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Pierre Lauwers

"let's Restore The Organ To Its Original Condition!"

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Barry Jordan opened an interesting discussion elsewhere.

 

Let us quote him:

 

"here on the continent it is almost always safe to say, "Hey! Let's restore the organ to its original condition!" (even if there's hardly anything left of it, and what there is has been changed beyond recognition, and if the reasons for which it was altered in the first place are perfectly plain). Noncontroversial.

 

The "Reform" movement was started by people only a handfull of which really wanted to "rediscover

the beauties of the past".

This was true for Albert Schweitzer, for example, but not at all for Helmut Bornefeld, Willibald Gurlitt

or Norbert Dufourcq, among others.

 

To run through the archives of organ-builders of fame demonstrates that; I won't cite names because

I do not want to enter in "Jones, Durand, Vanderpimperzeel and/or Kuhdorfer" social games.

 

I apologize I think I have to annoy my -hopely not too many- readers with some blah-blah about

my little self:

 

I have been trained by the leading organ historian in Belgium during the "Reform" period.

He trusted me because I had some scientific and technical background, but not only that.

I know several "standard" languages, but also a handfull of ancient germanic "dialects"

(The name implies a value judgment so it is questionnable in itself!) which he thought was

"absolutely necessary", because there is not any single page to be find in the archives

in french, dutch or german like we know them, before about 1800.

He asked me to translate some old pages in modern french, many of which were written

in gothic characters, etc, etc.

He also approved the fact I am the kind of guy who tends to believe "I don't know" up untill

a solid, concrete-like, big file has been gathered.

(Ask my wife how much rooms here are crammed with papers, not to mention the hard disks,

the recordings and the like. The house, for british standards, is not very small. Let's only say

it fills more than a complete stair).

 

So the "Reform" guys wanted -said they wanted- to "rediscover the baroque organ".

Very few of them knew any foreign language at all, and they relied on third hand statments,

for example Emil Rupp's pamphlets about "Silbermann"; Rupp knew nothing about

Silbermann. He had some bits of the "french", André/ Andreas Silbermann, lost in

big post-romantic organs.

He even believed there was something like "a Silbermann Salicional", which never existed,

this joke is well known.

They actually develloped something completely new, of its own, which ended up

with the Neo-baroque organ.

 

My teacher, among others organ historians abroad, started his career in that world.

But he was a trained historian, and so he soon discovered that to *know* anything about

the *true* baroque organ implies an huge task nobody had ever commenced.

To know something about the past is extremely difficult.

There are vast amounts of data available you need to go through, say 2,000 pages

in order to find one or two significant phrases. And this, in bizarre languages, as

I said.

To get an approximate knowledge of only one baroque organ style, you need at

least ten years. This was the time he needed in order to write a book about the

organ in Liège (BE) during the 18th century, which was an Orgellandschaft of its own.

 

Today we are a handfull of historians busy in the papers. But one thing is absolutely

certain: before we shall *know* correctly a tenth of the ancient organ styles, my bones

will have been completely eaten by the worms two times (!).

 

So the "Let's restore..." many was in reality an excuse to build something new !

 

-What is a "original state" ? A stop-list in ripuarisch, limburgs, brabanter, picard,

maasfrankisch ? In gothic characters ?

 

- What is a "Montre 8' " ? There are no two builders today who make the same,

so what do we know of a 1700 stop from Jean de Joyeuse ?

 

What we the "new" historians have find, it is the fact the first thing we need is to preserve

any ancient material we can. A Montre by Jean de Joyeuse we do not have any more: Norbert Dufourcq

destroyed the last one we still had in order to make room for a....Neo-baroque organ.

 

We took the words of the Reform: "back to the past" seriously ! and soon discovered the balancier

move which always condemn the previous fashion, so that absolutely all organs were systematically

destroyed with a rage.

This suicide must be stopped, and for this reason we cannot permit ourselves any value judgment,

because it is well known fashions change, and that the human beings always "hate" the previous one.

