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Everything posted by vamathou

  1. I think the organ Tony Newnham has in mind is (or was) the Compton from the Free Trade Hall in Manchester; it was built shortly after the RFH one and, give or take one or two stops, they were identical. My recollection is that Compton took back the RFH one, not best pleased at the contract for the permanent replacement going – contrary to what he thought he had been given to understand – to another company, and it was broken up in his factory. As Tony says, the FTH console has been recently pressed into service for a Hauptwerk system, but the Compton tone-generators and all the associated electronics have been preserved in full working order and are temporarily in use in a three-manual Compton console. Regards.
  2. If you might ever aspire to be DoM anywhere that expects the ability to conduct an orchestra, the knack - which is one of the easier ones to acquire - could be worth having documented. Bassoon and tenor trombone players in particular are adept at sensing out any uncertainty about which notes the blobs on the score really mean.
  3. I agree. The idea that only card-carrying academics should have access to knowledge is corrosive and contrary to the ideals of academia ; these people - unless they are in the University of Buckingham - survive at my expense on my taxes and their tom-catting invites the question whether they offer (any) value-for-money.
  4. Amongst the recurrent themes in this forum, two are neatly illustrated here: one is the managerial relationship between the musical and clerical functions; the other is the administrative implementation of that relationship. Is the managerial relationship to be one of master and servant or a partnership between professionals, each heeding the other's proper interests and concerns? Either could be arguably appropriate. What is nonsensical is for there to be any doubt or potential for misunderstanding that is not resolved at the time of appointment and set out in the letter of appointment. Employment law (which I assume applies to the appointment of a church organist) requires a written statement of the terms of employment. On the second issue of administration, and on the assumption that the managerial relationship is a partnership, I would urge that good (half-decent) practice is for scheduled regular meetings at which, inter alia, the programme of music should be agreed, recognising that both partners have a legitimate input, and rolled forward well ahead of time, to allow for preparation. The same meetings should provide for routine stock-taking and any management issues could be brought forward for resolution, rather than dealt with by the crisis-(mis)management that seems to be the ecclesiastic norm. If the organist offers to take responsibility for writing a note of the meeting and promulgating the service lists ... . In the last resort, if it's impossible to maintain a reasonable relationship, the choice is to fight or leave or knuckle under. The basis of due process for a fight that is not to be self-destructive should be set out in the terms of employment and will depend on a paper record that shows you to have behaved reasonably and correctly. My experience has been that those who behave with no regard for good management and administration (and they seem to be disproportionately well represented in ecclesiastical circles) either respond to instruction by example (doing things the right way actually makes their life easier) or can be frightened into submission when they realise that they are heading for trouble. Neither approach is easy. And on the occasions you are dealing with a psychopath, get out or, better still, don't get in in the first place. It's a pity that there seems to be no professional body that represents organist's interests in the assertive, even aggressive, way (say) the BMA routinely scares the pants off the other side. Perhaps, if the issues could be taken seriously, this forum might be a launch-pad?
  5. Many thanks: your reply could hardly be more helpful. One problem I have with Moore's book is that the index lists only proper names of people and bodies etc, so it's difficult, without a great deal of searching in the text, to find (if it's there at all) information of the sort you have provided .
  6. Tin (the element) exists in two forms or allomorphs: one the shiny metal; the other a greyish powder. This may be the explanation of your problem, which has been reported frequently in organs and electronic equipment. At low temperatures the transition to the grey form is favoured, so you could be right in speculating that cold is to blame. It's nothing to do with oxidation. If you google 'grey tin' you will find all sorts of information. An expert metallugist may be able to explain why some organ pipes of tin seem to have survived unscathed many years of occasional exposure to temperatures below the transition point. It may be that impurities inhibit the transition. 18 degrees Celsius is usually quoted as being 'safe'. I seem to recall polar explorers having trouble with tin cans. The alternative, of course, if the tin is only 80% pure, is that other constituents are corroding. There's another thread somewhere where this problem (e.g. lead becoming converted into complex carbonates and acetates) is discussed at length. In that case, moisture is essential and could well come from the metal getting cold and then coming into contact with warmer moist air. There have been several days recently when my car engine and the electrics have been dripping wet, when a cold spell has been followed by a much milder one. I am certain exactly the same will happen to an organ, either if the church heating is turned on or if the blower to the organ warms the air. In this case, the antidote is clearer. Even WD40 should be enough.
