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Pierre Lauwers

William Hill

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As far as the continental romantic organ is concerned, we may assume with a fair confidence it ermerged from a synthesis of the southern german baroque organ (with for instance Josef Gabler, among others) with Abt Vogler's ideas. Vogler himself did little more than destroying valuable ancient organs to end up with questionable prototypes, but E-F Walcker turned his ideas into the Paulskirche Frankfurt organ (1833), which we may see as the first genuine romantic organ.

 

But...

This splendid theory needs certainly to be internationalized, because of a man named William Hill. According to an article from Mr Nicholas Thistlethwaite in "Organist's review", Februar 1999:

 

-Hill joined the organ-builder Elliot in 1815.

Together they built traditional organs.

 

-1820 began an "Insular movement" towards an expansion in scale of the english organ.

 

An then:

"Beginning in 1829, the firm was responsible for a series of instruments which for size, mechanical ingenuity and tonal novelty, were unprecedented in english experience. Christ's Hospital (1830), Oldham Parish Church (1830), York Minster (1829-30), Birmingham Towh Hall (1834), Christchurch, Newgate street (1831,1834), the Chapel Royal, St-James Palace (1837) and St John's College, Cambridge (1838) all exhibited novel features which distinguish them from the organs of Snetzler, England and Thomas Elliot himself. Among these features were Pedal pipes, German pedal boards, CC keyboard compasses, manual doubles, unprecedently wide scales, Posaune and Cornopean reeds, imitative registers, large Swell divisions (some of almost full compass) and duplication of chorus ranks..."

 

So the period is remarkably the same as E-F Walcker's. A german influence seems to be possible (compasses, Posaune). A certain middle-European influence is of course due to Johannes Snetzler (to which we owe the Dulciana, originally a Dolcan), while the Swell was of course already a time-honored feature of the british organ.

 

I would be very interested with any idea about:

 

-What was this "Insular Movement"?

 

-Where did William Hill find inspiration for what seems to be, along with Walcker, the first romantic organs? (Cavaillé-Coll's first one dates 1841, and was rather a transition organ).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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As far as the continental romantic organ is concerned, we may assume with a fair confidence it ermerged from a synthesis of the southern german baroque organ (with for instance Josef Gabler, among others) with Abt Vogler's ideas.

 

===============

 

 

Mmmmmm!

 

....and what about the famous romantic organ in Romania, which pre-dates them all? (Two swell boxes and reed choruses!)

 

More info on request ;-)

 

 

MM

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[===

 

....and what about the famous romantic organ in Romania, which pre-dates them all? (Two swell boxes and reed choruses!)

 

More info on request ;-)

MM

 

Well, you are welcome!

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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This is an area with which we are not yet well acquainted, so more information would definitely be of interest.

 

John Pike Mander

 

=============

 

Oooops! I've probably mislead a little here. What I should have said, was that the 1841 St.Deny's Cavaille-Coll was anticipated by the Buckholz organ at Kronstadt, Romania, (1839 completion) which has two swell boxes; one of which contains a full reed chorus. Not that the instrument is remotely like those of Cavaille-Coll.

 

Buckholz was a Berliner who seemed to largely eschew the affects of Vogler; instead following and respecting the organs of Wagner, which were the staple style of German organ-building of the immediate pre-romantic period.

 

MM

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1839, that's late compared to E-F Walcker and William Hill, who made already romantic organs in 1829; that there were one or two swellboxes is of course significant, but not as much as a toroughly develloped Abschwächungsprinzip, or romantic reeds, full compasses (Hill) etc.

Cavaillé-Coll was actually late. 1841, that's not early. Moreover, St-Denis is still rather a transition organ (I do not mean an inferior one, of course!).

 

This leaves us with the former question: where did William Hill find inspiration for his ideas? Did he know Abt Vogler?

As to E-F Walcker, we are busy searching if the two men did know each other.

 

Joachim Wagner is a quite interesting case, like Hildebrandt. It seems Wagner was the

first to borrow stops from one manual to another.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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But...

This splendid theory needs certainly to be internationalized, because of a man named William Hill. (SNIP).....

 

"Beginning in 1829, the firm was responsible for a series of instruments which for size, mechanical ingenuity and tonal novelty, were unprecedented in english experience. (snip)......

