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Grant, Degens And Bradbeer...


deadsheepstew

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Of course I do not know the instrument which is the base of this topic, but I want to tell that in Germany the sense for the own value of this category of organs is rising. Sometimes it is difficult to find out if a certain instrument is really a masterpiece or at least an authentic statement of its period, or just trash.

I personally do hope (and am speaking now only about the situation I know, which is for Germany, Austria, and some neighbouring regions) that the movement of interest in certain epoques of organ music, which started with 17th and 18th century music 80 years ago, always included Bach and later went further on to romantic German music, then conquered french symphonic style with great enthusiasm (though widely getting stuck there!), in its next step will rediscover the non-romantic music of the 30ies and the following decades.

I know that the english speaking world and Scandinavia have a little different situation, because WW II did not cause such a break in musical development. (As mentioned elsewhere, that is one reason why Germans are so happy now to discover and adapt Anglican church music from the 20th century).

Still, important composers like Hindemith, Distler, David, do net receive much appreciation among organ afficionados. But the time will come, and organ builders here will start to search for "historic" consoles from 1935 or 1965 in churches out of the cities, to get hand on the last surviving samples of all those colourful small levers for the "Freie Kombinationen", to build perfectly historic reconstructions of consoles for organs with EP action (well, I mean at least for the stop action...), to regain instruments where you can play those narrow scaled flues, those weak reeds with often incorrect cup forms and dimensions, and everything working on a wind of 60 mm...

And people might enjoy (?) a plenum which allows whispering to your neighbour choir member on the balcony while listening to it, AND beeing understood (try this with a new Rieger organ...) :o

 

More and more builders, consultants and organists realize:

There WERE some learned people in those decades, who HAD their visions and knew, why and how to build those organs that way we now find difficult to judge.

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Of course I do not know the instrument which is the base of this topic, but I want to tell that in Germany the sense for the own value of this category of organs is rising. Sometimes it is difficult to find out if a certain instrument is really a masterpiece or at least an authentic statement of its period, or just trash.

I personally do hope (and am speaking now only about the situation I know, which is for Germany, Austria, and some neighbouring regions) that the movement of interest in certain epoques of organ music, which started with 17th and 18th century music 80 years ago, always included Bach and later went further on to romantic German music, then conquered french symphonic style with great enthusiasm (though widely getting stuck there!), in its next step will rediscover the non-romantic music of the 30ies and the following decades.

I know that the english speaking world and Scandinavia have a little different situation, because WW II did not cause such a break in musical development. (As mentioned elsewhere, that is one reason why Germans are so happy now to discover and adapt Anglican church music from the 20th century).

 

Still, important composers like Hindemith, Distler, David, do net receive much appreciation among organ afficionados. But the time will come, and organ builders here will start to search for "historic" consoles from 1935 or 1965 in churches out of the cities, to get hand on the last surviving samples of all those colourful small levers for the "Freie Kombinationen", to build perfectly historic reconstructions of consoles for organs with EP action (well, I mean at least for the stop action...), to regain instruments where you can play those narrow scaled flues, those weak reeds with often incorrect cup forms and dimensions, and everything working on a wind of 60 mm...

And people might enjoy (?) a plenum which allows whispering to your neighbour choir member on the balcony while listening to it, AND beeing understood (try this with a new Rieger organ...) :lol:

 

More and more builders, consultants and organists realize:

There WERE some learned people in those decades, who HAD their visions and knew, why and how to build those organs that way we now find difficult to judge.

 

 

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

 

 

Oxford has a number of fine organs, but outstanding among them are the Frobenius at Queen's College, and the organ of G, D & B organ of New College.

 

The Frobenius (from the days of Jaques Frobenius) is a masterpiece of economical but effective baroque design, and whilst smaller than the Flentrop at Harvard, USA, it had a similar impact on English organists.

 

Many fine organs have been built since, but these two instruments have stood the test of time, and remain as exciting as the day that they were first built.

 

New College remains a unique instrument, with many magnificent colours, some unusually fine reeds and a quite thrilling tutti. Quite how this was achieved by people who were being highly experimental, is one of the miracles of English organ-building. Essentially classical, but with a Swell box, it marked a new direction in organ-building; producing an instrument which is underpinned by classicism, but greatly enlivened by registers of real colour and excitement. It is not stretching credibility too far, in suggesting that the gestation period really derived from the ever experimental and enquiring mind of John Compton, to which Ted Deegens was exposed. As such, it is equally at home with the music of Bach, Couperin AND Reger in a quite extraordinary way. The only equivalent, from around the same period, was the organ of Blackburn Cathedral, which leans more towards French Romanticism, but with a Germanic core.

