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Everything posted by MusingMuso

  1. Did someone suggest that there are no good Brindley & Foster organs? Try the chorus-work on this 1907 example, which is still going strong, without ever having being re-built. This is a Hauptwerk sample, but the real thing is actually better. Just 4 years after Hope-Jones left for America! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vxAHVDRvL8 And another rebuilt one in South Africa, which needs a bit of TLC. Best, MM
  2. =========================== Thanks Tony, I wasn't aware of Canterbury. However, there were numerous experiments in the 19th century, a few fires and not a little aggro. Even Dr Gauntlett came up with the weird idea of making all the organs at the Great Exhibition (1851) play from one electric console. Another early one was the ex-exhibition organ at St Mary's, East Parade, Bradford, built by Annessens using the Moel & Schmole patent action. This is why I want ot avoid the 19th century, because I'm looking for the time when certain builders "went electric" as a matter of course, while others remained loyal to TP action, like Brindley did right to the end in the 1930's. I'm fairly sure there was never an EP Abbott & Smith organm, or for that matter a Forster & Andrews one, and that's two companies who had done a lot of work across the land. Apart from Willis and the early Norman & Beard electric actions, was it the theatre organs which forced certain organ-builders down that path? I'm thinking Compton obviously, but additionally, companies such as Conacher, Spurden-Rutt, Hill, Norman & Beard (Christie); maybe even Walker with their Compton connection. Harrison are the big surprise, because in spite of the extraordinary success of the 1906 (1911?) EP action at Skipton, they were very slow to adopt it generally it seems. Intriguing and intriguinger! Best, MM .
  3. ==================== Crumbs! The organ I play scores 28 out of 30 then, and I'm only docking two points for the original winding problems since recified. Please Sir, may I add another 5 for the acoustic? That would be 33 out of 30........ the added X-factor. Best, MM
  4. Really a part of my Compton research, but something which is of general interest, is the question of when particular organ-builders started to use EP actions rather than tracker or Tubular Pneumatic ones. We can safely eliminate Compton and Norman & Beard, because Compton seemed to switch over after about 1910,(first use actually 1908 at Selby Abbey) and N & B, after early use of EP action around the turn of the century, (completing Hope Jones contracts)reverted back to the TP actions they had worked with previously. (Their last TP action, as H,N & B, was in 1958 at St Mark's, Brighton) Hill, Norman & Beard used EP actions in all the theatre organs of course, but TP seems to have been normal for church jobs. What of Walker, Rushworth & Dreaper, Harrison & Harrison, and Willis? All I know, is that Willis more or less copied the Pitman actions and used this system quite early, but exactly when I do not know. Harrison & Harrison incorporated EP action for the first time at Christ Church, Skipton. (NPOR states 1906, but I think it was 1911...the action was still working in 1980, when it was replaced) Was the rebuild of the Willis at Durham anotherearly one? They were certainly happy to continue with TP action for quite some time afterwards, in spite of the success at Skipton. Most of not all of the provincial builder stayed with TP action....Abbott & Smith, Forster & Andrews, Brindley & Foster, Binns etc. (I think Binns, Fitton & Haley were using EP in the late 1940's) It's a bit of a puzzle to me, probably because I've never thought to ask the question before or even consider it. Actually, the success of TP is not unconnected with the lecky supply, which in certain rural areas, didn't exist even in the mid 1960's. I recall Yorkshire Dales farmhouses with coal fires and oil lamps in the mid 1960's, and a farmhouse in Scotland which had a Petter engine and generator set in an outside shed. I suspect this is one for the active organ-builders, who will have hands on knowledge, because the details in NPOR are not complete when it comes to action types. Best, MM
  5. As a sort of carbuncle to the real discussion,I would just add that the Marcussen at Clifton is regarded as one of the few real masterpieces of strictly classical design in the UK. I tend to agree the the one in Nottingham Parish Church just doesn't really work too brilliantly. I have played it once, and somehow, I didn't feel the need to want to play it again. Not a bad organ I suppose, but slightly disappointing. Best, MM
