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Reger Fun Facts


sprondel
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Dear forum members,

 

Pierre announced recently to open this thread as a spin-off from the "Greatest British Organ Work" thread. But then, he appears to have found an ad in the classified section offering Harrison Trombas at a bargain price, so he had to leave immediately. In the meantime, I take the freedom to open this topic for him.

 

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

...

There is something about which I have often pondered however, and I have yet to discover the answer.

I think I am right in saying that Carl Straube became an advocate of the "Orgel Bewebung" movement, and was he not involved in the design of the Steinmeyer at Passau?

Yes, he designed the specification of the chancel organ, providing the scaling as well. He was well into Orgelbewegung thinking then already.

If so, then it really was an abrupt about-face from the much heavier and clouded sounds associated with the high-romantic organ in Germany, because as I understand it, Steinmeyer went for a much more exciting and brilliant sound. Indeed, as an Englishman, I find the appalling destruction of Steinmeyer's work nothing short of criminal; with very few surviving large instruments if my information is correct.

"Heavy and clouded" is quite right in so far as Wilhelm Sauer's organs are concerned. Compared to the work of Walcker and Steinmeyer, they sounded heavier, with a tendency to woolliness. Mind you, they were wonderful and expressive instruments nevertheless, and apparently very comfortable to play. In his carreer, Straube played a succession of large Sauers: Berlin, Garnisonskirche (destroyed) and Wesel, cathedral (interior destroyed in ww II), and Thomaskirche, Leipzig, where the organ has been recently restored to its 1908 glory.

However, the $6m question must be, (sorry, I can't work that out in Euros with the turmoil in the markets), did Reger move with the times and embrace the more neo-classical style of instrument, and if so, is this reflected in the later works?

There are people who say so, since Reger wrote his op. 127 for the monumental Sauer at Breslau, Jahrhunderthalle, the design of which shows the influence of the so-called Alsatian organ reform triggered by Rupp and Schweitzer. Straube played the first performance there, but Reger didn't come and never heard the organ. -- The registration indication for the opening arpeggios of op. 135b are sometimes taken as a hint that Reger developed an interest for brighter sounds; he demands a "gap" registration of 16 + 4 + 2 on III. But again, this was possible on many organs that were otherwise entirely romantic in concept. The work was first performed on a romatic Furtwängler (gone now) by Hermann Dettmer at Hannover Town Hall.

As a final thought about the I,II,III markings in Reger (etc), I played "Hallelujah! Gott zu Loben" at a recital on the Schulze of St.Bart's, Armley here in the UK, many years ago, and I felt then (as I do now) that this really isn't the ideal instrument for this music. Perhaps that demonstrates the enormous changes which German organs went through after 1850 ... (Needless to say, with all those beautiful flutes, the quieter passages sounded quite ravishing).

The basic concept of Schulze was still classical, with a true diapason chorus on the Great and a secondary chorus on another manual, and without the foundations designed to form a seamless build-up. The divisions at Armley appear, to me, to be heavily funcionalized in the British way, and not as parts of a III-II-I Crescendo, as they would have in a late-romantic German organ.

I know I spent about an hour just trying to get the registration right to fit this one work , and even then, it was less than ideal.

That's the fate of almost everybody today who wants to play Reger, and is not so lucky as to have a vintage Sauer or Steinmeyer at his hands. I wonder how Simon Preston managed at the RFH! Now that's an anti-Reger organ.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Now that I just have stored those Trombas, some Tubas, and a dozen

complete Dulciana choruses I paid a Penny for, while the guys wondered

how someone could pay as much for this stuff, I'm chiming in...

 

-Schulze's is a completely different style as Walcker's or Sauer's.

Though actually thuringian, I file this builder with Furtwängler, Reubke,

Ladegast and Jehmlich as "northern german romantic" builders.

These remained closer to the baroque tradition, with Diapason choruses

as the main part of the organ, not the Crescendo. Besides Liszt and Reubke,

those are the organs for Rheinberger and (though already late) Mendelssohn.

He, who heard a Mendelssohn Sonata at Armley with those terrific flue choruses

won't forget it !