 

The "Reform" became a dogm, a "...ism". Like all old ideas, it decayed into a dictature, and had become

dangerous.

Up to today, all "good positions" in the social games part of the organ world in Belgium (among others)

are held by guys who still believe there is nothing good outside of the "tracker-sliderchest-Werkprinzip"

ideology. And that post-war generation is a long lasting one ! (halas, I myself belong to it!)

 

Now that the Reform is over, that we are in a "post-" era, we realize there are very, very few organs

we are able to have "back to the original state".

The true choice is between:

 

1)- We continue the massacre, and replace all with new organs.

 

2)- We accept our limits, and keep the organs in the state they mostly are in,

that is, hybrid ones, in order to keep at least "historic layers" we shall need

tenths of years to commence to understand.

 

This is an hard work which leaves no place for emotions, tastes and other "judgments"!

 

Pierre

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This is an hard work which leaves no place for emotions, tastes and other "judgments"!

 

Pierre

 

Yes it does - because one question that is still open is: "Is it actually any good?"

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Yes it does - because one question that is still open is: "Is it actually any good?"

 

Which standard(s) do you propose for such a definition (our historical understanding, our 'needs' at this time, what was there once, what they may have meant but couldn't do/pay (dangerously neo)).

I'm afraid this will lead to combination of incompatible reasons.

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Guest Roffensis
Which standard(s) do you propose for such a definition (our historical understanding, our 'needs' at this time, what was there once, what they may have meant but couldn't do/pay (dangerously neo)).

I'm afraid this will lead to combination of incompatible reasons.

 

 

When one looks at the "recent" rebuilds of such as Ely, Winchester and others, one can see a trend of conservatism, which is most judicious in my view. Where sufficient pipework remains of an earlier instrument, and such pipework is fine, balanced, sufficiently unaltered or is restorable, I believe it is a fool who rushes in to condemn any such organ outright. Far better to build around and enhance on what is there in that style. This is a golden ideal perhaps, but surely works out cheaper in the long run. The excellent rebuild at Rochester is a good example of what can be achieved. No one could ever criticise the sheer musicality of that organ, and Manders are to be praised indeed for being so faithful to the original, and for retaining so very much of it. It is still Rochester, but an enhanced Rochester. It proves it can be done.

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"This is a golden ideal perhaps, but surely works out cheaper in the long run."

 

To be fair, I don't think Pierre's, as usual excellent, discourse had anything to do with money (at least not as its chief concern).

 

I agree with almost all of what Pierre wrote. The question of conservation is always a vexed one and Pierre's view of it is necessarily coloured by the 'problems' of Belgium. However, I feel that two important points need to be made in addition:

 

i) The first wave of the reform movement (the age of theories rather than knowledge) was surely as much to do with modernism as it was to do with reformism. All the more reason to leave its results rather than destroying them?

 

ii) The state of organ research at places like Gothenburg is now so advanced that reconstructing historical instruments has become a worthwhile goal in a way it never was when Pierre was training in Belgium. When reconstructing an organ like that at Ansbach (Reil reconstruction of Wiegleb, there was next to nothing left of the original) leaves us with such a compelling and interesting instrument offering us new insights even into the music of Bach, then such projects are surely worthwhile.

 

Pierre's second option:

 

"2)- We accept our limits, and keep the organs in the state they mostly are in,

that is, hybrid ones, in order to keep at least "historic layers" we shall need

tenths of years to commence to understand."

 

In Holland this is now what happens, more or less. The additions by Van Dam, Van Oeckelen etc to earlier instruments are preserved, because they too were fine builders, and most often they worked in the tradition of the original builder anyway.

 

The point about the UK, and why it doesn't even stand comparison to Belgium is simply this: conservation is not seen to have anything to do with music making. The link doesn't exist there yet. The organ is simply upgraded (with the latest computer gadgets) whether the organ underneath corresponds aesthetically or not to such things. Because then it becomes more 'flexible'. B) The good work done by BIOS is the exception rather than the rule.

