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MusingMuso

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  1. The cognitive thing is interesting, and I've long maintained that the human brain is particularly sensitive to frequencies in the mid frequencies: possibly something to do the wider animal kingdom as a hunter gatherer. I don't think I described what I did very well, so I'll try and clarify. I used two separate computers and went into two on-line sound generator sources, using sine waves; aware of various possible harmonic distortions etc. I then fed one input to the left ear and the other to the right....in effect binaural, through headphones. I then pitched one source at middle 4ft C, and the other I set at G as 2.2/3 pitch and adjusted it until it was in perfect tune. Then, adjusting just the pitch of the G, I brought it out of tune, until there was a distinct beat. By adjusting the amplitude only of the G, I discovered that the out of tune beat began to fade and then disappear as the volume reduced, yet killing the unison note, the G was still clearly audible, though obviously much quieter than it had been set previously. The thought occurred to me, that Compton (and others) often nicked quite heavily; reducing the upper partials, and I wonder whether that, and the difference in amplitude between a strong unison and a weaker quint, don't combine in such a way as to eliminate the out of tune beats. After all, adding an Unda Maris to full swell would go unnoticed!
  2. Continuing on the Compton research theme, and aimed at Colin Pykett especially, I wonder if a recent experiment I performed has any relevance to Compton's use of derived mutations? When Compton was starting to use nothing but extension, there was quite a lively discourse in the musical press about Quint mutations derived from tempered scale ranks. As we know, when it comes to tuning, they will always sound out of tune compared with dedicated Quint ranks....or do they? In a complicated and convulated path, involving a discussion about radio telescopes, the organist/physicist Sir Bernard Lovell and interferometry, (which Lovell introduced me to personally during a school visit to Jodrell Bank when I was all of 14) I demonstrated how out of tune beats, suitablly triangulated at ground level, can be used as a means of positioning things in space. Now this experiment had all the sophistication of medieval plumbing, but it resulted in something quite unexpected. The technique: Take two different sine-wave generators, switch them on (in this case two computers) and wind up the volume a bit. Then slowly adjust the pitch so that you get a strong out of tune beat....let's call this Le Grande Celeste effect. Quite by accident, while turning down the volume of one source, the beat disappeared completely, yet when I switched off the other sound source, the other, out of tune one, was still quite audible, and certainly not as quiet as, say, a Vox Angelica. Could it be, I wonder, that this is how Compton was able to use derived Quint mutations successfully, using "hearing thresholds" to mask the out of tune pitch? Perhaps it is no co-incidence that many of his derived Mixtures and mutations came from Salicionals, Dulciana ranks and even flute ranks. Even the chorus quints were almost always drawn from third Diapasons or Geigen ranks.
  3. One of the great problems about piecing together all things Compton, is that (a) all the records went up in flames (b) no-one thought it very interesting except Lawrence Elvin and (c) there was quite a lot of misinformation floating around. To give you an example, the time that Compton spent at Lloyds was quite brief, yet one "historian" claims that he completed his apprenticeship there AFTER working at Brindley's, which would have meant a 9 year apprenticeship! Elvin doesn't actually give dates, but at least he got the batting order right.....Halmshaw's, Lloyd's and THEN Brindley's (at a quite critical time it would seem). He certainly completed his apprenticeship at Lloyd's, and quickly moved on. Then comes the problem of when he entered into partnership with Musson, because the official date comes out as 1902, but they had already contracted to build a new organ in 1901, the year before. (This is given as the reason why Compton didn't work for Hope-Jones). Elvin suggests that Hope-Jones "went to see" Compton, and that is perfectly possible, because the rail network made that quite easy. (He worked out of Harry Mills' workshop after the fire of 1907, which was situated in the station yard at Measham). Interestingly, I've been researching what happened after that, and it seems that prior to his move to London, there was yet another fire at the Compton premises, situated in an old "tin tabernacle" on Castle Boulevard, Lenton. By this time, he not only had Mr J Martin White (major industrialist and Liberal politician) on board, but had also befriended A H Midgley from 1914 onwards. I'm no expert in electronic things, but I have a very forensic mind, and if I were wanting to know anything about a company, I would go right back to any patents filed. In the case of the Midgley-Walker organ, which became The Electrophonic Organ Co., and/or Midgley-Leighton (etc), I think you will find that many of the relevant patents also include the name of A H Midgley's son, Albert Morrel Midgley. That's therefore another possible line of pursuit for anyone interested in the history of electronic organs. There was also the Compton/Arthur Lord/Walter Burge connection, not to mention the Compton electrostatic system used by Makin in the early days. Anyway, here is a rather poor quality picture of the organ-works on Castle Boulevard, Lenton, Nottingham, which after being roasted, was taken over by a piano manufacturer.