The Abschwächungsprinzip is well there, but it is a "terraced dynamic", not

a smooth crescendo. In Mendelssohn's music you always have quite marked

dynamic changes, with manual changes from say a chorus to a solo reed.

 

-A good late-romantic german organ is a polyphonic one. Not trough the Mixtures

at all, but in the flue themselves, with moderate scalings, widely used mixed scalings

in order to differenciate the parts, and low pressure voicing (rarely above 75mm

before 1909, when Rupp imponed his views on Oscar Walcker).

So the tones may be dark, but always precise, with just enough "bite" and attack

to avoid any mudiness.

 

.....And just that is what is needed for Reger's music.

So I'd always vote for a 1890-1909 Walcker...

 

Here is "Wachet Auf" on a little Video featuring a visit into a crater in Costa Rica.

The playing is one of the best I know, used here as an "ambiance" music. The whole

conveys a quite interesting mood:

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/insde/inside.wmv

 

Pierre

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There are people who say so, since Reger wrote his op. 127 for the monumental Sauer at Breslau, Jahrhunderthalle.

 

 

 

The basic concept of Schulze was still classical, with a true diapason chorus on the Great and a secondary chorus on another manual, and without the foundations designed to form a seamless build-up. The divisions at Armley appear, to me, to be heavily funcionalized in the British way, and not as parts of a III-II-I Crescendo, as they would have in a late-romantic German organ.

 

 

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

 

 

Many thanks for that post, which confirms what I had long suspected. At least I am not alone with the idea.

 

The huge instrument at Breslau, in reduced form, became the basis for the organ which is now in the Cathedral of St.Jan, Wroclaw (Breslau). I haven't checked, but I seem to recall that it was put in there by Keminsky (sp?).

 

It's a bit strange really, because the ground-breaking hall, with the huge concrete dome (then the largest such dome in the world) is still there according to a young Polish migrant who comes from there, so why they "stole" the organ, I do not know.

 

I seem to recall that this was the first German organ with electric-action, and the Sauer was really the product of ex-Walcker men. (It had some very big tierce sounds in the mixtures as I recall, and I think Pierre once posted the link to a recording of it made when the organ was then new).

 

Regarding Armley, I'm quite certain Friederich is correct, (and Pierre also), and it demonstrates what a remarkable transformation the German organ went through in a relatively short time. I don't suppose that is a lot different to what happened here in England, because the time-gap between Fr.Henry Willis/William Hill and even something as extreme as Hope-Jones, was only about 40 or 50 years.

 

I was just mentally running through the Reubke as it might sound at Armley, and THAT sonata would work very well, I suspect; thus adding weight to Pierre's observation about the stylistic link between Schulze and the organs built by Reubke.

 

The strange thing is, if I were to choose an ideal organ for Reger's music in England, it would have to be either the Forster & Andrews/Compton/Rishworth organ of Hull City Hall, or the Compton at St.Bride's (the latter on which I played the "H,G, zu L" once again). Both have a certain homogenous quality and an ability to get louder or softer virtually seamlessly, with a bit of care.

 

MM

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

Many thanks for that post, which confirms what I had long suspected. At least I am not alone with the idea.

 

The huge instrument at Breslau, in reduced form, became the basis for the organ which is now in the Cathedral of St.Jan, Wroclaw (Breslau). I haven't checked, but I seem to recall that it was put in there by Keminsky (sp?).

 

It's a bit strange really, because the ground-breaking hall, with the huge concrete dome (then the largest such dome in the world) is still there according to a young Polish migrant who comes from there, so why they "stole" the organ, I do not know.

 

I seem to recall that this was the first German organ with electric-action, and the Sauer was really the product of ex-Walcker men. (It had some very big tierce sounds in the mixtures as I recall, and I think Pierre once posted the link to a recording of it made when the organ was then new).

 

Regarding Armley, I'm quite certain Friederich is correct, (and Pierre also), and it demonstrates what a remarkable transformation the German organ went through in a relatively short time. I don't suppose that is a lot different to what happened here in England, because the time-gap between Fr.Henry Willis/William Hill and even something as extreme as Hope-Jones, was only about 40 or 50 years.

