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Mander Organs


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Everything posted by Contrabombarde

  1. I once gave a public recital on a delightful one manual (no note pedals) organ with foot operated bellows, an early English instrument that belongs to another forum member here. It proved quite an feat trying not to forget to blow and inevitably I learned to pump on the bellows pedal in time to the music I was playing.
  2. Looks a nice instrument, located in the chancel rather than on the west balcony (where it had been until the 1870s). Historic Organ Certificate too: https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N17779
  3. The original 1852 Breitkopf und Härtel edition is also on IMSLP. That was scored for organ and piano duet but I can find no further information about it. I presume that would have been what was premiered in October 1852? I can find no references to an organ and piano version nor any recordings of this early version. Has anyone here every heard it played for organ and piano duet? The Merseberg organ inauguration was in September 1855 and as BACH had not been completed in time, Ad nos was substituted. Do we know if that performance was an organ solo or another organ and piano duet? I remain unclear what if any organ solo version was approved by Liszt. Of the three editions available on IMSLP (Peters edited by Straube, Schirmer edited by Bonnet and recently that of Gyula Pfeiffer) the latter appears to be most faithful to the original B&H score - for instance in the fugue where other editions interject pedal semiquaver passages, the Pfeiffer edition only uses pedals where they are obviously indicated or where the piano is also being used in the B&H score). That does have the effect of reducing the technical difficulty of the piece quite considerably too! Does that make this new online edition the most faithful to Liszt's Merseberg version I wonder? Or would Liszt have expected performers to take considerable liberties with playing lines on pedals or thumbing down the melodies in the Adagio (technically possible but you need to have a long stretch) etc?
  4. Very interesting reflections above. I believe the inaugural recital of Ad nos lasted around 40 minutes, compared to say 28 for Wayne Marshall's interpretation; I guess the mechanics of the Ladegast organ must have been a rate-imiting factor. Returning to my original question, I must confess from the outset that Ad nos is one of my personal favourite pieces, and indeed far more so that the 94th Psalm or Liszt's BACH for instance. I have compared the original organ and piano manuscript with the three editions I have and I think it's fair to say the new online edition by Gyula Pfeiffer seems to mirror the organ part of the organ and piano score quite faithfully. Significantly for my specific question, it would suggest that the pedals do not enter in the fugue until the third page and the tearing cadenzas between the Adagio and the Fugue and splaying octaves should be manuals only (which makes things significantly easier too!) as there were neither pedals nor piano in the original score for those sections. Peter's edition demands the right hand holds down the chords whilst the left hand and pedals play the cadenzas - a more dramatic effect but this is not indicated in the original. The end result is that no two performances seems to be playing quite the same notes and depend on the version played from and I suppose how much extra "ad lib" one feels able to add. Has anyone ever recorded the piano and organ original version? I'm not aware of any such recordings on Youtube, despite a number of organ plus orchestra arrangements, and it would be interesting to hear Liszt's original concept being played.
  5. Resurrecting an old thread so to speak as I've set myself the task of learning Ad nos this year. I am struck by the plethora of editions and alternative options within editions. I've been looking at three versions so far - Peters, Schirmer (edited by Bonnet) and a new edition by Gyula Pfeiffer published on imslp.com. I've also listened to a number of recordings and I don't think I've heard two with the same pedalings consistently. In some the first half of the fugue is manuals only, in others the pedals enter fairly early. The tremorous cadenzas later in the fugue are by some taken by left hand and others by pedals, or by a combination. In some versions the pedals or the manuals are an octave higher or lower than in others. Are any editions closer or further away from what Lizst intended, or did he leave the original vague in the hope that organists would add their own flourishes? Or is it up to the performer to figure out what is most playable to them and modify accordingly!
  6. If anyone knows how to write the computer code that will recognise my vocal command "next page!" or perhaps "go back a page" on my music display tablet they deserve more than a pint or two. Better still is there a way of getting the camera to recognise frantic gestures and translate them to page turns that too would be good. My home practice organ has thumb and toe pistons for page advance and page back, as I believe does the console at Kings College Cambridge but that's not much use when both hands and feet are employed simultaneously!