 

I would go so far as to suggest to Herr Kropf, that the organ of New College is a style of organ-building which Germany might usefully have adopted. Strangely enough, here in England, the influence of this organ, and that of Queen's College, has been fairly muted except in a few isolated places.

 

For some strange reason, there is in England, IMHO, an unfounded admiration of tonally inferior work from Europe, which now seems to pervade the land, with a number of prestigious contracts in high-profile venues.

 

Just a few imported organs are beautiful: among them St Giles' Edinburgh, (Rieger), and Clifton Cathedral (also Rieger), but without naming names, a number of other imported organs, from Germany, Austria ane elsewhere, could be rgearded as musically-adequate rather than outstanding. It is certainly the case that some of the home-spun products have proved to be much more sucessful musically.

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
=============================

...For some strange reason, there is in England, IMHO, an unfounded admiration of tonally inferior work from Europe, which now seems to pervade the land, with a number of prestigious contracts in high-profile venues.

 

Just a few imported organs are beautiful: among them St Giles' Edinburgh, (Rieger), and Clifton Cathedral (also Rieger), but without naming names, a number of other imported organs, from Germany, Austria ane elsewhere, could be rgearded as musically-adequate rather than outstanding. It is certainly the case that some of the home-spun products have proved to be much more sucessful musically.

 

MM

 

I have been saying this off the record for many, many years.

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I have been saying this off the record for many, many years.

 

 

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

 

 

Possibly so Barry, but it could be that the problems encountered might also have destroyed the best efforts of British organ-builders.

 

However, given almost acoustically perfect conditions, does anyone else find the organ of St.John's, Smith Square, London rather less than musically satisfying?

 

Frankly, I have heard more musical instruments in village churches in Holland.

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick
For some strange reason, there is in England, IMHO, an unfounded admiration of tonally inferior work from Europe, which now seems to pervade the land, with a number of prestigious contracts in high-profile venues.

 

I guess you could also ask why so few British organs make their way to the continent. Is it because British organs are considered inferior in quality to those they have at home?

 

Or is really down to the case of some organ builders having the ability and resources to promote/market and export their instruments...

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Guest Cynic
==========================

.... does anyone else find the organ of St.John's, Smith Square, London rather less than musically satisfying?

 

Frankly, I have heard more musical instruments in village churches in Holland.

 

MM

 

Abso-flipping-lutely.

 

St.John's Smith Square What's wrong about it.....where do I start?

 

Well, IMHO it's

1. too large

2. inappropriate to its case or the building

3. too loud

4. poorly sited for use with orchestra

 

On the plus side, it did get built and they occasionally have good concerts upon it. The case is pleasant, if totally at odds with the shoe-horned contents. I believe I am right in saying that Noel Mander found and installed the case some many years before the Klais went in and had an understanding with the authorities that he would be instructed (in the fulness to time) to place a suitable instrument within it. The sort of organ we could have expected would have been a larger version of the instrument in the Merchant Taylors' Hall, I imagine. A most successful little instrument, I always thought.

 

 

Back to New College.

Comments above hint that the New College GD&B might not have been subtle and mellow when it first went in. I believe that most of it was. The surprising thing was, even with those wind-pressures, that specification and in a building with little acoustic, it could still sound very English and there was a good range of softer stops for choir work. The greatest weakness in choral accompaniment was probably the Full Swell, because those reeds were so powerful. The Choir choruses were just fabulous - as subtle and clever in their way as those on the The Grove Choir manual at Tewkesbury Abbey. If the mixtures are thought to be too bright now, they were very much the style of the time. Several other firms did far, far worse with theirs*.

 

I have been given to understand that when John Bailey softened parts of the New College organ down to make it more generally useful (for accompaniment) everything he did was fully reversible. I also have read that the Teint is all still there: the top rank has been stopped off (cotton wool or similar) rather than taken away.