 

Among these features were Pedal pipes, German pedal boards, CC keyboard compasses, manual doubles, unprecedently wide scales, Posaune and Cornopean reeds, imitative registers, large Swell divisions (some of almost full compass) and duplication of chorus ranks..."

 

So the period is remarkably the same as E-F Walcker's. A german influence seems to be possible ........(truncated)

 

==================

 

 

One thing is sure, William Hill never travelled outside Britain, so any German influence would come to him indirectly.

 

How could this be?

 

Well, other people certainly travelled, and brought back ideas and reports. This was especially true even whilst Hill was working on the re-build/enlargement of the Ward organ at Doncaster Parish Church.

 

However, perhaps the key to much that we now call the English "German movement" is to be found in the personages of Prince Albert (the Prince Consort to Victoria, and from the Thuringian region of Germany) and, of course, in the immediate fame of Mendelssohn, who had arrive in Britain in 1829. Prince Albert was an organist, and Mendelssohn was a brilliant organist and recitalist. (Many were the times that planned organ-recitals had to be cancelled due to the restricted nature of English organs of the period)

 

Enter the melting pot the name of Dr.H J Gauntlett; a friend of Mendelssohn, who in turn, was often the private guest of Queen Victoria and the organ playing Prince Albert.

 

Ganutlett was a fine organist and tutor; being involved with the musical expansion of Congregational Church music, and repsonsible for some very interesting English "German" designs, such as the fine organ of George Street Congregational Church, Liverpool.

 

Will we ever know the proper answer? Possibly not, unless documents turn up which may throw further light on the subject.

 

I think that the role of Prince Albert, who single-handedly arranged the Great Exhibition of 1851, and invited Schulze to install an organ there, has never been fully acknowledged. Certainly, it would have been very interesting to be a "fly on the wall" to the fascinating conversations which Mendelssohn, Prince Albert and Dr.Gauntlett enjoyed.

 

London was, at the time, incredibly international, and the "grapevine" among organists was certainly very well-established.

 

The humble Mr Hill would doubtless have been approached, and told what to do!

 

MM

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Some light on the influences at work in the building of the 1841 William Hill organ in Liverpool and its relationship to so-called "Continental" organ building can be found here:

http://rousseau.shp.media/william-hill-organ-liverpool/

The bulk of this article is a report on the opening of the organ that appeared in the Northampton Mercury of 1 January, 1842. Comparing the various newspaper reports of the time, it seems clear that someone was briefing the press on the influences at work in what all recognised was a significant attempt to break with traditional English organ building (described as the influence of [Bernard] Smith and [Renatus] Harris) and to blend "English tone" with "German pipes" (and other features respecting compass and manuals). These were especially the instruments in Haarlem and Strasbourg.

The musical influences - at least in the building of the Liverpool organ but also at Christ Church, Newgate Street, and Eastbrook Methodist Chapel, Bradford - was the requirement for a "Protestant organ", one that could chiefly be used to support the massed singing of hymns but which would also (happily) be ideal for playing the music of J.S. Bach, the trend for which was now fully underway. (The Congregational Chapel at Liverpool could take up to 2,000 worshipers and was later referred to as the city's third cathedral.)

The article refers to the instruments Hill built at York and Birmingham, immediately prior to Liverpool, as being "monstrous piles of church harmony on the plans of Harris and Smith, which for the purposes of pure part playing, that is, in other words, using only  three or four notes at a time, have proved each of them failures". And the Liverpool organ is in effect presented as a contrast to York and Birmingham and the first significant step in a new direction for English organ building (along with the as then unfinished Christ Church, Newgate Street, organ).

