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Mander Organs

MusingMuso

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About MusingMuso

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  • Birthday 25/08/49

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    Male
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    Keighley, W.Yorks
  • Interests
    Far too many, but including music (naturally), occasional recitalist when the muse takes me, organ history, motor-sport, photography, writing, politics, finance, engineering, collecting funny stories, driving very large trucks, travel, Eastern European music, steam trains, cinema organs and psychology. Love my cats "Twinkle" and "Freckle"
  1. John Compton

    Thank you for those details about the elctricity supply, much of which I knew, but by no means all. I would hasten to add that some organ-builders used gas engines and low voltage dynamos to secure a steady (presumably) DC supply. I've mentioned this previously, many moons ago, but an horrific memory was entering the blower plant.....yes plant is the right word.....at a Methodist church in Rochdale. This consisted of a huge crank mechanism and feeders; all of which needed to be lubricated periodically. Driving all this was a large DC motor, and in the corner of the room was a mercury arc rectifier, which flashed and spat as the needle bounced over the surface of the conductive mercury bath enclosed in a flask. It was like something out of the movie Frakenstein, and to a 15 year old, quite intimidating. I'm not sure when this contraption was installed, because the organ was a 19th century Binns, but it was proof enough that the lecky supply had changed after the installation of the blower mecahnism; possibly converted from a previous water-engine or something. Now if you want to know something rather amusing and, at the same time, definitive, you need to know something about Compton's right hand man, Jimmy Taylor (the inventor of the electric combination capture system). "Jimmy" Taylor enjoyed a very close working relationship with A H Midgley of C A Vanderwell; presumably after he had resigned his directorship with CAV when it became CAV-Lucas. In a recorded interview, ex-Compton employee, Roy Skinner, mentioned that "they got on very well together" and refers to "a meeting of minds". Well, if you pour through all the patents relating to A H Midgley as inventor, you will discover an awful lot; most concerned with auto-electrical parts and control systems, quite a few to do with pipe organs, and some concerned with electronic instruments. He probably pre-dated Hammond in the quest for sine-wave synthesis, using tone-wheel generators inspired by Cahill in America. He even had the tone-generators spinning at different speeds through a similar gear-train to that formulated by Hammond. For whatever reason, Hammond managed to get his patent accepted first, but there may well have been some skulduggery involved, because Midgley was ahead of him. However, he was clearly an auto-electrical man, and probably fascinated by automobiles. So too was Jimmy Taylor,(your local Nottinghamshire genius) judging by an interesting patent in his name, which reveals a design for an automatic gearbox. I just get the impression that the Compton people just delighted in ideas, inventions and whatever crazy thing they could dream up next. It's amazing to think that one was the son of a draper (as was John Compton), and the other was the son of a humble church caretaker. Whatever happened to PROPER education? MM
  2. Bats in the Bourdon

    Why did I think of this?
  3. Bats in the Bourdon

    =========================== Go to the back of the class and face the wall. That was far too clever! MM
  4. John Compton

