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Desperately Seeking Really Good Tubas


Barry Jordan

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"I wonder where Polish organ-builders get their new Tubas?"

(Quote)

 

As you can imagine, I already have studied that "market".

There are excellent pipe-makers in Poland, and also in

Slovenia -with interesting prices-.

Now the Premium choice(s) would of course be british...

 

Pierre

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Dear Barry,

 

It is a shame that Schuke reed voicers didn't attend the Harrison Reed Voicing work shop, held this month. It was oversubscribed many months back. Some Americans were there to 'learn' how to make Willis reeds for a large concert hall organ they're doing.

 

I realise this is no help whatsoever, sorry. I did write to you on the subject of British Organ Building some years back, but you never replied. Perhaps if you had, we could have sorted out your current problem.

 

I'm sure eventually what you end up with will work well with the rest of the instrument.

 

Hello David,

 

now, not replying to e.Mail is not really like me, althought sometimes when a Mail disappears from the visible part of the screen I forget about it. Please accept my apologies.

 

Well, I am quite sure that it will "work", as the rest of the instrument is coming along marvellously. It has a very interesting and personal voice - which means that a certain portion of the organ world will find it "wrong". But that's another topic..... I do want it to sound like real tuba, however, and not like loud version of the other reeds, so that is why they should get to know the sound we are looking for..... the stop has been made and scaled by Giesecke, who have made a lot of these stops for various (mostly American) organ builders, but their pre-voicing has been confined, as we discovered on Tuesday night, to more or less making sure that the pipes do actually speak.

 

Cheers

Barry

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Well, I am quite sure that it will "work", as the rest of the instrument is coming along marvellously. It has a very interesting and personal voice - which means that a certain portion of the organ world will find it "wrong".

Cheers

Barry

Great! We really need an instrument of that kind. I'm quite bored of those instruments where you can set up the spec and imagine the sound just by hearing who's gonna build it and how many stops there will be...

 

And thank you, Barry, for starting this topic, it generated much useful information (at least for me).

 

I believe that Klais toured locations in England for the very same reason before making several tubas for Cologne Cathedral organ. I think that there are other tuba installations in Germany as well as Cologne.

 

I find it very interesting that our typically-English tuba sound seems to be becoming popular in Germany.

 

John

 

Well, I think the reason that Tubas, or that what they are supposed to be here, become more popular is that one is TIRED from these Chamades by Klais a. o., as most of them make little use - their colour is poor* (just something sharp getting on your nerves, one should call it Bassoon en chamade), and even sound pressure is mostly missing (to refer e. e.g to the Chamades of NDdP before the "Cochereau" voicing was changed - these pipes were at least aggressive and P C knew to handle them... sorry, never heard them live....pcnd will correct me...)

So, when a Tuba is ordered in Germany, there is a longing for a reed stop which one really LIKES to draw... In my youth, I tried reeds and after a second I pushed in most of those stops. Later I found the beautiful reeds by Schnitger, sounding fine already without any flue pipe supporting it. And even later I learned about fine reeds from the 19c, which led to the question: Why did they ever accept such bad stops in (Austrian and sometimes German) organs of the 1950's-1980' ????

 

Best from the Baltic

KBK

 

*) Have to confess that I do refer to reeds from 2000 and before, do not know the latest Klais reeds in Cologne and elsewhere (Tuba episcopalis has become a fashionable stop in German cathedrals... Perhaps it's a good idea, if you want to get support from church authorities, to add that "episcopalis" label:

Tibia episcopalis, Vox coelestis et episcopalis... :rolleyes:

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"Well, I think the reason that Tubas, or that what they are supposed to be here, become more popular is that one is TIRED from these Chamades by Klais a. o., as most of them make little use - their colour is poor* (just something sharp getting on your nerves, one should call it Bassoon en chamade), and even sound pressure is mostly missing (to refer e. e.g to the Chamades of NDdP before the "Cochereau" voicing was changed - these pipes were at least aggressive and P C knew to handle them... sorry, never heard them live....pcnd will correct me...)

So, when a Tuba is ordered in Germany, there is a longing for a reed stop which one really LIKES to draw... In my youth, I tried reeds and after a second I pushed in most of those stops. Later I found the beautiful reeds by Schnitger, sounding fine already without any flue pipe supporting it. And even later I learned about fine reeds from the 19c, which led to the question: Why did they ever accept such bad stops in (Austrian and sometimes German) organs of the 1950's-1980' ????"

