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Achtung! Tuba!


John Sayer
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Those whole follow the organ building scene outside these shores may have noticed the newly-discovered enthusiasm of Continental, in particular German builders, for high-romantic English tonalities, witness the profusion of orchestral and high-pressure reeds included in new instruments or added to existing ones, e.g. the Tuba episcopalis and Tuba capitularis by Klais at the west end of Cologne Cathedral.

 

The same is true of concert hall organs. Our sister Orgelforum in Germany has news of a new instrument to be commissioned for the rebuilt Mercatorhalle in Duisburg at a cost of 1.5m Euro, the cost being met by the Alfred Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation.

 

In giving approval for the project, the Duisburg Town Council outlined various requirements in a document* running to no less than 8 pages, much of which makes interesting reading.

 

"The specification should be versatile, but with an emphasis on the 19/20 symphonic repertoire and with a leaning towards English organbuilding of the period. Generously wide scalings, a strongly developed fundamental tonal palette and colourful reeds are to be aimed for....... Typically English registers are to be incorporated in the specification".

 

"Consideration should be given to an instrument of British character (britisher Prägung) with an intelligent, colourful basic specification and a high-pressure division as powerful counterpoise to its symphonic partner".

 

It is also suggested Duisburg should pay a 'tonal greeting' to its sister town, Portsmouth, in the form of 'eine britische Tuba mirabilis'.

 

It's good to see the gospel being spread in this way, I suppose, though it's difficult to imagine such culturally enlightened attitudes on the part of English town councils.

 

JS

 

*German speakers may like to refer to the full text at :-

 

http://www.duisburg.de/ratsinformationssys...select=20042887 (Beschlussvorlage)

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Would there be money still in Belgium, your "Achtung" would

have to be written: "Opgelet- Attention-Achtung" since years.

The dutch rescue up to complete british organs since exactly

as many years.

The germans pay attention to british reed voicing since the end

of the 19th century; Stahlhuth, Weigle already had commenced,

and had the two wars not happened, Oscar Walcker would have

made Trombas, Tubas and Open Diapasons.

There is a 1930 Walcker in Brussels whose Principal 8' pipes

are engraved "Open Diapason", while their tone may seem

somewhat weighty....But for reasons anyone will imagine,

the stopkeys (electropneumatic action) never weared any

english name.

Strange to say, but true: it seems the actual ennemies of the

english organ are the englishmen, eager to import Scharffgeigens

to replace Violin Diapasons (1)

 

Pierre

 

(1) What ? It's the same ? No, no....

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Those whole follow the organ building scene outside these shores may have noticed the newly-discovered enthusiasm of Continental, in particular German builders, for high-romantic English tonalities, witness the profusion of orchestral and high-pressure reeds included in new instruments or added to existing ones, e.g. the Tuba episcopalis and Tuba capitularis by Klais at the west end of Cologne Cathedral.

 

The same is true of concert hall organs. Our sister Orgelforum in Germany has news of a new instrument to be commissioned for the rebuilt Mercatorhalle in Duisburg at a cost of 1.5m Euro, the cost being met by the Alfred Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation.

 

In giving approval for the project, the Duisburg Town Council outlined various requirements in a document* running to no less than 8 pages, much of which makes interesting reading.

 

"The specification should be versatile, but with an emphasis on the 19/20 symphonic repertoire and with a leaning towards English organbuilding of the period. Generously wide scalings, a strongly developed fundamental tonal palette and colourful reeds are to be aimed for....... Typically English registers are to be incorporated in the specification".

 

"Consideration should be given to an instrument of British character (britisher Prägung) with an intelligent, colourful basic specification and a high-pressure division as powerful counterpoise to its symphonic partner".

 

It is also suggested Duisburg should pay a 'tonal greeting' to its sister town, Portsmouth, in the form of 'eine britische Tuba mirabilis'.

 

It's good to see the gospel being spread in this way, I suppose, though it's difficult to imagine such culturally enlightened attitudes on the part of English town councils.

 

JS

 

*German speakers may like to refer to the full text at :-

 

http://www.duisburg.de/ratsinformationssys...select=20042887 (Beschlussvorlage)

 

 

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

 

 

It's not just Germany. They have Tubas in Poland.

 

I'm trying to work-out whether it would be possible to give each migrant Polish worker a Tuba pipe, to take back home as a Christmas present at the end of the year.

 

Would 1,200,000 pipes be enough to get rid of every Tuba in the country?

