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Mander Organs

MusingMuso

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Everything posted by MusingMuso

  1. Something I overlooked when releasing the Compton tome, was to pay tribute to all those (some no longer with us) who contributed so much. Even tiny bIts of information have been useful in building up the narrative and gaining an insight into the Compton company and its achievements. So to all who have tirelessly followed what must have been the longest thread in the history of the Mander Discussion Forum, a very heartfelt Thank You. MM
  2. I've just reminded myself.....if that is possible..... that there is a rather nice Piano/Organ concerto thingy, written by Flor Peeters, which I've never heard live. It was recorded many moons ago by Ron Perrin and his wife Mary (piano)....probably at Ripon when he was there. I think I've got the LP somewhere. It isn't in the stratosphere technique wise, and it's well worth looking at it. I have the music as well........somewhere. 😕 MM
  3. I also recall a recital by Jane Parker-Smith at Leeds Town Hall, during a massive storm. Simon Lindley greeted me at the door and said, "Sorry about the heavy wind obbligato!" MM
  4. For all the transcriptionistas out there, THIS is how to do it! One console.....a few different instruments....one heck of a technique. You could also listen to this while eating a Pizza, but I digress,
  5. You were beaten to the draw. I've re-listed it again. I go out to the shops and come back to a scene of chaos. The demand is far higher than I anticipated, I'm afraid.
  6. Someone really messed it up, by bidding higher than the Buy it now price, which means that it has to run as an auction for the next 5 days. However, not to be outsmarted, I've listed it again slightly differently (which circumnavigates the rules of e-bay ). Just search for COMPTON ORGANS. However, there is a further problem, in that a whole paragraph is missing on p126 (I wonder if anyone has noticed?) What I'm doing is burning a new CD and sending that out, and hopefully, I can send out replacements for those who have already got the disc. (Quite an expensive file error!) If anyone who has bought a disc would like to save me money, they could contact me via e-mail, and I can send the corrected file back via e-mail. I'm on camitch49@yahoo.com MM PS: There's one on ebay currently.
  7. Here's another fine organ and a good organ work to enjoy. Hungary once again!
  8. I'm very pleased to be able to say that I DO know a bit about Polish Organs ( as well as Czech ones) because I spent about a year gathering evidence for a talk I gave about the Eastern Eurpean organ world. I knew nothing when I began, but the more I learned, the more delighted I was by what I discovered. I only covered three countries....Poland, Czech Rep., and Hungary....more than enough for a lifetime. It isn't just the organs; fine as they often are. It's also the music, and especially music being written in Hungary, where a really fine organ scene has emerged in a single generation, with some outstanding perfomers and very gifted composers. Try this for size......ALL FROM MEMORY. (There are two videos)
  9. There's no real mystery to the demise of the Compton firm. Jimmy Taylor died, and he had more or less run the company until 1957 or 1958 (I forget which without checking). The very profitable cinema organ market was dead in the water by that time, and they never really adapted until it was too late and other companies (J W Walker, H,N & B were embracing the new classical style). I suspect that when J I Taylor died, the financial director Eric Broad (as well as other directors) obviously saw the electronic market as the more profitable option. The appointment of Arthur Lord (an ABC cinemas staff organist) to the position of General Manager, was obviously confirmation of that course. Let's not forget, both Albert Midgley and the Walker brothers had ceased to be directors by (I seem to recall) 1939 and doubtless cashed in their shares when the cinema organ market collapsed with the onset of wartime. Let's not forget that the pipe-organ side of the company was taken over by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1964, and it had been run down for quite some time before. I'm quite sure that the "top brass" wanted rid of it in 1957. Unfortunately, there was little development with the electronics, and when the mass market for such things emerged, Compton's just couldn't compete with foreign and UK competitors. Still, it wasn't all bad news, because it was ex-Compton men who started out on their own, to form Deegens & Rippen (later Grant, Deegen & Rippen) and we know how serious they were about the neo-classical style. I think we just have to accept that the company was on the skids from around 1960 or thereabouts....under funded, a high cost factory, a diminshed market and workmen who just started to drift off elsewhere. Not even a stand at the Ideal Homes Exhibition, the Strand Lighting consoles, a space heater and a folding caravan could save the day, and let's niot mention the fraudulent lottery they ran, where the winner was announced even before the draw was made. MM
