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Michael Sullivan

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  1. I tend to agree with you. An organ needs some METAL 16 ft pedal stops to give the pedal line definition especially where there is a large accoustic. I am also a believer in having a decent 32 ft FLUE, metal, which can underpin the whole organ, as at Blenheim Palace. Also an ordinary 32 ft FLUE can help considerably, especially when the Great organ is weak, in the middle, as at Ludlow, for example. Michael Sullivan.
  2. [quote name='MusingMuso' date='Mar 6 2007, 07:20pm I think I quite like "A Fugue of Organists" or perhaps even better, "A Loft of Organists." Loft as in lofty, seems somehow appropriate.....high-minded and remote. MM Excellent Colin, I like it - A Loft of Organists - ' high minded and remote' an excellent description which is actually an euphemism for what many would describe as: " Closeted within the cloistered precincts of their Cathedral and thus oblivious to the realities of the big wide world without" I hasten to add the above is applicable to only some of our Organists; but I can think of one or two whom that description fits like a seamless glove ! Yes - I like it "high minded and remote" A very polite way of saying things. Shall we adopt that collective noun ? A Loft of Organists. Michael.
  3. Collective Nouns for People I can't remember exactly under which subject I saw this but some were trying to find a collective noun for Organists. I can't really suggest anything better than what has already been suggested but I have a list of these Collective Nouns which may be of interest: A Bench of Bishops A Chapter of Canons A Charge of Curates An Ensemble of Musicians A Converting of Preachers A Prudence of Vicars A Pontifica of Prelates A Conclave of Cardinals A Discretion of Priests What name for Organists ? A Melody - A Cluster - A Gaggle - A Laughter - A Fellowship ? Regards Michael.
  4. Hello Mr Goldrick Tournemire. ? ! I heard a good joke the other day. What is the definition of a gentleman ? An Organist who can play Tournemire but doesn't. Regards Michael
  5. I Thought that some months ago I recall reading somewhere that a few pipes had been stolen from the parish church organ at Wotton under Edge, Gloucestershire. I forget now where I read this. This is the old old organ from St Martins in the Fields Regards Michael Sullivan.
  6. I thought it was only 5 or 6 pipes from Christ Church Cathedral on the Grove at Tewkesbury. The local army were called in to errect them at the time. They have never ever spoken. For some reason the ridiculous convoluted wind system there prohibits this, as I understand it. An interesting story is connected with these. Michael Peterson was telling me that for some time they were stowed down the side of the south aisle, and one American lady came along and thought they were neolithic coffins. Americans, in general, are so gullible aren't they ? and not over blessed with grey matter. How could a body be squeezed into something only about 15" wide, if that. Regards M.S.
  7. Hello Ed, Glad you liked my little story. I don't want you to think that GT-B accompanied the Choir 'flat out' all the time, he most certainly did not. On occasions he might build the organ up, and I recall very well his calling to me for the Tuba on one or two occasions, and that would only be for the last chord. He certainly never drowned them, and, as I said, even with Full Organ the Choir always managed to soar above the organ. It was very exciting. By keeping the Trombas in a box he was better able to obtain his magnificent crescendo effects. M.S.
  8. Yes - I heard the great Sir George several times at Birmingham Town Hall, but as that was 30 years ago I can't comment about his playing - it certainly seemed very fine to me. He gave 1,000 recitals here, possibly one or two more. One of his party pieces, I recall, was Toccata in Ab major - Adolph Hesse which I rarely hear played these days. A great pity. Exhilarating and uplifting, and makes a welcome and refreshing change from the eternal Toccata from Widor 5 which is trotted out at every opportunity. Also, occasionally, on some Sundays I used to sit on the organ bench with him at the Temple Church, and could admire his sensitive accompaniment of his choir; even with the organ 'flat out' the Choir were soaring above it. (at that time I was working on the Railway ships at Dover and drove up to London in time for the service). What a superb organ that was then. (it still may be) I haven't heard the organ since his days, but some successive organist decided he knew better than Sir George and, I understand, had the great trombas unenclosed. Quite mind boggling. Regarding this I clearly remember the saga of these reeds as told to me by Sir George himself. He went up to Glen Tanar castle to try the organ before it was removed to the Temple Church and instructed Harrisons to make the reeds double power. When the organ was being errected in the church and Sir George was trying it, he then had to make a hurried call to Harrisons saying 'No no don't make the reeds double power, make them half power'. He had, as he said, failed to take into account the curtains, carpets and sofas etc in the room where the organ was. This is referred to in Jonathan Rennert's excellent, and highly readable biography about him, which Sir George kindly autographed for me in 1979. M.S. .
