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Bruce Buchanan

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Everything posted by Bruce Buchanan

  1. Rather than designate stop lengths in feet, the Portuguese, uniquely, I think, do so in 'palmas', or hand palms, the span from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger, nominally 8 inches. Thus, 12 palms equal 8ft and 24 palms are 16 ft.
  2. In fact, the organ was originally built by Henry Willis in 1859, opened on Tuesday, 24 May that year (sermon by the Bishop of Oxford). The stop-list of the instrument has not yet come to light.
  3. This is alarming, but I cannot quite see it happening here. On the other hand... http://www.leparisien.fr/culture-loisirs/la-cathedrale-de-rouen-privee-de-ses-grandes-orgues-02-11-2019-8184978.php?fbclid=IwAR1GG4LDYMOPHTDm4hqt9da0iquM3A99enm0VOYMEvJGxklbpveQAF9gtMo
  4. Where is this, please. I think London.
  5. And yet and yet… Very many years ago, doing night work at St Paul’s, we took as usual our tea break at 2.00 am in the crypt mess with the two night watchman, who in those days patrolled the Cathedral each night. The conversation turned to the reverberation in the Cathedral (12 ¼ seconds according to HWIII and faithfully repeated by me ever since) and I remarked on the case of Sheffield City Hall where, as I amusingly put it, the reverberation ceases ¼ second before you lift you hands from the keys. The older of the two watchmen listened gravely as I expatiated, with all the skill and
  6. I recall hearing the Spinks improvisation. It was broadcast from St Gabriel’s Cricklewood, a 1958 JWW rebuild of, I think, an earlier JWW. The organ was a new wine in old bottles, post Festival Hall essay, its high-minded ideals being compromised by extension, duplexing and the original pipework. My recollection is that the church had a deplorable acoustic, but as it was a favourite venue for musical events, that must be wrong. No doubt Spinks’s improvisation was academically correct, but I remember it mainly through disappointment. It seemed to plod its way from the beginning to th
  7. There is room here for an interesting and perhaps useful digression. I know nothing of the organ in Fredericton Cathedral, but until convincingly assured otherwise, I decline to believe that the Viola da Gamba is the loudest and lowest pitched flue rank on the Swell Organ. If this drawstop is at the bottom of the Swell jamb then it is in the wrong position. I accept that a cup of coffee upset by a Bourdon 16ft is no less upset by a Gamba 8ft, but for some a bad situation is made worse by the malefaction being undertaken by a drawstop that should not be there in the first place. It is true that
  8. As regards Willis, there are no sources, not even Mr Renshaw, who essayed this myth fully twenty years ago after misconstruing or accepting a misconstruction by others of a paper dating from the 1970s showing the order of intervals used by Henry Willis and Sons Ltd for laying the bearings. In the method used by Willis (and in all other methods of laying the bearings for Equal Temperament) the beat rates of the fifths from C-G and the quicker rates for the fourths from C-F increase regularly as they ascend so that, in the Willis order of intervals, the test fourth C#-F# fits perfectly between C
  9. Mrs Barbara Willis, briefly the widow of Henry Willis 4, died yesterday, peacefully at her home in India. She was 89.
  10. A little more good news here via Andrew Jolliffe, late of this parish, now a Parisien. https://www.resmusica.com/2019/04/16/le-grand-orgue-de-notre-dame-ne-serait-pas-detruit/
  11. The words quoted here are from Volume XXXIX (1852) of Newton’s London Journal, (properly, The London Journal of Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures, and Repertory of Patent Inventions. Conducted by Mr. W. Newton of the Office for Patents, Chancery Lane. (Assisted by several Scientific Gentlemen). There is no indication that they are Willis’s own words though I do not think that he would have objected to them. Possibly Newton or one of his Scientific Gentlemen interviewed Willis before setting pen to paper, but if so none of the bravado of the bumptious upstart got through the dispassionate filter
  12. In fact, Dr Thistlethwaite allocates 30 pages to Henry Willis. These are, in my opinion, the most useful, accurate and dispassionate 30 continuous pages ever written about HW, and they are superior in every respect to the 65 pages uncritically strung together in 1955 by W L Sumner from HWIII's notes.
  13. I regret to report that Noël Rawsthorne died in the early hours of this morning. He was 89. Bruce Buchanan
  14. It was Andrew Pennells. His death was a tragedy for his family, but a disaster for British organ building.
  15. After 11 pages on this subject I rather fear I now need to see definitions of: 'Beautiful' 'English', and, referring to the Blind Listening thread, 'Organ'
  16. I have not written an obituary of HW4 for The Times. I have submitted one to the IBO Newsletter and another (by request) to the Journal of the AIO. Bruce Buchanan
  17. After a short illness, Henry Willis 4 died this morning at 8.00 am our time at his home in the Nilgris district of Tamil Nadu; he was 91. Bruce Buchanan
  18. By sad coincidence, David Graebe died two years ago today
  19. In fact, you have misread the return. The address given is Fitzroy Row, adjacent to Gray & Davison's in Quickset Row, where the young Henry Willis lodged with Henry Miller and his family; their son James was an apprentice with G&D. Also lodging there was Thomas Mathews (possibly Matthews), an organ builder, I think with G&D. Richardson lived at a different address in Fitzroy Row. Henry Willis & Sons Ltd declare that they were established in 1845, by which I think they mean when the Willis 'shop opened at 2 1/2 Foundling Terrace. From 1841 or thereabouts until his return to
  20. The origin of the work was a recitation of Paul Claudel's "Chemin de la Croix" at the Brussels Conservatory in February 1931, Dupré improvising between each of Claudel's fourteen prose poems. Dupré told me (in late 1958) that though the music was improvised he had prepared the registrations beforehand. I believe the power of the piece comes from the musical meditations on Claudel's verses rather than any association one might make with the more familiar liturgy of the Stations of the Cross. Protestant and generally monoglot Britain might not fully appreciate this work as much as it does
  21. Speaking only of Willis reeds, which I know best, Father Willis took his 8ft chorus reeds to A58, or G56 depending on the manual compass, the Clarions usually breaking to flue pipes at F#43. I do not recall a Father Willis chorus reed (on 3” or 3.5”wg) carried to C61. Willis Tubas were and are harmonic from F#19, with reeds carried to the top note, even C61, the pressure of at least 12.5”, usually 15” sometimes 20”wg and more being necessary to generate sufficient power from the tongue. From the time that Willis stopped making their own shallots after the Great War, the sets were 61 note f
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