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Graham Dukes

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About Graham Dukes

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  • Birthday 02/11/1930

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    Oslo, Norway
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    Profession:Medical Doctor and Attorney<br />Law and Ethics of the Pharmaceutical Industry<br />History of newspapers<br />Classic organs<br />Hasselblad photography<br />Rolls-Royce Cars
  1. MM/Colin, Thanks for your quick reply. Even ten pages of Compton history is further than anyone else has ever got! Just briefly: a. I didn't know that Henry Royce had made items for Robert Hope-Jones, and that doesn't seem to be mentioned in any of the Royce biographies. Henry tried lots of things in his days as a an electrical manufacturer, ranging from overhead cranes to domestic doorbells, so I'm not surprised that he tried organ components as well. b.I will have a go at the Pilling family history later this week and see how far I get. c. You are certainly right that Compton didn't have the clout to compete in the electronic field with the likes of Yamaha. They didn't have the financial resources nor the marketing insight to do it. That was my conclusion after talking twice to Alan Lord in the mid-sixties when he sold me a modified CH2 and I introduced him to Eminent in Holland; Compton and Eminent agreed to represent each other but it had little effect. I had the same impression of deficient marketing insight when I met Colonel Peathy-Johns whose firm (EPTA Electronics) bought John Compton after it gone into receivership and re-established it as Compton Organs Ltd. Their main interest was to use part of the Compton factory to manufacture EPTA products, and electronic organ manufacture was rather pushed aside. Within no time, Compton Organs Ltd had gone into receivership as well, and the name was sold to Compton-Makin on the one hand and Compton-Edwards on the other. Successive advertisements in Musical Opinion tell the story. I'll get back to you when I have some news. All the best, Graham Dukes
  2. I was active on this topic two years ago, but during 2012 I was so fully occupied with other things that I was unable to contribute. I am delighted that MusingMuso is now at work on a draft text of the Compton history, and that so much has been pieced together in recent months thanks to this forum. I am no more than an amateur organist but I have written and edited a lot of books in other fields, and I remain willing to provide any help I can to move this project ahead. You might like to contact Mr David Clegg, who only quite recently retired from the general manager's position at Makin Organs, and who worked with John Pilling from 1980 onwards - he must know a lot about him, his situation and his family. He is a very pleasant and helpful man. If there is any residual problem regarding the family links between Samuel and John Pilling I can also have a look in the family history archiving services, with which I have worked several times. I do not think it is quite correct to say that Compton neglected the "entertainment organ" field when developing its electronic products. Around 1964 I went to the Ideal Home Exhibition in London and there was a large Compton stand. Alongside its small classic electrone model (the CH2) it was also offering a home entertainment variant (the HE2) and the lady deminstrating the instruments was concentrating heavily on the "pop" version. However, this was perhaps a one-off event, and in the entertainment field as a whole Compton was overshadowed by the tremendous sales pressure at the time from firms like Hammond, Lowrey and Wurlitzer. The latter were also able to do a great deal more in the way of bells and whistles with their valve systems (later transistor systems) than Compton, that had for financial reasons simplified its electromechanical sound generation system to the point where it produced only seven octaves of sine waves. This greatly weakened its performance both for classical and entertainment purposes, as compared with that of Leslie Bourne's large generators producing complex soundwaves and fairly rich upperwork. Graham Dukes
  3. David Drinkell: Some weeks ago you asked on this forum whether I was the same Graham Dukes who fifty years ago wrote a paper on "two manuals, pedals and a budget" in The Organ. I am indeed - because of several weeks work in Kenya I am replying very late. I never put any of my specifications to the text ending up with a 10-stop instrument by Pels and Van Leeuwen of Holland. Regards, Graham Dukes, mngdukes@gmail.com Oslo, Norway
  4. Since several of us have touched on the topic of children's hymns, sometimes sung by adults, one indeed wonders what children themselves make of them. Growing up in the 1940's I was convinced, with others around me, that "Fight the good fight" was an exhortation to beat Hitler. That belief was strengthened by liberal doses of "Jerusalem" and "Onward Christian Soldiers". We didn't pick up our swords of burnished gold, since we didn't have any, but we did run out into the playground after Assembly enthusiastically brandishing our toy Spitfires and making aggressive zooming noises. Graham Dukes
