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House Organs

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Guest Hector5

I am an unashamed romantic at heart - enjoying swell boxes, undulants of varying flavours, and all the bells and whistles. However, one organ which really sent me to heaven was built by Robert Shaftoe for Ravensden parish church. This organ has no swell box, strings, and is really a small church organ - but what an organ! It's sound is gentle and pursuasive, with contrasting foundations - almost string-toned stopped diapasons. The Tierce and upperwork is gentle and not forceful. The action and build quality re second to none. The absence of a swell box did not pose a problem, and most things seemed to work. A close friend has a house organ based around pipework of a Gray and Davison organ - specifically from the swell division. He chose to have all pipework unenclosed, rather than limiting the number of ranks with one. There is a distinct similarity between this organ and the Ravensden one, with ravishing flutes etc.

 

So - my ideal house organ is the Ravensden organ; the only problem being is that the parish like it and probably won't part with it!!!!!

 

Hector

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On the other extreme, this one is much more difficult:

 

A small house organ of only six stops (plus couplers), with the action of your choice, to be disposed in a room measuring twenty feet long by twenty feet wide by twelve feet high. Wooden floor-boards and hard plastered stone (or block) walls - NOT painted in magnolia....

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Sub Bass (M) 16

Open Flute 4

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell 4p to Pedal

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Stopped Diapason 8

Gemshorn (Conical) 4

Octave

Swell 16p to Great

Swell to Great

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Open Diapason 8

Hautboy 8

Tremulant

Sub Octave

 

Reversible pedal to Great to Pedal

Three adjustable general combination pedals

Electro-pneumatic action.

 

Still over the limit, but couldn't wait until tomorrow afternoon.

A six stop organ:

GREAT

Wald Flute 8'

Principal 4'

Octave

Swell to Great

 

SWELL

Violin Diapason 8' (stopped bass)

Lieblich Flute 4'

Oboe 8'

Tremulant

Octave

Unison Off

Sub Octave

 

PEDAL

Bourdon 16'

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

 

I am really surprised at how addictive this forum becomes.

 

JA

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Still over the limit, but couldn't wait until tomorrow afternoon.

A six stop organ:

GREAT

Wald Flute 8'

Principal 4'

Octave

Swell to Great

 

SWELL

Violin Diapason 8' (stopped bass)

Lieblich Flute 4'

Oboe 8'

Tremulant

Octave

Unison Off

Sub Octave

 

PEDAL

Bourdon 16'

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

 

I am really surprised at how addictive this forum becomes.

 

JA

 

A good scheme - I like this!

 

Addictive - oh yer!!

 

:P

 

Right - now I am off to the Minster to practise Vierne Six (Final) and Messe Cum Jubilo (Duruflé) again. I shall try to take a few pictures of the instrument (including one or two of the Chamades from inside the organ - and two of our newly re-engraved draw-stop heads for the altered ranks).

 

If I do, I shall post them on my website, with links here.

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Guest Hector5

My wife's school chapel organ seems to have originally been built as a house organ by Bedwell, and rebuilt by Cedric Arnold in 1966 (the NPOR details are wrong). It has the following spec:

 

G.O.

O. Diapason 8 (mild - bass from SD)

St. Diapason 8 (sweet, antique-type sound)

Swell to Great

 

SW

Viola 8 (t.c. with stopped bass - mild)

Open Flute 4 (open wood)

 

PED

Great to Pedal

 

This organ is really, really nice - and so are the acoustics of the chapel. It's great fun to play and sounds good too. It's currently out being restored, and should come back soon. It also looks good, with a white-painted case.

 

I think that most successful house organs either have VERY mild upperwork, or very little. John Norman's memorably quote re. house organs was - 'avoid the fractions', and to a degree he was right. Our second house organ (we are now on number four!) was a smashing Mander Hoxne organ. However, we rarely touched the upperwork as there was no need to, and it was pretty intense at close quarters. The only occasion I ever used upperwork was when we had 40 people around for a party and people wanted to sing carols! Our current single manual German-built organ has 8, 4, 2, 1 1/3, 1/2-1, and at home the top stuff is not used much. Looking at the Rensch link - I like the idea of the instrument which has a Salicional on one manual and a flute on the other - not dissimilar to the organ built for Dr Christopher Kent by Wells-Kennedy.

