinz Hofbauer revealed a composition- and arrangement assistant for organists, with which they could record organ works of their own compositions at will in many sections.
Not only was the building of pipes and organs developed under Carl Heinz Hofbauer’s direction, his favourite passion for mechanical music woke the barrel organ up out of a deep sleep.
Under his leadership a great number of barrel organs with the data storage system ‘punched tape’ were manufactured. This control form could be termed a ‘computer’ at the times. Hofbauer recognized that at a very early date.
Through the adoption of the ‘chip’ as data storage system he was able to store the directive controls on this new carrier in an unsuspected way and with enormous success.
As early as the year 1980 the new Varia organ was fitted with electronic controls. In a short period of time, the House of Hofbauer was able to install this electronic control in a barrel organ by means of continuous development.
Both possibilities were realized first of all, the one with electronic control, the other with the ‘punched-tape’ system. By these means a later alteration of the ‘punched-tape’ to electronic control could take place.
But the many advantages of the electronic system – for example lesser air requirements, simple operation, better quality of music – led to a smaller demand for the punched-card system so that prodution was discontinued.
Christian Möller, arranger continuously in the House of Hofbauer since 1980, found unguessed possibilities in the digital design records of Carl Heinz Hofbauer. The original instrument is audibly played and all movements of the individual keys are stored. These are then, as is the case with an electric church organ, returned exactly to the instrument by magnets. Single instruments can then be recorded separately and then, in mutual availability, combined variously in playback. The result is live music on traditional instruments.
As in today’s modern computer world, under Carl Heinz Hofbauer the development of mechanical music does not stand still.
The modern control- and storage system Mikrobox 2000 was developed in the House of Hofbauer in the mid 90’s. This system is more modern and easier to operate than its predecessor, in line with the development of the computer systems of the years. More information under the category Mikrobox 2000.
Since their marriage in the year 1972 Carl Heinz Hofbauer was assisted by his wife Edeltraut Hofbauer. At the beginning she helped only in her free time, since she was still employed by the Gothaer Insurance Company. In the year 1985 she came officially into the firm and worked in the main on the production of the music boxes. She is also responsible for the choice of music for the arranger to record in the repertoire.
As the widow of Carl Heinz Hofbauer, who died in the year 2000, she takes over the management of the company immediately after his death. Full of energy and with determination she is leading the company according to his vision.
She is always open for new developments, under her leadership a new small ’20 barrel organ’ was developed, whose sound volume is not inferior to that of her big sister.
Edeltraut Hofbauer has been supported by Uwe Böning, electronic engineer and employee in the company, since 1991. He was officially designated by her at the 80 years company jubilee as her successor.