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Hereford Cathedral Organ


Brian Childs
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A glance at the specification of the solo organ at Hereford indicates the presence of both an enclosed Tromba ,available at 8' or 16' , and an unenclosed Tuba. I have always assumed that the Tromba is the original Willis Tuba and that the current Tuba was added by Harrison in 1933(because(1) it sounds like a Harrison Tuba to me, and (2) because I have always understood Willis enclosed the Tuba at Hereford) but in the sources at my disposal I can find nothing which either substantiates or disproves that assumption. Is anyone in a position to provide a definitive provenance for these two stops,please ?

 

Brian Childs

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A glance at the specification of the solo organ at Hereford indicates the presence of both an enclosed Tromba ,available at 8' or 16' , and an unenclosed Tuba. I have always assumed that the Tromba is the original Willis Tuba and that the current Tuba was added by Harrison in 1933(because(1) it sounds like a Harrison Tuba to me, and (2) because I have always understood Willis enclosed the Tuba at Hereford) but in the sources at my disposal I can find nothing which either substantiates or disproves that assumption. Is anyone in a position to provide a definitive provenance for these two stops,please ?

 

Brian Childs

 

The organ retains a very little old (Gray and Davison) pipework (including the facade) but the organ is 1879 Father Willis ,rebuilt by Willis III in 1933. Harrisons restored it in 1978, and again recently. The reeds are entirely and purely Father Willis, although some of the names may have changed to reflect tonality. I am not sure on that. Harrisons have neverr masde any alterations to it, mixtures wer added, and a pedal reed was altered, but otherwise it is original and certainly reflects the original scheme fully. The generally "fat" sound is curious for Willis, and also the "bubbly" choruses, but it is authentic, and there is a organ in Liverpool that is also not so much brassy as "thick", in a way not typical of the builder. He did also dull down his organs as he got older, and in the early years G&D actually made the pipework for Willis, which is interesting as a lot of their organs around 1850 to 60 are very brassy like early Willis jobs are.

 

I hope this helps!

Richard

Richard Astridge

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The organ retains a very little old (Gray and Davison) pipework (including the facade) but the organ is 1879 Father Willis ,rebuilt by Willis III in 1933. Harrisons restored it in 1978, and again recently. The reeds are entirely and purely Father Willis, although some of the names may have changed to reflect tonality. I am not sure on that. Harrisons have neverr masde any alterations to it, mixtures wer added, and a pedal reed was altered, but otherwise it is original and certainly reflects the original scheme fully. The generally "fat" sound is curious for Willis, and also the "bubbly" choruses, but it is authentic, and there is a organ in Liverpool that is also not so much brassy as "thick", in a way not typical of the builder. He did also dull down his organs as he got older, and in the early years G&D actually made the pipework for Willis, which is interesting as a lot of their organs around 1850 to 60 are very brassy like early Willis jobs are.

 

I hope this helps!

Richard

Richard Astridge

 

Thank you Richard,

 

I am at a loss to explain why I attributed the 1933 rebuild to Harrison, when I have the information on that to hand: old age creeping on I suppose. I know the tuba was moved forward in the case in 1978 which presumably increased its impact but I have not heard Hereford live since that time because once my parents- in- law (based in Stafford) had passed on we had no base in the Midlands from which to conduct excursions in the way that we previously had. And as several contributors, not least yourself, have pointed out recordings are not always always an accurate or truthful guide to what an instrument actually sounds like in the buildng.

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