 

The reailty is that many houses cannot accommodate what we would like, and there is the inevitable need to compromise. We surfed the internet like mad to find a decent house organ, considering even second-hand organs. In surfing, I discovered that there seems to a huge market in second-hand organs in mainland Europe. Here are two sites which offer instruments:

 

www.gebrauchtorgel.de

www.ladach.de

 

From these sites it is possible to by a 3 stop 1m + P Flentrop for around 5-8000 Euros. The bargains are amazing, and we had many hours of fun trogging through Europe trying organs out. If anyone would like further details of sources for second-hand organs, you can email me off list.

 

Hector

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On the other extreme, this one is much more difficult:

 

A small house organ of only six stops (plus couplers), with the action of your choice, to be disposed in a room measuring twenty feet long by twenty feet wide by twelve feet high. Wooden floor-boards and hard plastered stone (or block) walls - NOT painted in magnolia....

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Sub Bass (M) 16

Open Flute 4

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell 4p to Pedal

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Stopped Diapason 8

Gemshorn (Conical) 4

Octave

Swell 16p to Great

Swell to Great

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Open Diapason 8

Hautboy 8

Tremulant

Sub Octave

 

Reversible pedal to Great to Pedal

Three adjustable general combination pedals

Electro-pneumatic action.

 

This looks a little like those Father Willis church instruments that one comes across in remote villages and on which one can play a surprisingly large ammount due to their superb voicing. I'd probably put the Gemshorn on the Swell, a Principal 4' and Flageolet 2' on the Great and leave out the Pedal 4'

 

AJJ

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Anyone in the UK seriously interested in small organs should attend the exhibition and demonstration of small organs at the St Albans Organ festival. The last demo this year being on this Saturday (21st Jul)! These demos have been provided by the organ builders, at no insignificant cost, at the Festival over the last 30 years.

 

One could see an evolution in the quality of the demonstrations and the organs presented.

 

From picking scores at random, to a careful selection of music suitable for each instrument. A wonderful series of improvisations was also performed by David Briggs a few years ago with the style changing from instrument to instrument over the periods 1600 to 2000.

 

The quality of the small organs has also changed, and much for the better. Some of the organs in the earlier demos had an unsubtle strident quality you would not like to live with in your home- they were more suited to a small chapel.

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Guest Barry Williams

Designing a house organ is far more difficult than dealing with larger instruments in churches and chapels. Every pipe has to count in the house where space and finance may be at a premium.

 

The Victorians knew much about house organs. The received wisdom seems to have been lost. I was struck by the number of people who have spent a lot of money on I:8, 4, 22/3, 13/5, II: 8, 4, 2 11/3 and buzzing reed on tracker action, only to be disappointed, notwithstanding a fine case.

 

The criteria in the home are quite different and there is very little information available to the novice.

 

I have heard that someone is desiging (and building) a five manual house organ. There was one in Wimbledon some sixty years ago.

 

Barry Williams

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For those that like comparing organ specifications an encyclopedic approach can be made using the excellently produced books by the Positif Press on the Classical organ in Britain.

 

Vol 1 1955 - 74

Vol 2 1975 - 78

Vol 3 1979 - 90

 

These well illustrate the development of organs for the home, as well as for the concert hall or church.

 

A shame the series didn't continue.

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The Victorians knew much about house organs. The received wisdom seems to have been lost.

Oh I don't know. This is an absolute gem and surprisingly flexible considering that the Swell is not full compass (it's only 34 notes from Fiddle G, not 46 as stated on NPOR). The really ingenious bit (not mentioned on NPOR) is the "Short Octave" stop which locks down the bottom C and D on the Great and makes the G#, F# and E play E, D and C. Don't ask me how it's done.