  7. Clearly Klais had this dilemma in mind when they designed their new six manual console at Malmo to have two large touchscreen monitors as stop jambs. A bonus of not having over-enthusiastic Viols shooting out at coffee cups is that each visiting organist can presumably set the exact position of each stop. I think this idea has much to commend it - if all organs had touchscreens I could set up any organ I played in advance such that the stops were in the position of my choosing regardless of the specification or the organ builder. As my home (albeit digital) practice organ has touchscreens I can supply an amusing consequence of becoming too familiar with them however. My older son was 2 years old when he first got to sit at a "real" cathedral organ console and was mightily perplexed at how the stops had to be physically pulled out to make a sound and no amount of pressing them in the off" position would make them come on, unlike Daddy's console at home.
  8. The full specification is at https://www.klais.de/_klais/bilder/pdf/Malmoe_Pipework.pdf As for the buttons, "The individually programmable control for each pipe of the choir organ offers 'unheard-of' possibilities. Here is a tiny selection: adjustable delay and hold time, f.e. for echo effects or diminuendo or crescendo by stop change while holding a key any chord formation from different sounds and pitches to each key (chorus effect, mixture setter) iridescent sounds through rapid change of the controlled colours while holding a key In addition, there are the possibilities offered by an individual and settable wind control of all chest levels (one unenclosed and two enclosed under separate expression."
  9. This behemoth has been referred to a few times on these fora and has now been inaugurated: https://www.klais.de/m.php?sid=481 The six manual console controls several organs around the building and the two stop jambs are giant touchscreen monitors. The specification of the new Choir division mutations takes some beating. Genuine question - how on earth do you accurately tune some of those more exotic partials (based around the 8 foot, 16 foot, 32 foot, 64 foot and yes, 128 foot harmonics? 16' 10 2/3' 8' 7 9/17' 7 1/9' 6 14/19' 6 2/5' 5 9/11' 5 1/3' 4 12/13' 4 4/7' 4 4/15' 4' 3 13/17' 3 5/9' 3 7/19' 3 1/5' 2 10/11' 2 2/3' 2 6/13' 2 2/7' 2 2/15' 2' 1 15/17' 1 7/9' 1 13/19' 1 3/5' 1 5/11' 1 1/3' 1 1/13' 1 1/7' 1 1/15' 1' 16/17' 8/9' 16/19' 4/5' 8/11' 2/3' 8/13' 4/7' 8/15'
  10. As ever the most important stop on any organ is the acoustic of its building. I seem to recall reading that the Armley Schulze never achieved its much-deserved recognition as long as it remained in a wooden shed at the bottom of its first owner's garden. What transformed it was the transplant to St Bartholomew's.
  11. Listeners of Pipedreams public radio may recall four hours of organ music by women composers last year over two weeks: http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2018/1810/ http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2018/1816/
  12. I didn't attend so can't vouch for the accuracy of this story, but the late great Ronald Frost once performed BWV565 on the Free Trade Hall during a concert and claimed to have managed to use every single stop during the performance. And I've heard many superlatives applied to Weingarten but that's one of the best yet.
  13. Spotted this press release recently quoted in an international IT journal and thought it would be of wider interest. "Faced with the relative lack of organ builders in the Far East, years of experience of robotic assembly lines and the growing capability of artificial intelligence, one enterprising start-up has just launched a new service that allows customers to have their dream organ designed and built entirely by robots. The acoustical properties of the building are assessed by recordings of ambience and echo, then artificial intelligence is used to calculate the optimal size of instrument and pipe scaling. Ex-car assembly line retired robots cut the sheet metal and roll it into pipes, and a specialist "robot voicer" takes each pipe and voices it to match one of a dozen or so styles of master voicer, options including Father Willis, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, Gottfried Silbermann, Edvard Schulze, Schnitger and Snetzler. Computer-controlled machining meanwhile assures aviation-standard tolerances in the manufacture of keyboards, action, soundboards and winding. It's estimated that the total build time from signing contract to final installation and sign-off for a typical three manual church organ can be as little as four weeks, and the carbon footprint is reckoned to be half that of a conventional pipe organ." Sounds incredible - I need to find a link.
  14. £400,000 in today's money for a brand new 44 rank extension organ sounds implausible (and the Compton at Wolverhampton sounds like it had perhaps 53 ranks). What might a ball-park figure be for a new 53 rank extension organ in a concert hall if I was looking to commission one (not that I am - just curious on the pricing! Most new concert hall organs are probably "straight" and have mechanical action which I would expect pushes up the cost considerably).