  9. That book may indeed be fascinating. I have a book about Parry called The Parrys of the Golden Vale - Anthony Boden which may indeed be an erudite work, and is geared towards the serious student, but I found it dreadfully boring ,and definitely not a book to take on holiday. M.S.
  10. Interesting Books. I possess a copy of the autobiography of Sir Frederick Bridge - A Westminster Pilgrim. Personally I don't think he was any great shakes as an Organist, especially as the great Edwin Lemare was next door at St Margarets, and the book is rather large to take on holiday at 360 pages, but, nevertheless I found it most interesting. Also there is the excellent biography of Guilaume Ormonde one time organist at Truro Cathedral. This is a small book and most entertaining. I have forgotten its exact name as I have presently lent it out. He was a very popular but decidedly eccentric character. He was always forgetting where he left his car, for instance. He also gave 3 years salary towards the rebuilding of the Cathedral organ, and that only amounted to £1500 in total. A great friend of his, now sadly died, Michael Peterson (Tewkesbury) gave me very many anecdotes about him. For example, he possessed at one time a large American car, and taking Michael out to lunch one day to a hotel in the town which was situated on a hill with a steep driveway, the car grounded fore and aft leaving the driving wheels spinning uselessly in the air ! An ideal little book to take on holiday. M.S.
  11. Hello, There are several ways of doing this. 1. The easiest way would be to use this newfangled invention ' the electric telling-bone' and speak with Kenneth Jones or one of his associates at his factory in Bray. Tel: 00 353 1 286 8930. Doubtless he will also send you some photos and it is a very photogenic organ. His firm have taken out a double page advert in the current edition of Organists Review, in which there are 4 colour photos of this instrument. He has moved it forward of the archway where I'm sure it now sounds very fine. Previously most of the divided casework was behind the archway. Why is it that organ builders, I wonder, particularly in less enlightened times, always 'shoved' their organs in positions where they couldn't speak properly, such as redundant broom cupboards ? or, as in this instance, behind a wall ? 2. You could contact the church or write to the organist. 3. You could look up this organ, as I have just done, in the NPOR register, and , surprise, surprise, the last entry was dated 2001. M.S.
  12. Good morning Parsfan, yes - Stephen speaks much common sense and has given exceptionally good advices I think on the matter of T.H. However, if I might say so, without wishing in any way to sound rude, your statement that you saw Beethoven 5 programmed and decided not to attend is rather infantile. What you should have done is to have attended anyway, listened to his virtuosic transcription of this work, and THEN written your comments; if you then still didn't like it you could have then written WHY you didn't like it. May I suggest that you obtain a dvd of T.H. Opening solo concert at Melbourne Town Hall on which his transcription of Beethoven 5 is included, and I shall be very surprised if you don't change your mind. For example, only last week, I attended an organ recital here which included Franck's Grand Piece Symphonique. I happen to think, and I'm a non organist, that this piece is tedious and overlong and, to me, somewhat boring, but I didn't say because that is being played I'm not attending. I thought I will try to listen to it, yet again, to see whether I can like it better. Incidentally I also had to endure Mozart's 'Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein' (figured chorale from The Magic flute). Almost a fate worse than death itself ! I did however buy this very same organist's new c.d. from La Madeleine in Paris of the works of Lefebure-Wely, and I have asked my French brother in law and sister to go along to hear him this Sunday in Monaco Cathedral where he will be playing a much more audience friendly programme. I have an organist friend of mine who formerly couldn't abide transcriptions, I insisted he accompany me to hear T.H. and he was immediately converted. The organ today is regarded by the concert going public in a very low light, and if SOME of the organ repertoire can be altered to make these recitals more exciting then I regard that as a very good thing. There isn't an overabundance of organ music that would come the heading of ' tuneful'. In fact, much of it reminds me of ' the tune the donkey died on'. Far too many people, mainly organists themselves, of course, regard the organ as a vehicle for playing only serious music, and this, I think, is totally wrong. Now, I am NOT saying that all organ recitals should be full of transcriptions, there has to be a balance. Organ recitals should be a mixture of that which is Educational and that which is Entertaining; the balance between the two being dependent upon the venue, the composition of the audience and a few other factors. I still maintain, and an ever increasing number of people are fast agreeing, that Thomas Heywood's playing is like a breath of fresh air through the organ world. M.S.