    Here we are, a decade and more down the line, and believe it or not, the work on the Compton Co., still continues unabated. How time flies! I think it might be fair to suggest that I now have all the information at my fingertips, and writing has not only started, but has now reached in excess of 100 pages. I'm not sure I could call myself an historian; more a forensic scientist! The great difficulty has been to verify everything in an unusual way, which for the most part, involves secondary rather than primary sources; sifting through evidence, anecdotes, known facts, specific instruments, exisiting instruments and a mass of minor details. The research and forensic thread has now been running for over twelve years, but it's now coming together. A few random points of interest, which may be of considerable interest to such as Dr Colin Pykett. Having ploughed through a whole virtual encyclopedia of material, I learned something very interesting about the development of the Compton organ style. It was only partially the work of John Compton, who was really the experimental, tonal genius behind it all. Obviously, he knew about organ-building, and so too did Jimmy Taylor, but the REAL mastermind was Albery Henry Midgley, whom I've mentioned before. The discovery of his papers sheds a fascinating light on a fascinating age, when technologists learned their craft the hard way, in the world of work. That is as much a statement of the age as anything, and in the case of A H Midgley, it turns out that he was born in Huddersfield, where his father was a draper and importer of drapery products.A H Midgley showed an early interest in all things electrical and engineering, and went to what was the Bradford Technical school, having won a scholarship to study there. He was an outstanding pupil apparently; winning many awards on the way. After leaving school, probably around the age of 15 (I would have to check), he started working for an electrical contractor in Bradford, and then moved to London, where he worked in air-conditioning and air-extraction for a well established firm in the Southwark area. From the start, he was inventive and seriously ambitious; so much so, that he was soon establishing his own business and importing tings from Germany. Within perhaps a decade (I haven't the exact dates to hand) he was a founding director of the C A Vanderwell company, serving the needs of the growing automobile industry, and for anyone who knows about vehicles from that age (Cecil Clutton would have known!) the Vanderwell family were the main suppliers of a vast range of automobile equipment. C A Vanderwell became a huge concern in the Acton area; employing thousands of people in due course. It was eventually taken over, to form the nucleus of Lucas Industries, with manufacturing facilities spread across the UK. An organist and organ enthusiast, as well as a seriously gifted engineer and electrical engineer, it seems that there was some sort of row during the Lucas takeover, and by then Technical Director at C A Vanderville, he resigned the board and went his own way. Clearly a man to seek out, it wasn't long before Midgley joined the Compton board and acted as Technical Director, and at this point, it was he who put his mind to developing the control systems of the extension organ, which included both cinema theatre-organs and their more classical counterparts, even though they shared a great deal between them. Not only that, he brought the expertise of modern industry to bear, and caused outrage among organ-builders, by adopting mass production techniques and introducing more modern materials such as Bakelite. In his spare time, Midgley was designing bomb fuses, which he later specialised in after resigning from the Compton firm. The new venture was called Midgley-Harmer Ltd., and whilst the jury is still out as to whether he invented the delay fuses for the bouncing bomb, he certainly was responsible for the fuses of other epic pieces of military fireworks, such as the Tallboy bomb. To add to the intrigue, Midgley went, in a very limited period of time, from humble servant to highly respected inventor, and in material terms, from a terraced house in Huddersfield, to large, detached properties in London. It was in one of these that his first 100 stop house organ was installed; built by the Compton company of course. That first instrument was superceded by a second instrument, and the first one was to become the still extant organ of St Luke's, Chelsea. Add to all this the tonal genius of Compton, the electronics genius Leslie Bourn, the genius of Jimmy Taylor and the financial genius of the industrialist J Martin-White (one time president of the Organ Club) and what Compton's had was a dream team of incredibly multi-talented and highly capable people. What a hot-house of ideas that must have been. So, we plough onwards and upwards, still gathering information, but more importantly, making sense of what I have got, in such a way that the information is verified as true and reliable. MM
  5. Grand Hotel Pupp Karlovy Vary

    If you do not already know, a certain Johann Sebastian Bach stayed in this hotel while accompanying his employer, Prince Leopold. and wile he was there, his first wife died in 1720. I do a talk about Eastern Europe, and the influence of Bach on Bohemian music is considerable; so much so, that while the classical style (typified by Moazrt) was in full swing, the organist/composer Josef Ferdinan Seger (who was 6 when Bach died), was still writing in baroque style until around 1790. (So much for the accuracy of history books). I'm not sure if it wasn't Karlovy Vary where Bach arrived with a clever fold-up harpsichord.
  6. Loudest Tubas

    The musicality of the Leeds PC organ never fails to impress. I remember it well when it was pure H & H, and it sounded much like any other H & H of the period, but in the deadest of acoustics. Then changes started to occur as fashion moved away from the Edwardian ideal. It is remarkable, that over the years, this organ has changed quite a lot, but it has never lost the remarkable musicality of the original. There is no doubt about it, but that the Leeds organ is a triumph of the voicer's art over acoustics. The following extract is from the Leeds PC website:- " Much of the voicing was in the skilled hands of long-serving Parish Church Lay Clerk and Principal Tenor Brian Wilson (1928-2010), whose skill in integrating the new pipework with the old has been universally admired."
  7. Loudest Tubas

    People insist on creating "solutions" to the York Minster "problem". The problem is simply that the organ is on the screen, and it has to cross a gulf almost exactly the size of St Lauren's, Alkmaar, but with the added delight of a tower space acting as a black-hole. Put the organ and choir at the west end!
  8. Loudest Tubas