  5. Thanks for your quick and encouraging response MM. I also had a positive letter from Ian Bell, whom I contacted directly, and who is one of the few people to have written a short biography of John Compton (for BIOS). He is as fully occupied as we all are, but wants to keep in touch with the venture. Let's wait a few more days and see if more people turn up. I agree that electronic publishing might be the best approach, and one might also think of working with BIOS who could be interested in making this the subject of one of their meetings, with various speakers dealing with the different aspects of the subject. I also wonder what happened to the Compton archives; some may have gone to Rushworth, (so what happened to their material?), some to Compton-Makin. Alan Lord's son may have some clues. One could indeed well rope in the Compton List. Michael Foley was with Comptons during their final years, but I have lost touch with him. Let's see where we are in a week's time. Sincerely, Graham Dukes
  6. Having re-read much that has been written here and elsewhere about John Compton (including Ian Bell's writings) I wonder: there seems to be broad agreement that a book is needed but do we have to give up on the idea because we are all too busy? I mentioned earlier that I am an experienced editor and writer (mostly in the medicolegal field) as well as being an organist with a lot of interest in the Compton story and contacts with the JC factory in its sad latter days, BUT I simply lack the technical knowledge to tackle this topic alone. Is it not possible that a group of us could work together to produce a decent book? I myself live in Norway but I could envisage having a small group meeting of potential contributors sometime this summer in Britain. I have to be in Cambridge on July 2nd, but Birmingham might be more convenient for a get-together. I am not in the least ambitious to take the lead but I hope we could identify a lead author, and I would gladly assist with spadework and editing. Might BIOS be interested in joining in? Graham Dukes Oslo
  7. Just now and again, these forum discussions touch on the problem of turning the pages while playing, but I haven't observed any really practical solutions except for the recruitment of a page-turner. Has anyone tried using an electronic book to do the job? It should be possible to scan multiple pages of music into such a device and then turn the pages by a light touch to a switch or the screen. Using two or more electronic books side by side to show consecutive pages would make it even simpler, shifting the images further on at any convenient moment when one has a free hand.
  8. Hector: I would indeed like to have your listing of organ books and periodicals. Graham Dukes mngdukes@gmail.com
  9. Sorry, Paytrick, but I did write the article forty years ago. I now have two ancient Rolls-Royces in the garage, so I conform to your model. Graham Dukes
  10. Perhaps I may be permitted to add a paper that I contributed to Musical Opinion on thius very topic forty years ago. Here it is..... Whistles in the Wind by Graham Dukes mngdukes@online.no Some day, somewhere, someone with an analytical turn of mind is going to produce a truly penetrating study on the Fascination of Organs. When that day comes, there may at last be a way to define and characterise the organ addict. Addict? I can find no other term. Dr. Peter Williams, in the "Organ Yearbook", has groped for one (organ-lover, organ-fan, organ-devotee . . .) and confessed his failure. But addicts of course we are, defying draughts and bats and rheumatism and marital disapproval to attain the objects of our veneration. Now any herd of addicts, irrespective of what they may be addicted to, tend to have certain secondary traits in common. Do organ addicts? Not at first sight; there are old ones and young ones, left wing and right wing, romantic and baroque; they do not tend to chew (or eschew) shag, nor do they exhibit any evident leaning towards keeping harems or catching butterflies. Yet perhaps I do have a clue to offer. Organ addicts, it would seem, are particularly prone to develop a certain weakness for trains, and more especially for steam engines. Conversely, among the ranks of the railway enthusiasts, there are apparently as many who confess to a hankering after organs. It is difficult to recall how this curious fact first dawned upon me. It may have been on an excursion into the steamy Cambrian world of the Tal-y-llyn Railway, when the conversation in the compartment drifted from engines to organs and back again as if it was the most natural thing in the world and as if the train were being pulled to Abergynolwyn by an old organ. Thereafter, there was the odd way that railway trains kept straying into the columns of the musical journals, where they had no place to be. When the Organ Club went to Norwich some years ago, their enthusiastic encounter with the "Flying Scotsman" at Norwich station was dutifully recorded in these columns, the secretary properly observing that organs and trains went together.' Again, there was that organ excursion to Southern Germany. when the