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« Tuna 2 / 2018

The Tragedy of the Destruction of the Helme and Paistu Organs by Pagan Lithuanians in 1329

The story of the destruction of organs in the Helme and Paistu parish churches in 1329 has made its way into many texts on the music history of Estonian territories, including newer reference books in English and German. This story, which is improbable in the sense of music history, could raise the Estonian territories to a very distinguished position in the context of the European history of the organ. This article critically analyses the source of this story, the description from 1366 by the Livonian Order chronicler Hermann von Wartberge, and demonstrates that the document’s historical context and wording does not nevertheless support the idea that instruments resembling organs could have been found in the above-mentioned churches.