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Organs On Ships


Malcolm Farr
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Jumbo jets being mentioned in MM's thread "Re-engineering the organ", I was reminded of another mode of transport - that I'd many long years ago seen a photo of a ship's chapel with what appeared to be a console in view, albeit rather obscured. Now, I have a feeling that it was a Royal Navy battleship or battlecruiser, and the only reference that I can find to one having with a dedicated chapel was HMS Hood, which was sunk by the Bismarck in 1941. But I haven't found any reference therein to an organ (which would surely be too large for a warship, where space is generally at a premium) or harmonium. Does anyone know?

 

And has any liner ever boasted an organ? Some were so palatial that surely someone must have thought of this indulgence.

 

Rgds,

Cap'n Nemo MJF

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Jumbo jets being mentioned in MM's thread "Re-engineering the organ", I was reminded of another mode of transport - that I'd many long years ago seen a photo of a ship's chapel with what appeared to be a console in view, albeit rather obscured. Now, I have a feeling that it was a Royal Navy battleship or battlecruiser, and the only reference that I can find to one having with a dedicated chapel was HMS Hood, which was sunk by the Bismarck in 1941. But I haven't found any reference therein to an organ (which would surely be too large for a warship, where space is generally at a premium) or harmonium. Does anyone know?

 

And has any liner ever boasted an organ? Some were so palatial that surely someone must have thought of this indulgence.

 

Rgds,

Cap'n Nemo MJF

 

Hi

 

I suspect for battleships, the humble harmonium sufficed - the collection at Saltaire has a folding harmonium buit for the admiralty for just this use. I've vaguely heard of a pipe organ on a luxury liner - maybe in the Aeolian book that I read a few years ago?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I suspect for battleships, the humble harmonium sufficed - the collection at Saltaire has a folding harmonium buit for the admiralty for just this use. I've vaguely heard of a pipe organ on a luxury liner - maybe in the Aeolian book that I read a few years ago?

There was some discussion along these lines on the PIPORG-L list some while back. You could try googling or ploughing through their archives which I think are available on http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/lsvcmmds.html

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The penultimate paragraph of this http://www.malcolmrudland.org/MRBIO.HTM is interesting, but I don't know if it refers to pipe or electronic instruments. I suspect the latter..........

 

G

Yes, a toaster would surely be the thing these days. And perhaps things weren't so very different in the past either. Following innate's lead above, it seems that the Britannic (Titanic's sister-ship) boasted what was most likely a steam-powered calliope rather than a true organ.

 

Rgds,

MJF

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I remember reading in Yachting Monthly a few years ago about some new 170ft yacht which had an organ aboard. I think it was just a 5 or 6 stop house organ. The owner's wife was an organist and if you're prepared to spend £5m on a boat, it may as well have an organ too. It was very neatly done - all the casework matched the rest of the cabin with the interior designer, all beautifully made, etc. It sounded perfect to me - I could combine 2 of my pastimes... In fact, it was my dream as a little boy.

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There was some discussion along these lines on the PIPORG-L list some while back. You could try googling or ploughing through their archives which I think are available on http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/lsvcmmds.html

 

 

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

 

 

I think I was the one who started that thread on PIPORG-L, but it was so long ago, the details are a little hazy. I think I will be able to find the various threads in the archives.

 

I think that quite a number of ships, including a Dutch passenger-liner, had organs aboard; many of them using Aeolian player-organs, which were quite compact and of more or less standard size.

 

There was, of course, a Hammond Organ aboard either the Qiueen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth, but more importantly, the resident organist was the late Miss Ena Baga of blessed memory, and in the biography of this delightful lady, (entitled "Bagatelle") written by the late Tony Moss, there is a wonderful photograph of Miss Baga with Sir George Thalben-Ball. I have a copy signed personally by Ena Baga, along with a few treasured personal letters received from her.

 

I can't quite recall what prompted my interest in pipe-organs aboard ships, but it may have come about after seeing photographs of the great ocean-liners; something of an interest of mine, since an unfulfilled early ambition was to work as a ships' engineer in spite of the fact that I hate the sea!

 

The nearest I got was to take a 55ft Marine Projects "Princess" class cruiser out on sea-trials, when I worked for Volvo-Penta Marine, and on being invited to pilot the beast, I churned up the sea at full power (1,000+ hp) and almost demolished one of the jetties in Poole Harbour as the bugger planed more or less out of control at a good 35 knots when I really wanted her to turn right!!!!!!

 

I digress.......I will see what I can find.