 

:)

 

MM

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Guest spottedmetal
Those whole follow the organ building scene outside these shores may have noticed the newly-discovered enthusiasm of Continental, in particular German builders, for high-romantic English tonalities, witness the profusion of orchestral and high-pressure reeds included in new instruments or added to existing ones, e.g. the Tuba episcopalis and Tuba capitularis by Klais at the west end of Cologne Cathedral. The same is true of concert hall organs. Our sister Orgelforum in Germany has news of a new instrument to be commissioned for the rebuilt Mercatorhalle in Duisburg at a cost of 1.5m Euro, the cost being met by the Alfred Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation. . . . "The specification should be versatile, but with an emphasis on the 19/20 symphonic repertoire and with a leaning towards English organbuilding of the period. Generously wide scalings, a strongly developed fundamental tonal palette and colourful reeds are to be aimed for....... Typically English registers are to be incorporated in the specification". "Consideration should be given to an instrument of British character (britisher Prägung) with an intelligent, colourful basic specification and a high-pressure division as powerful counterpoise to its symphonic partner".

 

Hi!

 

What refreshing news this is!

 

Do people on this side of the forum read "The Organ and its Music" side of the forum?

 

This news about the English tradition infecting German building is the very opposite to a current proposal in England to kill a lovely instrument and import one of a "vegetarian variety" - if you haven't seen the discussion is on

http://web16713.vs.netbenefit.co.uk/discus...?showtopic=1643

 

I told the organist that the instrument simply had not been in fashion but that this view was now passe (sorry about inability to produce the accent), but was promptly dismissed . . . :)

 

Best wishes

 

David P

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But the "tubas" at the west end of Cologne Cathedral are nothing like an English Tuba. They have more in common with the horizontal trumpet at St John's College, Cambridge, or even the west-end trumpets at St Paul's. They have transparency and lots of brightness - not something you will find in (for instance) a Harrison Tuba.

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But the "tubas" at the west end of Cologne Cathedral are nothing like an English Tuba. They have more in common with the horizontal trumpet at St John's College, Cambridge, or even the west-end trumpets at St Paul's. They have transparency and lots of brightness - not something you will find in (for instance) a Harrison Tuba.

 

 

Some of our European brethren are very serious about wanting the exact same thing that is sometimes decried/taken for granted over here. For instance, Mander forum member Barry Jordan, for his new Schuke organ in Magdeburg Cathedral, brought over the owner of the organ-building firm and his chief voicer and took them to Ely Cathedral, Hull City Hall, Beverley Minster and Holy Trinity Hull in order that they should hear/handle/measure examples of the 'Real English Tuba'. Schuke also engaged a highly-experienced UK reed voicer to finish their new Tuba stop on site.

 

This is not window-dressing, this is a whole-hearted attempt to introduce into organs 'over there' tones which they realise they do not have and for which there are genuine musical uses.

 

We don't have to like the same things. In this forum we all air our personal likes and dislikes - no problem - but as regards the UK Organ Heritage, we have some very special and unusual things over here and we should never casually talk them down. Our best accompanimental organs are firmly outside normal European experience. Look to the USA, however, and you will find that the sort of organs we seem to be desperate to import are now no longer the object of desire that they were even ten years ago. American Organists are now extremely proud of their E.M.Skinners if they still have them, and where such instruments have been lost, firms like our own N.P.Mander and Schoenstein are now replacing unpopular non-blending classical efforts with subtle, musical and expressive instruments.

 

Arthur Harrison period H&H, Willis 3 organs, 20s and 30s HN&B jobs and such are our equivalent of Skinner organs. If we throw them out because they are not liked now, they will be impossible to replace and what comes in their place may not be as good. Even if the new organs do a good job, they are certainly not as unique or interesting!

 

 

 

I'll get my coat.......

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"what comes in their place may not be as good. Even if the new organs do a good job, they are certainly not as unique or interesting!"

 

.....And certainly not a motivation for foreigners to pay a tour in Britain.

(At least: don't melt, rather export!)

 

Pierre

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Guest spottedmetal
We don't have to like the same things. In this forum we all air our personal likes and dislikes - no problem - but as regards the UK Organ Heritage, we have some very special and unusual things over here and we should never casually talk them down. Our best accompanimental organs are firmly outside normal European experience. Look to the USA, however, and you will find that the sort of organs we seem to be desperate to import are now no longer the object of desire that they were even ten years ago. American Organists are now extremely proud of their E.M.Skinners if they still have them, and where such instruments have been lost, firms like our own N.P.Mander and Schoenstein are now replacing unpopular non-blending classical efforts with subtle, musical and expressive instruments.