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The role of Prince Albert and his influence in raising awareness of German organ building practices in England seems to be either just forgotten or thought not to have had any particular significance anyway but this is untrue. As already mentioned, Prince Albert was an organist of some merit. It was he for example, that had the organ originally built for George IV in Brighton Pavilion moved and installed in the Banquet Hall in Buckingham Palace, presumably because he wanted to have easy access to a reasonably sized instrument each day to practice on. His invitation to Edmund Schultz as well as to other German builders to install organs for the Great Exhibition was obviously a great success, for although this never resorted to a large influx of Germans coming to England to virtually take over the industry as it had done in the Netherlands in the 18th century, it must have been at least partly the reason why, all of a sudden, a great many new pipe organs were commissioned, not only for Cathedrals and large town churches as had been always the case, but no less than a veritable explosion in the industry to now supply proper pipe organs to small village churches, who before this time had to rely on local musicians playing violins, flutes or bassoons to supply the music. A fortunate few had acquired a barrel organ with either punched roles as with a Dutch street organ, or with original cylindrical steel barrels turning on a drum containing various hymn tunes. These had mostly come from much larger churches who had bought them as new to stand in for their keyed pipe organ while it was either being restored, rebuilt or in some cases completely replaced. It should also be mentioned that during this period, many rural churches were in a precarious state, but since the country had recently started to spread its influence across the world, making it extremely wealthy in the process, this had enabled a great many of these poorly maintained buildings to gain a new lease of life. The legacy of this activity can now often be seen as misguided, due to the fact that people of this Victorian era didn't seem to care about preserving historic buildings, but rather adapt them to their own vision in ecclesiastical architecture now known as Victorian Gothic. Be that as it may, this had no effect on the production of pipe organs being supplied to more or less every church in the country. Some of them were very small, either of one or two manuals, more often than not fitted with a swell box, a German keyboard compass of C - g''', a simple mechanical action and a hand pump. However, one major innovation happened which had eluded the British organ building industry for the last 350 years: the introduction of a full compass pedalboard, more often than not supplied with just one stop: the ubiquitous Bourdon 16'. That, plus the usual three manual and pedal couplers with maybe even an octave coupler plus a tremulant, first made their way into every Anglican parish church in the country.

Naturally, the organ builders that mostly gained from this were the indigenous ones. It was also the time when some of them would become the most important builders in the country, were beginning to develop fully themselves, such as William Hill, Henry Willis and J.W.Walker to name but a few. These were to later dominate the industry, but the German influence still shouldn't be underestimated. For example, before Edmund Schultz had built his instrument for the Great Exhibition, how many English organists had ever heard of a Lieblich Gedackt? Now they were being supplied to nearly every small village church organ in the country.

This period of English organ building and the influence of Prince Albert needs to be better researched, and now I have far more time on my hands since retiring from organ building I might try and do something about it myself, but any progress I have with that will have to be reported at a much later date.

With best wishes

Ian

P.S. Regarding the Lieblich Gedackt, I heard some so-called "expert" sprouting off on British television one day that the name translated into English it meant "Sweet Memories".

WHAT! 

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I don't think this is totally without merit to be honest, as one of the meanings of gedecht translates as 'thought'!

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1 hour ago, Ian van Deurne said:

This period of English organ building and the influence of Prince Albert needs to be better researched, and now I have far more time on my hands since retiring from organ building I might try and do something about it myself

I’m sure you know Nicholas Temperley’s “The Making of the Victorian Organ” (Cambridge U.P., 1999), Ian.

The organs displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition have long been of interest to me. I live near one of the smaller ones and relished my 'exploration' of St Anne, Limehouse in the 1970s (then, no fee required). 

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A treasured book of mine is “Musical Instruments in the 1851 Exhibition” (i.e., the Great Exhibition) which lists in great detail the organs exhibited.  There are 18 pages of specifications and contemporary narrative extracted from the Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition.  The jurors included Sir Henry Bishop, Sir George Smart and Hector Berlioz, and they awarded ‘the Council Medal’ (sometimes quoted as ‘First Prize’) jointly to Gray and Davison, William Hill & Co and Henry Willis.  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert attended and on one occasion had a private performance on the Willis organ which included a transcription of a song composed by Prince Albert.

In the specification of the Schultze organ, the spelling is ‘Lieblich Gedact’ and it appears twice on the upper manual: ‘Lieblich Gedact Stopped 16 feet’ and ‘Lieblich Gedact and Flauto traverso Open Wood 8 feet’.  There is a note “The upper clavier is not enclosed, and does not therefore form what we should call a swell.  The Bordun (bourdon) and Gedact are stopped wood pipes, corresponding with our “stopped diapason”.  The Lieblich Gedact is the same, but on a smaller scale, and differently voiced.”  

Indirectly, Schultze’s organ was responsible for the invention of the concave and radiating pedal board!  When the young Henry Willis and S S Wesley looked at it, Willis observed that the pedals were straight, but additionally concave.  Wesley responded that it was a pity they “didn’t spread as well”,  The concave and radiating pedal board was born and first appeared at Winchester Cathedral in 1854.  For good or ill, Wesley was the first cathedral organist to have one there, as well as thumb-pistons and the first Father Willis full swell, but that’s another story.  Significantly, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert donated to the acquisition of the Exhibition organ by the Cathedral.