  10. Compton's were so organised, they could install a 10 ranks cinema organ in just two weeks! Standardised "modules" were at the heart of their success, and made organ-building a VERY profitable undertaking. Unless the aim is to build a neo-classical, bespoke tracker-action instrument, there's much to be learned from "modular" methods of manufacture and construction. MM
  11. I wouldn't want to question that statement....it's too early and I never argue before tea-time. However, I think it was probably the "Augmentum" organ that went down that path, though I may be wrong. Interestingly, when I was very young, I went to the Liverpool IAO Congress, and we were invited both the Willis works and the Rushworth & Dreaper works, at just about the time that R & D had taken over the Compton organ-building interests. They had a small 'model' organ of thir own, which clearly owed a lot to the Miniaturas, but without the gorgwous casework. Although not quite Arp Schnitger, it was quite a chirpy thing, and quite suitable for baroque music. It was around the time that R & D built the new organ at Mold PC with tracker action, and various re-builds and new instruments which were clearly influenced by the neo-classical movement. It was 'Bach to the future' in those days, and I actually wonder if the congress attendees actually appreciated the genius behind the organ at the Anglican Cathedral, which is still one of the great organs of the world. If I don't feed the cats, I will probably be found partially eaten. I hate mornings! MM
  12. Great craftsmanship and sound engineering principles are always handed down; father to son or masters to apprentices. It's what built Britain and the rest of Europe, and I quite agree, it IS beautiful and moving to inspect and admire. I recall my brother telling me a "craft story", of a quite elderly blast-furnace man, who took him up to the top of a smelt. My borther was armed with a spectrometer, but the old man just kept spitting on the smelt; briefly raising his protective face shield. My brother watched his instrument, and announced that the smelt was ready to tap, but the old man said, "Not quite". My brother checked his instrument, and realised that it had been calibrated incorrectly. The old man gave the order, and the smelt was poured. My brother asked how he knew it was at exactly the right temperature, the old man said, "Well, when I spit onto the smelt, I can tell from the sizzle it makes and the speed it goes across the top of the liquid metal" He was absolutely spot-on, after years of experience doing the same thing day in and day out. That's craftsmanship in action! MM
  13. We're so used to big scale Open Woods at 32ft, we tend to forget that the great hall-churches allow sound to bloom and develop, and even a failry subtle 32ft metal open makes its presence felt down in the body of the church, due to the unrestricted werkprinzip layout. Nothing at Haarlem shouts or dominates.....it sings like no other I can bring to mind. Furthermore, none of the sound has to crawl around the Swell Box, find a suitable arch through which to escape and then aisles in which to get lost. Like the famous lager, the Bavo-orgel is "probably" still the best in the world, but it has a lot of competition, just in the Netherlands. MM
  14. How very kind of you to give the book the thumbs up. I could probably fill a large truck with the material on the cutting-room floor. Everything which is in the book has at least two or more sources of reliable information, but not necessairly from readily available documented sources.....this has been the 'devil' in trying to set it all out and present it as a reliable whole. However, it was the late Stephen Bicknell who first drew my attention to John Compton's love (obsession?) of tonal synthesis and harmonic build-up, and long before the Bournemouth Pavilion organ, he had in his workshop an experimental "test rig" with seemingly the most bizarre harmonics in the tonal line-up. Stephen actually suggested that JC was one of the prime movers behind the 'organ reform' movement, because he wasn't afraid of mixtures and mutations, and used them very artistically; even when drawn from other ranks or, as was sometimes the case, extending the Mixtures upwards and calling them Cymbals (the same as drawing an octave coupler). This is why I included as much as practicable from John