(Quote)

 

Voilàààààààààà......Pcnd, I am already in the shelter! :rolleyes:

 

Why were those reed stops accepted ? Simply because they were the reverse

than Dad's.

And as each generation needs to show "they know better"...

 

Pierre

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Dear Barry,

Sorry I didn't see your reply sooner. And don't worry about the lost email, it was sent a long time ago and may well have been stopped by your spam filter, it's happened before, not sure why 'diapason@...' requires censoring.

 

I agree with the other posts that the whole topic of introducing traditionally 'foreign' sounding pipes into an organ is fascinating. As Karl mentioned, it will be refreshing for organists (and the congregations/audiences) to have more variety. Germany may still be quite conservative about what constitutes an organ, although I will be pleased to hear from members who know of examples of non-German builders having the opportunity to build in the country. Perhaps Austrian and Hungarian OBs are too close in style to be classed as 'foreign'.

 

German reeds, even in the 19th century were considered by some to be less musical than the French type. Mr Kennedy was quite keen that Cavaillé-coll should make the reeds for the Schulze organ (now at Armley). A long period of letters back and forth between the two builders eventually concluded in Schulze putting his own reeds in as Cavaillé-coll was worried about how his would sound with the rest of the organ.

 

As the Magdeburg Tuba has been made by a well-known maker who has produced many examples before, all the essential elements are there. The pressure has to be high enough to allow the tongue to cut off the air as it closes even with the extra, but subtle, curvature at the tip to prevent it slapping the shallot.

 

There are quite a few different examples that the Schuke men will find around the UK. Some of the tongues will be weighted, some will be very much wider than others at the free end, they will find also find that there is no standard thickness for the brass. They may return rather more confused than when they set out.

 

If they'd like the brass tongues to be made with the exact curvature of those made by Fr Willis at the end of the last century (for example), then all you need do is put them through the machine made to do the job. It still works and is currently to be found at the Rotunda works, St. Anne Street, Liverpool!

 

Has the approximate pressure for the Tuba been decided upon?

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"A long period of letters back and forth between the two builders eventually concluded in Schulze putting his own reeds in as Cavaillé-coll was worried about how his would sound with the rest of the organ."

(Quote)

 

......And so such a synthesis was left to more daring people: William Thynne.

(whose reeds lie somewhere between Willis and Cavaillé-Coll...)

 

Pierre

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"A long period of letters back and forth between the two builders eventually concluded in Schulze putting his own reeds in as Cavaillé-coll was worried about how his would sound with the rest of the organ."

(Quote)

 

......And so such a synthesis was left to more daring people: William Thynne.

(whose reeds lie somewhere between Willis and Cavaillé-Coll...)

 

Pierre

 

So if I understand correctly, would we recognise Thynne's flue work as having German characteristics? Is his work even more 'germanic' than the many Organ Builders who were influenced by what Schulze built in England? Are there still original examples of Thynne's flue and reed work that we could hear, or do we only have written evidence in the form of reviews from 'Musical Opinion' etc.?

 

And going back to the original theme:

Hands up anyone who has a Thynne Tuba out there voiced on 20".

 

There once was a voicer called Thynne,

Whose reeds were remarkably fine.

When compared with the rest,

He was heard to protest:

"They're not Willis or Schulze, They're MINE!"

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Are there still original examples of Thynne's flue and reed work that we could hear, or do we only have written evidence in the form of reviews from 'Musical Opinion' etc.?

Hands up anyone who has a Thynne Tuba out there voiced on 20".

The Grove organ in Tewkesbury Abbey is virtually entirely original. Thynne made it clear in public correspondence that he designed and voiced all the pipes, including reeds. It includes a Tuba on 12".

 

You can read about it in the program of the reopening recital given by Francis Jackson in 1981 after a highly conservative restoration by Bishop's overseen by John Budgen.

 

Paul

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The Grove organ in Tewkesbury Abbey is virtually entirely original. Thynne made it clear in public correspondence that he designed and voiced all the pipes, including reeds. It includes a Tuba on 12".