  4. I find it very sad to think that the free reed Calrinet may have goe at Bridlington, and I'll tell you why. At St Joseph's RC church in Bradford, they had an Anneesens organ in a fairly poor state, but I did at least play what still worked when I was about 15 or 16. I said then, and still maintain now, that the 8ft Clarinet (a free reed) was one of the most beautiful organ sounds I've ever heard. Sadly, that was destroyed when the organ was replaced, just as happened at St Mary's RC, East Parade, in the same city.
  5. I knew they should have banned lead in organ pipes!
  6. I'm still digging at the coal face ie: the John Compton story. I thought I'd just let people know. A few interesting facts and thoughts; some of which have emerged very recently. The first new fact concerns fires. Lawrence Elvin wrote about the Selby Abbey fire which destroyed the newly re-built and enlarged Binns organ, which Compton completed. He also mentioned the stray rocket which set fire to the woodyard and organ works in 1907; resulting in the move the work premises of Harry Smith Mills at Measham. What no-one seems to know, is that there was yet another fire, after Compton had set up on his own, in a converted "tin tabernacle", on the Castle Boulevard at Lenton, Nottingham. This was around 1919; after which he packed his bags and set off to London. For years (quite literally) I've had on file the Grace's Guide reference to John Compton, and it states that there was a partnership between Midgley, Compton and the Walker family, with a view to building his (Midgley's) design of organ. I've always dismissed this as being the time when Compton refused to pursue Midgley's electronic organ design, which resulted in a bit of a spat, and Midgley walking away from the Compton company. Not so, it would seem! I was reading a resume of Midgley's life and work, which is lodged with the Institute of Electrical Engineers (Midgley had the MIEE qualification) and was archived there by his great grandson, a barrister in Bristol. Here is the relevant extract:- Midgley had installed in his home an organ, which he designed and had built by the firm of John Compton Ltd. Now he turned his attention to designing an organ for the firm suitable for use in cinemas and theatres, establishing a new company called John Compton Organ Company in partnership with John Compton and Reginald and Pickering Walker, directors of J W Walker and Sons Ltd another organ building firm. Sales of the new organ boomed and the company prospered. Midgley was associated with this company as technical director until 1937. He also developed an electric organ which was patented in June 1931, and manufactured by Midgley Leighton Ltd until taken over by a new company formed by the Walker brothers and Albert called the Electrophonic Organ Company Ltd. This in turn was taken over by Midgley Electrical Instruments in 1939 when the Walker brothers pulled out of the company. However, the company closed at the onset of the Second World War. My obvious mistake was to assume anything! From what I've read over the years, Midgley was the dominant partner; not surprising, since he would be, in this day and age, a multi-millionaire, having been a founding partner in CAV, which became CAV-Lucas. His list of invetions and achievements is absolutely staggering, and not just in organ-building. My considered view is, that with Compton tonal genius and voicing skills, "Jimmy" Taylor's electrical and mechanical genius (as well as musical ability) and Midgley's record as a manufacturing industrialist and designer, it was the "dream team" in organ-building at the time....well funded, innovative and commerically very savvy.
  7. 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
  8. Why did I think of this?
  9. =========================== Go to the back of the class and face the wall. That was far too clever! MM
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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."
  13. 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!
  14. Yes....I'd forgotten that line. Thanks for reminding me of it.
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. 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!
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. While Norman & Beard seem to be the current hot topic, board members might be interest to know that a very typical instrument from 1916, still exists in the lovely Georgian church of St John's, Bierley, Bradford. It still has the original console, with a single row of stops running horizontally above the top (swell) manual, which one does not pull out. nstead, they are brought into play by a small button, which obviously has some sort of attached rocker, which makes the stops pop out. The stops are cancelled via the stop heads....a curious and slightly disconcerting method of stop control. However, this organ is interesting in having a swell Mixture complete with the Casson inspired Mixture on the Swell, which includes both the Tierce and the b21st. The tonal quality, in typically orchestral style, (but with some concession to upperwork and an attempt at proper choruses), owes a lot to Hope-Jones, but without the drawbacks of that style. In the modest but lively acoustic of the church, the overall effect is really quite magnificent. The reeds are especially fine, and for that reason, I know exactly what Dr Colin Pykett means about the Norfolk organ. There can be no doubt that, whatever the prevailing fashion may now be, Norman & Beard were extremely able organ-builders. MM
