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Mander Organs


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About MusoMusing

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  1. An extraordinary man, an extraordinary musician and an extraordinary life. Every good wish to him at.....what was it? 102!!!!
  2. I've just read this, and it is terribly sad news. I feel that I've lost a friend, with whom I have shared a great deal over the years. David was quite the enthusiast and very knowledgeable about organ matters. We will miss him. I would also join in offering sympathy to his family and close friends.
  3. It is claimed that the original organ was weak and ineffective. Compton's revoiced everything, and the result was spectacular. In my view, the Compton name should still be there, because R & D did nothing much tonally.
  4. I never thought of Sheffield, but you are right. Not only that, the space occupied by the old Willis/Mander (if it's still in situ) would have been about right for the Compton. MM
  5. It was certainly contrived and spurious, because long before the demise of the organ, the management of the hall wanted to make vertical space available for stage flies, which would have brought it into line with other, rather better venues, and project the hall into the first rank of visual experiences. If that was the agenda, then the removal of the organ was not without justification, in an age which has made the organ unfashionable. To that end, the City Council did the right thing by appointing the late Steve Tovey as their consultant, with a view to finding a home for the instrument. However, with remarkable speed, following the death of Mr Tovey, certain members of the council seemed to regard this as a green light to simply scrap the instrument in order to hasten the conversion of the hall. Again, I am not without empathy, but simply scrapping such a splendid and thoroughly well made instrument was, in my view, an act of criminal vandalism. The instrument could have been advertised for sale internationally, and it seems unlikely to me, that there wouldn't have been potential buyers; as the sale of numerous church organs to Germany has shown in recent years. MM
  6. Only if you were alive 1979-82. MM
  7. Indeed, but such use requires careful registration. It is an organ which can whisper or roar.....and boy, can it roar!
  8. Getting to grips with the City Hall organ was always an ordeal when it came to degree congregations and such, but what an organ! Totally revoiced by Compton's, I regard it as their greatest masterpiece, and Jimmy Taylor's in particular. It makes a fascinating foil to the other really great Compton at Southampton Guildhall, which has all the 1930's weight and infinite means of expression. "Rock crushing" is not a malign description, for that was the style back in the day. However, the City Hall organ at Hull, with considerable brightness and chorus integrity, really anticipated the reform movement in Britain, and the organ at the Festival Hall in particular. With an infinitely finer acoustic than the RFH, the City Hall was always going to sound better in the stalls. What a difference a decade and a half can make! Southampton was 1937.....Hull around 1952 if I recall without checking. MM
  9. I'm beginning to think that John may be quite a common name.
  10. That's the one! Isn't the Minster St.John? MM
  11. Wonderful news! There's a wonderful basis on which to work, including the "battleship" Forster & Andrews parts, as well as Compton's renowned quality. I hope they don't specify major tonal-changes, because this is one of the last untouched Compton re-builds, and contains, for instance, reeds voiced by the legendary Billy Jones. I can't think of many areas, other than Liverpool and Bristol, where so many stupendous organs can be heard in a 12 mile radius....City Hall, the Minster, St John's Beverley, Beverley Minster. Also, Bridlington isn't far away. Not only that, they are all so different in character. No matter who gets the job, I somehow doubt that it will be another 80 years before the next rebuild is due! MM
  12. I recall a discussion with a noted music historian, when we considered the music of Bach and the organs of the day. Without the slightest doubt, the organ was the loudest and most spectacular sound ever heard at that time, and the sounds of daily life would be restricted to bird-song, horses, carts, the blacksmith's hammer and the scuffle of people going about their business. Night time would be almost totally silent and unlit. In our very noisy world, it is not surprising that one of our finest pipe-voicers voiced one notable cathedral instrument during the wee small hours, and even had a sleeping bag on hand inside the organ. I often wonder if hearing loss and heavy industry didn't play a part in the development of the romantic organ, which seemed to lose clarity decade after decade; culminating in the "rock crushing" sounds often associated with the 1930's, where clarity almost totally disappeared. I vividly recall a very special moment, after arriving slightly late for an organ-concert at the Martinikerk, Groningen, just as the Bach Gigue Fugue (played at a modest pace) began. I stood at the back of the large church, and in spite of the considerable distance from the instrument, I could hear every inner part as clear as a bell.....a magical moment indeed. Similarly, I have heard early-music performances of baroque music, with equally splendid clarity and definition. When it comes to the organ, I can't help but think that an awful lot of so-called "neo-baroque" instruments are crude and clumsy; especially in the typical English parish church, with side aisles and low roof levels; not to mention poor organ positioning and a lack of resonance. There was also the belief that organists wanted "rough" open-foot voicing, which is a description which cannot be levied at the genuine articles on the continent. The baroque masters spent a long time getting things right. The Bavokerk organ took seven years to complete, if I recall correctly. A major component in the musical success of many genuine period instruments, is not just the pipe-voicing, but the acoustic characteristics of the great European hall-churches. This was the problem with the oddly named "iconic" instrument at the Festival Hall. At the console, even the original manifestation of the instrument was impressive, but walking into the body of the hall as the organ was played, convinced me that a more musical option would have been to install a Wurlitzer theatre-organ. We now know that the building did not comply with the architect's original materials specifications, and the original acoustic was quite horrific as a consequence. I always smile at John Compton's comment about Downside Abbey, when someone complimented him on the new organ installed by him. He replied, "In this acoustic, even a penny whistle would sound wonderful". Oddly enough, one of my organ-building heroes is Thomas C Lewis, who admired Schulze above all others (and therefore Silbermann by default). I often wonder why his example wasn't followed and developed into a thoroughly British style, which might have saved us from the rough screech of so many unfortunate "neo-classical" (sic) instruments. MM
  13. I recall playing an old Smith organ in the Netherlands, which was harder work than my grandmother's mangle. Most are nothing like as bad, but the depth of key touch seems to be one of the limiting factors with many old instruments. MM
  14. It is clearly a quite large search looking for organ improvisations broadcast by BBC Radio 3. The following link would probably yield rather more than I have time for. https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/search/40/20?q=ORGAN+IMPROVISATION#search MM
  15. Nowadays, when musicians die or otherwise disappear, there are usually a few cassete tapes, CD's and such left around, but I well recall my first "state of the art" recording equipment which was a gift on my 15th birthday. It consisted of a mono Ferrograph tape-recorder and a rather nice Reslo ribbon microphone......total weight to drag around, about half a hundredweight. (That's about 24 kilos for EU enthusiasts). Nowadays, one can get almost broadcast quality from a small, portable, digital recording device for around £100. Somewhere, if it is still playable, I have a 25 minute, mono-thematic improvisation on cassete, which I just felt inspired to play. The ideas kept flowing, and hey-ho.....a fairly mighty work. (I just typed "Tate of the art" above......I like that!) I've crawled around various archives of the BBC, but apart from the James I Taylor insertion, I've not come across any Radio Times entries for organ-improvisation from the 1950's and 1960's. It's fairly time-consuming going through the Radio Times entries, and it may well be that I haven't yet covered all the various stations.....I'll go back to it when the cats have gone out and refuse to come in because it is summer. What did strike me, was the sheer number of organ-related programmes during the 1930's and 1940's, accompanied by some quite technical descriptions of organs, organ mechanisms and the music played. There was something for everyone, from Sandy Machperson and his postbag, (playing the BBC theatre organ), to George Thalben-Ball playing the Compton at the Radio Theatre concert-hall and right through to some intellectual stuff from France and Germany. It was quite a golden age for organists! Another pun just sprang to mind. Is the National Gallery the "Art of the state"? I must go and do something useful! MM
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