Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Reeds In The Grove


Recommended Posts

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

I have not the slightest evidence for this, but what I hear when I listen to Lewis reeds, is much the same as I hear when I listen to Schulze chorus reeds......a job-lot of bought-in pipes from one of the major supply houses of the day. (PLEASE tell me I am wrong......I do hope so). Please do not quote the "French" pedal reeds at Southwark. I know all about those!

 

I have no idea what a diapson chorus is supposed to do, other than sing majestically, as they tend to do when they are well voiced. A really good chorus will certainly accept reeds of the Willis type, or the Hill type and, even Schulze travesties. G Donald Harrison reeds worked wonders at Methuen (I know the chorus was changed a fair bit, but not THAT much), Norman & Beard reeds attached themselves splendidly to the Schulze choruses at Doncaster, and of course, we all know about those very "English" reeds at the Bavokerk, which might easily have been stolen from a Hill organ. What of course will NOT work, are those hideous Harrison Trombas and Tubas, as well as the marginally better Willis 3 reeds.

 

So yes we can compare, and the results speak for themselves.

 

I agree the the term "irrelevant" is possibly not a good choice of word, but the fact is, the English romantic organ was very regional and very specific, and if you happen to be a world authority on Alcock, Bairstow, Stamford or Percy Whitlock, then there may be some degree of relevance. However, music-making no longer follows this fashion or era, and it is MUSIC which concerns me; not whether an organ is this or that.

 

Why should we continue to perpetuate the "English" romantic organ, which is unsuited to possibly 98% of the organ repertoire from around the world?

 

Please tell me I am wrong.......but make the arguments musical rather than pleasantly historical and nostalgic.

 

As for Ernest Skinner, the man was pure genius, within the confines of the orchestral/symphonic organ tradition, and of course, Willis learned a lot from him. I loved the two Skinner organs (Ernest Skinner) I played in America, and admired the total quality of the finished result, but that doesn't mean that I would like to live with one. As for the music, Leo Sowerby sounds good on them.

 

MM

 

MM, you ask for musical reasons why an English romantic organ deserves our appreciation?

 

Have you ever listened to French music played on German organs, or (possibly worse still) German music played on French ones? We are lucky that, although not identical to other important schools of organ-building of the period, a well-made, reasonably complete English organ will play practically every other national school of organ music respectably. A Hill reed has not the smack of Cavaille-Coll, not even Willis does, but for our buildings they are just as good, if not actually better.

 

Where some of the most notorious imports have gone wrong IMHO is that a typical English church acoustic is not the same as those in equivalent places abroad. A tone that might well sound wonderful at a decent distance from a French west gallery organ will not be appreciated as it shouts from a moderately low (and close) screen position in England. Must praised though that organ sometimes is, I would instance the Reiger at Christ Church, Oxford in this regard.

 

I find that Hill, Walker and Willis reeds tend to stay in tune, tend to have sufficient body and quality of tone to stand on their own; few French and German reeds do that. They speak promptly and they blend. Provided that you have a decent chorus or two (and this is where some of our larger organs often fall to the ground, I would for instance Norwich Cathedral or St.Edmundsbury) an 'English' reed chorus completes the picture magnificently.

 

I note your comments about H&H organs. I would agree with you that a typical Arthur Harrison sound is not the most musical or flexible for solo work. I would maintain, however, that it was a true taste of the times and its real strength is that such an organ is an accompanimental instrument par excellence. Would you rather accompany a choir using an H&H swell or a Klais? A Nicholson? A Reiger? I know which I would choose. 'Horses for courses!'

Our organs are/were good for what they were asked to do, which at the time included transcriptions. We seem to be judging organs on their ability to present a vast range of authentic performance, surely this is unrealistic. Let us be glad that (if left tonally unimproved) they do splendidly well in a surprising lot. Unashamed and unreconstructed English instruments (and of course I include Welsh and Scottish organs too) are objects of real interest to musicians and builders from abroad. We have here things that they do not have of their own. The blending capacity of our ranks is extraordinary and so are some of the colours. Of course, you were right to mention E.M.Skinner, because his quest for colour and flexibility was very much along the same lines.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 103
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

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

Now what did Fr.Willis know about diapason choruses?

 

Underscaled, essentially Geigens, hard-blown and not a patch on what Lewis achieved!

 

MM

 

I'm sorry MM, we really are not talking in the same language if that is REALLY what you think. But, as with Audsley, you are entitled to an opinion. I'm biased of course.