Other English exhibitors included William Hill, Gray and Davison, already mentioned, and J W Walker.  Until recently three organs from the Exhibition survived: the Gray and Davison at St Anne’s Limehouse, London, the Winchester Willis, and the J W Walker which I last saw, sadly disused, in a Methodist Church in Southampton.  It has left there and I do not know its present whereabouts.  

This can only be the tip of the iceberg.  I don’t know whether the book is readily available, but it might turn up on searches.  I’m certain you would find it fascinating and invaluable.

Musical Instruments in the 1851 Exhibition: A transcription of musical interest from the Official Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Art and History of all Nations, with additional material from contemporary sources.”  Edited by Peter and Ann MacTaggart, published Welwyn Herts 1986: ISBN 0 9507782 6 5.

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1 hour ago, Aeron Glyn Preston said:

Sorry to be pedantic, but the author is Nicholas Thistlethwaite.

Don't be sorry, Aeron: you are correct to correct my mistake. I even looked at the book on a South American river, but am distracted with a current composition.

Thank you.

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1 hour ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

A treasured book of mine is “Musical Instruments in the 1851 Exhibition” 

The Schulze went to Northampton, Rowland: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=R01934.

Here is another. This is a lovely-sounding instrument and a delight to play, in an attractive and historic church: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N05945

When I referenced the mighty (1851) tome, I seem to recall it was a special edition of the Illustrated London News. I used to read this in the British Museum - which then held the British Library.

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16 hours ago, Aeron Glyn Preston said:

Sorry to be pedantic, but the author is Nicholas Thistlethwaite.

Since it has been mentioned, I have always found the title of this book (The Making of the Victorian Organ) somewhat misleading relative to its contents.  Within its nearly 600 pages, only a meagre 25 are devoted to Henry Willis, and nothing (beyond the occasional mention) to Robert Hope-Jones.  Having bought it, it was a surprise to find that it only covers the period 1820-1870, whereas Queen Victoria survived until 1901.  You have to read the preface to find that the book is really only a study of the work of William Hill, so one is left wondering why its title does not say so.  Within this limitation the book is without doubt valuable provided you don't expect to find everything you might have anticipated between the covers.  I was particularly disappointed that electric actions were only accorded two pages within an otherwise substantial chapter devoted to 'Music and Mechanics'.  Although this is broadly compatible with the 1870 cutoff date, it gives scant credit to those Victorians who were well on the way to solving many of the problems in this new field before the twentieth century dawned.

To my mind a more complete and better-balanced survey in some respects can be found in Stephen Bicknell's elegant and magisterial 'History of the English Organ' even though the Victorian era is represented by only four chapters out of 18, though if you have both books on your shelves then you will be off to a flying start.

These remarks might seem a tad curmudgeonly, but when I found myself having to disburse nearly GBP 100 for these books when they first appeared, I was grateful for other people's opinions before deciding to open my wallet, rather than relying only on the obviously partial reviews printed on the covers.

CEP

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At Northampton, (now spelled Schulze) the spellings of stop names have changed, and in one case pitch also.  The Pedal has been enlarged by borrowing three ranks from the Hauptwerk, but that apart, it is essentially as it was at the Great Exhibition.

The specification for the Holdich at Wiveton is essentially unchanged.  At the Great Exhibition the Clarabella is given as ‘Coelestina’.  NPOR comments on that.  It was specifically noted “The compass of the keys are on the German scale”, clearly evidencing the German influence before 1851. 

I wasn’t previously aware of these other survivors - thank you for adding to my knowledge!  The organ I know best, Winchester Cathedral, has inevitably undergone changes in its 165 years but the important parts (about 40 stops) are original Henry Willis.  It hasn’t always received kind comments on some threads here but, notwithstanding the changes, it is the earliest Father Willis in a line which extends at roughly 25 year intervals through Salisbury and St Paul’s to Lincoln with changes and discernible progression on the way.  It is its early date which distinguishes it from those later successors.

The other important result of the Great Exhibition was the 100 stops Father Willis organ for St George’s Hall Liverpool, 1855, happily still with us but in need of some restoration and much money spent on it.  I heard it ‘live’ yesterday and agree with Cecil Clutton’s judgement “This really is a stupendous organ”!

