The Hidden Orchestra

Located in the eighteenth-century church of San Pietro, one of the oldest buildings in Trapani, Sicily, the monumental organ was built by Francesco La Grassa (1802-1868) from Palermo, Sicily, in eleven years. Its construction, commissioned by the Archpriest Salvatore Mauro, began in 1836 and ended in 1847. Self-taught and illiterate, Francesco La Grassa -who founded a dynasty of organ builders active in the nineteenth century in Sicily- began his career as an apprentice carpenter, interested in mechanics and sound reproduction. The organ of the church of San Pietro is his absolute masterpiece.

If each organ is unique, since the sound it produces depends on the workmanship and the environment for which it is designed, the La Grassa Organ is undoubtedly more unique than the others. It is in fact an extremely complex instrument, equipped with seven keyboards and eighty registers which operate five thousand pipes. Usually an organ can be played by a single performer, while six players -and therefore twelve hands- are required to make the most of the potential of the La Grassa Organ.

Therefore this incredible instrument communicates extraordinary musical sensations, since it immerses the listener in a visual and above all sonic experience that has no response worldwide.

Francesco La Grassa had designed the instrument to reproduce a very wide range of sounds, from brass to oboes, from drums to cymbals, from strings like violin and cello to bagpipes and human voice. For this reason it can be fully defined as a Hidden Orchestra: the twelve hands create many musical harmonies which, combined together, produce the same effect as an orchestra.

The work was entirely conducted by Francesco La Grassa and his sons, also as regards to the allegorical ornament of the façade. Every detail was taken care of by the manufacturer, who covered the carpentry, metalworking and various woods that make up the pipes, as well as the leather needed for the bellows, the finishing of the individual keys and the entire tuning.
Precisely because of the complexity of its construction, the organ requires continuous and thorough maintenance. Above all, to get back to life, it needs to be played and loved, like all musical instruments.

Listen to an performance on the organ

Riproduci video
Claudio Brizi THE HIDDEN ORCHESTRA CD Trailer Schumann Op. 54 - Piano and 12 hands organ

If you want to know more

  • Alcune Testimonianze documentarie sull’Organaria Siciliana tra il 1600 e il 1800, Giov. Battista Vaglica, Abadir
  • L' organo a sette tastiere di Francesco La Grassa nella Chiesa di S. Pietro a Trapani di V. Regina, Alcamo
  • Schöne Orgeln: Baugeschichte - Klang - Prospektgestaltung di Franz Josef Stoiber, 2018 Laaber Verlag

Vote the Monumental Organ "La Grassa" as a Place of the Heart

It is possible to vote for the Monumental Organ “La Grassa” as a FAI Place of the Heart (Fund for the Italian Environment) and thus allow it to receive a contribution towards its protection.

Click on the “Vote Now!” to enter the project page: you will find the orange button “VOTE WITH 1 CLICK!”. You must register on the FAI website before voting. You can do this very easily by logging in with Facebook, or by entering Name, Surname, a valid email Address and a Password. In both cases, you will receive an email from FAI, with an ACTIVATE button, to confirm activation. At this point you can access the MyFai site with the newly created credentials and complete your vote. Once the vote is complete, FAI sends a confirmation email, forward it to contact@lagrassa.info to stay in touch, we will inform you about upcoming concerts and initiatives.  You can consult below two detailed guides to register and vote.

Thanks for your contribution!

Registration guide with Facebook (recommended)

myFAI registration guide

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