 

You can read about it in the program of the reopening recital given by Francis Jackson in 1981 after a highly conservative restoration by Bishop's overseen by John Budgen.

 

Paul

 

Sorry to appear enthusiastic in correcting this, but:

as a statement of fact, The Grove's Tuba is no longer as left by Michell & Thynne. It was borrowed by Walkers in the 1948 rebuild of the Milton organ; it was then placed at the front of the Apse chamber and revoiced for the highest pressure available up there, which was less than it had stood on previously. If its wind pressure was restored when John Budgen returned it to The Grove in the 1980's, this stop has thus been through at least two different pairs of reed voicers' hands since 1885.

 

The fine Tuba now on the Milton organ is a Norman and Beard stop, formerly part of the organ at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate.

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Sorry to appear enthusiastic in correcting this, but:

as a statement of fact, The Grove's Tuba is no longer as left by Michell & Thynne. It was borrowed by Walkers in the 1948 rebuild of the Milton organ; it was then placed at the front of the Apse chamber and revoiced for the highest pressure available up there, which was less than it had stood on previously. If its wind pressure was restored when John Budgen returned it to The Grove in the 1980's, this stop has thus been through at least two different pairs of reed voicers' hands since 1885.

That's a shame; it's also disappointing in that case that the account of the history and restoration of the organ in that program has no hint of it, and in fact emphatically denies it:

 

"...miraculously, the Grove organ untouched..."
"...and the reed stops remain quite unaltered by successive custodians, which can be said for hardly any instrument of consequence in these isles..."

Paul

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No matter, that the Tuba be original or not,

the Thynne organ isn't responsible for that, oder ?

Fact is, it unites two worlds, while Thynne himself

of course claimed the result was his.

 

He had some collegues on the continent who dared

such synthesis: Dalstein & Haerpfer in Lorraine (both trained by

Cavaillé-Coll and Walcker, they made splendid organs

influenced by both Masters...), Stahlhuth of Aachen (on the

belgian border), a pupil of Joseph Merklin who built french-german

organs with Tubas imported from England, Anneessens of Belgium,

who voiced his Principals and reeds mid-way between english and

french manner, and Kerkhoff of Brussels, who assimilated these

experiments to present a kind of achievement.

 

For him, who likes the post-romantic organ, thoses names are as

important as Schnitger's, Silbermann's, Father Smith etc.

 

And, remember -the post-romantic organ had just forty years allowed

to devellop-. It was still experimental in the 1930's, when the "Reform"

opened a new conformist-no-ideas-save-those-of-the-boss period.

 

Pierre

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That's a shame; it's also disappointing in that case that the account of the history and restoration of the organ in that program has no hint of it, and in fact emphatically denies it:

Paul

 

The re-opening would not have been a good time for the whole story to be repeated, even if there had been space in the booklet (a copy of which I have here). We can face facts a little more sanguinely now.

To settle this point 'from 'the horse's mouth' I would draw your attention to this quote from Huskisson Stubington's article in The Organ, July 1956:

 

"..Finally there is the Tuba. In its old position it was on 13" wind, but Mr.Goody revoiced it on eight inches, the highest pressure available in the Apse...."

 

Since Stubington was both designer and subsequent guardian of this instrument, his account is good enough for me.

 

To rehearse previous Tewkesbury-related comments on this site, a number of stops migrated from The Grove to the Apse to save money, to be returned by John Budgen. At least one was found at the restoration to have been rescaled, i.e. pipes moved relative to the keyboard and extra(s) provided to complete the compass. One of the Grove's ranks disappeared completely and has never been seen again (the wooden rank of Thynne's 2-rank Solo Cello). If any of this sounds critical, I accept that Walkers did the best they could in difficult, cash-strapped times. I really enjoyed the resulting instrument, as I know others did.

I have some redundant bits of it here, most particularly the unique five-manual console.

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Five manuals ?

It's in the history in that recital program: the plan in 1948 was to link the Milton organ, with some new departments, and the Grove organ, doubled in size, to a single 5-manual console. The Milton part of the plan was carried out, but money ran out before the Grove was touched (apart, as we have heard, from pinching some of its pipes). When the Milton organ was rebuilt again, this console was removed; and it has been acquired by a squirrel ;) .

 

Paul

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OK, so we do not speak about original material....