 

As for what Lewis achieved - and here I'm talking about the instruments rather than his appalling lack of business acumen - he was equally as opinioned as those whom we castigate today for their being in the same state, but he had some exceptionally rich friends who helped to gain him some very good contracts. The instruments are very fine but no better than the best of others, including my predecessor-three-times-removed. There is much hype about the Schultze influence which was actually hero worship, if you like, and whether this 'influence' actually made his organs any better than they would have been without it is debatable.

 

What it comes down to, and perhaps it's time this were admitted for the sake of calling a truce and getting this thread back onto its proper sujet, is that we all have different tastes and to call someone else's tastes some of the things quoted in this thread today is really rather disingenuous.

 

DW

Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of Father Willis's diapason choruses, I have played a few in my time and I don't think I have yet come across one where the great OD, Octave and Superoctave did not fit together like a glove - and this despite the fact that, given the prevailing ethos of the time, they were presumably never really intended to be heard on their own.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to come back on this point:

 

"A really good chorus will certainly accept reeds of the Willis type, or the Hill type and, even Schulze travesties"

(Quote)

 

If I understand well, by "good" is meant: a chorus topped by the would-be-typically-baroque Quint Mixture,

with all ranks of Principal scales and the same strenght, something Schulze still built in his organs

in the 19th century.

 

And Methuen is a good case -and one we know well- of such Choruses paired with bold reed choruses.

Tewkesbury already displays "something like that".

 

AND....Whenever such a meeting happens, you still hear the Mixtures and the reeds apart,

there is no blend -guess why?- Save in big chords, when there seems to be a special kind

of blend that happen in the end.

Then you hear a harsh tone, something like a "AAAAAAAAAOÏNGGG" which may be interesting

for some seconds -no more please-.

A frequently met drawback in american organs, emphazised still by dry acoustics.

 

Such sounds we may keep, of course, for climaxes. But please give us the "release" button,

that is, the Tierce Mixture.

(This said, NOT in the Grove organ! this one better left alone, save maybe the action problems,

as discussed earlier here...)

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
I would like to come back on this point:

 

"A really good chorus will certainly accept reeds of the Willis type, or the Hill type and, even Schulze travesties"

(Quote)

 

If I understand well, by "good" is meant: a chorus topped by the would-be-typically-baroque Quint Mixture,

with all ranks of Principal scales and the same strenght, something Schulze still built in his organs

in the 19th century.

 

And Methuen is a good case -and one we know well- of such Choruses paired with bold reed choruses.

Tewkesbury already displays "something like that".

 

AND....Whenever such a meeting happens, you still hear the Mixtures and the reeds apart,

there is no blend -guess why?- Save in big chords, when there seems to be a special kind

of blend that happen in the end.

Then you hear a harsh tone, something like a "AAAAAAAAAOÏNGGG" which may be interesting

for some seconds -no more please-.

A frequently met drawback in american organs, emphazised still by dry acoustics.

 

Such sounds we may keep, of course, for climaxes. But please give us the "release" button,

that is, the Tierce Mixture.

(This said, NOT in the Grove organ! this one better left alone, save maybe the action problems,

as discussed earlier here...)

 

 

 

Pierre,

I usually agree with you, but in this case I don't. Tierce mixtures do blend with reeds, agreed.....

But then so do Quint Mixtures provided that they do not start too high. I find H&H Harmonics (incl. flat 21st) to be of very musical little use, I'm afraid. They're better than no mixture at all, but only in very full combinations.

 

The critical thing, in my experience, is that there is must not be a gulf between the main chorus (*16) 8' 4' 2.2/3 2 and the Mixture(s). In this regard, builders in Germany have often arranged it far better than many a builder over here. I find the long-established French Fourniture and Cymbale a very good idea, but from the 19th century on in France these ranks were often pretty pale and at Cavaille-Coll's hands they break back radically in the treble, even including harmonics of 16'. This is not a true Plein Jeu, nor is it the ideal principal chorus.

 

I could find you several UK organs of the period 1870-1910 or so where there is a perfect blend between reeds and a principal chorus - some by Hill are particularly outstanding*, but there are several by Willis (they were not all Geigen Diapasons, I assure you MM) several by Walker. As MM has said, the combination of Schulze Diapasons and Norman and Beard reeds (particularly on the Great) at St.George's Doncaster is very fine indeed. The blend there IMHO has nothing at all to do with the Cornet stop. There the success is in the way so many quints and octaves lock together. A chorus based on 16' complete with the 5.1/3 quint and all the mixtures is a spectacular sound, albeit one not to be endured a close quarters for too long at a time!

These effects were not ever forgotten, they simply went out of fashion in some quarters. If you have not heard a typical best period Walker, complete with so-called Clarion Mixtures, then you have really missed something!