 

Surely the exciting thing about Belgium is that there are many historic organs which are as yet un-restored, and even unplayable. The potential is enormous...

 

"This suicide must be stopped, and for this reason we cannot permit ourselves any value judgment,

because it is well known fashions change, and that the human beings always "hate" the previous one."

 

And this is where the Dutch must take some criticism, many of the best neo-baroque organs have been made softer, rationalised etc.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin (recently having played an unaltered 1950s Marcussen organ in Sweden and hoping it will be jealously preserved)

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We largely agree, Bazuin, but Göteborg rises many questions.

To me, it is an opaque bureaucracy you never get any answer from.

They do their own things abroad, Miles upon our heads; this does not

help to build trust.

Have you any news from Vilnius, a file they are engaged with ?

Inacceptable, since this organ is one of the most important in the world.

 

I believe it is better to have unplayable organs than "bettered" ones,

in a time which obviously is still busy with "judgments"....And too many

massacres.

The potential is there, but not the wisdom yet. There are gems we deliberately

hide, by fear enthousiasts destroy them even more -or that they go to the Netherlands-.

(The second option being the least harmfull).

 

It is also obvious we shall be judged according to the treatment we will give to

the neo-baroque organs.

I do not "like" them, so I have to avoid touching them.

I am 100% against the present-day trend to "soften", revoice them.

We must leave them alone - with maintenance- or we shall lose any credibility.

 

Pierre

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I believe that it is irresponsible to try to judge all instruments by the same criteria.

 

Here too we have an enormous number of unplayable instruments from all periods from the 17th century (most, but not all, altered) up to the early fifties. A large number could benefit from a sympathetic restoration, some should just be cleaned and repaired - and some are plainly just junk. Every effort at restoration would cost a lot of money and bring no benefits, especially for a cash-strapped parish who would like, understandably, to see its money well invested.

 

I actually like neo-baroque instruments, but I consider myself able to distinguish between good ones, middling-but-passable ones, and the ones that are no good at all. And I wouldn't hesitate to get those chucked.

 

Now that's a confession...but we have dozens of organs by Troch, Böttcher, who knows whom, 100 years old and NEVER worked properly... wouldn't hesitate to get those done over properly either.

 

B

 

PS I also worked like a tiger to get the Compenius-Hartmann organ in Niederndodeleben restored. Because it seemed to be, in core, glorious. And it is. I also fought for the 1876 Rühlmann across the street from my apartment.

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"We largely agree, Bazuin, but Göteborg rises many questions.

To me, it is an opaque bureaucracy you never get any answer from."

 

Although I am not involved directly with ECHO, I am heavily involved in the activities of another ECHO city. I am aware that not everything works as smoothly as it should when dealing with Gothenburg. That said, I have to ask Pierre directly whether he has visited Gothenburg and seen for himself what has been achieved there?

 

"Have you any news from Vilnius, a file they are engaged with ?

Inacceptable, since this organ is one of the most important in the world."

 

Which is ackowleged on the website of GOArt. The page about Vilnius can be read here: http://goart.gu.se/cgi-bin/hpslev1/projlis...A366122CC4C80C5

 

Among the goals of the project is listed the following:

 

"to build, if possible, a replica of the Casparini organ as a basis for knowledge development, quality assessment and application of research results"

 

The organ in question, built in Gothenburg, for the Eastman school in Rochester, USA will be opened in October. You can see it here: http://esm.rochester.edu/eroi/c-s.php

 

I hope this answers Pierre's query.

 

 

"I believe it is better to have unplayable organs than "bettered" ones,"

 

And I agree wholeheartedly.

 

Barry Jordan wrote

 

"I believe that it is irresponsible to try to judge all instruments by the same criteria."

 

and I agree with this as well in as much as we can distinguish objectively between organs which have a high technical quality and those which don't. The question of losing instruments as a result of subjective judgements based on perceived artistic merit is another matter altogether. Here, Pierre's comments are, in my opinion, absolutely correct.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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I know those pages, Bazuin,

 

But there is absolutely nothing there save "corporate communication"

I have been paid 25 years to know what it is worth !

