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Mander Organs

MusoMusing

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  1. It's always good to have a few solid facts to go on, and the price of that 8 rank organ would be about £160,000 today, or about £20,000 per rank. It's still a lot of money for not a great deal, but the illuminated console would have jacked up the price somewhat. The Wurlitzer equivalent around 1926, translates to £400,000 for 11 ranks of pipes and three manuals in to-day;s money. The cost of the Wurlitzer equivalents was obviously a sticking point for many cinema chains, because various ways of reducing the price were introduced; such as the use of Discus blowers made in the UK, which cut the costs of transportation and import taxes considerably. It's easy to see why Compton dominated the market if their instruments were something like half the price. I hadn't realised just HOW much cheaper the Compton organs were, so the figure quoted for the Aberdeen instrument is very revealing. It also explains the reasoning behind Wurlitzer establishing a factory in London, to avoid he taxes and transport costs from America. MM
  2. Baa Baa Black sheep....a mix of Bach and Messaien! I could have done it better myself. Baaach humbug! MM
  3. Another interesting fact re: the price of cinema organs in 1930. I came across a printed price-list, and the biggest stock-model Wurlitzer cost £22,000, which translates to £1.3 million to-day. Not bad for 24 or so ranks of pipes! (About £54,000 per rank) Comptons cost somewhat less, but still serious money in anyone's language.. It's not difficult to understand why organ-builders were falling over themselves to get a slice of the market. MM
  4. I've come across a number of Conacher organs, and I still recall one in Huddersfield, at what was then a Congregational Church. In a word, it was awful. Big fluffy Open 1, muddy Bourdon, booming Pedal Open Wood, an awful Clarinet, a raucous Great Trumpet, a ghastly full Swell (needing Octave and Sub couplers), hardly any upperwork, scratchy Viole.....I could go on. I just hated the thing, yet it was built like the proverbial battleship. Curiously, the same cannot be said of the few theatre organs Conacher built. They were really good, as some of the old recordings at The Scala, Rotherham demonstrated, when we had "The organist entertains" on radio. Especially good were their wooden Tibias, which were a fair match for Wurlitzer versions. MM
  5. That works out at about £3 per key!
  6. Oh good Lord! Will this book ever get finished? 😕 MM
  7. An interesting factoid about the Strand Lightning Consoles. Apparently Compton did all the console and relay work in their premises. When the BBC changed over to computerised light consoles (etc) they apparently continued to use the luminious-touch stop technology invented by John Compton, and after the era of the Strand consoles. MM
  8. I've never heard this organ, but I do recall Dennis Thurlow telling me that he regarded it as one of his best voicing jobs. MM
  9. I think I was about 15 when I went to the R & D works in Liverpool, during the IAO Congress there. They were just climbing on the neo-classical bandwagon at that point. I'm not sure if we didn't all rush off to hear a new job at a catholic church, and right at the start, the arguments broke out. I must have been underwhelmed, because I can't recall who played the organ for us, but I do recall Dr.Caleb Jarvis, Henry the 4ft (Willis) and Dr Dixon (Lancaster RC cathedral) having a heated argument about it. Possibly ahead of his time, Dr Diixon turned to me and said, "Why do they NEED a second chorus in Bach? Bach didn't write anything which requires one!" I hadn't a clue, so I just smiled and agreed! Some years later (possibly as part of the Chester Congress) we all piled off to Mold PC, and although it wasn't offensive in any way, it just didn't seem right in the acoustic. I think it confirmed to me, that the "continental" sound needs the right sort of building and acoustic to work properly, and at that time, I was lucky to be able to regularly play a superb neo-classical job in the perfect acoustic. MM
  10. I wouldn't want to hi-jack the thread, but the Salford organ wasn't remote. It was just enclosed in a concrete sarcophagus inside the cathedral; the sound picked up my microphones, amplified and sent to loudspeakers. It was a very peculiar arrangement. MM.
  11. I thought I'd replied once, but it seems to have become a floating division! I'll try again! The source re: the auxillary organ at Canterbury, is a primary one, which makes it very interesting. It can be heard in a recorded interview with Roy Skinner, and ex-Compton man who who was actually the Brother-in-Law to "Jimmy" Taylor". I shall have to re-listen to what he said about Canterbury and see if I can transcribe the more important bits. I'm fairly sure it wasn't electronic. Reading between the gaps, I would suggest that it was a smallish unit pipe-organ placed somewhere outside the cathedral and relayed inside, but I have no firm evidence for that. The thing didn't last long, and it makes me wonder whether this wasn't the basis of the Salford job, which followed soon after. At Salford, the organ was in what seems to have been a concrete bomb-shelter in the North Aisle, from which no direct sound emerged. Instead, it was "piped" to east or west of the cathedral, where the sound of the pipes were relayed through speakers. That also didn't last very long....about 10 to 12 years I believe, with only parts of the Compton re-used in the new Jardine replacement. It would be interesting to be able to find a link between Canterbury and Salford which doesn't include Thomas Becket. MM
  12. I don't know how far things have got with the York re-build, but while editing the Compton Story, I came across the following. "At Canterbury Cathedral, problems associated with the position of the organ and the acoustics of edifice, an auxiliary Compton organ (1937) was installed in a remote out-building, and the sounds relayed into the cathedral through dozens of loudspeakers scattered around the building. How successful this arrangement may or may not have been, doesn't seem to have been recorded for posterity, but suffice to say, the detached Compton organ didn't remain in situ outside the cathedral for very long!" MM
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