 

I have mentioned this one before. I played it many times with great pleasure. Its upperwork was certainly bright, but not at all offensive - though admittedly my ears were younger in those days.

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Guest Barry Williams
For those that like comparing organ specifications an encyclopedic approach can be made using the excellently produced books by the Positif Press on the Classical organ in Britain.

 

Vol 1 1955 - 74

Vol 2 1975 - 78

Vol 3 1979 - 90

 

These well illustrate the development of organs for the home, as well as for the concert hall or church.

 

A shame the series didn't continue.

 

I agree. However, whilst these books are interesing they are by no means complete. There were quite a number of organs built that fitted the very narrow critieria of the authors, yet did not get a mention, for whatever reason.

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Hector5

If you visit the Klais website you will see that they are building a new 'salon' organ for a residence in Scotland. The article shows the organ containers being flown in by helicopter as road access is difficult. Anyone know about this organ - a stoplist would be interesting?

 

Hector

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... My revised scheme follows (bear in mind that this needs to be musically fairly complete for rehearsal possibilites, but also it has to be 'that bit different' to form only part of the big scheme) BTW, quite a bit of this is already on the wind and very encouraging, especially the Tuba - a shaft of Gold! Jumping in before someone else does - there is a Chamade on the main job.

 

Great (very near the console - and speaking on a very modest pressure!)

Contra Salicional 16

Spitzflute 8

Clarabella 8

Gemshorn 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Nazard TC 2.2/3

Fifteenth 2

Blockflute 2

Mixture 17.19.22 (Tierce drops out at G sharp 21)

 

Swell

Open Diapason 8

Lieblich Gedackt 8

Gamba 8

Celeste 8

Principal 4

Fifteenth 2

Mixture 19.22.26

Double Trumpet 16 (old unit)

Trumpet (now independent pipes)

Oboe

Clarion (now independent pipes)

 

I could probably squeeze one more drawstop in on the Swell ....what extra single stop would you have?

There will be a second soundboard providing a larger Swell playable from the five-manual console - I just have to restrict the urge to spoil my nice three-manual console!

 

Choir (enclosed)

Stopped Diapason 8

Cone Gamba 8 (on spare slide)

Gemshorn 4

Stopped Flute 4

Fifteenth 2

Nineteenth 1.1/3

Sesquialtera T.C. 12-17 (squeezing this one in!)

Clarinet 8

Orchestral Oboe 8 (on another spare slide)

Tuba (unenclosed) 8

 

Pedal

Bourdon unit at 16-10.2/3-8-4 and Grand Cornet of 32' IV

(Great) Salicional at 16-8-4

Swell Double Trumpet at 16

 

Yes, I know! It's a pity there will not be sufficient blower pressure for me to use the main Trombone from the big scheme, let alone the Bombarde 16' which is a diaphonic downwards extension of the Tuba.

 

Thoughts?

 

Try to be kind to me - I'm a nutter and I already know this.

Sorry - I must have missed this first time around. It is an interesting scheme, Paul. It will be fun to see how it evolves. Did you construct the three-clavier console yourself?

 

I am also glad to see a good variety of 8p stops - including the fairly rare Cone Gamba - is this an old Hill rank?

 

As far as the extra stop in the Swell Organ is concerned, if there was room for a 16p Quintatön, that could be quite useful; if not, do you have a 4p Suabe Flöte, or similar rank?

 

I must admit that I am relieved to hear that there is not enough wind to supply the 16p octave of the Tuba - but pleased to learn that you have included a chamade in your scheme!

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Guest Cynic

Sorry - I must have missed this first time around. It is an interesting scheme, Paul. It will be fun to see how it evolves. Did you construct the three-clavier console yourself?

 

I am also glad to see a good variety of 8p stops - including the fairly rare Cone Gamba - is this an old Hill rank?

 

As far as the extra stop in the Swell Organ is concerned, if there was room for a 16p Quintatön, that could be quite useful; if not, do you have a 4p Suabe Flöte, or similar rank?