  7. The arrangement by Gordon Jacob presumably. I think it does far more than work well: it's marvellous. Jacob's orchestration does not attempt to replicate an Elgarian texture, and (e.g.) uses woodwind in a most unelgarian way to bring out lines of counterpoint that simply do not emerge from the original score, to my eye at least, or from performances on the organ. Although I love the original, I think the orchestral version is actually a different and greater work. I'm inclined to question whether Elgar conceived the sonata in orchestral terms. It was a specific commission and came at a time when he had done nothing abstract on a comparable scale. I think it could be argued that not having to think in orchestral terms allowed him to think structurally, and manage a large form, in a way he had not attempted hitherto. He had recently composed the Vesper Voluntaries for organ, at a time when he had a small organ in his house, and was a competent player and had access to expert advice on technical questions, so the simple assumption is that the work was conceived for the instrument. It would be interesting to know whether the house-organ was a pipe organ and whether it moved to later houses with him. Jerrold Moore refers to Elgar's father coming to tune the organ, which rather argues against it being the otherwise more likely reed organ (which stay in tune from the maker - or out of tune, of course - and are the very devil to retune). Elgar's own efforts at orchestrating Bach seem to me to be awful.
  8. The AGO model specification for consoles states that 'Manuals may slope towards Great or be level.' The illustrative drawing shows a three manual console, with the bottom manual sloping downwards away from the player, the middle one being level, and the top one sloping downwards towards the player. In other words the statement is apparently intended literally. Surprising but logical enough, although I've certainly never consciously noted a bottom manual sloping. The slopes shown are only 5 degrees, so far as I can measure from the drawing. Presumably, the intention is to help keep the lower arm/wrist/hand relationship more nearly the same, when moving between manuals, than would be the case with horizontal key surfaces. I suspect that, with two or three manuals, any benefit (from that degree of slope) is likely to be small in practice. With each additional manual, the slope is presumably more directed towards getting the keys within reach and, to be effective, will need to be much more than an additional 5 degrees per manual. At least some Compton consoles have each manual above the first capable of hinging upwards and backwards for access (after a fair amount of panel-removal).
  9. Sir Waldron Smithers, for many years Conservative MP for (I think) Orpington in Kent, was organist for getting on for 50 years at St Katherine's, Knockholt.
  10. I don't doubt you are correct. My apologies for relying on a failing memory and not taking the effort to dig out a recording I bought when I made an unsuccessful effort to find out why some people esteem Howells: I'm afraid I regard having one copy of something by him as a misfortune; to have two, as you seem to have, might be regarded as carelessness. Regards.
  11. The groundrules laid down by the moderators of M. Lauwer's forum are appropriate to a serious, scholarly purpose. I guess that, if the same groundrules were to be applied by this present forum's moderator, perhaps 95% or so of the material would instantly disappear. But then I don't think that this admirable and worthwhile forum aspires to scholarship. It should nonetheless be possible to pursue a serious line of debate without its being disrupted by digressions (which, if important to those who start the hares running, should be used to start other threads) or by the equivalent of the behaviour of those who disrupt school classrooms or interrupt others (see or hear almost any discussion programme on the wireless or television). There's obviously a place for a robust exchange of views or a leavening of wit that does not disrupt the thread. I don't see any reason why those who wish should not start light-hearted threads. That's one issue. For the site to prosper, all that is needed - surely not too demanding a requirement - is normal civility, good manners, respect for others' feelings. Rather characteristically, this present thread digresses. One good reason for having pseudonyms is that contributors will not find their less well-judged postings called up by anyone who chooses to google their names (which has now become a routine way of checking out people). Perhaps those members whose identity is currently proclaimed should, as hinted at by the moderator, adopt pseudonyms forthwith. That is not to advocate anonymity as a screen for malice, score-settling, personal animadversions or whatever (of which, pace some of the other contributors to this thread, this forum has not been free; in fact I think it is remarkably bitchy and I well undersand why so much offence has been taken). Everyone should remember that any posting on a forum such as this is a public statement. Oddly enough, I suspect that the most significant damage is suffered by those who post material in haste that they later have cause to regret at leisure. Another digression is the idea of a private smoking room, golf club bar or whatever in which seditious, defamatory or obscene material could be freely exchanged. I'd welcome that, if it means that itches are no longer scratched in public, in just the same way that I have no objection to golf clubs: they help to keep out of my way a sort of person found at high density in golf clubs. Tell me: how is membership of this group to be regulated to ensure its privacy? Regards.