 

Arthur Harrison period H&H, Willis 3 organs, 20s and 30s HN&B jobs and such are our equivalent of Skinner organs. If we throw them out because they are not liked now, they will be impossible to replace and what comes in their place may not be as good. Even if the new organs do a good job, they are certainly not as unique or interesting!

I'll get my coat.......

 

Dear Cynic - brilliant - thanks for this - I have written to, and quoted just the above, to the organist of the "Organ to be Loved or Hated" instrument post on the other branch of this forum discussion.

 

If the sentiment which you have expressed above is universally felt, do you think that perhaps a group of us from this forum might be able to change the mind of the organist and the powers that be who want their vegetarian organ?

 

One has to take account of the fact that the instrument under discussion in that particular place is responsible for inspiring or uninspiring generations of organists and musicians. It certainly inspired me . . .

 

When I dropped back to a parish church instrument with tracker and the pipes on top of me which made me jump out of my skin, it dawned on me how special the "hated" instrument was and what a privilege it had been to be able to play it.

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

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Guest spottedmetal
Does he never visit any Forum, Spottedmetal ?

 

Pierre

 

Dear Pierre and everyone . . . has anyone surveyed the forum to identify the proportion of

builders

builder/players

amateur builders/players

armchair would-be builders/players

organists independent of building

 

I have the impression that everyone here has a building interest? One would think that any organist reading the reports of changing fashions on this list might soften more towards the carnivores.

 

It will be of some amusement that I went to a recital last week to hear an organ which was so vegan, thin and starved that whenever the organist played the pedals, its bones rattled so much that they drowned out the music.

 

I felt behind the back of the instrument, thought that the trackers must be banging against some common rail in need of adjustment and felt 1/2 inch gaps at the end of the trackers. I offered to bring my screwdriver with me next time I visited but took fright when I saw the cardboard windpipes, for which I would not have the faintest clue as to the source of replacement if I damaged them in moving the pedal chest. Does "Cynic" know that emaciated child?

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

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Dear Cynic - brilliant - thanks for this - I have written to, and quoted just the above, to the organist of the "Organ to be Loved or Hated" instrument post on the other branch of this forum discussion.

 

If the sentiment which you have expressed above is universally felt, do you think that perhaps a group of us from this forum might be able to change the mind of the organist and the powers that be who want their vegetarian organ?

 

One has to take account of the fact that the instrument under discussion in that particular place is responsible for inspiring or uninspiring generations of organists and musicians. It certainly inspired me . . .

 

When I dropped back to a parish church instrument with tracker and the pipes on top of me which made me jump out of my skin, it dawned on me how special the "hated" instrument was and what a privilege it had been to be able to play it.

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

 

Ah but....

Bad news I'm afraid.

The organist whose opinions you have tried to relay to us is not wrong!

He finds the present organ less than musical, and in certain repertoire he is entirely correct!

 

The snag is that the repertoire he wants to concentrate on is not the repertoire for which this instrument was built.

You have to agree that he is making a valid case and still hope for success in your plan to try to keep this organ in situ even if not in use.

 

Marlbrough College found it easy to change their instrument (of similar size) because it was by this time a musical mongrel, of mixed parentage and compromised character. As several of us found when we tried the new Von Beckerath last year, what they have now is an extremely exciting and a more-or-less completely effective instrument. Given enough of the old folding stuff, any customer can now hope to get something similar. Why shouldn't they?

 

Your best case is still to say

'this is an accompanimental organ - and in its way, a world-class example. Why not go for a second (completely contrasing) organ and have both?' They will have a great deal more trouble talking their way out of that proposal.

 

 

I humbly apologise: this posting has gone into the wrong topic.

Dear Manders' Moderator, is there any way of putting this and the entry above into the 'hated/unloved' organ topic in The Organ and its Music'?

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But the "tubas" at the west end of Cologne Cathedral are nothing like an English Tuba. They have more in common with the horizontal trumpet at St John's College, Cambridge, or even the west-end trumpets at St Paul's. They have transparency and lots of brightness - not something you will find in (for instance) a Harrison Tuba.

 

Back in June 2006 I asked the builders, Klais Orgelbau, about the (then) new west-end tubas at Cologne Cathedral. Their reply was:

 

"The two Tubas in Cologne are different in tone color. One is rather on the dark side like an English Tuba - in the direction of a dark Willis. The other one is much brighter, rather like a bright Skinner. The two* high pressure reeds in the transept organ are again brighter than the two new horizontal ones. So we have four Tubas in the entire instrument ranging from very dark to very bright."