 

I was just mentally running through the Reubke as it might sound at Armley, and THAT sonata would work very well, I suspect; thus adding weight to Pierre's observation about the stylistic link between Schulze and the organs built by Reubke.

 

The strange thing is, if I were to choose an ideal organ for Reger's music in England, it would have to be either the Forster & Andrews/Compton/Rishworth organ of Hull City Hall, or the Compton at St.Bride's (the latter on which I played the "H,G, zu L" once again). Both have a certain homogenous quality and an ability to get louder or softer virtually seamlessly, with a bit of care.

 

MM

 

The Hall still stands: here

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The first german electropneumatic organ wasn't Breslau, but the

Walcker of the Odeonsaal, München, 1906.

(The Namur Walcker organ is a reduction on two manuals of this organ)

Reger would have influenced its specification.

He wanted a movable console, hence the electric action.

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/opus1233_dispo.htm

 

Breslau dates 1913, a period when Sauer was managed by Paul Walcker.

Peul Walcker left the Walcker firm after a dispute with his brothers; he promoted

the pneumatic action against them.

An experimental organ had been built in Spain and caused problems, hence

huge travel costs...

 

As for Reger on british organs, we must keep two things in mind:

 

1)- The big leathered Diapasons are the last thing to draw in the Crescendo before

reeds and Mixtures;

 

2)- The differencies between german and english organs were rather smaller

in the Post-romantic period. If you compare a 1920 Oscar Walcker with

a Compton or a Harrison, or a Willis III, you see they are closer than

a Willis I and a Eberhard-Friedrich Walcker.

 

The Tierce ranks in the Mixtures were by no way a Walcker specials; it was the reverse,

quint Mixtures also, which were special. As in Schulze's, precisely !

This was an heritage dating back from the frenchified Silbermann's Mixtures.

 

Pierre

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

I was just mentally running through the Reubke as it might sound at Armley, and THAT sonata would work very well, I suspect; thus adding weight to Pierre's observation about the stylistic link between Schulze and the organs built by Reubke.

 

MM

 

 

For around £15 you can hear excatly what the Reubke Sonata sounds like at Armley. You need to get hold of 'Organ Story', a new DVD produced by Leeds University Media Services, in which Graham Barber talks about the history of the organ and its restoration - with contributions from Mark Venning, Nick Kynaston & Dame Gillian - before giving a marvellously controlled and musical performance of the Sonata.

 

The camerawork is excellent and the sound quality first rate. GB follows Reger's registrations pretty well to the letter - so, when he asks for 'Harmonika allein', 'Trompete 8' or 'Salicional und Gedackt 16, 8' - that's what you get.

 

You should be able to get a copy direct from the church [ www.armley-schulze.freeserve.co.uk]

 

JS

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As for Reger on british organs, we must keep two things in mind:

 

1)- The big leathered Diapasons are the last thing to draw in the Crescendo before

reeds and Mixtures;

 

 

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

 

No-one EVER draws the leathered diapasons under ANY circumstances these days....not even for Reger.

 

We know this from forensic evidence, because the soot stains on the leather have been identified as coming from Welsh anthrecite, and not from Diesel fumes or low-grade Polish coal!

 

I am about to start marketing these infernal contraptions as communal ashtrays, for use outside non-smoking bars and restaurants.

 

:lol:

 

 

MM

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

 

No-one EVER draws the leathered diapasons under ANY circumstances these days....not even for Reger.

 

We know this from forensic evidence, because the soot stains on the leather have been identified as coming from Welsh anthrecite, and not from Diesel fumes or low-grade Polish coal!

 

I am about to start marketing these infernal contraptions as communal ashtrays, for use outside non-smoking bars and restaurants.

 

:lol:

MM

 

As far as I know, some Harrisons still have theirs...

As an alternative to the ashtrays, export them in the Netherlands

and Belgium. Heva and myself are takers !

 

Pierre

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Guest Patrick Coleman
============================

 

No-one EVER draws the leathered diapasons under ANY circumstances these days....not even for Reger.