 

*Two organs with mixtures from the same time that had to be tamed radically come to mind - the von Beckerath at Clare Cambridtge and the HN&B for RCO at Kensington Gore. Indeed, on the HN&B the original Swell and Great mixtures were so loud as originally voiced that they had to be completely replaced before the Council would accept the organ as finished. It always amused me that the Pedal mixture wasn't sent back and as a consequence this remained the loudest stop on the organ.

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Abso-flipping-lutely.

 

St.John's Smith Square What's wrong about it.....where do I start?

 

Well, IMHO it's

1. too large

2. inappropriate to its case or the building

3. too loud

4. poorly sited for use with orchestra

 

I agree entirely with your points, Paul.

On the plus side, it did get built and they occasionally have good concerts upon it. The case is pleasant, if totally at odds with the shoe-horned contents. I believe I am right in saying that Noel Mander found and installed the case some many years before the Klais went in and had an understanding with the authorities that he would be instructed (in the fulness to time) to place a suitable instrument within it. The sort of organ we could have expected would have been a larger version of the instrument in the Merchant Taylors' Hall, I imagine. A most successful little instrument, I always thought.

 

The Mander instrument in the Merchant Taylors' Hall is indeed an excellent instrument - its size quite out of proportion to its versatility. I had occasion to play it for a concert (in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, in fact :) ), accompanying a colleague's school choir in an event connected with the Mission to Seafarers. They have changed their name and cleaned up their act. However, they did splash out on the brochure....

:blink:

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I guess you could also ask why so few British organs make their way to the continent. Is it because British organs are considered inferior in quality to those they have at home?

 

Or is really down to the case of some organ builders having the ability and resources to promote/market and export their instruments...

 

I dispute the validity of the premiss. British organs are highly thought of on the continent, especially Germany and Holland. The Dutch, in particular, have been buying redundant organs from the UK in recent years, and there is a scheme afoot to commission a large organ from a British builder for the Hooglandskerk in Leiden - a church that already has a most wonderful instrument by Hagerbeer.

 

As to Lee's second point, I understand that Henry Willis & Sons are having considerable success in promoting and marketing their instruments overseas.

 

The facts simply don't support Lee's opinions.

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Guest Lee Blick

If you read very carefully, they were not necessarily my opinions but questions to stimulate comment and debate. There's a good chap, Mr Bennett.... :blink:

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I guess you could also ask why so few British organs make their way to the continent. Is it because British organs are considered inferior in quality to those they have at home?

 

Or is really down to the case of some organ builders having the ability and resources to promote/market and export their instruments...

 

 

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

 

 

I wonder if this is really so, considering that many British organs use parts from Laukhof.

 

Part of the reason may be the relative strength of the pound sterling of course, the reverse reasoning causing me to wonder why there hasn't been a rush East to obtain organs from Eastern Europe.

 

Another reason may be the lack of a truly definitive national style of modern British organ-building, and most builders work on a bespoke basis.

 

I very much doubt that there is a single continental organ-builder who could match the wealth and breadth of experience of Mander Organs. After all, St.Paul's to the Royal Albert Hall organ is a kind of leap, but then consider St Ignatius, NY, which is an utterly different style of instrument. I find it remarkable that one single organ-builder can rise to the challenge of such stylistic differences; but they have done it rather well.

 

This is a far cry from the slow, steady metamorphosis of Snetzler to William Hill, for example, or the fact that in the Netherlands, they were still building "almost" baroque organs in 1870 and beyond.

 

I often wonder if there are companies in Germany who could build a replica Walcker or Steinmeyer organ to-day and get it right, yet there are organ-builders in England who could probably make a good job of a Harrison or Willis replica instrument, if such was required.

 

MM

 

 

 

I dispute the validity of the premiss. British organs are highly thought of on the continent, especially Germany and Holland. The Dutch, in particular, have been buying redundant organs from the UK in recent years, and there is a scheme afoot to commission a large organ from a British builder for the Hooglandskerk in Leiden - a church that already has a most wonderful instrument by Hagerbeer.

 

As to Lee's second point, I understand that Henry Willis & Sons are having considerable success in promoting and marketing their instruments overseas.

 

The facts simply don't support Lee's opinions.

 

 

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

 

 

There are rather more British organs ending up in Poland these days.

 

If that "Engelander" organ ever gets built in Leiden, I shan't bother to go and hear it. Instead, I shall hire a boat and float around the town eating ice-cream.