 

I must admit that I am relieved to hear that there is not enough wind to supply the 16p octave of the Tuba - but pleased to learn that you have included a chamade in your scheme!

 

You must have missed the bit that explained that most of the three-manual section (including the console) comes from Cheltenham Ladies' College.

 

The Chamade is strictly home-bodged, but when it was playable in Gloucestershire, it turned quite a few heads. David Briggs wrote in my visitors' book that if it went missing, I should know where to look for it. It is/was a third-hand Nicholson and Lord Swell Cornopean - mostly the act of facing it out horizontally (on special chests) gave it the 'dominating' effect. The Keith Bance/Shepherds' Chamade at Notre Dame de France, Leicester Square is similarly only an old Swell Clarion - in that case, I believe they had to lower the pressure because (even untreated) the sound was so spectacular because of its special positioning.

 

The Cone Gamba is a Bevington rank that once stood in my organ at Hay-on-Wye. It is an interesting tone, though I am slightly worried about how far down I can fit it on the soundboard because (being virtually Gemshorn shaped) it's quite a generous scale for a string. The basses are having to be stood off anyway, so I'm not too worried.

 

Others have suggested a 4' Flute as the extra stop for the Swell. So far, the idea that most appeals to me is that I sort out a lesser 16' reed, the Double Trumpet is very healthy indeed, and with an alternative 16' the Trumpet could be left (mostly) to the Pedal division. I am a little sorry there is not room for one more Pedal stop. With only 8 drawstops (and an existing solid-state memory for the pistons) I'm going to have to forgo my Cornet of 32'. For practice purposes, I believe the most useful stops will be Salicionals 16 8 4 and Flutes 32 16 8 4.

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If you visit the Klais website you will see that they are building a new 'salon' organ for a residence in Scotland. The article shows the organ containers being flown in by helicopter as road access is difficult. Anyone know about this organ - a stoplist would be interesting?

 

Hector

This is a small three-manual, with an intriguing specification ( of which I have a copy somewhere) comprising 16 or 17 stops. A friend of mine visited the Klais works two years ago, and was told that the client had asked for no publicity about the instrument. Perhaps there will be more publicity after all.

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James Lancelot has a wonderful house organ in his sitting room at Durham Cathedral. I am not sure of the spec, although it will be on Harrisons web site. When James was president of Darlington Organists Association, he put on a wonderful "Presidents" evening with a good string quartet. Not sure of the programme, but it included the Bach Trio Sonata No 5 with said strings

regards

Peter

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Guest Cynic
Now this is what you call a house organ. 33 stops, 45 ranks, mechanical action.

 

http://www.beckerath.com/gfx/Steve-Ansicht.jpg

 

Ian Crabbe

 

 

I'm quite sure you're right.

On the other hand, you'd have to choose a very well-paid career to be able to afford that!

Rough guess....half a million?

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I'm quite sure you're right.

On the other hand, you'd have to choose a very well-paid career to be able to afford that!

Rough guess....half a million?

 

You're dead right. I don't know the precise cost, but the American owner also had a Maybach parked in his drive.

 

Ian Crabbe

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....If it really were for me:

 

MANUAL EINS

 

Open Diapason I (front)

Open Diapason II

Stopped Diapason

Principal

 

MANUAL ZWEI (enclosed, in the next room trough the perforated wall)

 

Aeoline 8'

Voix céleste 8'

Lieblich Gedackt 8'

Zauberflöte 4'

Quint 2 2/3'

Physharmonica 8'

 

PEDAL

 

Subbass 16'

 

(Many developpments possible...)

 

Pierre

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....If it really were for me:

 

MANUAL EINS

 

Open Diapason I (front)

Open Diapason II

Stopped Diapason

Principal

 

MANUAL ZWEI (enclosed, in the next room trough the perforated wall)

 

Aeoline 8'

Voix céleste 8'

Lieblich Gedackt 8'

Zauberflöte 4'

Quint 2 2/3'

Physharmonica 8'

 

PEDAL

 

Subbass 16'

 

(Many developpments possible...)

