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Pierre Lauwers

"post-romantic" Organs

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The "Post-romantic" notion was a rather vague one, emerging from the idea

that "after all, all those bad old canticles bins weren't all the same".

This was 1970, a time in which the only "good" organ was the new, neo-baroque one.

I researched that matter somewhat more with my teacher Jean-Pierre Félix during the 1980's.

 

The 19th century was a dictatorial one -like 2007-; the Boss was supreme, and decided all.

So, instead of having dozens of builders doing their own thing, experimenting, like it was

during Bach's time in his area, the "Big Chiefs" imponed their style: Eberhard-Friedrich Walcker,

Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, etc.

 

Here Britains stays already somewhat apart; there was more variety.

One side S-S Wesley, who wanted to keep the unequal temperament, wide compass, etc.

The other german influencies -upon Hill?-, then Schulze, some Cavaillé-Coll organs, Anneessens...

 

From 1890 on those Big Chiefs were beginning to see the matters from the other side of the grass

(sorry, belgian talking!), and could no more shout something like "you damned guy, stop thinkering

with that stupid idea of a string Cornet!!!"; and so their followers experimented in a vast series

of directions:

 

-Soft Mixtures and mutations. (and strong ones, of course)

 

-Extreme, and new colors.

 

-String, Flute, Dolce Mixtures and Cornets, Lieblich Gedackt Mixtures (as in Liverpool) etc

 

-Revisiting baroque stops, but in a new context

 

-Tierce and Septième Mixtures...

 

-...But also organs entirely devoid of any tierce rank at all (Grove organ Tewkesbury!!!)

 

This was the paradise for the tone guys: E-M Skinner, A. Harrison, John Compton, Stahlhuth, Oscar Walcker, Link,

Kerkhoff, Koulen, Weigle......Hope-Jones, etc.

 

This period ended up in two completely different -apparently at least- directions: the theatre organ, and the

neo-baroque one.

Both were simplified, standardized reactions against "those V-12 organs". To be compared with the

Abt Vogler's "Simplifikationssystem".

 

Towards 1925, new "Big Chiefs" began to dominate again, and imponed new "Holy Truths", and the Democracy

in organ design dissepeared once more.

 

This period was about 1890-1930.

Again, Britain is an exception, because several styles co-existed:

 

-Grove organ as early as 1885 (the first Post-romantic organ)

 

-Romantic organs up to much, much later (nearly about 1960), in a time already

neo-baroque in Germany...

 

Here follow some typical examples of what I call Post-romantic organs, taken from Strasbourg

and the Oscar Walcker archives:

 

 

Synagogue Strassburg:

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/eisenberg/orgues/synagogu.htm

 

Palais des fêtes Strassb

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/eisenberg/orgues/stpalaif.htm

 

St-Maurice Strassb:

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/eisenberg/orgues/stmauric.htm

 

(see the 1899 spec, not the simplified 2004 one) Septième Mixture (spec at the bottom)

 

Orfeo Barcelona:

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/PDF/Op1353.pdf

 

Blaue Halle Stockholm:

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/PDF/op2073.pdf

 

Now I wait for someone telling me it is impossible to play anything there.

See for yourself what are the british equivalents!

 

Pierre

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The "Post-romantic" notion was a rather vague one, emerging from the idea

that "after all, all those bad old canticles bins weren't all the same".

This was 1970, a time in which the only "good" organ was the new, neo-baroque one.

I researched that matter somewhat more with my teacher Jean-Pierre Félix during the 1980's.

 

The 19th century was a dictatorial one -like 2007-; the Boss was supreme, and decided all.

So, instead of having dozens of builders doing their own thing, experimenting, like it was

during Bach's time in his area, the "Big Chiefs" imponed their style: Eberhard-Friedrich Walcker,

Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, etc.

 

Here Britains stays already somewhat apart; there was more variety.

One side S-S Wesley, who wanted to keep the unequal temperament, wide compass, etc.

The other german influencies -upon Hill?-, then Schulze, some Cavaillé-Coll organs, Anneessens...

 

From 1890 on those Big Chiefs were beginning to see the matters from the other side of the grass

(sorry, belgian talking!), and could no more shout something like "you damned guy, stop thinkering

with that stupid idea of a string Cornet!!!"; and so their followers experimented in a vast series

of directions:

 

-Soft Mixtures and mutations. (and strong ones, of course)

 

-Extreme, and new colors.