 

*Sydney Town Hall, which you mentioned a while ago is an astonishing example of perfect plenum: chorus+quint mixures+reeds.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre,

I usually agree with you, but in this case I don't. Tierce mixtures do blend with reeds, agreed.....

But then so do Quint Mixtures provided that they do not start too high. I find H&H Harmonics (incl. flat 21st) to be of very musical little use, I'm afraid. They're better than no mixture at all, but only in very full combinations.

 

The critical thing, in my experience, is that there is must not be a gulf between the main chorus (*16) 8' 4' 2.2/3 2 and the Mixture(s). In this regard, builders in Germany have often arranged it far better than many a builder over here. I find the long-established French Fourniture and Cymbale a very good idea, but from the 19th century on in France these ranks were often pretty pale and at Cavaille-Coll's hands they break back radically in the treble, even including harmonics of 16'. This is not a true Plein Jeu, nor is it the ideal principal chorus.

 

I could find you several UK organs of the period 1870-1910 or so where there is a perfect blend between reeds and a principal chorus - some by Hill are particularly outstanding*, but there are several by Willis (they were not all Geigen Diapasons, I assure you MM) several by Walker. As MM has said, the combination of Schulze Diapasons and Norman and Beard reeds (particularly on the Great) at St.George's Doncaster is very fine indeed. The blend there IMHO has nothing at all to do with the Cornet stop. There the success is in the way so many quints and octaves lock together. A chorus based on 16' complete with the 5.1/3 quint and all the mixtures is a spectacular sound, albeit one not to be endured a close quarters for too long at a time!

These effects were not ever forgotten, they simply went out of fashion in some quarters. If you have not heard a typical best period Walker, complete with so-called Clarion Mixtures, then you have really missed something!

 

*Sydney Town Hall, which you mentioned a while ago is an astonishing example of perfect plenum: chorus+quint mixures+reeds.

 

 

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

 

 

I couldn't agree with Paul (Cynic) more, because for my money, the Doncaster Schulze (with its later additions) is a far more sophisticated instrument than the organ at Armley.

 

Actually, I had EXACTLY Sydney Town Hall (and Beverley) in mind, when I thought of the perfect blend between GOOD English trumpets and the German-style quint chorus, and this is exactly what we now hear at Doncaster.

 

So there is the proof for all to hear.......Doncaster, Beverley, Methuen, Sydney, perhaps Belfast Ulster Hall and, perhaps we might include Coventry in that list, as a modern-day example. Perhaps it is not a mistake that these are very, very good organs by any standards.

 

I don't actually dislike the Fr Willis sound, but I do think it is a dated concept, just as I would regard Arthur Harrison organs. I admire tham for what they are and were, but I feel that we now have (or should have) a better understanding of the "classical tradition" from which organists and organ-builders strayed too far.

 

As for Ernest Skinner, you just have to sit at one of his finer instruments and improvise......it is like an Alladin's Cave of colour and subtle variety. As I often say, go to Yale and marvel at that gloriously expressive instrument, but don't ever think that it could be replicated elsewhere. In its' own way, this is an organ as good as anything by Schnitger, Silbermann, Fr Willis, Arthur Harrison, Walcker or Cavaille-Coll.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
====================

 

Actually, I had EXACTLY Sydney Town Hall (and Beverley) in mind, when I thought of the perfect blend between GOOD English trumpets and the German-style quint chorus , and this is exactly what we now hear at Doncaster.

 

So there is the proof for all to hear.......Doncaster, Beverley, Methuen, Sydney, perhaps Belfast Ulster Hall and, perhaps we might include Coventry in that list, as a modern-day example. Perhaps it is not a mistake that these are very, very good organs by any standards.

 

I don't actually dislike the Fr Willis sound, but I do think it is a dated concept, just as I would regard Arthur Harrison organs. I admire tham for what they are and were, but I feel that we now have (or should have) a better understanding of the "classical tradition" from which organists and organ-builders strayed too far.

 

As for Ernest Skinner, you just have to sit at one of his finer instruments and improvise......it is like an Alladin's Cave of colour and subtle variety. As I often say, go to Yale and marvel at that gloriously expressive instrument, but don't ever think that it could be replicated elsewhere. In its' own way, this is an organ as good as anything by Schnitger, Silbermann, Fr Willis, Arthur Harrison, Walcker or Cavaille-Coll.

 

MM

 

I have really struggled to make ANY sense of this toing-and-froing as to an opinion of what is supposed to be 'good' style, concept etc..