  13. You'll be able to hear this organ in a full recital next Sunday August 20th at 5pm by the living re-incarnation of the 20th century's greatest concert organist, Edwin Lemare, in the form of the Australian virtuoso THOMAS HEYWOOD. Maybe the Sunday afternoon recitals are not classed as FULL. I've never attended one. m.s.
  14. Good afternoon Stephen, Thank you very much for your very informative and helpful reply, and I agree that before he gets anywhere near the RAH he will need to establish himself on the London circuit. Thomas provides a different type of programme to others, as you already know of course, and hopefully this will stand him in good stead. Tell me who is the Curator of the Organ at the RAH ? John Birch used to be but now he has retired. I imagine that you yourself will find it inconvenient to listen to him next Sunday at St Paul's ? I do hope that other important organists will attend and make their own opinions. Your advices are very sound, and I shall pass it on. Thank You. M.S.
  15. Good morning Alsa, I never thanked you for your measured and informed reply to me. Possibly I am a little wiser now. Last week I was busy as I had a guest here for The Three Choirs Festival. Talking on another matter, you mentioned in an earlier post that the RAH authorities may be reluctant to engage the Australian virtuoso, Thomas Heywood, to give a recital. Many of us would like to see this happen, have you any idea how we would go about it ? I have already suggested to him that he supplies a couple of his c.d's to the authorirties there, but who ? Meanwhile if you live in London I urge you, most strongly, to go along to St Paul's Cathedral next Sunday, August 20th at 5pm, and you will hear him there. You will come away full of awe and wonderment. I heard him again last night at Worcester, on the finest organ in that city, St Martins, LOndon Road; it was thrilling beyond compare. He will also be playing at Exeter Cathedral next Wednesday. M.S.
  16. Thank you very much for that Tony. I have NOW done so, but originally thought that as that organ has gone from there a long time ago, it would not be in the NPOR. It was indeed. (N 07267) Someone reading this might possibly know what happened to this instrument ? and then we can close this subject. Probably thrown away as I think it was a fairly extinguished instrument. A mutual friend, who works at the B'ham Conservatoire is currently engaged on the moving of the Eule Susi Jeans organ from the RSCM at Dorking to B'ham Conservatoire, and was idly wondering what the former organ was like. It might make an interesting diversion in the programme notes for the inaugural concert of the re-instated Susi Jeans organ. Michael.
  17. HEREFORD Hello Goldsmith and also Vox Humana, No you haven't caused me any offence whatsoever; many people have indeed commented adversely about this 4 rank mixture on the Great, and, actually, at the recent rebuild it was indeed re-modelled and now fits in wonderfully with the full chorus. M.S.
  18. Information is required on a former organ in the Birmingham School of Music when it was based in the Birmingham and Midlands Institute in Colmore Row. This would be around 1964 and the organ was 3 man probably by Nicolson but, incredibly, Nicolsons do not have records of many of their old organs. Quite possibly the organ was sold on or scrapped. Principal of the School then was Gordon Clinton (deceased) Principal organ teacher - George Miles (deceased). I have been asked to find out and as I know there are some extremely knowledgeable people on this web site I thought someone might know something. M.S.