  6. ================================ I don't know about the ear-rings, but Dr Dixon was highly regarded as a composer of church music; writing some quite major works, including a setting of "The dream of Gerontius". Other works included piano, organ and instrumental, but I've never heard any of them. Percy Whitlock referred in some way to his good friend in one of his organ works. I suspect that Percy Whitlock enjoyed the friendship of, shall we say, "single gentlemen", but I wouldn't presume to make further comment. The inter-war years were quite lively, and the younger generation were often quite rebelious and quite outrageous......jazz, the Bloomsbury set sniffing cocaine, the Bentley Boys, the Schneider Trophy speed trials etc., not to mention Noel Coward, Billy Thorburn and the likes of Billy Meyerl. They had style and character. Incidentally, I got his age completely wrong at the time of the LIverpool Congress, thanks to an inaccurate web-entry.. He died at the age of 88, in 1975, so he must have been 77 at least in 1964, which makes some sense....he the eldest and I the youngest attending. (I thought he looked older than 60) When I get a moment or two, I'll get in touch with the current cathedral organist at Lancaster, because he presented a number of Dixon's compositions at a special anniversary concert celebrating the life and work of Dr J H R-D. His other attributes included being an inventor....something to do with harmonium machanisms I believe, (take note Tony) Best, MM PS: Don't forget the high-heeled shoes he wore. PPS: An additional clarification about my comment referring to single gentlemen, PW was a married man of course, but he was noted for his warmth, sincerity, sense of fun and great tolerance. To-day, that would translate as easy-going and inclusive.
  7. I just recalled what Dr Dixon was saying when the photographer snapped the shot. "There was this rabbit with a glass eye....." I don't recall the rest of it, but it was very funny. Best, MM
  8. ====================== What a nice post! I've never met Paul Morgan, but I wouold just add that in the days of regular BBC Radio 3 organ recitals, there were three names I was always thrilled to see on the list: those of Francis Jackson, Paul Morgan and a certain Geraint Jones. For me, they were the tops, and I think I may have been right. Best, MM
  9. ======================== I have a vague memory of an event at the Adelphi Hotel.....organists did things in style in those days....but we also attended a Lord Mayor's reception at the Town Hall, and that, I think, is slightly more likely considering that press photographers were in attendance. It was a truly wonderful congress, and looking back, we took in a lovely trip to North Wales, Mold PC and Bangor Cathedral, we spent time at the Rushworth & Dreaper works AND the Willis works, we crawled over the organ at the anglican cathedral, enjoyed a magnificent recital by Caleb Jarvis at St George's Hall, and even a symphony concert at the Philharmonic Hall. Was the organ at the Wig-wam built then.....I heard it when it was very new? However, courtesy of a certain Mr Henry Willis, (who managed to get hold of some keys), four of us sneaked into the then redundant Great George Street Congregational Church, and spent about an hour inspecting and playing the historic William Hill organ! However, the most lasting memory, which I chuckled about for years, was that of Dr Dixon.....WHAT a character he was....impish being the best description. Looking at that photograph again, something strikes me, and that is the quality of British cloth at the time. Dr Dixon's suit was absolutely magnificent quality, and I noticed it even then. I bet you wouldn't get a suit like that for under £800 to-day! Best, MM
  10. Help! How do I upload a photograph stored on my computer? I have a very nice one of Dr J H Reginald-Dixon. Best, MM
  11. ======================== It wasn't Paul Morgan, because I would hjave known and recalled the name instantly; he did so many superb broadcasts from Exeter. I believe it was a foreign dude, but there's not much chance of recalling who that might have been. It was a very, very good recital though. Best, MM
  12. ========================== The fact that it was actually built may well make this a first. I suspect that the other one I linked to, probably remained on paper, and would probably have been unplayable in any event. Anyway, it has nothing to do with John Compton, but I found it interesting nonetheless. The Compton book is now at pp.32 and fairly flying along in draft form, but I know it will get a lot more difficult when I get to the technical stuff, of which there is rather a lot. Best, MM
  13. [ Interesting news. This, although very far away, was one of my favourite organs, on which quite a few broadcast Radio 3 programmes were recorded. I've only heard it live once, after the H & H rebuild, but long before they had the big Trompette installed in the nave. Other than the concerts of the late Carlo Curley, I think the biggest audience I ever witnessed at a recital was at Exeter; probably sometime around 1970 something or other. There must have been well over 1,000 people there, and although I cannot recall who actually gave the recital, the organ sounded wonderful. It should be interesting to see how they intend to de-clutter the internal layout without culling what is already there, but I hope the organ isn't scattered about like so many. Best, MM