  22. I quite agree with David concerning Forster & Andrews. Wonderfully made, usually nicely voiced, often with poor reeds; they were worthy yet tonally average in many ways. At his best, Binns could certainly make an impact, and being a local company, I have known and played dozens of them; often soldiering on for a century without major work. We musn't, I think, overlook Abbott & Smith, who achieved a tonal quality normally the preserve of the top builders. I shall be playing one on Sunday, when I deputise at St Paul's, King's Cross, Halifax, and I know it will be a happy experience, even if I haven't accompanied a psalm for over 15 years!!! (How fashions change). Regarding St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, that wonderful instrument is actually outside the Edwardian era, but only just. What the Redcliffe organ convincingly demonstrates, is just how quickly Arthur Harrison got to grips with creating a new style of instrument which found almost universal approval among organists. It's also interesting to note the links with Hope-Jones via the group of friends/acquaintances we know as J Martin White, Lt Col George Dixon, Thomas Casson (who first proposed the Harmonics Mixture with the 17th and b21st), and the organ builders Harrison, Hope-Jones and Compton. Norman & Beard were very provincial builders working in a conservative style, yet within only a few years, they could build not only fine church and concert instruments in semi-orchestral style, but bespoke theatre organs incorporating the ideas of Hope-Jones. Here is a wonderful insight into the prevailing fashions of the day, written by the wealthy organ enthusiast J I Wedgwood, a relative of the Wedgwood pottery dynasty:- The Georgian school, which favours the “shrieking apparatus,” Dulciana toned Diapasons, and the gimcrack reeds smacking of the merry-go-rounds, may well be left to the digestion of its own disordered fancy. (The "shrieking apparatus" were Mixtures) Later, he also wrote the following:- The modern plan is to build up as much of the necessary brilliance of the organ as possible, from within the foundation. There is absolutely no necessity for the Mixture in small organs. Quite sufficient brightness of tone, without undesirable prominence, is contributed by the keen string tone and octave couplers of the Swell. If the Mixture is to be retained at all......unless it can be made better than it usually is......let it be suppressed altogether and placed together with the Cymbelstern, Cuckoo etc., and placed on the retired list.. Miller "The recent revolution in organ building" includes a wonderfully eccentric observation, which tells us much about the era of the orchestral organ:- In the organ at St. George’s Hall, England, there are on the manuals 5 Open Diapasons, 4 Principals, 5 Fifteenths, 3 Clarinets, 2 Orchestral Oboes, 3 Trumpets, 3 Ophicleides, 3 Trombas, 6 Clarions, 4 Flutes, etc., etc. In the Hope-Jones Unit organ at Ocean Grove effects equal to the above are obtained from only 6 stops. Others did not agree, and there was a wonderful letter from Brindley & Foster which appeared in 'The Choirmaster', in response to a letter written by Robert Hope-Jones:- Dear Sirs, Mr Robert Hope-Jones in his letter in your March issue seems to be under the impression that out Flute Fundamentale is intended to be of his Tibia Clausa class. As this statement, if uncontradicted, may do us harm, we wish to say that our Flute Fundamentale as designed, scaled and voiced by us, is not intended to produce “powerful foundation tone to balance powerful reeds.” It is a stop of true organ tone-quality, designed to replace stops of the Clarabella variety where this is desirable. We hold and always have held views at variance with those of Mr.Robert Hope-Jones on the subject of organ tone, and our opinions are based upon experience extending beyond the time when Mr Robert Hope-Jones transferred his genius from the telephone to the “Diaphone”. Our ideals have met with the entire approval of all our clients and received the approbation of many prominent musicians, and are thereby justified. There is always room for difference of opinion, and if Mr Robert Hope-Jones has succeeded in his threefold duty, in pleasing himself, gratifying his clients, and satisfying his shareholders, we shall be the last to withhold our mede of praise. In the meantime, we would assure our friends that we have no intention of trespassing on the unique preserves of Mr Robert Hope-Jones. Should we ever change our opinion, we will let our first “tonal invention” bear such a name as “Tibia Dementia” or “Tuba Plausa”. Yours faithfully, BRINDLEY & FOSTER With so many things going on, and so many claims and counter-claims being voiced, was there ever a leader of the pack? MM PS: Thanks for the welcome back David.....I've not really been away, just very busy.