 

(* There are actually three here: 16' 8' 8')

 

So at least one of the west-end tubas is voiced to sound English. I'm afraid I haven't heard them, but I hope to ... one day!

 

John

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Guest Geoff McMahon
Dear Pierre and everyone . . . has anyone surveyed the forum to identify the proportion of

builders

builder/players

amateur builders/players

armchair would-be builders/players

organists independent of building

 

No, because this forum is not used as a marketing tool; and the hosts will take a very dim view of anything that looks like attempts at data-mining by a participant.

 

Anyway, the access logs show that for every registered participant logged into the forum at any moment there are 10 or so "guests" viewing the board at the same time.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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Guest Geoff McMahon
I humbly apologise: this posting has gone into the wrong topic.

Dear Manders' Moderator, is there any way of putting this and the entry above into the 'hated/unloved' organ topic in The Organ and its Music'?

 

I'll have a look.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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....And what is a Harrison Tuba in the end ?

 

Pierre

 

Sonorous, rich, massive?

It's the nearest any UK builder got to imitating the orchestral instrument of the same name.

This has its problems - how often do composers give 'the real thing' a solo? - they always sound plummy and bottom-heavy.

For all that, Edwardian H&H Tubas do have their uses.

 

Since you're asking: I prefer a Father Willis Tuba - his best ones IMHO being at St.Paul's, Salisbury, Blenheim Palace and Truro

or a Billy Jones like De Montfort Hall, Leicester. The (replacement) Mander Tuba in Eton College Chapel, styled after the messed-up

Hill original and voiced by Dr.David Frostick is as good as any. It's both smooth and full of excitement, a real shaft of sunshine!

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Sonorous, rich, massive?

It's the nearest any UK builder got to imitating the orchestral instrument of the same name.

This has its problems - how often do composers give 'the real thing' a solo? - they always sound plummy and bottom-heavy.

For all that, Edwardian H&H Tubas do have their uses.

But the orchestral instrument only plays up to F above middle C and the high notes aren't really loud or powerful at all How often is the tuba on an organ utilised in the same way as an orchestral one ie as a bass instrument? Equally strange is the rarity of euphonium stops on organs :D

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Yes, Cynic,

 

It's a louder Tromba !

I stick to Bonavia-Hunt's classification (despite him being a "bad" author):

 

-Free toned reed tone= french voicing with open shallots= like string tone

 

-Normal reed tone= Willis chorus reeds= like Principal tone

 

-Closed reed tone= Hope-Jones, then A. Harrison= like Flute tone.

 

....Hence the "normal" reed tone, the first to have in any organ, to be the Willis one.

(I experimented the fact that nobody, after having heard examples, and provided

they are not vegetarian-addicted, disagrees, even french and belgian people who did

never hear such things before.)

 

So in any new organ we need that kind of tone first.

Now if we have room enough in our specification, we can vary the Menu, and run

trough the complete palette, from closed toned Horns and Trombas, a middle-of the road

(also after Willis) Tuba, and bright orchestral Trumpets and/ or french Trompettes and Clairons.

(These obviously enclosed, in order to get the most effect of their harmonic richness).

 

Fact is, very few -if any- organ ever had this complete palette (or lost in hundreds-stops giants

where no stop can be appreciated alone); or you have bright reeds, or you have dark ones.

You will look in vain, in any french organ, for something else than free toned reeds.

As a result whenever you draw but one Trompette, it dominates even all flue and Mixture

work you could draw with.

 

And though, those british "dark" reeds evolved from Cavaillé-Coll's Trompette harmonique.

I think they evolved that way because of the english language, which ignores sharp

consons (P, T, K, R, are always rounded), hence the elimination of the tongue rattle and

too assertive partials.

As Gerhard Grenzing (in an article I already linked several times here to) noted, there are

strong links between languages and organ tonal design.

As we have four languages in Belgium, moreover, both germanic and latin, we are very

sensible to these differencies, and our organs always more or less partake traits from

several of them, from nearly french Trompettes to somewhat british Anneessens Tubassons,

while you will encounter "Bassons" that sometimes remind of leathered shallots "Fagotts".

 

So let us keep the complete menu. Nobody needs to pour Curry sauce on oysters, but it is

no reason to "forbid" the one or the other.

 

Pierre

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Yes, Cynic,

 

It's a louder Tromba !

I stick to Bonavia-Hunt's classification (despite him being a "bad" author):

 

-Free toned reed tone= french voicing with open shallots= like string tone

 

-Normal reed tone= Willis chorus reeds= like Principal tone

 

-Closed reed tone= Hope-Jones, then A. Harrison= like Flute tone.