Compton's own pen, because he really was quite the intellectual. Of course, long before "organ reform" dominated the agenda, everyone got very excited by the theories of Helmholz and his explanation of musical sounds being based on amalgams of pure sine-waves, and like the eternal schoolboy, John Compton never stopped trying our this and that and, above all, USING HIS EARS! It has been an enormous task; often a burden. However, from out of the book has come a deep personal respect for the things Mr Compton and his team achieved, and having played recitals at Hull City Hall (re-build) and St Bride's (all new Compton) it is wonderful to see how the style changed with the times. The later Comptons have so much more light and considerably less dark than such as Southanmpton Guildhall. On the wider front, organists and organ-builders contributed so much to wartime endeavour, and if A H Midgley fiddled around with bomb fuses (possibly including the bouncing bomb), the likes of Sir Bernard Lovell were deeply involved in radar. Then along comes Maurice Forsyth-Grant, and puts his expertise into helping to found a small company working on microwave telecommunications. They called it Vodafone! What an amazing generation! MM
  15. How, I wonder, does a modular organ differ from the idea of a unit extension organ? Crawl around any purpose-built Compton organ (not the Muggle variety, where old organs have been re-built) and you would find separate pipe units of almost identical construction, placed in neat rows, side by side. It doesn't take much imagination to see how such separate units could be placed on wheels, and rolled around to create almost anything you want. I think I would call such an instrument "L'Orgue de Lego". Let's see if I can find a photograph....... Each of the units has its own wind-supply or one shared with another unit. Often, the only difference between one unit and the next, is restricted to the top-boards, which are drilled to accept particular types of pipes. The same idea doesn't need to be restricted to extension organs. It could be used in perfectly straight situations.
  16. I love theatre organs when they're played well and I have been known to dabble myself. No, what I was referring to was being caught out by the volume of sales in such a short time. I would expect the theatre/cinema organ enthusiasts to be the main market for anything Compton. It's been quite a task getting them all out. Now I have to get another batch duplicated. I think I'm now down to 8 left in the box, and that works out at 42 CD's moved in just 9 days. The "Oh dear" comment was a sigh of self pity. MM
  17. Harrison's of that vintage always sound the same! 😎 I've heard some delightful stories about the British travelling organs, owned by Pattman and Reginald Foort. I think it was Pattman who used British Rail, and on numerous occasions, the organ console would arrive, with most of the pipework, but sometimes the Swell (or some other) division would be stranded in Crewe or somewhere. I know that Foort had a small fleet of trucks, so perhaps he was forewarned of the problems with railways. As Oscar Wylde may have said, "To lose one pipe is indeed unfortunate, but to lose eleven is downright careless" A little known factoid for you. Both the Foort organ (Moller) and the Pattman Harrison, were both briefly united, when they were stored simultaneously at the King's Hall, Harrogate. Don't ask me how I know this, but I do. MM
  18. Well, certain people have used Polyphones in new organs; including Walter Holtkamp at St Paul's, Cleveland, who travelled over to see John Compton. Also, they only went down to low EEEE, because JC realised that very low pitch definition is almost impossible with wooden 32ft basses, and playing bottom E for all the lowest 5 notes made little difference. With a metal rank or 32ft reed, the harmonics make that idea redundant, and off the top of my head, I can't think of any 32ft polyphone metal ranks. We may sneer at Diaphones these days, but they fit into small spaces and can be tamed to just purr away nicely rather than warn shipping of impending doom. MM
  19. Oh dear! The theatre organ people have got wind of it. What started as a "tester" is becoming a cottage industry, with 35 copies moved in a single week! I geuinely thought that the first batch would probably be enough for 6 months, but I shall have to order another 50 this next week. 😲 MM
  20. Thanks for the kind comments. From the writing/marketing/publishing point of view, it's important to get the belence right, between things that are topical, things that are technical and things that are musical. I hope I've achieved that balance, to create a readabe whole and tell an interesting story which can appeal to amateur and professional alike. Not an easy task!