 

-String, Flute, Dolce Mixtures and Cornets, Lieblich Gedackt Mixtures (as in Liverpool) etc

 

-Revisiting baroque stops, but in a new context

 

-Tierce and Septième Mixtures...

 

-...But also organs entirely devoid of any tierce rank at all (Grove organ Tewkesbury!!!)

 

This was the paradise for the tone guys: E-M Skinner, A. Harrison, John Compton, Stahlhuth, Oscar Walcker, Link,

Kerkhoff, Koulen, Weigle......Hope-Jones, etc.

 

This period ended up in two completely different -apparently at least- directions: the theatre organ, and the

neo-baroque one.

Both were simplified, standardized reactions against "those V-12 organs". To be compared with the

Abt Vogler's "Simplifikationssystem".

 

Towards 1925, new "Big Chiefs" began to dominate again, and imponed new "Holy Truths", and the Democracy

in organ design dissepeared once more.

 

This period was about 1890-1930.

Again, Britain is an exception, because several styles co-existed:

 

-Grove organ as early as 1885 (the first Post-romantic organ)

 

-Romantic organs up to much, much later (nearly about 1960), in a time already

neo-baroque in Germany...

 

Here follow some typical examples of what I call Post-romantic organs, taken from Strasbourg

and the Oscar Walcker archives:

Synagogue Strassburg:

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/eisenberg/orgues/synagogu.htm

 

Palais des fêtes Strassb

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/eisenberg/orgues/stpalaif.htm

 

St-Maurice Strassb:

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/eisenberg/orgues/stmauric.htm

 

(see the 1899 spec, not the simplified 2004 one) Septième Mixture (spec at the bottom)

 

Orfeo Barcelona:

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/PDF/Op1353.pdf

 

Blaue Halle Stockholm:

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/PDF/op2073.pdf

 

Now I wait for someone telling me it is impossible to play anything there.

See for yourself what are the british equivalents!

 

Pierre

 

I need to look more fully at these when I get back from school, but at first glance they look to be reasonably useful on paper. I must admit that I prefer the 2004 G.O. at S. Maurice, Strasbourg, as opposed to the 1899 version - the reed chorus of Bombarde, Trompette and Clairon I think that I would find more useful than a Stentorphon, Grosgedeckt and a Tuba Mirabilis. (I assume, however, that the latter rank would not have sounded anything like the English version.) Apart from this, the older specification appears to have a lot more colour (and possibly a greater variation in dynamic levels - with the exception of the new G.O. reeds) than the new version.

 

In addition, I think that I might have a few reservations about a G.O. Mixture, which commenced at 15-17-19-flat 21-22-26! However, I realise that the aural effect would depend on the scaling, voicing, pressure and regulation, etc.

 

Out of interest, what is a Wienerflöte? (Surely this does not transliterate as 'Sausage-flute'?)

 

Do you happen to have any sound files of this organ (or any of the other instruments which you mention in your post), please, Pierre?

 

Also, what was the Harmonicabass 16ft, on the Pedal Organ?

 

Thank you!

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The Wienerflöte is a gentle, bright version of the (wood) Traversflöte , harmonic also.

The Harmonica is a wood, soft string-toned stop, first used at the Paulskirche, Frankfurt

1829 Walcker organ.

With "bass" added= on the Pedal.

 

All MP3 we have are on Aeoline.de, new ones are added every month.

As for that splendid Weigle Mixture, it wasn't alone, by far, save with french

builders. Much, much Post-romantic organs have those kind of "harmonics"

stops.

The "closed toned" Tuba never existed on the continent, only the bright types.

 

And color, yes, aplenty. In search of beautiful tones, that was the aim!

Pierre

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The Wienerflöte is a gentle, bright version of the (wood) Traversflöte , harmonic also.

The Harmonica is a wood, soft string-toned stop, first used at the Paulskirche, Frankfurt

1829 Walcker organ.

With "bass" added= on the Pedal.

 

All MP3 we have are on Aeoline.de, new ones are added every month.

As for that splendid Weigle Mixture, it wasn't alone, by far, save with french

builders. Much, much Post-romantic organs have those kind of "harmonics"

stops.

The "closed toned" Tuba never existed on the continent, only the bright types.

 

And color, yes, aplenty. In search of beautiful tones, that was the aim!

Pierre

 

Thank you, Pierre.

 

More later - teaching again.... :mellow:

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Why do you always omit the work of Steinmeyer in Germany, and J W Walker in England?

 

The Walker at Blackburn was ( and still is) a stunning example of English organ-building, which combined German, French and English ideas.