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I also have the Nicholas Thistlethwaite book, and have to agree with Colin Pykett.  The author doesn’t really conceal that he prefers Hill’s organs.  This is, obviously, a good source for anyone specifically researching or interested in Hill.

But there is useful information, which I have never seen elsewhere, about the Willis pipe scales and details of reeds and mixture compositions at Winchester from the 1850s. 

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Okay, let's get this Gedackt thing sorted. This spelling is the correct German generic spelling, which can mean several things in English: covered, lidded, or more correctly in the case of an organ, stopped, meaning that the pipes are of half length and made in both wood or metal, normally with wooden stoppers. Apart from very small chamber or "Truhenorgeln", meaning "Trunk Organs" in which the 8ft and 4ft pipes are always made of wood, I would more than usually make these pipes in metal for a full-sized instrument. The prefix Lieblich in English also has various meanings: soft, gentle, which could also cover sweet, and lastly, lovely, but that's pushing it a bit as a friend of mine found out when trying to chat up a German girl. "Ich bin lieblich, yah?" he asked, but she just shook her head at him as if he was mad and walked away. But the word has nothing whatsoever to do with memories. The word Gedaeht or Gedaehtnis(with an umlaut of course but as this computer is new, I haven't got it changed over to a German QWERTZ keyboard as yet) is the word for memories or more precisely memorial. Different organ builders can use different spellings of the word of course, specially from the past as their education would have been solely based on local habits or customs. In the Netherlands it is Gedekt and in other northern countries it can also be Gedeckt, depending on the builder's preference. In the Romansch speaking countries it is entirely different. In France and also in Alsace and Lorraine it is usually either Bourdon, Bordon or even Burdong if you're in the Rheinland but this is only found in organs built in the distant past. Spain has usually Bórdeo or Violon, while Italy calls these pipes Flauto camino, Bordone, or more than likely just Flauto since they can be exceptionally lazy in these things.

With best wishes,

Ian 

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13 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

[Writing about The Making of the Victorian Organ] Within its nearly 600 pages, only a meagre 25 are devoted to Henry Willis...

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. 

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17 minutes ago, Bruce Buchanan said:

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. 

You are indeed correct.  Apologies for this slip.

CEP

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Hi

Interesting to read Ian's comments about the introduction of organs in Victorian churches.  There were other significant influences, notably the Oxford Movement which encouraged a return to medieval ways of doing things in church (as interpreted by themselves!), aided by the Cambridge Camden Society on the architectural side.  Part of the move to introduce organs was to bring music more under control of the incumbent - contemporary reports indicate that things got rather rowdy at times.  An organ meant that the Incumbent only had to deal with one player (often his wife or the local school master).  Harmoniums and other reed organs were common, and 2 manual & pedal organs were (and are) far from universal.  At one time I played regularly for weddings & funerals in a rural benefice in Essex, of the 5 churches  I got to, only 1 had a 2 manual organ, and that only had a TC swell, there were 3 single manual & pedal jobs - one a GG compass complete with a 13 note GG pedalboard, and the other was a single manual no pedal electronic.  Another church in the group had a reed organ, but I never got to play there.

The study of the how the English church changed in the Victorian era is fascinating (I chose to study this period of church history as part of my theological training).  The 2 volumes of "The Victorian Church" by Owen Chadwick deals in some depth with this period and its complexities.

On the organ history front, I have the 2 books mentioned above on my shelves, along with some individual histories of organ builders and so on, but given the sheer number of builders operating in that period of very rapid church growth, no one volume can hope to cover the whole ground.  The Victorian era not only saw existing church buildings wanting organs because it was fashionable to sack the West Gallery band and get an organ, there was also a very significant amount of new church building, both within the Church of England, especially in the ever-growing industrial cities, and also thousands of free churches of various denominations, many of which wanted an organ of some sort.  The era saw an organ-building boom!

Every Blessing

Tony

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On 22/03/2019 at 09:16, Bruce Buchanan said:

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. (pcnd's emhasis.)

This is an interesting point. Sumner made no secret of his admiration of the work of Willis, but I do find that hs un-stinting praise, and almost entire lack of any criticism, even of a constructive nature, to be bordering on sycophancy - and it is certainly un-helpful to anyone wishing to acquire a balanced view of the work of Willis - particularly that of HWIII.

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