  14. Interesting llittle factoid I came across. Compton's first "unit organ" with just 4 ranks of pipes, was entirely achieved with pneumatic action in 1908. I haven't come across any others of this type. Best, MM
  15. ===================== I played it slowly in the style of Bach, wirth lots of ornamentation and passing notes.....you know the sort of thing. My(very) small fan club couldn't name the tune, and they pride themselves on recognising them normally. If it's snowing next week, I'll have to try something from "The snowman" such as "I'm walking in the air", but that's altogether more modal....perhaps in the style of Kodaly? Best, MM
  16. Forgive me father, for I have sinned! Well it was snowing a little this morning, and the congregation was a bit thin to say the least; the pavements covered in snow. People were arriving and stamping their feet like cattle and although I couldn't hear individual conversations, I just knew that the low murmur was the unmistakable sound of English people complaining about the weather. Well I hoped they noticed the "voluntary", which was a carefully crafted little improvisation over the chorale, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow", played wearing a nice warm storm-jacket, with thick socks and hiking-boots on my feet. There are some Sundays when I don't want to be there! Best, MM
  17. =========================== This seems to be the answer, but I'm not sure that the actual organ was ever built. However, I suppose it's the concept of unification and some means of doing it which is the interesting thing:- http://theatreorgans.com/southerncross/Journal/First%20Unit%20Organ.htm Now what interested me about the Compton/Brindley & Foster connection is the fact that Compton appears to have built one of his earliest extension organs, (really a unit organ of four ranks), in 1909, using an entirely pneumatic system. That came as a surprise, but the metachotic system of Brindley's immediately sprung to mind, which used sliderless windchests. Hope-Jones had, of course, beaten him by a couple of years, but Compton wasn't far behind, and one wonders why he pursued this particular path, unless the Selby Abbey fire, (as well as other organ-related fires), hadn't put him off electric-action of any kind. Best, MM Of course, Schulze had used extended pedal ranks at Doncaster, and wasn't the fifth manual derived from the rest of the organ, using double pallets.....I forget the details.
  18. Now here is an interesting question, which I throw open to all, perhaps in the hope that someone may know the answer. Who built the first Unit or Extension Organ and when? (ie: a whole organ derived from just a few ranks, rather than bits of extension on the pedals or grooved basses etc) Fair warning, but this isn't an easy one to answer, and I'm a bit surprised at what I suspect I may have discovered. Good luck! Best, MM
  19. ================================= Thank you for sending the scans. I've learned something, for it seems that JHC was in Italy rather longer than I had previously suspected. It's a rather lovely account in fact, and he seemed to be very happy there. Best, MM
  20. ================================= I have come across this, but many thanks for drawing attention to it. Every bit helps, but sometimes the cul-de-sacs provide an amusing diversion. To-day I wanted to know a little more about James I Wedgwood, the author of the "Dictionary of organ stops" circa 1900, who was a champion of Robert Hope-Jones and must have known Compton due to the fact that he studied at Nottingham University. What I discovered was not quite what I expected! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._I._Wedgwood Best, MM
  21. =========================== I have certainly heard of this instrument, and I believe they used to have light music concerts there some years ago. I wonder if it is one of those organs which were starting to be removed from cinemas, and which often ended up back at the factory? I suspect that this is the likely explanation. Your mention of the bombing of the factory is relevant, because I have yet to discover the date for definite, but I believe it was in October, 1940. There is no specific mention of damage to Compton's in the RAF bombing raid reports, which usually gave exact details of damage to business premises. Top secret RADAR work was perhaps the reason, and rather case sensitive, as they say.. I wish I could get some feedback on the radar work, which I suspect was the HS2O development going on at Farnborough around this time. Best, MM