 

First: Ulster Hall???????????????? This is a God-awful organ in an extremely ugly room.

 

Second: when did "....the perfect blend between GOOD English trumpets and the German-style quint chorus" become anything to write home about?

 

Third: any attempt to reconcile the ultimate and penultimate paragraphs of the quotation above defy cogent thought.

 

Fourth - and nothing to do with THIS thread, but lifted from another, comes the following:

 

Quote:

A "core business" is that which has worked in the past, and into which all businesses regress when things go wrong. The related terms are "rationalisation", "cost cutting", "asset stripping", "sell offs" and "cherry picking”. In other words, getting the most amount of money for the least amount of effort and the least amount of change.

 

The entrepreneurs of this world are those who identify new markets, new methods and new technology, and "Napster" was an object lesson in how to go about it, even if it was illegal. For those who do now know, "Napster" was a programme which enabled tracks to be "ripped" from a data source for free, and exchanged between individuals across the internet.

 

end of Quote.

 

What have I missed here?: are you saying that the tit-headed "entrepreneurs" who are doing something which you openly admit is almost certainly illegal, are preferable to a refined old publishing house trying to keep its head above water while trying to maintain what few standards are still possible when philistinism and rank opportunism hide behind the veil of 'technology' ?

 

There is a terrific amount of pseudo-intelectual clap-trap being propogated here of late and this is really quite some of the worst. I merely ask what purpose this constant ripping out of throats really serves - other than the obvious answer, of course.

 

And there m'Lord, I rest.

 

David Wyld

Managing Director of a dated concept. <_<

Link to post
Share on other sites

A word of comfort for David Wyld.

 

I have no personal experience by which to judge whether your company upholds the fine traditions of Willis & Sons. Please do not take this as a criticism, I just have no first hand experience to call upon. However in terms of the Willis name and its position in history, you only need to peruse various other threads on this board to find that most correspondents when asked to list their favourite, or the finest, organs in the country will include in their lists at least a couple of:-

  • Westminster Cathedral
  • Salisbury Cathedral
  • Truro Cathedral
  • Hereford Cathedral
  • RAH
  • St Paul's Cathedral

Many also speak highly of Exeter, although I'm less convinced on this one. Anyone who thinks an unspoilt Willis is unmusical should arrange themselves an afternoon in Tenbury Wells ASAP. I can think of few organs that SING as clearly as this.

Link to post
Share on other sites
What have I missed here?: are you saying that the tit-headed "entrepreneurs" who are doing something which you openly admit is almost certainly illegal, are preferable to a refined old publishing house trying to keep its head above water while trying to maintain what few standards are still possible when philistinism and rank opportunism hide behind the veil of 'technology' ?

 

 

Managing Director of a dated concept. <_<

 

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

 

Oh please Dr Wyld! Don't come the "refined old publishing house" line. Even Bank's of York are moving towards paperless music-sales, and at one time, Novello was absorbed by Granada Holdings.

 

I have no problem with good old-publishing houses, except that there aren't any. They have been compromised by circumstances and forced into the position they now find themselves. A few may retain a limited niche market.

 

I really cannot see how Dr Wyld has managed to twist the comments about "Napster" into something connected with music-publishing, philistinism or rank opportunism. Actually, if Dr Wyld cared to do his homework, he would discover that "Naptser" was a nickname of a college student, who devised a quite brilliant programme for downloading and sharing music on the internet. What started off as a student's non-profit-making venture, became a massive thorn in the side of the record industry, and sent shock-waves around the world. "Napster" was eventually legalised and made respectable, with proper royalties changing hands.

 

In fact, the i-pod is very different, and I can't see any particular reason why Apple Computers should be considered either opportunist or phlistinistic, when the whole mechanism is legal, above-board and backed by the music industry. It has changed the way music recordings are sold, and virtually destroyed the CD market in a very short time. (That has very serious implications for classical music CD's, which are very heavily subsidised by pop music sales with huge production runs).

 

My concern was addressed towards the manner in which things can be published in the digital age, and the fact that the retreat into the safety of "downsizing" and the restricted availability of titles, is the worst philistinism of all, which marginalises or even eliminates anything which isn't popular mainstream. That, of course, is just about every piece of organ music written since Bach.

 

Perhaps it was a wake-up call to those who think they can live in the past and survive the rigours of to-day.

 

Are Willis organs still using electro-magnetic switching these days?

 

Enquiring minds and all that........

 

;)

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
A word of comfort for David Wyld.