 

We know this from forensic evidence, because the soot stains on the leather have been identified as coming from Welsh anthrecite, and not from Diesel fumes or low-grade Polish coal!

 

I am about to start marketing these infernal contraptions as communal ashtrays, for use outside non-smoking bars and restaurants.

 

:rolleyes:

 

 

MM

 

I am still burning Welsh anthracite - the last to come up from Tower colliery - and it produces next to no soot. Sooty Welsh coal would have been more bituminous steam or house coal (found at this end of the coalfield).

 

There is still plenty of soot in Bertha, but no leather on the nice musical diapasons.

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........And many a Compton organ too has leathered Diapasons, and Flutes.

 

 

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

 

 

O mentioned this very recently, but my point of replying is to throw around an idea.

 

I once read on an American organ-site, that leathered lips do NOT, as such, reduce harmonic development, and this seems to be the case with Compton Diapasons.

 

Arthur Harrison diapasons are of huge scale, and made from very thick metal with suitable saw-toothing of the languid to match.

 

I suspect that the leathered lips (sweet memories of the fallen), are only a part of the story.

 

We need a voicer to tell us WHY lips were leathered, and which lunatic first thought of it.

 

MM

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I am still burning Welsh anthracite - the last to come up from Tower colliery - and it produces next to no soot. Sooty Welsh coal would have been more bituminous steam or house coal (found at this end of the coalfield).

 

There is still plenty of soot in Bertha, but no leather on the nice musical diapasons.

 

 

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

 

 

Well, there's nothing like a bit of one-downmanship. What are you going to burn now?

 

I expect that we will all choke to death in the Worth Valley next summer, if the Welsh Anthracite has now expired.

 

At least I can still scrounge old-pallets and take a trip to the moors with a shovel to gather peat. Perhaps I shall have to start burning organ-music with the increase in energy prices and if the price of petrol goes any higher. I don't know what the thermal output of a Howells work is, but I always thought that they had a tendency, like anthracite, towards heat rather than light.

 

We have a new thread......

 

Which organ-works should we burn to keep ourselves warm in winter?

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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As I said, the Phonon isn't a chorus basis, rather a backbone

for a foundationnal ensemble or full registrations.

The aim of the leather is essentially to allow for higher pressures

without chiff and others indesirable noises.

 

There are some interesting remarks here:

 

http://www.organstops.org/d/DiapasonPhonon.html

 

As about the calorific value of music sheets, it might be interesting

to ask to the people who are accustomed to burn books.

But they tend to inhabit countries you need a Kalachnikov and

an helmet -at least- to visit them!

 

Pierre

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As I said, the Phonon isn't a chorus basis, rather a backbone

for a foundationnal ensemble or full registrations.

The aim of the leather is essentially to allow for higher pressures

without chiff and others indesirable noises.

 

There are some interesting remarks here:

 

http://www.organstops.org/d/DiapasonPhonon.html

 

As about the calorific value of music sheets, it might be interesting

to ask to the people who are accustomed to burn books.

But they tend to inhabit countries you need a Kalachnikov and

an helmet -at least- to visit them!

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

Well, I would have said that a leathered Open Diapason No.1, (as found in Arthur Harrison organs), existed to provide a suitably "devotional" tone for hymn acompaniment and for no other purpose.

 

So what exactly is the MUSICAL point of them?

 

All my life, no-one has ever used them.

 

The Edwardians were such frumps, but in such dire times, one could have a certain sympathy for them.

 

I just cannot understand how anyone could consider a big leathered diapason as musically important, because they only entered into the history of the organ for a very brief period, and died almost before they were born.

 

Less powerful leathered diapasons tended to be more musical: America being full of them.

 

MM

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"So what exactly is the MUSICAL point of them?"

(Quote)

 

I'll try to answer.....Having stated if you never heard them used,

others never heard Mixtures one century ago.....