 

....Hence the "normal" reed tone, the first to have in any organ, to be the Willis one.

(I experimented the fact that nobody, after having heard examples, and provided

they are not vegetarian-addicted, disagrees, even french and belgian people who did

never hear such things before.)

 

So in any new organ we need that kind of tone first.

Now if we have room enough in our specification, we can vary the Menu, and run

trough the complete palette, from closed toned Horns and Trombas, a middle-of the road

(also after Willis) Tuba, and bright orchestral Trumpets and/ or french Trompettes and Clairons.

(These obviously enclosed, in order to get the most effect of their harmonic richness).

 

Fact is, very few -if any- organ ever had this complete palette (or lost in hundreds-stops giants

where no stop can be appreciated alone); or you have bright reeds, or you have dark ones.

You will look in vain, in any french organ, for something else than free toned reeds.

As a result whenever you draw but one Trompette, it dominates even all flue and Mixture

work you could draw with.

 

And though, those british "dark" reeds evolved from Cavaillé-Coll's Trompette harmonique.

I think they evolved that way because of the english language, which ignores sharp

consons (P, T, K, R, are always rounded), hence the elimination of the tongue rattle and

too assertive partials.

As Gerhard Grenzing (in an article I already linked several times here to) noted, there are

strong links between languages and organ tonal design.

As we have four languages in Belgium, moreover, both germanic and latin, we are very

sensible to these differencies, and our organs always more or less partake traits from

several of them, from nearly french Trompettes to somewhat british Anneessens Tubassons,

while you will encounter "Bassons" that sometimes remind of leathered shallots "Fagotts".

 

So let us keep the complete menu. Nobody needs to pour Curry sauce on oysters, but it is

no reason to "forbid" the one or the other.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

I'm very picky when it comes to reed-tones on an organ, but how someone like the Rev.Noel Bonavia-Hunt could describe a Fr Willis chorus reed as "normal" is beyond my understanding. They were, in every respect, quite exceptional if somewhat less than subtle.

 

I quite agree about Cavaille-Coll chorus reeds and Bombardes, which I personally do not like at all.

 

Tubas are odd beasts, in that they are very effctive low down where an orchestral Tuba normally would be. (The big Healey-Willan work exploits of the low tenor-Tuba solo to perfection). The problems start from about middle C, when nothing will blend with them. Even Fr Willis Tubas only "just" work, but they're much better than all the rest.

 

Again and again people miss the obvious.

 

Forget Billy Jones and Arthur Harrison........they were amateur reed men by comparison to what Hill, Norman & Beard had.

 

It is from the Norman & Beard/Hill, Norman & Beard stable that you will hear the very finest BLENDING climax and chorus-reeds, which sit somewhere between Tromba and French Trompette. They have enough "body" low down, and enough "splash" higher up. The two names associated with this are Arthur and Brian Rundle, and I doubt that there have ever been better reed voicers except perhaps Fr Willis.

 

To my mind, one of the great scandals was when the Trumpet Major at Bradford Cathedral was tamed at Keith Rhodes' behest, for it lost all its tonal "devil" but retained the power. Still a good reed, it is only a shadow of its former self. I recall the days when one's eyebrows used to elevate rather quickly!

 

As for the historian's love of "time-lines," I think it could just as easily be demonstrated that Willis owed at least as much to America as they did to the UK and Europe, and that in turn was partly derived from the American branch of the Jardine connection. (Gray & Davison creep into this somewhere).

 

As for Hope-Jones, I think the important connection has to be that of Norman & Beard, and when that was exported to America, and it met with the exponential resonators so preferred by American organists, you end up with the sort of heavy-pressure reeds found on Wurlitzers and crafted by a German pipe-maker/voicer.

 

They in turn, find their way back to St.Paul's and the Trompette Militaire register.

 

Of course, if one has a decent set of Swell reeds, what is the point of having Great reeds that are much the same?

 

Give me a few, subtle, baroque-style reeds on a Great organ anyday.

 

At least they blend with the flues.

 

As for the bit about languages, I recall a very long disussion about this almost thirty-years ago; but not to do with reeds especially. I suspect that language, and in particular the rhythms of language, play a very important part in national styles of music. Take almost any Bach work and block harmonise the counterpoint.....you end up with a Chorale. Listen to the fits and starts and quite jagged rhythms of the French language, and set it to music. That's the essence of Couperin or Clerembault.

 

The English language is, of course, derived from about 3,000 others. What that says about English music I am not quite sure, but we're very good a pop!

 

MM

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