 

I have no personal experience by which to judge whether your company upholds the fine traditions of Willis & Sons. Please do not take this as a criticism, I just have no first hand experience to call upon. However in terms of the Willis name and its position in history, you only need to peruse various other threads on this board to find that most correspondents when asked to list their favourite, or the finest, organs in the country will include in their lists at least a couple of:-

  • Westminster Cathedral
  • Salisbury Cathedral
  • Truro Cathedral
  • Hereford Cathedral
  • RAH
  • St Paul's Cathedral

Many also speak highly of Exeter, although I'm less convinced on this one. Anyone who thinks an unspoilt Willis is unmusical should arrange themselves an afternoon in Tenbury Wells ASAP. I can think of few organs that SING as clearly as this.

 

Hi

 

The current Willis firm certainly produce some excellent work - they were entrusted with restoring the chamber organ in my church, and the results are excellent. I would also say the same about their work at Ruthin, which I saw and played lasy year. So they certainly are maintaining the quality - I'm looking forward to seeing & hearing a new-build organ from the factory.

 

The "Willis sound" may not be to everyone's taste, and may not be 100% suitable for certain repertoire - but it is musical and very useable.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

As I always say, we'd better forget "Repertoire" for a moment

and care a bit more for beautiful tone.

Because tone always was the priority with the ancient

builders.

One summit was certainly the 18th century german organ, which

displayed a real passion for colors.

Bach approved this, always pointing out "rare stops you won't find

anywhere else" when he visited new organs.

 

The "Reform", in that respect, was akin to Vogler's "Simplifikationssystem";

"Throw me this and that out"...

 

Mr Wyld, please give us those Willis colors back ! they belong, like the (many) others,

to the "organ proper".

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
Bach approved this, always pointing out "rare stops you won't find anywhere else" when he visited new organs.

Can you give us chapter and verse on this, please, Pierre? I'm not saying there aren't any such instances, just that I can't recall any offhand. I know when Bach was inspecting organs he always mentioned things that the organ builder had supplied over and above the agreed contract (if he was doing his job properly for the authorities who engaged him, it was only proper that he should mention such things), but I can't recall any mention of "rare stops".

Link to post
Share on other sites
Can you give us chapter and verse on this, please, Pierre? I'm not saying there aren't any such instances, just that I can't recall any offhand. I know when Bach was inspecting organs he always mentioned things that the organ builder had supplied over and above the agreed contract (if he was doing his job properly for the authorities who engaged him, it was only proper that he should mention such things), but I can't recall any mention of "rare stops".

 

 

Five years before becoming Kantor in Leipzig, Bach visited the organ of the university Church,

rebuild by Scheibe (according to a specification by Eugen Casparini's son!).

The organist of the Nicolaï church was there and reports Bach's meaning in these words:

 

"Das Werck von dem Kötischen Capellmeister Herrn Bach, welcher dasselbe auf E. löblichen Universität begehren, am 16.Dezember. 1717, examiniren müssen, ohne eintzigen Hauptdefect, und dergestalt befunden worden, dass er solches nicht genugsam rühmen und loben können, sonderlich deren raren Register, welche neu verfertiget, und in sehr vielen Orgeln nicht zu finden."

 

"Die Orgeln J-S Bach", Christian Wolff & Markus Zepf, page 64.

 

I cannot resist to give the specification of this organ, something which would have been

destroyed immediately had it survived up to the "Reform" period, so widely it differs

from the neo-baroque Truths:

 

HAUPTWERK

 

Gross Principal 16'

Gross Quintatön 16'

Klein Principal 8'

Fleute allemande 8'

Gems-Horn 8'

Octav 4'

Quinta 3'

Quint-Nassat 3'

Octavina 2'

Wald-Flöte 2'

Grosse Mixtur 5-6r

Cornetti 3r

Zinck 2r

Schalmei 8' (en bois!)

 

HINTERWERK ("clavier de derrière". Aha!)

 

Lieblich Gedackt 8' (bois)

Quinta-tön 8'

Fleute douce 8'

Principal 4'

Quinta decima 4'

Decima nona 3'

Holl-Flöte 2'

Viola 2'

Vigesima nona 1 1/2' (1 1/3')

Weit-Pfeiffe 1'

Mixtur 4r

Helle Cymbel 2r

Sertin 8' (Régale assez tranchante)

 

BRUSTWERK

 

Principal 8'

Viol di Gamb naturell 8'

Gross Gedackt 8'

Octav 4'

Rohr-Flöte 4'

Nassat 3'

Octav 2'

Sedecima 1'

Schweitzer-Pfeiffe 1'

Largo 1 1/3' (Larigot)

Mixtur 3r

Helle Cymbel 2r

 

PEDAL

 

Gross Principal-Bass 16' (emprunt HPTW!)