 

Liverpool Metropolitan is another, but in a less fortunate and somewhat confusing acoustic.

 

MM

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Why do you always omit the work of Steinmeyer in Germany, and J W Walker in England?

 

The Walker at Blackburn was ( and still is) a stunning example of English organ-building, which combined German, French and English ideas.

 

Liverpool Metropolitan is another, but in a less fortunate and somewhat confusing acoustic.

 

MM

 

Of course, MM, I had no pretension to be complete here, nor "to know all" (impossible!).

I do know a little better Walcker and Link in Germany than the many others.

In England I did not visit Walker's and Compton's organs (I should!)

Is there interest for more links (Links to....Links, for example?)

 

Pierre

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Giengen a/d Brenz is a gem.

(You already need to queue to play it, by inscription in a waiting-list)

And yes, I do not know this Walker, Pcnd.

I realize there is no Website about Andernach, I'll have to copy

the spec here tomorrow.

 

Pierre

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Out of interest, what is a Wienerflöte? (Surely this does not transliterate as 'Sausage-flute'?)

 

Wien - Vienna. Viennese flute. Really just another name for Concert or Orchestral Flute. According to Audsley, although both the Wienerflöte and Harmonica have the characteristic circular mouth over which the wind is blown, the body of the Harmonica is deeper. That is, they look wider from the side than they do from the front. As Pierre says, the Harmonica has string tone, but is often considered a blend of string and flute.

 

Walcker made several variations of the orchestral flute, the ones (8' & 4') at Lausanne are not harmonic.

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ANDERNACH, MAYEN-KOBLENZ (D)

 

Evangelische Christuskirche

Gebrüder Link-Orgel, Opus 593, 1914

 

The organ has been restored 1997 by Willipeter, Köln, and the changes

were suppressed in order to have the organ back as it was 1914.

 

MANUAL EINS. Wind 95mm

 

Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Conzertflöte 8'

Gedeckt 8'

Gamba 8'

Dulciana 8' (conical like......The original Schnetzler Dulciana!)

Octav 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Octav 2'

Mixtur 4-5r 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5'- 1' (with a "golden" tone as with Walcker)

Trompete 8'

 

MANUAL ZWEI. Wind 80mm, enclosed

 

Lieblich Gedeckt 16'

Geigenprincipal 8'

Rohrflöte 8'

Gemshorn 8'

Aeoline 8'

Vox celestis 8'

Praestant 4'

Traversflöte 4'

Flautino 2'

Cornett 3-5 r 4'- 2 2/3'- 2', ends 6 2/5'- 5 1/3'- 5 1/3'- 4'- 4' in the treble !

Oboe 8'

 

DRITTES MANUAL. Wind 80mm

 

Flötenprincipal 8' (facade pipes)

Flöte 8'

Viola 8'

Salicional 8'

Quintatön 8'

Fugara 4'

Harmonia aetherea 3r 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5', breaks to 3 1/5'- 2 2/3'- 2', Octave rank Principal, mutation ranks conical

 

PEDAL wind 95mm

 

Principalbass 16' (wood)

Subbass 16'

Lieblich Gedacktbass (borrowed from II)

Violonbass 8' (Borrowed from II Geigenprincipal)

Cello 8'

Choralbass 4'

Posaune 16' (wood)

 

Pneumatic action with Kegelladen.

 

This outstanding design shows nihil exageration of any kind; this is a "reasonable" version

of the Post-romantic experimentations. Pressures are on the low side, comparable to

a baroque german organ like Schnitger or Silbermann; not much reeds, the organ draws

its power from the fluework and the Mixtures.

The Mixtures are extremely interesting, as well as the carefully planned "Abschwächungsprinzip",

which permits a crescendo without any gap, despite the organ being not huge at all. We are far,

indeed, from the "monsters" one often thinks with organs of that period.

 

A case-study of good Post-romantic design.

 

Pierre

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ANDERNACH, MAYEN-KOBLENZ (D)

 

Evangelische Christuskirche

Gebrüder Link-Orgel, Opus 593, 1914

 

The organ has been restored 1997 by Willipeter, Köln, and the changes

were suppressed in order to have the organ back as it was 1914.

 

MANUAL EINS. Wind 95mm

 

Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Conzertflöte 8'

Gedeckt 8'

Gamba 8'

Dulciana 8' (conical like......The original Schnetzler Dulciana!)