 

MM

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If you read very carefully, they were not necessarily my opinions but questions to stimulate comment and debate. There's a good chap, Mr Bennett.... :blink:

 

"I guess you could also ask why so few British organs make their way to the continent." That proposes the view that few British organs make their way to the continent. That makes your reply seem a bit patronising. NB's right - as is MM - there are lots of British exports going on - Walkers in USA, Drakes in USA and Luxembourg, Manders in Japan and USA and more (did I see something about China?), Willises in Italy and many other places, not to mention the hordes of redundant instruments going to far flung corners.

 

Put into perspective, a dozen each from Rieger and Klais, a sprinkling of Marcussens, two Beckereaths and Metzlers, 1.75 Aubertins (and why, incidentally, have people not been up in arms about these? Because they're original, different and good?) plus one or two each from Kuhn, Letourneau, Phelps and a few others. I'm no pro-importer but when a whole globe of organbuilding brings us this, and we as one of the smallest nations can boast a lively export trade of new and secondhand instruments, some of the well-worn "little England" arguments begin to look a little bogus.

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"I guess you could also ask why so few British organs make their way to the continent." That proposes the view that few British organs make their way to the continent. That makes your reply seem a bit patronising. NB's right - as is MM - there are lots of British exports going on - Walkers in USA, Drakes in USA and Luxembourg, Manders in Japan and USA and more (did I see something about China?), Willises in Italy and many other places, not to mention the hordes of redundant instruments going to far flung corners.

 

Put into perspective, a dozen each from Rieger and Klais, a sprinkling of Marcussens, two Beckereaths and Metzlers, 1.75 Aubertins (and why, incidentally, have people not been up in arms about these? Because they're original, different and good?) plus one or two each from Kuhn, Letourneau, Phelps and a few others. I'm no pro-importer but when a whole globe of organbuilding brings us this, and we as one of the smallest nations can boast a lively export trade of new and secondhand instruments, some of the well-worn "little England" arguments begin to look a little bogus.

 

 

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

 

 

There was certainly a time when the continental builders were extremely relevant to musical and academic activity; hence organs such as Queen's College, Oxford (Jaques Frobenius), the lovely Rieger at Clifton Cathedral and the effective Marcussens in Nottingham.

 

I may be a little out of touch about certain imported instruments, but what I have generally found, is that these organs work best in acoustics more normally associated with continental churches.

 

It's quite interesting to note that the organ of "De Doelen" Rotterdam, is possibly no better than the organ in the Royal Festival Hall tonally, and porbably for much the same reasons.

 

In fact, it wasn't very long before English builders were able to produce organ of equivalent musical quality, and among them, New College, Oxford and the Merchant Taylor's Hall in London, are two fine examples.

 

For a very long time, there have been imported organs in England, and in the last century or so, we have seen Walckers, Aneessens, Schulze, Cavaille-Coll and Gern (among others). For the most part, it has been a positive exchange of cultural ideas. However, I start to express concern when one builder in particular picks up quite big contracts, and yet, I cannot see the musical-merits which elevate the sound of these instruments above those of home-spun products. It is at this point that I become suspicious rather than critical.

 

Also interesting, is the fact that J W Walker & Sons., in the heady days of the 1960's and 70's, arrived at type of organ sound (quite independently so far as I know) which is not far removed from what Rieger-Kloss did in so many concert-halls and churches across the old Eastern Bloc.

 

Britain's principal problem may well be the lack of a coherent national style of organ-building, and a certain wavering of musical instinct and future direction.

 

Of one thing I am certain, and that is the fact that by simply trying to reverse history, we cannot and will not achieve very much that we didn't aready know.

 

MM

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"If that "Engelander" organ ever gets built in Leiden, I shan't bother to go and hear it. Instead, I shall hire a boat and float around the town eating ice-cream."

 

SORRY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

 

I know I am a funny guy, but frankly, I find this nothing short of scandalous.

 

Why this passion for shooting in one's own feet ? Maybe the british organists should seek for asylum in Holland, Poland, northern germany, and let the 1850-1930 british organs in the hands of foreign organists, who appreciate them!

 

In the meantime, we provincial continental organ friends would be happy to see a british builder

make this Leiden organ, and we would appreciate you let him do without being despised.

 

By advance, thanks,

Beim Voraus, vielen Danke

D'avance, merci

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers

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Welcome back, Pierre. I am sure I am not the only one here who has missed your erudite contributions.