 

Also let us imagine a Manual eins like this ( the Phonon may be found on the Swell, too):

 

Double Open Diapason 16'

Bourdon 16'

Open Diapason ' I , leathered (after a model known to me)

Open Diapason II

Open Diapason III

Viola di Gamba 8'

Doppelflöte 8'

Dolce 8'

Octave (4') (After a model known to me)

Principal

Mixtur 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 1/3'- 1', with two breaks to finish 5 1/3'- 4'- 2 2/3'- 2'

Contra-Tromba 16'

Tromba 8'

Octave Tromba 4'

Harmonics 4r 1 3/5'- 1 1/3'-1 1/7'- 1' (with one break high in the treble)

 

The Diapason chorus is formed with the II, NOT the I, the Principal, NOT the Octave, and the

(gently voiced) Mixtur.

The big One you either use alone, or when all the others 8' are drawn. At least, if not after a 4'

 

The crescendo for that manual could be (may vary according to acoustics, like the spec itself of course:

( from the first to the last stop, in that order):

 

-Dolce

 

-OD III (italian "Principale". One could even add the Voce umana in a really big organ)

 

-OD II (A Lewis kind of stop)

 

-Doppelflöte

 

-Viola di Gamba

 

-Principal+ Bourdon 16'

 

-Mixtur

 

-O.D. I + Octave 4'+ Double Open Diapason

 

-Tromba 8'

 

-Octave Tromba 4'

 

-Contra Tromba+ Harmonics

 

This is, as I said, only a theoretical example of what can be done.

The leathered OD, with its octave (leathered only in the bass), form the backbone

of the whole. I heard an organ which exemplified this.

 

Pierre

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"So what exactly is the MUSICAL point of them?"

(Quote)

 

I'll try to answer.....Having stated if you never heard them used,

others never heard Mixtures one century ago.....

 

Also let us imagine a Manual eins like this ( the Phonon may be found on the Swell, too):

 

Double Open Diapason 16'

Bourdon 16'

Open Diapason ' I , leathered (after a model known to me)

Open Diapason II

Open Diapason III

Viola di Gamba 8'

Doppelflöte 8'

Dolce 8'

Octave (4') (After a model known to me)

Principal

Mixtur 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 1/3'- 1', with two breaks to finish 5 1/3'- 4'- 2 2/3'- 2'

Contra-Tromba 16'

Tromba 8'

Octave Tromba 4'

Harmonics 4r 1 3/5'- 1 1/3'-1 1/7'- 1' (with one break high in the treble)

 

The Diapason chorus is formed with the II, NOT the I, the Principal, NOT the Octave, and the

(gently voiced) Mixtur.

The big One you either use alone, or when all the others 8' are drawn. At least, if not after a 4'

 

The crescendo for that manual could be (may vary according to acoustics, like the spec itself of course:

( from the first to the last stop, in that order):

 

-Dolce

 

-OD III (italian "Principale". One could even add the Voce umana in a really big organ)

 

-OD II (A Lewis kind of stop)

 

-Doppelflöte

 

-Viola di Gamba

 

-Principal+ Bourdon 16'

 

-Mixtur

 

-O.D. I + Octave 4'+ Double Open Diapason

 

-Tromba 8'

 

-Octave Tromba 4'

 

-Contra Tromba+ Harmonics

 

This is, as I said, only a theoretical example of what can be done.

The leathered OD, with its octave (leathered only in the bass), form the backbone

of the whole. I heard an organ which exemplified this.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

Well I don't know about never hearing such a chorus, but I used to play an almost identical one very regularly, at Halifax PC.

 

Now Halifax is one of the best examples of this sort of stop-list, and one could never accuse of it of being unmusical, as "Cynic" recently reminded us. This possibly owes something to the pipework which remains from previous organ-builders, so it is not perhaps typical of the breed.

 

However, the Open Diapason no.1 has not the slightest musical use, and the original Harmonics of IV rks was simply useless other than to provide a bridge to the Trombas.

 

Take the idea to the extremes of romantic endeavour, and you end up with an instrument such as that which once disgraced Leeds University by the same builder: all of it in this case. Here was an organ which was a dull as ditch-water; heavy, ponderous, utterly disagreeable, dense, unmusical and totally unloved by all who marvelled at it. Beautifully made though it may have been, the organ was thrown out as a musical carbuncle.