Cynic, do you have some ?

About the Violoncello of two ranks, one of which in wood,

the other metal, there are documented examples in the

Walcker archives; this existed since Josef Gabler.....Indeed,

Schulze was no exception in the german field!

 

Pierre

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OK, so we do not speak about original material....

 

The reed voicer at Walkers responsible for altering the Thynne Tuba was a Mr Northcott, according to Bernard Edmonds in the BIOS Reporter (can't remember the date), but whether Goody or Northcott or both, it can't be said to be in its original state. Even though Mr Budgen may have got it sounding as close as possible to how it did in 1885.

 

It is unfortunate that there are so few examples of Thynne's work as he was obviously a key player in the development of the (English) organ. Does anyone know of the present condition of his organ he made with Beale in 1896 for St. John the Divine, Richmond?

 

The 'family tree' of Michell and Thynne is interesting. Thynne learnt from, and possibly influenced, Lewis who was inspired by Schulze and the use of roller beards etc. can be traced back to him. Schulze appears to have had more influence on British Organ building than he did back in Germany.

Michell went on to teach Thynne's string voicing to Hope-Jones in the US.

 

I hope that soon the Grove organ will be rebuilt to preserve the sound. Restoration may be the wrong word to use, given the mixture of actions, which apparently make the instrument difficult to play. No doubt there will be committees working long hours deciding on just what gets preserved.

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It is unfortunate that there are so few examples of Thynne's work as he was obviously a key player in the development of the (English) organ. Does anyone know of the present condition of his organ he made with Beale in 1896 for St. John the Divine, Richmond?

 

Hi

 

Certainly not in originasl condition - it was rebuilt by Lewis in 1905 (NPOR) - I don't know the current state, or even if the organ is still there.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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The reed voicer at Walkers responsible for altering the Thynne Tuba was a Mr Northcott, according to Bernard Edmonds in the BIOS Reporter (can't remember the date), but whether Goody or Northcott or both, it can't be said to be in its original state. Even though Mr Budgen may have got it sounding as close as possible to how it did in 1885.

 

It is unfortunate that there are so few examples of Thynne's work as he was obviously a key player in the development of the (English) organ. Does anyone know of the present condition of his organ he made with Beale in 1896 for St. John the Divine, Richmond?

 

The 'family tree' of Michell and Thynne is interesting. Thynne learnt from, and possibly influenced, Lewis who was inspired by Schulze and the use of roller beards etc. can be traced back to him. Schulze appears to have had more influence on British Organ building than he did back in Germany.

Michell went on to teach Thynne's string voicing to Hope-Jones in the US.

 

I hope that soon the Grove organ will be rebuilt to preserve the sound. Restoration may be the wrong word to use, given the mixture of actions, which apparently make the instrument difficult to play. No doubt there will be committees working long hours deciding on just what gets preserved.

 

I think the very first thing to do is to do nothing at all !

Any rebuild is always quite dangerous, while we have learnt one thing

in bankrupt Belgium: historic organs which were described as needing urgent

restoration, and that were not restored because there was -and is- no money

for that, still work 20 years afterwards.

With only the smallest repairs when needed.

Had precisely just THAT be done since one century, we would be rich indeed...

"preserve the sound" equals avoid rebuildings. An awkward action must be tolerated,

since an historic organ is no place for race competitions in "Ta-ti-tu-ta" fashion

among top players.

We human beings are found of big shows, with much air moved, torough cleanings,

we would rebuild even the walls round an organ; but this is an human need, the organs

prefer to be handled the soft way: cleaning were it is necessary, maintenance, and

repairs where and when needed.

If any organ has to be rebuild, then it is because it WAS previously "bettered".....!

and needs to be bring back to its original state.

 

If Schulze had more influence in Britain than in Germany, it is for the very simple

reason in Germany they were just a good builder like the next one.

Had Germany not destroyed , with a rage, 99% of its romantic organs, you would

have many, many Armleys and Doncasters to find there.

This is good news for Tewkesbury since the documentation, if scarcely the organs,

is abundant; should one day the second rank of the Violoncello, for example, be

re-made, there are lots of data available.

Now for the parts belonging to the british tradition, it is up to you, the british, to

preserve both the bits and the documentation....