  15. Yet for the same price as the 8 rank Compton would cost today, you could buy a brand new Bosendorfer Imperial Grand piano! And there was I thinking that new pipe organs were exorbitantly expensive.......
  16. Interesting vision for a concert hall though I'm not sure I'd want to be sitting on the floor in the stalls section during a performance! What's the point of having a mechanical action organ with second electric console on the stage? Why not save some money and design challenges and have the one electric action console? I've seen and played a number of large concert hall (and church) organs with dual consoles but in every case I've only ever experienced (as in, played myself or seen used in a performance) the electric action moveable console, which to my mind begs the question why go to all the trouble of having a mechanical action organ and console that you never actually use? Wouldn't a detached electric action console be a lot simpler to build, maintain and afford?
  17. There's a description of the still-functioning console at the Aula Magna ("Grand Hall") of the Central University of Venezuela is located within the University City of Caracas, here: http://www.magmouse.co.uk/research/light-console/aula-magna-caracas/
  18. The justification given for removing the organ according to the Council meeting appears to be that by virtue of there being asbestos in the building from the time it was built it had to be assumed that the organ pipes must have become contaminated unless proven otherwise. That's a rather unnerving precedent to set: how often is anything removed and relocated from a building which was known to have had asbestos used in its construction? Is it routine for organbuilders to be required to test every pipe for asbestos if removing an organ from a building known to have been built with asbestos (but with no evidence that the organ was any more contaminated than the people who visited the building)? Is mesothelioma a known occupational risk and frequent cause of death amongst organ builders who must from time to time install, tune? and repair organs in buildings that contain asbestos? On a happier note, it was good to be reminded of Compton's other ingenious ideas and whilst I have posted pictures before of his theatre lighting control systems (hands up if you knew he built theatre lighting controls) I'll happily link to them again here. Of course when you see them you will appreciate that only an organbuilder could have come up with such an idea.
  19. It would be perfectly straightforward to request a copy of the asbestos consultants' report, or minutes of any meetings in which the scrapping of the organ was discussed, as a Freedom of Information request from the city council. Regarding the instrument's value however, realistically how many people, organisations, churches or concert halls would have been queuing up to buy a large four manual Compton/Wurlitzer pipe organ as a going concern had that option been on the table? Where else could it have been installed that would have had the space to house it and the budget to pay for its relocation and any associated restoration (including, possibly asbestos decontamination)? And how many organ builders would be willing to take the risk of removing and storing it, potentially for years, given that even if a potential buyer came forward to express interest, they might well decide subsequently that the organ wasn't suitable or the relocation was unaffordable, which would leave the organ builder with a storage nightmare. I suspect the unfortunate reality is that besides Wolverhampton's civic hall, there wouldn't be any suitable alternative venue for this instrument. At which point the bean counting comes in and it's cheaper to send it to landfill.
  20. Without wishing to wade into political debate, I work for a local authority and therefore can comment directly on some aspects of the financial challenges facing many councils. Local authorities have a legal obligation to "break even"; therefore far from "losing sleep" at the prospect of the bottom line turning red, senior officers could potentially go to prison for financial mismanagement of a council so not sticking to budget is not an option. Furthermore councils have statutory responsibilities such as providing care to elderly people or children in care and the cost of doing so is rising rapidly for a variety of reasons (more people living longer in frail health, affordability of paying a living wage , fewer foreign workers available to work in low-paid jobs. Much council funding comes mainly from three sources - council tax, business rates and government grants. A further sting is that the government grant is in the process of being phased out whilst councils are only allowed to increase council tax by a few percent per year unless they hold a referendum of their residents to authorise a higher increase - and I'm not aware of any council ever going down that route as the result would be a foregone conclusion. A legal obligation not to overspend the budget, combined with shrinking income and growing social care needs, is at the heart of the dilemma facing councils when asked to find millions of pounds for something like restoring a pipe organ that will be very expensive and highly unlikely to turn any profit (and difficult to demonstrate how it might turn any profit), even though one might see how restoring a run-down civic hall into a function suite for instance could eventually turn a profit. That is why many councils appear so uninterested in saving their organ heritage - there simply is not the money in the public purse and under such circumstances restorations will need to funded through alternative means. The National Lottery appears to have shown no interest. Maybe they didn't consider a Compton to be as worthy a musical instrument as perhaps a Schulze or Father Willis. Perhaps the removal (in 1939) of the Wolverhampton organ's Melatone and the addition 20 years ago of several ranks of Wurlitzer tibias (which I would have thought could have commanded a high price) meant it wasn't in a sufifciently original condition. The point of making these comments is neither to have a dig at Wolverhampton council or the Government that is reducing councils' funding so much as to point out why an organ like this hasn't been able to be rescued. What can organ lovers do about it, in terms of overcoming the problems mentioned? (i) what can we do to stimulate enough interest in pipe organs to make new and restored installations pay for themselves in demand from concert-goers or other music lovers? (ii) rather than hoping the local council or National Lottery will pay for a new or restored organ, what other sources of funding for major projects can we turn to? Realistically where else could funding have come from to have saved (either in situ or through transplantation) this organ, especially given its size and the fact that it is somewhat unique being a hybrid classical-theatre organ? (iii) organbuilding is a vital and highly skilled profession, but if it is in danger of becoming unaffordable for all but a few organisations to be able to commission a major new organ or major restoration, how can the profession adapt to make organ building and restoration more affordable so that unachievably huge sums of money do not have to be raised to commission or save an organ?