Gross Quinta-Tön-bass 16'(HPTW)

Sub-bass 16'

Octav-bass 8' (HPTW)

Jubal-Bass 8'

Nacht-Horn-Bass 8'

Gross-Hell-Quintbass 6'

Octav Bass 4' (HPTW)

Quint-Bass 3' (HPTW)

Octav-Bass 2'

Holl-Flöten-Bass 1'

Mixtur-Bass 6r (HPTW)

Posaunen-Bass 16'

Trompeten-Bass 8'

 

 

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm sorry MM, we really are not talking in the same language if that is REALLY what you think. But, as with Audsley, you are entitled to an opinion. I'm biased of course.

 

As for what Lewis achieved - and here I'm talking about the instruments rather than his appalling lack of business acumen - he was equally as opinioned as those whom we castigate today for their being in the same state, but he had some exceptionally rich friends who helped to gain him some very good contracts. The instruments are very fine but no better than the best of others, including my predecessor-three-times-removed. There is much hype about the Schultze influence which was actually hero worship, if you like, and whether this 'influence' actually made his organs any better than they would have been without it is debatable.

 

What it comes down to, and perhaps it's time this were admitted for the sake of calling a truce and getting this thread back onto its proper sujet, is that we all have different tastes and to call someone else's tastes some of the things quoted in this thread today is really rather disingenuous.

 

DW

 

 

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

 

 

I think I am being misunderstood to some extent, which is probably entirely my own fault.

 

As I stated, I lived with a quite large Fr Willis for a while, and enjoyed it. I loved the peerless full-swell, the gorgeous strings, the impressive orchestral reeds and flutes and even the clarity of the somewhat thinner than expected choruses. The great reeds were among the best I have ever heard.

 

Interestingly, the unenclosed Choir organ was the most useless collection of beautiful registers I have ever stumbled across, but that was the fashion of the day, and possibly a hangover from the years previous to Fr Willis.

 

However, I am still left with the impression that there is a lack of concept and a failure to understand the nature of chorus-work; which is not a criticism at all, but merely an observation about the musical state of play at the time when such organs were built.

 

Even an organ as vast as St Geoprge's Hall, Liverpool, has a great deal of repetition and much less variety than the stop-list might otherwise suggests. Anything would sound "whirly and swirly" in a marble floored building like that, but with so many individualistic colours and harmonically exciting Willis reeds, the overall effect lacks some degree of cohesion.

 

As for T C Lewis, I really do think that the Schulze influence was enormous; not only to him, but to many other organ-builders of the era, such as Forster & Andrews and Charles Brindley.

 

It's quite interesting, but "oop North" outside Liverpool, the Willis sound was seldom heard, and the fashion was more towards Hill, Cavaille-Coll and (in fairly small quantities) a number of Lewis organs. The lesser builders, such as F & A and Binns, tended to follow the Germanic style.

 

The fact canot be escaped, that at certain critical points in British organ-history, it is German organs which have had the greatest impact, whether that be Fr Schmidt, Snetzler (Yes Pierre.....we know he was Swiss), Schulze and, during the white-heat of "organ reform", the work of Schnitger & Silbermann.

 

I personally find it very interesting that someone as gifted as G Donald Harrison was allowed to depart the British organ world, and favour America with his considerable talent.

 

Was it a clash of ideals, personalities, or a family who had very strong ideas about what was right and best?

 

Perhaps we will never know.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Pierre. Unsurprisingly, the example you quote is an inspection report - and by a third party at that. I'm afraid my German is minimal, so please pardon me if I am misinterpreting the text, but if I am reading it correctly, whilst we may conclude that the inspectors were content with what they found, it is surely misreading the information to claim it as proof that Bach approved of rare colours as a matter of principal. Weren't the inspectors were just reporting back to the commissioning authorities on what they got for their money? Have you any other quotes that are more specific?

Link to post
Share on other sites
However, I am still left with the impression that there is a lack of concept and a failure to understand the nature of chorus-work; which is not a criticism at all, but merely an observation about the musical state of play at the time when such organs were built.

The musical state of play in the later nineteenth century was that organists' interests were primarily in playing arrangements of orchestral and chamber music. Recitalists at least probably played more of this than of "real" organ music. Willis's organ were a response to this taste. Therefore I doubt very much that there was any failure on Willis's part to understand the chorus principle; more likely it was an outright rejection of the vertical tonal structure aesthetic as being irrelevant to the needs of the day. In any case, as I mentioned before, his Gt diapason choruses actually fit together superbly; it's just that the scalings are such that the fundamental reigns supreme.