Octav 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Octav 2'

Mixtur 4-5r 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5'- 1' (with a "golden" tone as with Walcker)

Trompete 8'

 

MANUAL ZWEI. Wind 80mm, enclosed

 

Lieblich Gedeckt 16'

Geigenprincipal 8'

Rohrflöte 8'

Gemshorn 8'

Aeoline 8'

Vox celestis 8'

Praestant 4'

Traversflöte 4'

Flautino 2'

Cornett 3-5 r 4'- 2 2/3'- 2', ends 6 2/5'- 5 1/3'- 5 1/3'- 4'- 4' in the treble !

Oboe 8'

 

DRITTES MANUAL. Wind 80mm

 

Flötenprincipal 8' (facade pipes)

Flöte 8'

Viola 8'

Salicional 8'

Quintatön 8'

Fugara 4'

Harmonia aetherea 3r 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5', breaks to 3 1/5'- 2 2/3'- 2', Octave rank Principal, mutation ranks conical

 

PEDAL wind 95mm

 

Principalbass 16' (wood)

Subbass 16'

Lieblich Gedacktbass (borrowed from II)

Violonbass 8' (Borrowed from II Geigenprincipal)

Cello 8'

Choralbass 4'

Posaune 16' (wood)

 

Pneumatic action with Kegelladen.

 

This outstanding design shows nihil exageration of any kind; this is a "reasonable" version

of the Post-romantic experimentations. Pressures are on the low side, comparable to

a baroque german organ like Schnitger or Silbermann; not much reeds, the organ draws

its power from the fluework and the Mixtures.

The Mixtures are extremely interesting, as well as the carefully planned "Abschwächungsprinzip",

which permits a crescendo without any gap, despite the organ being not huge at all. We are far,

indeed, from the "monsters" one often thinks with organs of that period.

 

A case-study of good Post-romantic design.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

This "outstanding design" is, in my view, extremely wasteful and very musically restricted.

 

It may achieve some sort of seamless crescendo, but that can be done with a half-decent swell box in any case.

 

What exactly is the musical point of this instrument?

 

Does it have anything to say that we don't already know and haven't tried previously?

 

MM

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Good evening, dear MM !

 

I was waiting for you.

What can one do with such a thing ?

What was new with it ?

 

Read it again.

Write the Mixtures down on a paper, and see how they fit in

a tonal scheme, each complementing the other like a puzzle;

Then take the specifications of, say, a dozen southern german baroque

organs.

 

As you will then see, this Link shows many *links* towards them.

Link was indeed above all a southern german organ builder, like

their teacher, E-F Walcker.

So it is designed with deep roots in the baroque tradition.

This, plus its cleverness and economy of means compared to its

incredible effect (you'd guess it's a 75-stops affair) explains why

I point it as a masterpiece.

You can play the biggest Reger there. With....33 stops !

Not good enough ?

 

As for this question now:

"it may achieve some sort of seamless crescendo, but that can be done with a half-decent swell box in any case."

 

Fatal error, because you won't achieve contrapuntal lisibility in the ppp with pipes muffled in a swellbox.

For Reger you need ppp tone outside the box !

This is something the french builders, especially, did not understand...

 

Here is a picture of this organ:

 

http://www.orgelbau-peter.de/html/link_orgel.html

Pierre

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ANDERNACH, MAYEN-KOBLENZ (D)

 

Evangelische Christuskirche

Gebrüder Link-Orgel, Opus 593, 1914

 

The organ has been restored 1997 by Willipeter, Köln, and the changes

were suppressed in order to have the organ back as it was 1914.

 

MANUAL EINS. Wind 95mm

 

Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Conzertflöte 8'

Gedeckt 8'

Gamba 8'

Dulciana 8' (conical like......The original Schnetzler Dulciana!)

Octav 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Octav 2'

Mixtur 4-5r 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5'- 1' (with a "golden" tone as with Walcker)

Trompete 8'

 

MANUAL ZWEI. Wind 80mm, enclosed

 

Lieblich Gedeckt 16'

Geigenprincipal 8'

Rohrflöte 8'

Gemshorn 8'

Aeoline 8'

Vox celestis 8'

Praestant 4'

Traversflöte 4'

Flautino 2'

Cornett 3-5 r 4'- 2 2/3'- 2', ends 6 2/5'- 5 1/3'- 5 1/3'- 4'- 4' in the treble !