    Yes....I'd forgotten that line. Thanks for reminding me of it.
  9. Loudest Tubas

    Going back to Tubas, no-one has mentioned St George's Hall, Liverpool. The big Tuba is a big sound. However, Liverpool Cathedral and York Minster do not have the big Tubas extended down to 16ft pitch, yet the organ of Hull City Hall does. I've never heard a 16ft octave bark and roar like that does; all voiced fairly flat-out on 20" wind. MM
  10. Arthur Butterworth (1923-2014)

    I feel slightly ashamed that knowledge of Arthur Butterworth's death evaded me, so as an ex-brass pupil of his, I was also as shocked as someone should be when someone has died at such a great age. I rather hated my school, and disliked most of my teachers, yet I can say with certainty, that it was the stupendous school-choir, the excellent and amiable music teacher and the superlative brass teaching of Arthur Butterworth which made life tolerable fifty years or so ago. He must have taught well, because he managed to get me up to standard in quite a short time, to the extent that I joined the Yorkshire Youth Orchestra playing Eb Tuba. I was especially delighted to learn that Arthur was never an "establishment" sort of person. He was probably far too bright for that sort of thing. Sad and belated news it may be, but we can at least delight in his wonderful legacy.
  11. Hand-operated Devices For Moving Swell Shades

    Anyway, if we just have roll-player attachments installed, it frees the hands up for all sorts of other things. What fun we could have in the happy-clappy age!
  12. Hand-operated Devices For Moving Swell Shades

    No-one has mentoned the crescendo at the beginning of the Reubke Sonata on the 94th Psalm, where there is a crescendo while both feet are occupied. Going back year and years, I vaguely recall the late Stephen Bicknell mentioning a device on certain German instruments, where a hitch down pedal kept the swell box shut, but a weight closed the box when the hitch down pedal was moved. I seem to recall that the speed of the opening was controlled by a knob, which presumably controlled some sort of friction clutch. Don't quote me, but it sound plausible. MM
  13. Cor Edskes

    A very sad day indeed. My rough(ish) translation of the news from the Netherlands:- On monday, september 7, 2015 the internationally renowned organologist Cor Edskes died in the nursing home in which he had lived during the past year. Cornelius H. Edskes was born in 1925 in Groningen, and received his first organ lessons fromJohan van Meurs, organist of the Groningen Der Aakerk. Later he studied under others, including George Strain, Flor Peeters and Helmut Walcha. In 1940 he was appointed as organist of the Reformed Church in Uithuizen, and two years later he was organist of the Doopsgezinde municipality, Groningen. In the latter post he completed more than sixty years. In 1954, he became the organ advisor of the Dutch Reformed Church, and for the next nine years assistant to the foremost organ advisor Hendrik L. Oussoren. After a number of years, his influence was felt outside the Netherlands. He masterminded numerous restorations and construction projects, including those in the Doopsgezinde Church Groningen (1961), the New Church in Amsterdam (1981), the Domkirke to Roskilde (1991) and the St. -Jacobi chuch Hamburg (1993). He worked closely with the organ-builders Jurgen Ahrend and the Danish Marcussen firm. Edskes was a frequent contributor to the Netherlands publication "Het Orgel", (1954-57) and later became editor-in-chief during the period 1957-1963. In the next number of 'Het Orgel' there will be a full tribute.
  14. Just out of curiosity …

    Just for the record, I looked up All Soul's, Blackman Lane, Leeds on NPOR, and the entry seems a bit "prepared for". Fortunately, I found this on Wikipedia, which seems to have a ring of truth to it. The organ was built in 1877 by Abbott and Smith, and restored in 1906 and 1938 by the same builder. It was restored by Wood Wordsworth and Co in 1976, and by John T Jackson in 1997. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.[1] The ornate organ case was carved by A. Crawford Hick. It's the 1877 date which is the significant bit, for it places the origins of the instrument firmly in the era of Isaac Abbott. Tragically, many (if not most) of the old Isaac Abbott organs have been destroyed, and many re-built beyond recognition, but there are a few survivors. MM
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