  19. Sorry if I got a little carried away there, but those from afar that were here this week will testify to that. M.S. <{POST_SNAPBACK}> Re-reading my ultimate paragraph I must comment further. Hope I'm not sounding a bore, but those from afar who attended the Opening Service of The Three Choirs did somewhat disgrace themselves, as regards their incessant babble. Before the service after Peter had played his set pieces: Toccata in C - Pachelbel; Piece d'orgue - Bach; A Fantasy - Tomkins; Prelude and fugue in D minor - Mendelssohn, most of which those of us who were seated at the West end had difficulty in hearing owing to the deafening hubbub of conversation. There was then a gap before the Philharmonia orchestra struck up with Elgar's Imperial March. Peter filled in by doing one of his masterly improvisations BUT the louder he played so what the cognoscenti who attend this function like to describe themselves as 'the great and the good' so the louder they yapped ! Finally the mighty Willis was absolutely ' flat out' with Tubas and still they yapped. Admittedly they did have the decency to give him a huge round of applause. I had difficulty in hearing this whereas others in the north transept, opposite the organ, were overwhelmed. I could hear the TUba and the 32' Ophicleide but not much else. I'm afraid this has nothing at all to do with the subject in question, but, hopefully, this little aside will be of interest. M.S.
  20. Hello V.H. Yes, I have heard a few people say similar to yourself, but not being an organist myself, I leave it to others to have the final say. All I do say is that Roy Massey is very pleased with this new mixture, and I'm sure he would discuss this if you were to write or email him. What I do say, and hearing it nearly every Sunday, is that its sounds never tire, from the exquisite flutes and quieter colours to the full organ, I remain completely overwhelmed by its musical and majestic sounds. Unlike organs by lesser builders it never ever sounds harsh or overbearing no matter how loudly it is played. I have to say that at the Eucharist service every Sunday, at which Peter Dyke, our Assistant plays, he sends one into ecstasy, almost, by his brilliant improvisations, particularly upon the Recessional hymn which never stops; he plays from the heart and the theme of the service is transmitted through his hands and the outpouring of sound is almost more than a soul can bear. The organ continues at 'absolute full steam', echoing and re-echoing around the sacred stones in tones of utmost grandeur completely enveloping and enfolding those within in a cocoon of glorious sound. Blasts of tuba, until finally the whole lot comes together in an almost cataclysmic welter of sound. Absolutely WONDERFUL, thrilling beyond all words. We then leave the Cathedral feeling totally uplifted both by the service itself and our marvellous organ. Sorry if I got a little carried away there, but those from afar that were here this week will testify to that. M.S.
  21. HEREFORD. I live here at Hereford and would like to correct 'Goldsmith' in his statement no 7 post. I will quote Roy Massey's remarks: As in 1933 it was decided that restoration and conservation was the correct proocedure, and consequently there has been no re-voicing or alteration of the Willis pipeworkm although the opportunity was taken to provide a few additions to amplify the original tonal concept. The Great organ gained one new stop - a 4 rank mixture 19,22,26,29, which carries up the brilliance of the Willis 4ft and 2ft ranks and acts as a bridge between the fluework and the wonderful family of 16,8, and 4 ft Trumpets. The original Willis Tierce mixture 17,19,22, remained unaltered. The pedal organ gained independent metal diapason ranks at 8 ft and 4 ft pitch with a 4 rank mixture 19,22,26,29 to complete the chorus and give a degree of independence. A stopped flute 8ft Open flute 4ft and Schalmei 4ft were also added to give variety to the quiter pedal registers. At our latest rebuild this Schalmei was altered to a trumpet 4 ft, maybe called a Clarion, I forget. The Swell organ remained exactly as before although in order to improve tonal egress 2 additional shutters were added to the Swell front and a baffle board errected over the box to direct the sound forward. The Solo organ gained a 2ft flute by the transposition of the old Hohl flute 4ft and the Glockenspiel gongs lost their swell shutters inh an attempt to make their charming tones more audible. The Tuba was moved to a commanding new position over the Great organ as its pipes formerly blocked the triforium arch and masked the tone of the Swell organ. The Choir organ was moved from its rather buried position at the back of the chamber to a new position in the centre of the organ case where the old 1893 console used to be. This division was brightened by the addition of a tapered Spitz flute 2ft in place of the old Piccolo and a 3 rank mixture 15,19,22 replaced the Lieblich Bourdon 16 ft. The Willis 1933 console, notable for the luxurious completeness of control which it offered the player was retained. Again this was retained at our latest rebuild suitably modernised with memory systems etc. I was only talking to Roy yesterday and this came up. One doesn't have to use the new 4 rank mixture on the Great which remains exactly as Father Willis left it. At the recent rebuild Geraint Bowen also decided restoration and conservation were the correct procedure. We are now left with one of the finest organs in all the land. Hope this information has been helpful. M.S.