  12. Not so far as I am concerned; the thread started facetiously (incidentally, Howell's anthem is 'Here is the Door' isn't it, which makes the joke just a little better), so I expected nothing more of it. What is irritating is when a serious discussion is disrupted. Until recently, I was a member of a charity's management committee, whose then chairman was capable of finding, and snorting and sniggering at, a double entendre in almost any form of words. I suggested that a routine item on the agenda, after apologies etc, should be 'Adolescent smut', so that he and those of like mind could then concentrate with the rest of us on the meeting's important business. I hope that threads like this serve the same purpose. Regards.
  13. Richard Ingrams (of 'Private Eye' and 'The Oldie') is 'a part-time organist of many years standing (or sitting)' at his local church. If musicians celebrated for reasons other than being organists are eligible: Sir Andrew Davies, Sir Peter Pears (both were Oxbridge organ scholars) and Denis Brain (who played the organ in the Philharmonia/Karajan recording of Mascagni's Easter Hymn). Fictional celebrities: Captain Nemo and ('Under the Greenwood Tree') Fancy Day. Regards.
  14. Liszt said that the organ (not any particular one) was the pope of instruments. So I suppose the reference to the St George's Hall organ meant that it was the capo di capi. Regards.
  15. Roger Molyneux (see www.organmusic.org.uk/Cat0406.pdf ) lists a new copy for £6.50. Regards.
  16. Elvin notes that Compton went to King Edward's School, Birmingham (and was head boy). Regards.
  17. I assume the book in question is Whitworth's 'The Electric Organ' (1948 being the last edition I think). Whitworth clearly had a profound admiration for Compton's work and deals extensively and exhaustively with Compton's innovations. Although the primary concern is with the use of electric mechanisms in the control of pipe organs, he also deals with electronic instruments, insofar as they had evolved at the time of writing. This book is invaluable in putting Compton's work in a wider context both nationally and internationally; I'm less sure that it addresses the issues that MusingMuso poses. Regards.
  18. You are correct in assuming that Elvin did not pursue to any marked degree the sort of approach you have in mind. Elvin acknowledges that there is a thread of autobiography in 'Pipes & Actions' and that is nowhere more obvious than in the section on Compton. So, in a sense, his treatment should be regarded as a primary source - an eye-witness account - rather than as a historical study. He also acknowledges that there is more to be said about Compton and notes that Dr James Berrow has (had at the time of writing - 1994) that matter in hand. I came across a new copy of 'Pipes & Actions recently', but I note that the book was published by Elvin himself in an edition of 900 copies. He would now be 93 or 94 and I suspect is no longer with us; I know his papers and so on are in the possession of the Lincoln Library. I wonder what arrangements have been made for distributing copies of his book. Regards.
  19. Laurence Elvin (in 'Pipes and Actions') mentions Compton's 1938 combination organ at the Great Yarmouth Methodist Mission (now apparently known as Christ Church Central Methodist Hall). It thus pre-dates by one or two years that at Church House, Westminster. The NOPR reference is at: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N06322 Incidentally, although Elvin's book has already been cited on this thread, it is worth noting that the section on John Compton and his company amounts to a substantial 105 pages. No doubt there is more that could usefully be recorded about Compton, but much is already available.
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