 

As I have said before, what is the MUSICAL point?

 

Apart from the relative paucity of English organ-compositions written for such an instrument, I can think of no music ever written which would sound remotely appropriate with this sort of instrument.

 

It goes further than this, because Arthur Harrison choir organs were worse than useless except for a few pretty effects, and the pedal organs were a musical joke, with the most ghastly octave woods and even super-octave woods. The pedal reeds were usually monstrously loud AND disagreeable, whilst the Tubas were usually very ordinary (and very loud) things; broad toned and completely unblending.

 

Now, if people want to advocate this sort of organ, then fine by me, but I don't think any serious student of the organ, or any worthwhile organ-builder would ever be fooled by it.

 

I remember a comment made to me by Dennis Thurlow (a superb pipe-voicer), when he said, "What is the point of building a musical instrument where the performer can't hear what is going on?"

 

No-one in their right mind would drown the finest Melton Mowbray pork-pie in mushy peas, so why should anyone want to do it to organ-music and organists?

 

MM

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"Arthur Harrison choir organs were worse than useless except for a few pretty effects, and the pedal organs were a musical joke, with the most ghastly octave woods and even super-octave woods. The pedal reeds were usually monstrously loud AND disagreeable, whilst the Tubas were usually very ordinary (and very loud) things; broad toned and completely unblending."

(Quote)

 

What if I began describing what followed ? :rolleyes::lol: :lol:

 

Pierre

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"Arthur Harrison choir organs were worse than useless except for a few pretty effects, and the pedal organs were a musical joke, with the most ghastly octave woods and even super-octave woods. The pedal reeds were usually monstrously loud AND disagreeable, whilst the Tubas were usually very ordinary (and very loud) things; broad toned and completely unblending."

(Quote)

 

What if I began describing what followed ? :rolleyes::lol: :lol:

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

Well, Coventry Cathedral and Colston Hall followed within a decade or two; most Harrison organs from the previous generation were substantially changed (largely for the better), John Compton created his best work, Walker gave us the masterpiece at Blackburn Cathedral (as well as Liverpool Met in a difficult acoustic), Larry Phelps created Hexham Abbey, Grant, Degeens and Rippen gave us the most fascinating instrument at Oxford, Thomas Frobenius built one of the most beautiful small organs in Europe at Queens' College (Queen's?) Oxford, and even a provincial organ-builder or two could do some very fine work here and there.

 

However, the greatest contrast has to be between the old Willis 3 at St.Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and the Rieger which replaced it. I know which I would prefer to live with!

 

I'm sorry not to quote work by our kind hosts, but I've never actually heard or played any of it due to the fact that they are so far away from me. However, I very much doubt that John Pike Mander would ever wish to re-create an Arthur Harrison organ, having being involved with fine continental and post-war English organ-building. (That is not to say that he and his team wouldn't enjoy restoring one, as they have done so magnificently with the Willis/Harrison at the Royal Albert Hall).

 

It isn't just about fashion or changing tastes. I suspect that it has to do with what works naturally, and what doesn't, without trying to make organ-pipes do what they were never intended to do, ie:- imitate orchestral instruments.

 

Once you go down that particular path, musical integrity is seriously compromised, as it was after Hope-Jones.

 

If you want a mush of sound which can sound very much like an orchestra or a big-band, then you seek out a second-hand Wurlitzer, which did it far better than any so-called "classical" instrument I can think of. THAT was Hope-Jones' great achievement; the rest being telephone-engineering.

 

MM

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"It isn't just about fashion or changing tastes. I suspect that it has to do with what works naturally, and what doesn't, without trying to make organ-pipes do what they were never intended to do, ie:- imitate orchestral instruments."

(Quote)

 

And what do you think the Renaissance organ -and then the baroque- was intended

to be ?

To imitate the angels in tears in the sky ?