  22. Thank you 'Goldsmith' 'Elsie', or whatever the pseudonymn was under which she was cowering, was rather getting her knickers in a twist. Let me state here that it is more than likely that 'Elsie' possesses greater musical knowledge than I, that wouldn't be too difficult ! but nevertheless I think that I have valid points to make over the RAH organ. Some of 'Elsie's' points were a little muddled, i.e. " if there were to be many more organ recitals then audiences would dry up" so, in effect, what he is saying that if there isn't enough audiences to go round then why bother with organ recitals in the first place. Solo organ in the Proms. ok maybe he has a point here. obviously the BBC have decided that one is enough. HOWEVER, the RAH, as an institution, could promote organ recitals if it chose to do so. Doesn't the RAH have a responsibility to promote organ music having spent so much money on its instrument ? Finally, if the economy will only allow 3 organ recitals per year then why on earth spend £1.7 million on restoring the organ in the first place ? For use at Christmas an electronic could be hired in and the audiences that attend these concerts wouldn't know the difference. Other concert halls use their organs and seem to have no trouble in getting good attendances. Hull City Hall, someone mentioned, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Victoria Hall Hanley. It may very well be that trying to fill the much larger RAH for an organ recital is indeed impossible, or, at least, fill it enough, to cover costs. I don't know. Perhaps someone might explain this point. If my points are wrong then I await to be corrected. M.S.
  23. It would appear from your cryptic reply that it is you who is being obtuse and divorced from reality. The RAH has just spent £1.7 million on their masterpiece and it should therefore be advertised and used far more prominently than it is; the half built 'Ally Pally' organ receives greater publicity than the RAH organ which remains one of the wonders of the Victorian age. I fully understand that the RAH need to maximise revenues by multifarious functions but 3 solo organ recitals in 1 year is hardly maximising their investment in their organ. This is the only large venue in the capital that possesses a huge organ which is part of the building. My further point is that providing just one solo organ recital during the whole of the Proms season, and a very mediocre programme at that, is lamentable. The timing of this one recital will guarantee a minimum audience. What are people normally doing at 4 pm ? Recovering from luncheon, travelling, sunning themselves, and a host of other activities, certainly not attending organ recitals. What have violin and piano recitals, 'Alsa' to do with the price of peas in China ? These recitals can be heard in countless other venues but the RAH is unique in possessing an organ that was built solely to play concert music. I personally think that the living re-incarnation of the 20th century's greatest concert organist, Lemare, should be invited to recital here, and by that I mean the young Australian virtuoso, Thomas Heywood; at least he knows, and fully understands, how to programme for his audience. I do look forward to John Scott's recital in October, an excellent programme. Finally, I do agree with 'Goldsmith' that Mr Kenyon appears to be very anti-organ; perhaps this might be a good time to push for his replacement as Controller of Radio 3. M.S.
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