 

Pierre

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To answer Pierre first, I have no pipes from Tewkesbury - aside from a number of impressive zinc canisters that Walkers used to complete some Open Wood pipes with haskell basses which we use as occasional tables in our back garden.

 

Actually, Tewkesbury have some of mine! I gave two Bishop ranks (ex Broomwood Methodist Church, Battersea) to Michael Peterson at the time of The Grove's restoration to fill gaps in the Apse organ. I was highly delighted, even amused to find these two ranks given prominence in Kenneth Jones' rebuilt Milton, they are his Great 8' and 4' Flutes and very good they sound.

 

What I do have is some of the switching, a number of unit chests, the piston setter panel and oak cupboard and (very much top of the list) the five-manual stop-key console ['By Appointment to His Majesty the King' as it says on the plate]. This is currently dismantled, because of my lack of space to move around. It will control a good bit more organ when finally connected up than it did before. There are at least six manual divisions planned here, whereas at Tewkesbury the bottom manual never played. I have already asked Dr.Francis Jackson if he would be prepared to visit and give it his renewed blessing - he gave the opening recital over fifty years ago!

 

Turning to The Grove:

IMHO The continuing problems are mostly down to the advisers brought in by English Heritage and the fact that their rulings were made a condition of a major grant. Both John Budgen and the abbey organists (neither of the latter any slouch with mechanisms) wanted to make certain of M&T's action arrangements more stable. Remember, the instrument had been set up for an Inventions Exhibition and the tale is that at very short notice indeed (? foul play) their site was changed in layout, much to their consternation. The console was intended to be at the front by the Choir organ. In particular the Swell action is unreliable because the purse rail is not properly supported - it is, frankly, a temporary measure which has not been altered/improved. The Advisers insisted that no improvement should be made. As a result, when the weather changes, the swell (as long as anyone can remember) has thrown regular wobblers of either cypher or missing note variety.

 

For the last ten+ years there has been at least one missing note from the Great to Pedal Coupler, this because the very long trackers/stickers cannot be reached without major dismantling.

 

To his very great credit, the same Revd.Tavinor (now Dean of Hereford) who ensured that The Milton was rebuilt also worked hard to get money for The Grove, but so far funds have not permitted this. When it does, I hope that they keep the hardline purists away. What The Abbey deserves is a restoration that does not perpetuate major design problems.

 

Thynne

Rest assured, Pierre, other Thynne pipework exists. I have a splendid viole of his here - want to make me an offer? This was rescued from a Noterman organ in the midlands that recently bit the dust and I got it third-hand. Another friend rescued virtually all the pipework from Holy Trinity, Tooting Bec in the 70's and much of this has now been incorporated into the amazing creation/collation that serves St.Paul's Newcastle-under-Lyme. The pipework is all splendid, but then as a major trade supplier, the maker had every reason to use and develop his skills. As a general rule, pipes made for the trade by London suppliers were at least as good as the pipes that the larger firms made for themselves. This was a very busy trade indeed at the time, organs being commissioned right left and centre. Those who supplied first class pipes, made of robust alloys would do the best trade. You can go into a little job made by a little-known builder and find (often) better pipes (in terms of manufacture) than, for instance H&H put into their organs in the same period.

 

BTW is Thynne with a prominent h and pronounced to rhyme with eye, or as 'Tin'?

The Tewkesbury folks (who heard the name bandided about a lot) always called him Tin.

I have heard both kinds.

 

Tangent Alert

I call them gemshorns as in gems(precious stones)-horns

others are very firm that it should be hard g.

Is there a right and a wrong about this? ....and in any case, whose opinion would we accept as an accurate ruling?!

Further, is a Gemshorn 'stringier' than a Spitzflute? I always thought it ought to be, but once again, I have found both kinds.

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Tangent Alert

I call them gemshorns as in gems(precious stones)-horns

others are very firm that it should be hard g.

Is there a right and a wrong about this? ....and in any case, whose opinion would we accept as an accurate ruling?!

Further, is a Gemshorn 'stringier' than a Spitzflute? I always thought it ought to be, but once again, I have found both kinds.

The "gem" has nothing to do with precious strones. The gemshorn was a medieval musical instrument made from a goat's (or other) horn. It is from the German for goat that the instrument gets its name, therefore the "g" is hard. http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/gemshorn.htm

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