Link to post
Share on other sites
==============================

 

I personally find it very interesting that someone as gifted as G Donald Harrison was allowed to depart the British organ world, and favour America with his considerable talent.

 

Was it a clash of ideals, personalities, or a family who had very strong ideas about what was right and best?

 

Perhaps we will never know.

 

MM

 

But we DO know - we have the correspondence and HW3's personal files.

 

G.D. Harrison and HW3 were great friends - they regularly went on drinking 'binges', disappearing for at least a couple of days and then reappearing with their wing collars missing, shirt tails out and mud on their faces (etc.!).

There was no question that HW3 relied quite heavily on Harrison but it was he who suggested to GDH that he should go and 'help' Skinner.

 

At some point in the proceedings GDH and Dora divorced and then HW3 married her! There was then the later debacle of the matter of HW3's will, in which he left everything to Dora (this is a long story and there was a reason for it, but it can't be gone into here).

 

It seems that HW3 was somewhat taken aback when GDH announced that he was staying in the U.S. and it can only be guessed at as to what was said about this, but I was told a long time ago that the 'transmission' of GDH to the USA "improved the overall intelligence level of both countries"!

 

 

 

As for T C Lewis, I really do think that the Schulze influence was enormous; not only to him, but to many other organ-builders of the era, such as Forster & Andrews and Charles Brindley.

 

 

And Conacher: but I was also informed that this obviously German influence was because they all periodically had German Staff working for them, not necessarily a 'Schultze' influence.

 

DW

Link to post
Share on other sites
*Sydney Town Hall, which you mentioned a while ago is an astonishing example of perfect plenum: chorus+quint mixures+reeds.

 

This strikes me as interesting as three of the four Great mixtures at STH contain tierces, as well as two of the three Pedal Mixtures.

 

Sydney Town Hall

Great Mixture Composition

Mixture 3rks.

[C-f#] ___13/5' - 11/3' - 1'

[g-a] ____2' - 11/3' - 1'

[a#1-c4] _4' - 22/3' - 2'

 

Cymbel 4rks.

[C-c]____11/3' - 1' - 2/3' - 1/2'

[c#-c1] __2' - 11/3' - 1' - 2/3'

[c#1-c2] _22/3' - 2' - 11/3' - 1'

[c#2-c4] _51/3' - 4' - 22/3' - 2'

 

Sharp Mixture 4rks

[c-f#] ___11/3 - 1' - 4/5' - 2/3'

[g-c2] ___2' - 13/5' - 11/3' - 1'

[c#2-c4] _4' - 22/3 - 2' - 13/5'

Furniture 5rks

[C-c] ____13/5' - 11/3' - 1' - 2/3' - 1/2'

[c#-c1] __2' - 13/5' - 11/3' - 1' - 2/3'

[c#1-c2] _22/3' - 2' - 13/5 - 11/3 - 1'

[c#2-c4] _8' - 51/3 - 4' - 22/3 - 2'

 

(Ampt, Robert - The Sydney Town Hall Organ 1999)

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
The musical state of play in the later nineteenth century was that organists' interests were primarily in playing arrangements of orchestral and chamber music. Recitalists at least probably played more of this than of "real" organ music. Willis's organ were a response to this taste. Therefore I doubt very much that there was any failure on Willis's part to understand the chorus principle; more likely it was an outright rejection of the vertical tonal structure aesthetic as being irrelevant to the needs of the day. In any case, as I mentioned before, his Gt diapason choruses actually fit together superbly; it's just that the scalings are such that the fundamental reigns supreme.

 

 

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

 

 

Beautifully put, and a much less rambling version of what I was attempting to say.

 

I have enormous admiration for what Willis achieved, and for that matter, the tremendous power and gravity of Arthur Harrison's best "devotional" tone during the (largely) inter-war years, and which still seems right for what we may call "traditional choral worship."

 

I just think that times have changed, and not always for the better. I really do approve of the idea of vertical choruses over any other, and it is those organs to which I am drawn every time, and certainly over any sneaking admiration I may have for Edwardian organ-building or the superb work of Skinner of Boston.

 

I am a victim of my era, I'm afraid.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
I just think that times have changed, and not always for the better. I really do approve of the idea of vertical choruses over any other, and it is those organs to which I am drawn every time, and certainly over any sneaking admiration I may have for Edwardian organ-building or the superb work of Skinner of Boston.

