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The most famous organ workshop in the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
The organ workshop of the Wegenstein family / ISIM building
The organ workshop of the Wegenstein family / ISIM building

Mihai Viteazu Boulevard no. 30

The organ workshop of the Wegenstein family was the most notorious organ workshop in the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

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Carl Leopold Wegenstein arrived in Timișoara in 1881, finding a job in the workshop of the organ and harmony builder Josef Hromadka, whose daughter he married. Due to the fact that in the Hromadka house the space proved to be insufficient, the headquarter of Wegenstein's workshop was moved to the Elisabetin neighborhood. His company was the most modern in the region, being the last large organ builder in Banat. In his workshop, he used, for the first time in this part of Europe, steam machines for making organs, which were later replaced by electric machines. Its organs adorn many churches in Banat, but also in other parts of Romania or the former Danubian monarchy. 122 organs were mentioned in a notebook from 1913, which included all the instruments built by Leopold Wegenstein, but their number exceeded 200, among them the organ of the Catholic Dome from Timișoara. Leopold Wegenstein's company also involved his sons Richard, Iosif and Victor, who continued their father's activity after his death.

In 1948 the company was nationalized and in present times, on the place of the former Wegenstein organ workshop is the building of ISIM (National Institute for Research - Development in Welding and Materials Testing).

The building of the Welding and Materials Testing Institute was built between 1972-1973. It is a modern style building, which accentuates the intersection between Mihai Viteazul and Virgil Oniţiu streets through a cylindrical body, which becomes the vertical dominance of the entire area.



1. Franz Metz, Te deum laudamus. Contributions to the history of church music in Banat, ADZ Publishing House, Bucharest, 1995.
2. Anton Peter Petri, Biographisches Lexikon des Banater Deutschtums, Th. Breit Druck+Verlag Gmbh, Marquartstein, 1992.
3. Mihai Opriș, Small urban monograph, Ed. Tehnică Bucharest, 1987

The organ workshop of the Wegenstein family / ISIM building

Listen to the audio version.

Pia Brînzeu, Family Journal, Manuscript

Stop 13: The Wegensteins’ pipe organ workshop / The ISIM building on Mihai Viteazu Boulevard



May 12, 1842. My great-grandfather’s father, Johann Ludwig Diel, has in front of him a German edition of Shakespeare’s plays. He signs it and adds the year, 1842, determined to take it with him. He is going to set out into the world and wants his grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to read from it as well. Wherever they might be born.

At forty, he has decided to uproot himself and go into the wide world, unhappy with his life in Wetzlar an der Lahn, near Frankfurt. Although his mother, who is almost eighty years old, opposes this departure with all her might, he soon manages to convince her, because the boat down the Danube leaves from Ulm and he has to get there within a month.

“What will our lives there be like?” the old woman asks. What is in store for them, how will they manage, where will they live? He has no idea. The thing is not to worry, to start off with determination, and to confront his destiny. He has a good occupation: he’s a fabric dyer. The blue-indigo in particular, the colour used for the Swabian women’s aprons, will bring him a lot of money. He will find a place where he is the only one and has no competition. He has heard that the Banat lands are very fertile. He will settle in Jimbolia and grow the plant from which the dye is extracted. The technological process is not very complicated, although it implies a series of transformations, starting with boiling the leaves and finishing with the moment when the dye turns blue in contact with the air.

He has heard that in the Banat the sky covers the entire field, which stretches smoothly beneath it, like a carpet. At night, the sky bends in an immaterial, blue-coloured arch, inviting you to sleep outdoors. But the Danube he will travel down on, the waters of springs, the hours and the distances, they are all blue, and if he is not careful, he will also turn blue from too much dyeing. It’s not a problem; he has heard from others better educated than him that people, just like trees, take their colour from the native ground where they are born and, if they move somewhere else, they lose it and a large, empty space opens up in their heart instead. Well, he will turn blue like the dye, because he knows nothing about the new place and its colour. In fact, he has no way of finding out, but he is sure that his horizon will remain blue. And when he looks into the distance, he will feel unusual powers growing inside him, as if he entered a land of wisdom, of intuition, and of courage. He has nothing to fear.

And, of course, he will take his favourite book with him. Especially the first play in the volume, The Tempest, always leaves him pondering. He feels like the magician protagonist, arriving on an unknown island, far from home. He likes to imitate him: he draws a circle around him, as magicians always do to defend themselves from evil spirits. Then he sits down quietly and listens to the noisy voices inside his head. He is mostly haunted by the voices of the dead: the voice of his grandfather, Dietrich Diel, telling him to always turn his eyes inward, because that is where he can find the answer to everything that is bothering him. On the contrary, the voice of his father, Johann Simon Diel, lost many years ago, in 1805, at the same age he is now, urges him to look around and decipher nature. He was too small when his father passed away, he doesn’t remember him anymore, but he knows he would often leave at dawn and walk the forests in search of medicinal herbs.

As for him, he likes theatre plays. And if Prospero decides to toss into the sea his only book, the one containing the magic that was no longer useful to him because he had abjured it, he, Johann, will not part with his magic volume. He will leaf through the pages every time he feels lonely and will leave it as a dying gift to the dearest of his yet unborn children. And this child will also have to pass it on to their grandchildren after they have taught them to listen to the voices full of wonders and surprises on the pages of the old German translation.


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