itinerary included several side-steps to curious railways. And, finally, my own chance discovery that an acquaintance who spent his Sundays at the manuals was now devoting his Saturdays to coaxing an Edwardian steam-tram across the Dutch countryside. Why all this should be so, and what light it throws on organ addiction, I do not quite know. but I am assiduously collating my hypotheses. The most evident of them is that the organ and the steam engine are surely two of the most alive of all the machines devised by man. They breathe. visibly and audibly. panting steam or wind as the case may be. With Bottom the Weaver, they can roar as gently as any sucking dove. They heave and sigh as they come into motion; they creak, leak and groan as old age comes upon them; all this they do with great commotion and greater emotion. They are not so much overpoweringly beautiful as beautifully overpowering, yet in essence they are quite simple machines; people who recoil from the intricacies of electronics or internal combustion will tell you how they work (or why they do not). Indeed, much that needs to be said about either can be condensed into a brief formula of figures, dates and names; “ tracker action Snetzler 1761" is a miniature portrayal of a work of art; so. for many people, is 2-4-0 saddle tank Hunslet 1893". Both formulae induce transports of delight in the initiated: both recall an age when these were some of the finest things mechanical built by men. Such simple, antediluvian machines, boldly exploiting the elements of wind, fire and water, can, it seems. appeal to the emotions of a certain part of the human race. The organ and the steam engine are our prime examples in this analysis, but much the same can be said of the windmill and the windjammer, both of which enjoy a following of wide-eyed preservationists. Yet the organ and the steam engine have at times had much more substantial links than those in the eye of the beholder. There was once a brief, glorious epoch during which church organs were equipped with steam engines to blow them; one coaled them up well before morning communion, and then they puffed and sizzled happily for all of Sunday, occasionally blowing off steam during the sermon, consuming vast quantities of water and steam coal until they were quenched by the verger after evensong. For a much longer period there were steam organs on every fairground. George Irvin & Sons, the roundabout people, still have a fine specimen with an 89- key Marenghi organ, and the Fairground Organ Preservation Society ensures that others find their way to traction engine rallies across the countryside. For a continental treat, travellers through Southern Holland pause at the Efteling pleasure gardens near Kaatsheuvel, where a true Belgian steam carrousel has been preserved in working order, down to the last horse-tail, coal bucket and bourdon celeste. There is one group of individuals who are almost notorious for their double addiction to both steam and wind: I refer to the clergy. It is not surprising to find parsons chasing organs. but it is a little disconcerting to find so many of them chasing - and catching - steam engines. The scriptwriter who put a bishop and a vicar onto the footplate of the legendary “Titfield Thunderbolt” had prepared his ground well: for, from Bishop Eric Treacy who is President of the Worth Valley Railway to the Rev. Teddy Boston who has a railway in his garden, railway preservation (like organ adulation) is saturated with Holy Orders. Clergymen apart, the followers of steam and wind regularly demonstrate their common mentality. Both groups cherish their dogmas. their competing schools of design and their obstinate national traditions. A certain Mr. Roberts who is currently taking the Festiniog Railway to task for importing an American locomotive ("an eyesore in the Welsh hills”) expresses himself in just the same terms as the gentlemen who became so irate when the Flentrop arrived from Holland in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. And right they all are, for British is best, at least for many of the British. No less characteristic and curious is the fact that the organ and the engine are revered by their connoisseurs as objects in themselves, and not simply as means to an end. Set three organ enthusiasts in a cell and they will very probably argue not about cadences in Buxtehude but about wind pressures, cone tuning and the scaling of diapasons. Your three railway men, under the same conditions. will be found to debate on superheating, coupling rods and the Giesl ejector; the fact that trains fitted with these devices are actually intended to take people to great and wonderful places is a matter to which they appear largely indifferent. All the same, it is difficult to define the true nature of the emotions experienced by either group. If these contraptions evoked deep stirrings of the mind and thereby truly poetic feelings they would surely have inspired better verse than Pope's doggerel about solemn organs and better songs than the Lost Chord. Yet it is of itself striking that the steam train should have inspired so much music at all, ranging from the juke box success of the “Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe” to