  22. ============================ I've never heard of the Harding name in brewing circles, in spite of working in the industry for a while. You're quite right about the organ for Lincoln, if this project has actually gone anywhere. I note the date is 2009 on the website. http://www.organbuil...ebpage=projects I didn't know that St Peter's, Trafford, was the 4th largest organ in the country when it was built. Diversions or not, some of the things I have come across in the course of the Compton re-search make for fascinating, sometimes disturbing and sometimes utterly bizarre reading. One comment which caused a giggle was the assertion that Mixtures had been invented as means of controlling Lutheran congregations, because the Diapasons (sic) lacked harmonic development. Some of the things said and written at the start of the 20th century almost beggar belief, but in some ways, it puts John Compton into sharp relief, because he was way ahead of them in almost all respects. Diversions are therefore useful, because they take you into areas previously unknown, and act like a drip-feeds for the period. I didn't know until yesterday that Charles Brindley started his working life installing bell-pulls, (cable operated), in large houses, which makes any comment of him rather more interesting. Did you know that in 1876, Compton's birth year, the first operational telephone was put to use? Do you know that the year of Compton's death was the year the first Sputnik orbited the earth? That's technological progress at the gallop! Best, MM
  23. ======================== All this is really for much later when I get down to specific details. I've never actually seena Compton chest open. However, your comment made me immediately think back to what Brindley & Foster were doing with their sliderless chests. I can't just go to the drawing I saw because I can't exactly remember where I saw it among the material I have. However, that seemed to operate in exactly the same way....a single pull to a disc valve from a single puff motor; obviously exhausted by pneumatics. I think what I had in mind re:- the actions and HJ, was the electrical side of things rather than the actual chests. (It would help if I was more specific!) The big difference seems to be in the use of electric relays and electric tab action (on the horseshoe consoles of course), without the pneumatics used by H-J. Once I see things close-up and personal, it will all make perfect sense to me, but in many ways that should be the easy part when I get around to it. I'll see if I can find the Brindley diagram, and you can compare. Best, MM
  24. Just an additional thought about the development of the Tibia and the Norman & Beard connection. Mr Beard was actually a director of the Hope-Jones company, and effectively took control of both the Diss factory and the London factory (ex-Wm Hill?). When the H-J company collapsed, (I think this was the Electric Organ Company....don't quote me on this because I haven't checked), Beard took over the interests, (including the patents), which they had used under licence prior to this. Thus, H,N & B as they were to become, (including the Christie name), had a ready made electro-mechanical action to use, which was very useful when they came to make unit extension organs. So the links were very strong, and although I can't put my finger on the disc where the information is stored, I do know that Hope-Jones did many of his early tonal experiments at the N & B works; presumably in Diss. I know that this included some or all of the Tibia types, which were quite varied. The Tibia we normally think of is the BIG scale gedackt with leathered lips, but there were others, including one Tibia with outwardly tapering bodies; being narrower at the base than at the top of the pipe. There are some interesting drawings of Tibias in the "Dictionary of organ stops" (pp.150-156) by Wedgwood, which also includes the Tibia Mollis type by John Compton, made of metal and with tiny little mouths. Of course, the next intriguing question is whether John Compton developed his own electric-pneumatic actions simply by copying what H-J and N & B did, or whether he actually paid royalties for the privilege. Although not yet verified, (and possibly never will be), there is the suggestion that Compton obtained reeds from H,N & B, which suggests a working relationship between the two companies. Best, MM
  25. First things first gentlemen, please keep this in the Compton basket, because a lot of this is highly relevant to Compton’s work and development. Apart from the obvious mistake concerning the organ at Adlington Hall, (restored of course by Noel Mander), I don’t think I know enough about the early years of Hope-Jones or his travels to answer some of the earlier points. However, the Tibia was very definitely developed in England, and it was not a solo effort. The Tibia experiments took place at the Norman & Beard works when they were in Norfolk, and around this time H-J was working closely with them. Indeed, N & B took over the “interests” of the H-J company, which really means that they copied his electro-pneumatic actions, (but simplified them) and finished off some of the outstanding contracts. (Battersea Town Hall is one of the ones completed by N & B.) One of the Joule family was indeed a fine organist and quite wealthy. (They were a brewing family). The amusing story is that his brother,( the scientist), was forever “experimenting” on the