Oboe 8'

 

DRITTES MANUAL. Wind 80mm

 

Flötenprincipal 8' (facade pipes)

Flöte 8'

Viola 8'

Salicional 8'

Quintatön 8'

Fugara 4'

Harmonia aetherea 3r 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5', breaks to 3 1/5'- 2 2/3'- 2', Octave rank Principal, mutation ranks conical

 

PEDAL wind 95mm

 

Principalbass 16' (wood)

Subbass 16'

Lieblich Gedacktbass (borrowed from II)

Violonbass 8' (Borrowed from II Geigenprincipal)

Cello 8'

Choralbass 4'

Posaune 16' (wood)

 

Pneumatic action with Kegelladen.

 

This outstanding design shows nihil exageration of any kind; this is a "reasonable" version

of the Post-romantic experimentations. Pressures are on the low side, comparable to

a baroque german organ like Schnitger or Silbermann; not much reeds, the organ draws

its power from the fluework and the Mixtures.

The Mixtures are extremely interesting, as well as the carefully planned "Abschwächungsprinzip",

which permits a crescendo without any gap, despite the organ being not huge at all. We are far,

indeed, from the "monsters" one often thinks with organs of that period.

 

A case-study of good Post-romantic design.

 

Pierre

 

I realise that it is perhaps unwise to judge an instrument without first hearing (and playing) it in the building for which it was designed. Nevertheless, I think that there are some general observations which can be made about this scheme.

 

In the first instance, a seamless crescendo is not a vital aspect of much standard repertoire. There is plenty of organ music in which crescendi and diminuendi are requested at various times by some composers. However, I think that what you refer to here, is the ability to grade the tone from almost nothing to the tutti, with no audible jumps. I cannot immediately think of anything other than Fiat Lux, by Dubois which requires a steady crescendo throughout the piece. In this case, it should be remembered that Dubois was used to the French registrational system and would therefore have expected certain sudden increases in the tone - for example, when the Anches G.O. were supplied with wind by the use of the ventil pedal.

 

This said, I think that I would find this organ rather unsatisfying to play - and rather wasteful in its design. In fact, I am not sure that the third clavier would serve any useful purpose at all. Very quiet unenclosed effects are perhaps required very occasionally* - but I am not certain that this alone would justify the inclusion of such a scheme - particularly at the expense of an enclosed reed chorus or some decent mixtures.

 

By the phrase 'decent mixtures', I refer to those which would complete a chorus. Again, I can think of little standard repertiore which would require such mixtures as these. In the first instance, they are all tierce mixtures. Regardless of whether one likes this effect, they can become wearisome after a short time. Mixtures should not be solely 'harmonic-corroborating' stops (in the sense of supplying secondary harmonics, or gentle shades of tone) - they also need to complete the diapason chorus. Such mixtures as these, I would find utterly useless for Bach. If anything, I suspect that they would confuse the polyphony.

 

On one point I am certain - this instrument is not an appropriate vehicle for the effective performance of French symphonic repertiore. It lacks several vital ingredients - regardless of the voicing of that which is actually present.

 

 

 

*The Minster organ used to have a Dulciana on the G.O. - which I never used (neither did anyone else). It was simply too quiet (being almost inaudible from the back of the Nave) and too dull in timbre. In any case, it largely duplicated the tone of the Swell Viola; although the latter stop was of a slightly more interesting tonality.

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....I cannot immediately think of anything other than Fiat Lux, by Dubois which requires a steady crescendo throughout the piece.

 

Not forgetting HH, of course!

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I think that there are some general observations which can be made about this scheme.

 

In the first instance, a seamless crescendo is not a vital aspect of much standard repertoire. There is plenty of organ music in which crescendi and diminuendi are requested at various times by some composers. However, I think that what you refer to here, is the ability to grade the tone from almost nothing to the tutti, with no audible jumps. I cannot immediately think of anything other than Fiat Lux, by Dubois which requires a steady crescendo throughout the piece.

 

 

Almost anything at all by Reger and quite a good bit of Karg-Elert requires precisely this, although of course it doesn't go up only, but up and down, like the proverbial w's d's.....

 

As regards the "case", these designs were of course the height of fashion between the wars. Some are better, some are worse; very few are worse than the typical English pipe-rack!

 

Cheers

B

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Almost anything at all by Reger and quite a good bit of Karg-Elert requires precisely this, although of course it doesn't go up only, but up and down, like the proverbial w's d's.....

 

Cheers

B

 

Well, I do play some Reger (and Karg-Elert - and some Liszt). I do not think that these composers use crescendi in quite the same way that I believe Pierre means. However, I could have mis-interpreted what he has written.

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