 

We should not take MM to be representative of the majority of British organists. I think he might be horrified if we did.

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Welcome back, Pierre. I am sure I am not the only one here who has missed your erudite contributions.

 

We should not take MM to be representative of the majority of British organists. I think he might be horrified if we did.

 

Indeed. I, too, am glad to see that you have resumed your contributions, Pierre - welcome back.

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"If that "Engelander" organ ever gets built in Leiden, I shan't bother to go and hear it. Instead, I shall hire a boat and float around the town eating ice-cream."

 

SORRY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

 

I know I am a funny guy, but frankly, I find this nothing short of scandalous.

 

Why this passion for shooting in one's own feet ? Maybe the british organists should seek for asylum in Holland, Poland, northern germany, and let the 1850-1930 british organs in the hands of foreign organists, who appreciate them!

 

In the meantime, we provincial continental organ friends would be happy to see a british builder

make this Leiden organ, and we would appreciate you let him do without being despised.

 

By advance, thanks,

Beim Voraus, vielen Danke

D'avance, merci

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers

 

 

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

 

 

That's got Pierre up and dancing again.....welcome back!

 

It's not really shooting oneself in the foot, and it would only be scandalous to float around Leiden in a boat eating NETHERLANDS ice-cream when ITALIAN ice-cream is readily available.

 

Look, if I really want to have my ears pinned back by a big, powerful romantic organ, I can catch a bus to Ilkley and go to St.Margaret's, where the structure of the building has been a test-bed for on-going earthquake research since the 1930's.

 

Personally, I find organs far more attractive when I don't have to wear ear-defenders.

 

:)

 

MM

 

Welcome back, Pierre. I am sure I am not the only one here who has missed your erudite contributions.

 

We should not take MM to be representative of the majority of British organists. I think he might be horrified if we did.

 

 

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

 

 

I always try to be the voice of reason, sobriety, diplomacy and, of course, moderation.

 

:wacko:

 

MM

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

It's not really shooting oneself in the foot, and it would only be scandalous to float around Leiden in a boat eating NETHERLANDS ice-cream when ITALIAN ice-cream is readily available.

This really shows hands-on (tongue-on?) experience! :wacko:

 

 

Personally, I find organs far more attractive when I don't have to wear ear-defenders.

But there are still romantic, fine, british-made instruments on site or moved to abroad, where you don' have to?

 

Ear defenders - this makes me thinking of adapting pop musician's in-ear-monitoring to organists, using it for smart control of the instrument,

when using distant remote consoles like at St. Eustache and elsewhere... :)

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Guest Roffensis

I actually like it, in it's way it's a very interesting sound. You aren't going to get away with Elgar and Howells on it, but it's a ideal vehicle for a very great deal of repertoire out there. Having said that, I would not want to play it each week. Nor would I want to see it altered. It's a sound of it's time and builder, and I preferred it to at least one other organ in Oxford I can well remember.

 

R

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I actually like it, in it's way it's a very interesting sound. You aren't going to get away with Elgar and Howells on it, but it's a ideal vehicle for a very great deal of repertoire out there. Having said that, I would not want to play it each week. Nor would I want to see it altered. It's a sound of it's time and builder, and I preferred it to at least one other organ in Oxford I can well remember.

 

R

 

 

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

 

 

I love the organ at New College, but it is strangely ironic that English romantic music is often heard in the Netherlands.

 

I heard the Elgar played at the Bavo once, and it was just wonderful!

 

A couple of years back, it was the music of Frank Bridge.

 

Of course, one would never hear Howells played on a Schnitger.....thank God for purity of intention!!!!!

 

:D

 

MM

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Of course, one would never hear Reger played on a Schnitger.....thank God for purity of intention!!!!! :D

Sorry - but it already happened. Latest occasion was the Lent programme of this year's "Neuenfelder Orgelmusiken". But it was just one of the small chorale preludes. Dynamic variation was achieved by moving the voices one by one from one manual to the other (coupled), and some minor registration changes... Already Alain, Vierne and other "banned" composers have been presented with good effect, though mostly smaller pieces.

And why? The instrument is not completely baroque, at the moment, so to keep audience and players happy, the programmes introduce also younger epoques of music. When restored closer to its original state, the fascination of 17c music will be sufficient enough...

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