  21. To be fair to Wolverhampton Council, when you are having to make savings of £45 million next year compared to this year, and when you are around £1 billion in debt, nothing short of a cast-iron guarantee that spending £2 million restoring their civic organ would more than pay for itself through additional ticket sales at organ recitals and other events where it was being used would have been a strong enough reason to have saved the instrument. How many of us would have been able to provide such assurance? Furthermore, the difficulties confronting Warrington and Manchester councils who know they have gold plated organ treasures (two large Cavaille-Coll organs) yet both are in a precarious position financially and are struggling to know how to preserve their organs, should be a warning that something of arguably less historic value - a giant, modified Compton organ that is trying to be both theatre organ and classical organ - is unlikely to be considered worthy of salvaging by the accountants. If Wolverhampton Council had decided that on its merits it should be sold as a going concern, what prospect would there be that someone would come along, offer a reasonable price for it, pay for the dismantling, and re-erect it elsewhere? Just how much demand would there be for such an instrument, what would a reasonable offer look like to the Council for the pipework, and what would it cost to relocate? The answers to that might also explain its unfortunate demise.
  22. https://www.tccoc.co.uk/news/ Wolverhampton Civic Hall Compton Scrapped - 05/02/2019 It is with sadness that it was confirmed today that the 4/57 Compton Concert organ which was originally installed and still housed in the Wolverhampton Civic Hall has been scrapped. Due to "possible asbestos contamination" of the organ, the largest of its kind built by John Compton company has already been scrapped as contaminated waste. At over 6200 pipes this must be surely one of Compton's biggest instruments? Its future had been uncertain for some time as the Civic Hall is being refurbished. With no prospect of National Lottery funding to cover the £2 million required to remove and restore the instrument it seems its demise was sealed when the ceiling was stripped of asbestos whilst the organ was left in situ last month. As a result the pipes were hopelessly contaminated and have had to be disposed of as toxic waste. Realistically though what possible future could have been offered to such an instrument? Certainly there is no appetite for local government funding in the current austerity climate - amongst their many legal obligations, councils have to balance their books, not increase council tax beyond a certain amount each year, and must provide statutory services to vulnerable children, adults and older people. If they are lucky there's enough left over after that to empty the bins once a fortnight. £2 million organ restorations don't stand a chance.
  23. My mother left the church to Widor when she was married and was most insistent that she should leave the same church to the Widor when she died. A professional concert organist very kindly played for the funeral, thus taking my mind off the thought of having to play such a challenging piece myself on such an occasion, though on second thoughts had I played it at the pace Widor was recorded as playing it (and what a magnificent recording it is too) I could have probably managed it note perfect.
  24. Following this thread with interest having been an organ scholar myself first under Ernie Warrell then subsequently David Trendle and many fond memories from that wonderful Byzantian style chapel. Somehow I managed to combine that with medical studies too.
  25. I'm leading a service of nine lessons and carols next Sunday afternoon in my church. So far so good you say....but almost all the musicians are children from the church ranging from 5 to 18 years old, some singing, some playing instruments. All the readings and even the bidding prayer are to be read by our younger members. I'm sure someone once said about never doing anything with children or animals on live television, I'm beginning to understand why! But it's going to be fantastic regardless.
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