 

Pierre

Well, if this is what you desire, Pierre....

 

However, would you really want two open diapasons on the first clavier, in such a small instrument? In addition, although the second (enclosed) division has a certain amount of colour - and the very useful, atmospheric Céleste - I wonder whether a 2p flute might be more desirable than a Quint 2 2/3. Is it intended that this rank is flute- or diapason-scaled?

 

Pierre, I know that you have posted this information before, but could you remind me what a Physharmonica sounds like, please?

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Well, if this is what you desire, Pierre....

 

However, would you really want two open diapasons on the first clavier, in such a small instrument? In addition, although the second (enclosed) division has a certain amount of colour - and the very useful, atmospheric Céleste - I wonder whether a 2p flute might be more desirable than a Quint 2 2/3. Is it intended that this rank is flute- or diapason-scaled?

 

Pierre, I know that you have posted this information before, but could you remind me what a Physharmonica sounds like, please?

 

Mind you - with a bit of stop name changing and some judicious extension here and there you could come up with something that could have been built by Schoenstein in the USA. Furthermore if some of their smaller jobs are anything to go by it would sound quite good too!

 

AJJ

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Mind you - with a bit of stop name changing and some judicious extension here and there you could come up with something that could have been built by Schoenstein in the USA. Furthermore if some of their smaller jobs are anything to go by it would sound quite good too!

 

AJJ

 

Yes !

I could certainly do with a Schoenstein -or some in Belgium-. There are differencies,

but the actual styles are nearly the same.

The Quint is of Principal scale, it is intended to reinforce the 8' foundation in full

registrations, not for "ta-ti-tu-ta" would-be-"baroque" ones; this is better left to

true ancient organs, or good reconstitutions of them. (by the way, should I inherit

a Samuel Green chamber organ, I'd keep it as it is up to the last nail and would give

up the idea to bore a big hole in that wall...).

 

As for the second Diapason, well....In a chamber organ, the II may well resemble

to something that would invariably appear on a Manual drei under its true name! :lol:

 

A Physharmonica sample:

http://aeoline.de/Mp3/Physharmonica/Physharmonika01.mp3

 

Pierre

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... The Quint is of Principal scale, it is intended to reinforce the 8' foundation in full

registrations ...

 

Um.... the instrument is to have eleven stops, six of them are at 8p (not counting the Physharmonica) - are you certain that the foundation stops need re-inforcing?!!

 

In any case, I doubt that this would work - I have a principal-scaled Twelfth (2 2/3) on the Swell (and G.O.) of the Minster organ. If I were to use it with the foundations, I would just hear two tunes, one an octave and a fifth above the other.

 

As for the second Diapason, well....In a chamber organ, the II may well resembleto something that would invariably appear on a Manual drei under its true name! :lol:

Oh God - you have sneaked in a Dulciana....

 

:lol:

 

Perhaps between Mass and Choral Matins tomorrow, I shall take a picture of ours, with the pipes disconnected and residing in the basement of the chamber - in the best possible place!

 

 

Thank you for this sample, Pierre.

 

OK, so it is a free reed. I have to say that I think that it sounds weird - like a cross between a mouth organ and an accordion.

 

You are welcome to this rank, Pierre!

.... but I do not think that I shall include one in the Minster organ rebuild scheme....

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This looks a little like those Father Willis church instruments that one comes across in remote villages and on which one can play a surprisingly large ammount due to their superb voicing. I'd probably put the Gemshorn on the Swell, a Principal 4' and Flageolet 2' on the Great and leave out the Pedal 4'

 

AJJ

 

Are you thinking of this one, by any chance, Alastair?

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D05164

 

Before you ask, I had forgotten the specification, so it did not influence my own.

 

I once played this instrument for a concert. As far as I can remember, it was quite nice - but not as exciting as the instrument across the road:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N11195

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