domestic servants; giving them electric shocks a recording the results. (So much for health & safety....DC current in those days!) The organist Joule was very interested in French organs, and the large four (five?) manual organ for St Peter’s, Old Trafford was way ahead of its time. That organ got broken up, with parts going elsewhere, but I’ve recently come across a web-site which suggests that it is, or was going to be re-assembled from recovered pipes and parts. It was certainly a very significant instrument in its day. The specification of the St Peter’s organ is on the NPOR list. Did H-J know Compton and advise him? What we do know is that H-J’s brother, the horologist, was forever causing a nuisance of himself at the Compton works. (I’m not sure which “works” this might have been). The same man helped his brother build organs when he wasn’t making clocks, so does establish a link of sorts. In fact, I’m currently trying to discover whether H-J was in direct contact with Compton during his early years, but considering the fact that H-J left for America just as Compton had set up in business with Musson, (as Musson & Compton) in 1902, I have my doubts. However, if we consider the fact that Burton-on-Trent is only just up the road from Measham in Nottinghamshire, nothing is impossible, but I would have to cross-refer dates etc. (It’s amazing how they got around in those days). The name Tibia probably derives from the fact that in ancient history, the large Tibia bone of animals were often hollowed out to form a big “flute” of sorts, and I seem to recall asking my late mother which end she blew into when she was young! (I was only 5 at the time). Don’t forget, Compton and Hope-Jones would have been educated in the “Classics” at school, including Latin. Ancient history was also very popular at the time, as the Natural History Museum demonstrates. So the term Tibia is not at all surprising. With regard to sponsors and wealthy backers, Hop-Jones had on his side a certain Mr Clemens, better known to you and me as Mark Twain, the author. (I’ve been in his house over on the East coast of America, and lovely it is too). I suspect that it is no co-incidence that Mark Twain had a telephone in every room, and was a friend of Alexander Graham Bell. Another sponsor was Mr J Martin White, the wealthy politician who lived at Dunedin House, (?) where a large H-J instrument was installed. Not only that, he also became a sponsor, (possibly a major shareholder) of the John Compton company, but the lack of company records makes that an almost impossible search. (I wonder if J Martin White didn’t abandon H-J after the scandal, and switch to Compton?) Now with regard to electro-pneumatic actions, everything Hope-Jones did was very sound; his experience in telephone engineering being at a very senior level. The man was no fool, but before I make a complete idiot of myself, I think I would have to pay a visit to the Hope-Jones museum in Manchester to get a bit of firsthand knowledge. Certainly, Dr Colin Pykett speaks very highly of Hope-Jones electrical-engineering skills. However, I believe many of the early “problems” had to do with re-chargeable accumulators, which people didn’t properly understand. I don’t yet know enough about it, but I wonder how the electricity for the action was generated or stored at St John’s cathedral? After the use of accumulators, there were dynamos when the organ was driven by a steam or electric motors. Without knowing the exact details of the action, it is impossible to comment. It’s interesting that N & B thought the action generally good, but the coupling mechanism in need of renewal. Was this because they used a simplified version of the H-J’s patents, I wonder? I would have thought that the original would have had electro-pneumatic relays rather than purely electric ones, with a wind-supply to the console. Fire risk, you say? Well, I wouldn’t have been too confident with cotton-covered wires gathered together in cable runs, even operating on relatively low voltage. I once shorted out a car battery and almost set the house on fire....sparks and globs of molten metal everywhere. It was the day I first appreciated the fact that amperage is far more damaging than voltage. However, H-J knew all about cables and electricity; of that we can be certain. I suspect that a lot of the rumours and scaremongering came from those dyed in the wool pneumatic-action traditionalists, who didn’t know or want to know about electricity. I wouldn’t be too hard on Don Hyde, because he is one of those who have put together the Hope Jones Museum in Manchester. Perhaps the sources of information have misled, but I suspect that the bulk of the information centered around Manchester/Liverpool (connected by rail and the ship canal a long time ago) is probably very reliable....they have very good industrial archives in Manchester and Liverpool. Best, MM PS: Tibia Clausa at Ambleside PC, H-J 1898. (Also a Diaphone and Tuba on 16" wind)
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