  21. I don't do mornings very much! There's one on e-bay as I write. Best of luck MM
  22. My distinct impression of John Compton is that of a quiet, rather reclusive workaholic. There is evidence....lots of it. It was Compton himself who wrote about tonal experiments going back to 1896. Somewhere, I came across a reference to the voicing shop, and a rank of pipes being out of tune, because JC had been in there experimenting with different temperaments late into the night. There is a patent for an enharmonic organ Compton wrote about a Tibia rank he created......"I made and remade the pipes many times" Then there are the 32ft cubes, based on the Ocarina and Helmholtz resonators, the bi-phonic pipes, the Harmonics of 32ft, the synthetic registers....it's quite a list, and they couldn't have happened overnight. I think it was at Northill in Bedfordshire, where Compton used a sliding mouth arrangement to get the speech of bi-phonic pipes right. He experimented with Diaphones, and wrote a quite lengthy article about them. I suspect that a lot of this was done late at night, when everyone had gone home, but I can't prove that. What I do know, is that Compton was a tonal genius, and that's where his real interest lay. As for 'venture capital', I don't think Martin White needed the money. I suspect that he was a passionate amateur with a bee in his bonnet about orchestral organs. I would also add, that alongside the partnership of Compton and Harry Smith Mills during the period spent at Measham, there was another coompany known as "The extension organ company" operating from the same address. I think there was one organ bearing the name, but nothing much else. I suspect, but cannot know for certain, that this was the "experimental division" operating separately from the partnership with Mills, possibly as a way of distancing the partnership from the work of Hope-Jones, which was highly controversial at the time. MM
  23. Barry, the relays would almost certainly have been designed by A H Midgley initially, even though he left the Compton company in 1937. The man was a complete genius with all things electrical, and had done design work in telephone systems at GEC. By the time he became a director of the Compton firm (and poured a lot of cash into the company) he was probably worth (in to-day's money) many millions of pounds, having helped found CAV, which became CAV-Lucas Industries.
  24. The evidence is quite compelling Colin. For a start, John Compton's work attracted a lot of interest, even while he was very young. Stephen Bicknell suggested that Compton was experimenting with extreme harmonics even in the 1890's, and while at Brindley's, he was already a voicer and finisher, which covers the period 1898 to 1902 or so. At that time, Brindley's were startiing to introduce more "orchestral" sounds, while retaining good, solid chorus-work. It is very likely, that Compton had a hand in the big 4-manual replacement organ for the one dstroyed by fire at Pietermaritzburg Town Hall in South Africa, which was completed in 1901. Not the best quality, but there are a couple of YouTube videos played on this magnificent instrument......well worth hearing in spite of the recording limitations. Still in his 20's, Compton seems to have had his admirers, and when J Martin White, the wealthy industrialist, had the house organ at Balruddery House re-built by Hope-Jones (whom he supported financially in his many failed ventures), his next choice of beneficiary (when Hope-Jones eloped to America) was John Compton, whom he regarded as being closest to the Hope-Jones style. Martin White continued to support Compton when Compton went solo around 1904, after Fred Musson wandered off to Conacher's. I think it was 1911, when Martin White became a director of the John Compton Ltd., so he was involved, one way or another, over a considerable period. After that, it gets a bit obscure, but A H Midgley seems to have been the dominant influence in London after 1925 and the tie-up with the J W Walker & Sons firm. Compton also had the approval of James I Wedgwood (of the pottery family), who spoke in glowing terms about the beauty of the pipe voicing.
  25. I couldn't agree more. F & A were wonderfully made instruments, but not exactly thrilling tonally, even if they never sound at all bad. I've always regarded the idea of F & A being "disciples of Schulze" as a bit of a joke. Charles Brindley was infinitely better at it! It is known, that both the Minster organ and the City Hall organ in Hull, were revoiced substantially when re-built by Compton, and W C Jones was certainly involved in some of the reeds, if not all of them. I forget who the voicer was at Compton's when they did Hull City Hall, but he did say to an organ enthusiast, that every pipe in the organ "passed through his hands". I know that when I used to play the beast in my Uni Organ Scholar days at Hull, the Swell organ at the City Hall was quite a pathetic affair as compared with the rest of the organ. That was remedied to a large extent by the fitting of additional swell shutters by R & D when they re-built it. Now, after a century or so, the organ sounds absolutely superb, but it took a while to get there. 322222222222222222222222222222222222222222229
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