 

B)

 

MM

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Jumbo jets being mentioned in MM's thread "Re-engineering the organ", I was reminded of another mode of transport - that I'd many long years ago seen a photo of a ship's chapel with what appeared to be a console in view, albeit rather obscured. Now, I have a feeling that it was a Royal Navy battleship or battlecruiser, and the only reference that I can find to one having with a dedicated chapel was HMS Hood, which was sunk by the Bismarck in 1941. But I haven't found any reference therein to an organ (which would surely be too large for a warship, where space is generally at a premium) or harmonium. Does anyone know?

 

And has any liner ever boasted an organ? Some were so palatial that surely someone must have thought of this indulgence.

 

Rgds,

Cap'n Nemo MJF

 

There is such a thing as an “Organ, portable, small” in the RN, but I’ve never seen one, so have no idea how small, portable, or organ like it is.

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There is such a thing as an “Organ, portable, small” in the RN, but I’ve never seen one, so have no idea how small, portable, or organ like it is.

 

Hi

 

Visit the Victorian Reed Organ Museum at Saltaire (near Bradford) and you can see one. It's a small folding reed organ, built with heavy plywood for the case (presumably marine ply?).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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

 

There was, of course, a Hammond Organ aboard either the Qiueen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth, but more importantly, the resident organist was the late Miss Ena Baga of blessed memory, and in the biography of this delightful lady, (entitled "Bagatelle") written by the late Tony Moss, there is a wonderful photograph of Miss Baga with Sir George Thalben-Ball. I have a copy signed personally by Ena Baga, along with a few treasured personal letters received from her.

 

MM

 

 

I don't know who the first Hammond Organists were on the Queens but there is an alleged story that just after the war it was impossible to import the new version of the Hammond that has a variable pitch vibrato in place of the old variable volume (the old plop - plop) one.

 

It is alleged that on arrival in New York, the ship's Hammond was taken away for urgent immediate repairs that could not be completeed before the next sailing so a `replacement' was lent, complete with up-dated vibrato.

 

On arrival back here the new Hammond was swapped for an old model. This proceedure was not carried out often enough to raise suspicion but it was alleged that at least three new Hammonds came into the country this way until the import restrictions were lifted. It was all made viable by the fact that the exterior design of this model of Hammond remained the same for years.

 

I asked Ena about this but she new nothing about it - "Before my time dear!"- I also asked Robin Richmond who did not appear to hear the question.

 

FF

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I remember reading in Yachting Monthly a few years ago about some new 170ft yacht which had an organ aboard. I think it was just a 5 or 6 stop house organ. The owner's wife was an organist and if you're prepared to spend £5m on a boat, it may as well have an organ too. It was very neatly done - all the casework matched the rest of the cabin with the interior designer, all beautifully made, etc. It sounded perfect to me - I could combine 2 of my pastimes... In fact, it was my dream as a little boy.

Was it this one?

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MJF might be interested in this, posted on PIPORG today.

 

Sunken Ocean-Liner Britannic’s pipe organ found - high and dry in the

Museum für Musikautomaten at Seewen in Switzerland

 

Experts are now certain they have found the pipe organ which belonged to

the steamship Britannic – sister ship to the Titanic. It is in the

Museum für Musikautomaten (a collection dedicated to mechanical musical

instruments and automata) one of the chain of Swiss National Museums, at

Seewen, 15 km south of Basel. The organ had apparently disappeared for

nearly a century. The discovery was made during recent restoration work.

Dr. Christoph Haenggi, Director of the museum, said “organ builders in

Zürich cleaned up four normally unseen beams under the windchests and

found they each had the same indication, ‘Britanik’ inscribed on them.

We had independently come to an opinion that our organ had been built

around 1912-1914, but information pre-1920 was missing. Historic

Welte-company catalogues in our archives contain a picture of an organ

installed in a ‘British steamer’. The photograph has been verified as a

picture of the stairwell

of Britannic. Until now we had now never imagined that this organ was

ours!”

 

Australian organist David Rumsey, consultant to the restoration, holds

the same view: “It is a Welte-Philharmonie (“Philharmonic” in USA), a

pneumatic organ which can be played normally from its keyboard or by

pre-recorded paper rolls. From internal evidence, pipework, construction

and specification I had guessed it was built around 1913. It is

virtually identical to the destroyed roll-recording organ of M. Welte &

Söhne in Germany at Freiburg in Breisgau. If, as now appears certain, it

was intended for the Britannic, then it needed to have been finished by

spring 1914 when the ship was due for launching. However fate decreed a

change of destiny for both vessel and organ: with the outbreak of the

First World War, the ship was requisitioned by the British navy and

re-fitted as a floating hospital. In the process the organ appears to

have been installed, then removed and stored.”

 

H

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