the Philharmonic pretensions of “Coronation Scot". Who, after all, ever heard of a musical ode to a combine harvester? And what other machine has ever qualified for such an honour as the issue of stereo records made in shunting yards and on the Lickey incline? Nor are the emotions, once evoked, always positive. A lot of people who do not actually love organs appear to loathe them, and the same applies to steam trains; very few of us have a soul so dead as to be entirely unmoved by objects of such character. They are strong. bold and patient. They endure endless coats of ill- applied paint and suffer rebuilds with fortitude. waiting philosophically for the day of restoration. They go on for ever and ever, or, at least, for much longer than the mere mortals who command and serve them. And if they do die or disintegrate, their relics are lovingly preserved. When the Royal College of Organists auctioned off the last loose vestiges of its old organ, people actually came forward and bought all those keys and stop knobs. I cherish a suspicion that at least some of them are now decorating the same mantelpieces as the nameplates and chimewhistles (mixtures?) of the engines of yesteryear, which are hawked around from month to month in the Railway Magazine. Maybe their owners, and we with them, are in fact seeking to relive in their addiction the wonders of childhood, when the very spirit of a family Sunday was the organ thundering out Onward, Christian Soldiers, and when summer holidays meant careering thrillingly down to Minehead in clouds of steam. Such sentimentality we shall of course indignantly deny, but then we must find some other explanation for the fact that these creatures of steam and wind can bring a lump into the throat and a glint into the eye in a way that the brainchildren of Mr. Hammond and Dr. Diesel do not. Organs and engines, we tell ourselves solemnly, are fine and stately things, set about with craftsmanship and art. If, however. we are a little more honest with ourselves we should then add that these things can also be deliciously absurd. crowned as they are with brass domes or fat cherubins: but because the absurdity is so delicious, we polish the former gild the latter, and then tell ourselves that organs engines are not absurd at all. Yet they are — if only, as a physicist will tell you, because they are in analysis grossly inefficient at turning electricity into sound or coal into motion as the case may be. Indeed, the twentieth century has yet to produce anything so mechanically hopeless as to compare with them, unless it be that rattling conundrum, the helicopter, which expends most of its energy at staying in the air at all; that at least provides our grandchildren with something delicious to venerate and preserve in the twenty-first century. Perhaps, when that day comes, someone, somewhere, with an analytical turn of mind, will produce a truly penetrating study on the Fascination of Old Helicopters. Let him not labour too mightily. For many of the clues which he needs are already close at hand; some certainly. in the treatises which have been devoted to the fascination of Railways; others, perhaps, in these pages. And the rest, we may hope, will still be whistling in the wind, just as we have left them. From: Musical Opinion, London, December 1971, p. 146 Graham Dukes, Oslo, March 2011
  11. For anyone not familiar with it I would recommend Robert N. Roth's superb anthology "Wond'rous Machine" (Scarecrow Press, Lanham (Md) and London, 2000. It is a collection of text relating to the organ, including poems, short stories, mysteries and extracts from novels. Graham Dukes Oslo
  12. Getting way from the issue of chattering congegrations I would just like to comment on the choice of music for pre-service playing. I too find that the choice of the 8 short Preludes and Fugues is a good one for such occasions. Irrespective of whether JSB wrote them or not, they are eminently digestible and tuneful and therefore suitable for people who may not normally appreciate organ classics; they seem to like these and you even get appreciative comments from individuals who otherwise regard the instrument merely as a psalm pump. Graham Dukes
  13. Several of Bach's Organ works exist only in fragmentary form. The only effort of which I am aware to round them off and therefore render them playable was that by Wolfgang Stockmeier (published by Kistner and Siegel in Cologne in 1969). Do any contributors to the Forum have opinions as to the result? And have any other composers tried the same venture? In my view the Fantasie in C (BWV 573), of which only 12 splendid bars survive, was Stockmeier's best effort: the fragment ends in A minor, and he added six bars to bring it back into C. Unfortunately he then went on add several pages more which I find less inspired. Stockmeier also made a brave effort to complete the choral "O Traurigkeit,O Herzeleid" (unnumbered) of which only two bars are known; the completed piece is well worth playing. He tackled several other pieces, but the outcome suggests in my view that they could better have been left alone. Graham Dukes Oslo
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