 

Here is a link that might be interesting (Pdf 179 pages):

 

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/etd/d/2004/dykst...trare516726.pdf

 

....And here is a 1930 Hill/ Norman & Beard that has been rescued, complete with

the would-be ashtrays:

 

http://www.ohta.org.au/organs/organs/Scotch1.html

 

.....Oooh, this one is interesting too. A 1922 Whiteley (former Hope-Jones voicer):

 

http://www.sydneyorgan.com/SACW.html

 

(Halas gone...) do not miss the remarks about the Swell Phonon...

 

Pierre

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[quote name='Pierre Lauwers' date='Feb 4 2008, 07:35 AM' post='33587'

 

And what do you think the Renaissance organ -and then the baroque- was intended

to be ?

To imitate the angels in tears in the sky ?

 

 

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

 

 

Once again, I find myself asking, "What music was written for such instruments?"

 

We are being dragged off course by stop-lists yet again, and it has little relevance to the subject of Reger.

 

However, in relation to music and organs, which is what this category is about, you missed a vital link.

 

Whiteley went to America, then ended up working with Casavant in Canada. He had a considerable hand in the creation and voicing of the Healey Willan organ at St.Paul's, Toronto, by Casavant; with reeds imported from Harrison and W C Jones.

 

So actually, there IS music written for a Whiteley-style organ, and rather good music it is too.

 

Linking nicely back, of course, to Max Reger, because Willan, (in wriitng the Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue), was responding to the challenge of someone who said something on the lines of, "No English composer could ever write organ-music as good as Reger's."

 

MM

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"Arthur Harrison choir organs were worse than useless except for a few pretty effects, and the pedal organs were a musical joke, with the most ghastly octave woods and even super-octave woods. The pedal reeds were usually monstrously loud AND disagreeable, whilst the Tubas were usually very ordinary (and very loud) things; broad toned and completely unblending."

(Quote)

 

What if I began describing what followed ? :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

Pierre

 

It could be argued - and with some conviction - that the type of instruments which followed (even those by H&H alone) were considerably more musical than the average H&H Edwardian creation, which were incredibly uniform, as a glance at a few stop-lists will show.

 

It is not necessarily the case that (as someone has opined) no-one but the player would be any the wiser if the Choir Organ were to be omitted from an instrument by Arthur Harrison. This is certainly not true in the instruments at King's College Chapel, Newcastle Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, for example. However, whilst his organs are extremely good as accompanimental instruments, even allowing for changes in taste, it is difficult to deny that they present many problems when repertoire is considered.

 

I cannot say that I find anything particularly musical about Arthur Harrison's open wood Pedal Organ ranks - particularly the 8ft. and 4ft. extensions. Furthermore, his Pedal and G.O. 'chorus' reeds (they barely function in this capacity) and his Tuba stops tend towards opressive power, egregious smoothness and are of little musical use in any context - unless one wishes to be aurally assaulted by an opaque wall of sound.

 

Compare this with just one instrument which MM mentioned above - Coventry Cathedral - and the contrast is both complete and startling. This is one of the most musical organs I have ever played.

 

More later - teaching again.

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If I might put in a wee word in defence of 8 and 4 ft Open Woods: a good one makes a lovely pedal solo, in part of the range where the biggest manual flute might not have much power. I'm thinking chiefly of use in improvisations (e.g. for canons: left hand on shimmering strings; right hand on all the 8' flutes coupled together, in dialogue with the pedal 8' or 4' Wood - yummy :lol: ). A 16, 8, 4 chorus of Woods, if well voiced, are great underpinning robust hymn singing, and selected Wagner, Hollins, Lemare, Willan et al. And, of course, an 8' Wood can do a good job in French classical music, assuming, that is, that you can find anything else even vaguely resembling a Cromhorne and/or Cornet :lol: But I agree, badly voiced hooting honkers have little musical value.

 

But we digress from Reger Fun Facts...

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Marcel Dupré was fond of british organs; he knew them well,

having often given Recitals in Britain.

Not to mention Karg-Elert, who spent much time in Britain.

Do we know if Carl Straube.....?

 

Pierre

 

Well Dupré did like the organs of Westminster Cathedral (Willis), Queen's Hall (Hill) and the Alexandra Palace (Willis), I have no recollection of reading his opinion of a Harrison organ. Does anyone else have any idea about this?

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