Thomas Rohlfs

About Me

My organbuilding career started over 40 years ago as an organbuilding apprentice in my native North Germany in 1978 with Andreas Andresen, Kiel, a small organ workshop, building tracker instruments. During that time I also attended the Organ Building College in Ludwigsburg, Germany becoming a journeyman in 1982.

In the years following my apprenticeship I gained knowledge and expertise in voicing and tonal finishing, tuning and maintenance and the installation of several new pipe organs while I was with Emil Hammer Orgelbau in Arnum, near Hannover, Germany.

1988 St. Godehard Catholic Church, Hannover, Germany 3/39, new installation
1988 Zu Den Heiligen Engeln, Hanover-Kirchrode 2/20, new installation
1989 Kreuzkirche, Nienburg, Germany 2/24, new installation

Travel brought me to New Zealand in 1985-86 and I immigrated there in 1989. Working with instruments of mainly British origin I was involved with the restoration of some major historic instruments in New Zealand and in Australia while I was with the SIOC, Timaru.

1985 Sacred Heart Catholic Basilica, Timaru      2/26, 1912 Hobday
1986 Wellington Town Hall      4/57, 1906 Norman & Beard
1990 St. Luke's Anglican, Christchurch      3/30, 1883 Bishop/1909 Norman & Beard
1991 St. Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian, Christchurch      3/32, 1905 Hill
1993 St. Mary Star of the Sea, West Melbourne, Australia      3/38, 1900 Fincham

In 1994 I started my own business in Wellington, New Zealand and was soon awarded the tuning and maintenance contract for the Wellington Anglican Cathedral. Other contracts soon followed and by 1999 I looked after nearly fifty instruments on a regular basis. In 1997 I was awarded the tuning contract for the new Rieger organ in Christchurch ahead of the well-established competition. I also was the curator for the Gebr. Reil organ at Victoria University (now New Zealand School of Music), Wellington.

During my time in New Zealand I have tuned instruments for concerts of organists such as Dame Gillian Weir, John Scott, Christopher Herrick, David Titterington and many others. Furthermore I also prepared the instruments for three CD recordings:

1997 Let The Pealing Organ Blow - Martin Setchell      Rieger organ, Christchurch Town Hall, Ode CD MANU1539
1999 Transport de joie - Philip Walsh      Wellington Cathedral, Trust Records CD MMT2014
2003 Bonbons for Organ II - Martin Setchell      Rieger organ, Christchurch Town Hall, CD ATOLL603

With the lack of substantial work in New Zealand and the desire to return to building new instruments I moved to Canada to work for Hellmuth Wolff. While in Canada I was involved in the finishing stages of the restoration of the 1790 England & Son organ for the Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City and the building of two large new instruments.

2004 Holy Trinity Cathedral, Quebec City, QC, Canada      1/7, 1790 England & Son, London, restoration
2005 Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC, Canada      4/61, new instrument
2006 University of North Texas, Dallas      4/58, new instrument
2006 Palais Montcalm, Quebec City, QC, Canada        1/5, new Positif organ

In 2006 my wife Tania and I received the US Green Card and we settled in Rocky Mount, Virginia, where I took up a position with QLF Custom Pipe Organ Components. In 2010 I joined the team of Taylor & Boody Organ Builders in Staunton, Virginia until 2013 as Technical Designer during the building of their largest instrument for Grace Church in New York, NY.

Rohlfs Pipe Organ Services was initially founded in 2008 to provide tuning and maintenance services in Southwest Virginia. Since then the business has grown considerably and I am servicing an increasing number of pipe organs in the larger Southwest Virginia.

I am a member of the American Institute of Organbuilders (AIO), the Organ Historical Society (OHS) and the American Theater Organ Society (ATOS).

Scroll to top