I can understand your preference and indeed am inclined to share it much of the time - namely when playing early music and much modern contrapuntal music. But for Romantic music I would much rather have orchestral instruments, English or French.* Horses for courses. And for Anglican service accompaniment you really can't beat a good Romantic English instrument.

 

* But please spare me from cloyingly thick instruments without any upperwork presence.

Link to post
Share on other sites
But we DO know - we have the correspondence and HW3's personal files.

 

G.D. Harrison and HW3 were great friends - they regularly went on drinking 'binges', disappearing for at least a couple of days and then reappearing with their wing collars missing, shirt tails out and mud on their faces (etc.!).

There was no question that HW3 relied quite heavily on Harrison but it was he who suggested to GDH that he should go and 'help' Skinner.

 

At some point in the proceedings GDH and Dora divorced and then HW3 married her! There was then the later debacle of the matter of HW3's will, in which he left everything to Dora (this is a long story and there was a reason for it, but it can't be gone into here).

 

It seems that HW3 was somewhat taken aback when GDH announced that he was staying in the U.S. and it can only be guessed at as to what was said about this, but I was told a long time ago that the 'transmission' of GDH to the USA "improved the overall intelligence level of both countries"!

As for T C Lewis, I really do think that the Schulze influence was enormous; not only to him, but to many other organ-builders of the era, such as Forster & Andrews and Charles Brindley.

And Conacher: but I was also informed that this obviously German influence was because they all periodically had German Staff working for them, not necessarily a 'Schultze' influence.

 

DW

 

 

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

 

 

Thanks for that information about GDH....I wasn't aware of any of it.

 

With regards to the commnent about the Schulze influence, I think I must beg to differ quite strongly.

 

Let's look at the evidence:-

 

Brindley assisted Schulze at Doncaster and did much of the voicing. They also shared workmen, and at least one of them stayed as a voicer at Brindley's....his name being Karl Schulze (no relative to the great man). Thus, Brindley went through a very "German" period around the 1870-80 decade, until Schulze went elsewhere (to Albert Keats). (Remember the stupendous organ at Dewsbury Centenary Methodist's, which I mentioned a little while ago? This was the ultimate "English" Schulze organ with an almost identical Great to Armley).

 

Schulze also voiced certain organs by Booth (when they were "Booth of Otley"), and Booth himself, learned his advanced voicing skills from Schulze; the two of them in some sort of informal partnership.

 

Add to this the pipes supposedly supplied by Schulze (actually unlikely), but which may have had the voicing hand of the master at some stage.

 

Binns was another who revered Schulze, and of course, he very carefully looked after and preserved the Armley organ, and kept it the way it was.

 

Similarly, Norman & Beard, at a very critically romantic period in English organ-building, retained the "Schulze sound" at Doncaster; though they may have made slight tonal changes. (There is evidence that they closed some of the foot-holes, for instance). However, there was very obvious respect for what Schulze had achieved, and N & B didn't exactly ruin the instrument, did they?

 

I forget the direct involvement of Forster & Andrews.....(my notes are buried among floppy discs somewhere), but there was a strong connection between them and Schulze, and of course, they built a proto-Schulze organ for All Soul's, Hayley Hill, Halifax, with certain "Schulze" ranks included.

 

I also have reason to believe that another very busy voicer did a lot of "Schulze" pipes and supplied them under the Schulze name name.....but that is just a gut feeling based on largely circumstantial evidence and the existence of a single copy of a voicer's leger.

 

Go back a litle further, and we must remember that it was Prince Albert who invited Schulze to England, whilst other Victorian travellers and engineers were going regularly to Northern Germany. I forget the name of the organist at Doncaster at the time of the Schulze......(my floppy-disc notes again!).....but he was unusually well travelled and knew all about continental organs. In fact, the links between Doncaster and Germany were especially strong, due to the British contructing the first German railway-line connecting Leipzig to the outside world, and for which the Doncaster workshops also supplied the rolling-stock.

 

The lines of communication, and the cultural appreciation between the two countries was therefore very strong.

 

Why else should Hill, in consort with Dr Gauntlett, go to such extraordinary lengths to introduce a "German" system?

 

Was the link Mendelssohn?

 

There are many things we do not know, but the influence of Schulze was, I believe, a very powerful one, which extended beyond the mere existence of German workers in the workshops of English organ-builders. Also, Schulze himself was always very happy to share his knowledge and his scales (Topfer), which were probably unknown in England before that time.

 

Will we ever know?

 

Perhaps the greatest Schulze influence was when organists went to recitals or services, and they listened Gob-smacked to the sound of Armley and Doncaster; to which the only possioble response is still, "Mein Gott!".

 

 

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...