The organ’s first “outing” was on the occasion of another premiere: on 10 November 1872, Johannes Brahms directed his first concert for the Gesellschaft in his new role as Concert Director. For the central work of this programme, Händel’s “Dettinger Te Deum”, Brahms’ setting called for the continuo, for which the organ now came into use. Five days’ later came the inaugural “organ concert” for the instrument itself. For this occasion, Josef Weilen was commissioned to produce a celebratory poem, performed by Burgtheater actor Josef Lewinsky: “So brause Orgel mächtigen Choral,/ Durch diesen stolzen kunstgeweihten Saal,/ Wie aus der höhern Welt ein Mahnungsruf …” and after Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata in d minor, performed by the Dresden organist Carl August Fischer, Anton Bruckner gave an improvised performance in all registers.
Before long, however, the organ’s technical innovations proved to be problematic. General secretary Leopold Alexander Zellner, who was also an acoustician, organist and composer, examined the organ himself, and attempted various experiments and improvements. “One could find Master Zellner at all times…in his hidden laboratory, where he…devoted himself like a medieval master student to the secret service of the organ“, according to Robert Hirschfeld’s book “Geschichte der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde”. In 1880 Zellner gave up and noted: “All my own work, but now I have had enough”