  23. At first glance, I immediately thought that this could not be so, but on further reflection, I'm not quite so sure. The Edwardian period, which ran until 1910, was a curious one for British organ-building. For a start, most organs in churches built or re-built during the preceding Victorian period were still in quite good condition; due in part to the fact that possibly a majority of instruments had mechanical action and followed well known, traditional methods of organ-building. Nevertheless, certain organs had been built with (it has to be said) very good pneumatic actions. The reliability and effectiveness of pneumatic-actions by J J Binns can be measured by the fact that a few are still functioning after more than a century. (The Schulze organ at Armley was a supreme example of that, prior to the latest re-build). Tonally, things were generally quite conservative. An often restricted pedal organ relying on manual couplers, a modest Swell organ (unless built by Father Willis), a very dominant great organ, and usually, a choir organ full of quite delicate registers. Nevertheless, there was variety and numerous tonal adventures, leading to a disparity of styles. The organs of Willis were radically different to those of William Hill, other builders embraced the legendary chorus power of Schulze, (Brindley & Foster especially, but also Forster & Andrews of Hull and a handful of provincial builders such as Booth). However, after the turn of the century, developments came thick and fast; leading to a virtual war of words between the respected establishment and academic figures such as Kendrick Pyne (Manchester) and W T Best (Liverpool). They were grounded in the era of Mendelssohn and the counterpoint of Bach, Handel & Mozart, and were not afraid to say so. However, a lot was happening between 1900 and 1910, and in music generally a new age was dawning...more sentimental, more expressive....Berlioz, Wagner, Strauss and Elgar rather than Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn and Mozart. From this came the impetus for a new style of organ-building, clearly aimed at orchestral levels of expressiveness and imitation. Running concurrent to this, were extraordinary developments in action systems. Norman & Beard (probably the most prolific organ-builder of the age) may have adopted the Hope-Jones electrical systems, but when he left for America, they soon reverted back to their own, very complex and very reliable pneumatic actions, some of which still function to-day after only minor refurbishment. We may think of Harrison & Harrison as builders of largely pneumatic-action instruments prior to 1920 or thereabouts, yet in 1906, they had built a highly successful electro-pneumatic action organ at Skipton Parish Church, just up the road from me. The blower may have been hydraulic, and I expect that the electricity came from batteries, but after being fitted with a rectifier, that action functioned perfectly well for about 90 years. Of equal interest, is the fact that, with the exception of the ubiquitous “Harmonics” mixture, this organ is, to all intents and purposes, a typical Harrison & Harrison instrument which could easily have been made after 1920. A big Tromba and Pedal Ophicleide, the powerful Swell reeds, powerful Diapasons and, had it ever been completed, imitative orchestral registers. It remains as a very musical two manual instrument speaking into a splendid acoustic, with all the accompaniment possibilities of the later Arthur Harrison style. Hope-Jones was doing his thing developing the orchestral organ, making big strides in electric actions and showing a conservative company like Norman & Beard how to embrace the orchestral style. All the while, John Compton was watching with interest, and after 1920, would really “roll up his sleeves” with so many revolutionary ideas and patent inventions. Interestingly, although dated 1911, the huge Forster & Andrews organ at Hull City Hall was started and designed within the Edwardian period, yet didn't venture very far into the area of orchestral expression. It was a classic English-Schulze style of instrument, which possibly explains why Forster & Andrews fell from favour among the younger generation of the day. So was the organ at Leeds Cathedral the apogee of Edwardian organ-building? I suppose the answer must be yes AND no, depending on whom you may have asked at the time. I think I first played the organ in the 1970's, following the very conservative re-build by Hill, Norman & Beard Ltd., which incorporated a Tuba rank by Compton, which had once been in the Davies Theatre, Croydon. At the console next to the pipework, the voicing was clearly of a high order.....wonderful reeds, a magical Vox Humana, some very acceptable chorus work, lovely strings, very loud pedal wood basses and so on. (Plus the fine Compton Tuba). The musical effect down in the nave, in a rather “strange” acoustic, was heavy and opaque. The fact that Robert Hope-Jones worked with Norman & Beard, would certainly place them at the forefront of modern organ design, and would have found approval from the likes of James I Wedgwood, Hope-Jones and J Martin White (founder of the Organ Club and financial backer to both Hope-Jones and John Compton). I suspect that Kendrick Pyne and W T Best would not have been so readily impressed. On the other hand, it was the earlier Harrison & Harrison instrument at St Nicholas, Whitehaven, (1904), which raised the bar and established a new sound for a new age, best represented by the sound of King's College, Cambridge. On balance, I suspect that Whitehaven Harrison organ represents the apogee of Edwardian organ-building, purely based on the success it had as the British sound of the future. As a final thought, John Compton was using electro-pneumatics for virtually everything around 1910 and thereafter, embracing the style of Hope-Jones and perfecting the extension organ, so he is "almost" a contender in the "apogee stakes".
  24. Many thanks to Dr Colin Pykett for this information, with which I have just caught up. Leslie Bourn has been difficult to pin down, though I know where he lived when he was working at Compton's. I don't know whether Colin knows or not, but there was quite spat between A H Midgely and Leslie Bourn, and somewhere among my files, I have more details. A H MIdgely had also been working on electronic organ technology, and after leaving Compton, he engaged in a bit of a bitter printed diatribe, claiming that Bourn had not developed anything new, but had merely re-worked his (A H MIdgely's) technology and claimed them as his own. I believe Bourn's name and that of the Compton both appear on the patents, and if what A H Midgely suggested was true, it is not difficult to imagine that A H Midgely position was untenable. It's all a bit vague at the moment, but in due course, I will get to grips with the electronic ventures. I love the bit about Hope-Jone's brother and the source of those Latin organ-stop names. MM
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