To visit Göteborg? They do not even answer E-Mails, so how ?

 

This sentence:

 

"to build, if possible, a replica of the Casparini organ as a basis for knowledge development, quality assessment and application of research results"

 

What is it save chinese Public relations stuff ?

 

What is "quality assessment" ?

 

"Application of research results" ?

 

Which "Research" ? Scales on Excel files ?

 

Sorry, but this is communication intended for 5 years old children.

 

The U.S. copy is well under way - I have my informators there-, but what about

the restoration of the original ?

Pffft....

I am VERY anxious.

 

Pierre

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I don't share Pierre's cynicism about Gothenburg, having visited the festival there twice and seen first hand what has been achieved and the ways they have set about doing it.

 

"to build, if possible, a replica of the Casparini organ as a basis for knowledge development, quality assessment and application of research results"

 

"What is it save chinese Public relations stuff?"

 

Please remember that by using what, to us 'organ-people' seems like empty PR speak, Gothenburg has managed to secure vast sums of money for their research programmes. The North German project cost, even then, something approaching EUR 3.5 million Euros, the sponsors included mobile phone giant Ericsson.

 

 

What is "quality assessment" ?

 

"Application of research results" ?

 

I don't know if Pierre has had the chance to see the documentation of previous research projects done in Gothenburg, the publications are freely available. Their way of research has always been 'multi-disciplinary', involving, for example, Chalmers institute of technology in their research about the acoustical properties of organ pipes, (the resulting research has been published by GOArt). Like it or not, Gothenburg have a track record of achieving astounding things, but you have to go there yourself to see it!

 

 

"The U.S. copy is well under way - I have my informators there-, but what about

the restoration of the original ?

Pffft....

I am VERY anxious."

 

I am not. The building of the replica is an important step in the restoration of the original. I'd rather they made their mistakes on the replica than the original. :rolleyes:

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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Do you really Think Ericsson understands

anything with organs ?

 

A not that old case in Belgium: a fund raising

had been lauched to restore an historic organ.

 

The previous organist wanted the organ to be destroyed and replaced

with a neo-baroque one before he dies...

An important -corporate- donator (an Ltd also) signed a contract

for that without realizing !

 

And the organ is now in the scrapyard.

 

So whenever there is money somewhere, a red flash appears...

 

"Like it or not, Gothenburg have a track record of achieving astounding things"

 

I want to make clear I do not discuss the people and their work.

I deal only with management issues, the problems, they are there,

the job itself can be outstanding, and I cannot judge it because I do not know it.

 

Fact is, with private funds there is no social control, you can -"can", not "must"- do whatever.

See my example above.

 

All that we know is "they" are busy with Vilnius. But:

 

-Who decides ?

-According to which priorities ?

-What did they find in the organ ?

-What happened with it between 1778 and 2008 ?

-What will be done ? How ?

 

I spent 25 years within two big multinational firms, where I learnt two or

two things about managerial issues...

 

We have an organization of this kind in Belgium; the "Contius project".

Lead by well-situated, senior organ people, they decided a church in Leuven

needs to have a copy of a Contius organ.

There is a fair 20th century Delmotte organ there, and the people in Leuven do not

want of a neo-Contius organ.

You won't have any information about what will happen to this organ...

But they don't care and go ahead with private funds...

 

I have had management trainings in the United States in the 1980's; I won't

write pages here about it, but you can believe me, it was frightening. The USSR

was an open Democracy compared with the methods I learnt there. And I have

a "feel" whenever I meet with something like that.

 

 

Pierre

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Fact is, with private funds there is no social control, you can -"can", not "must"- do whatever.

 

I agree that where public funds are available, there usually arises a more animated discussion on the appropriateness of the plans. However, public/amenity bodies can be anything from precious to absurd in their demands.

 

As for private funds, it cannot be too strongly emphasised that many of our finest instruments would not exist without them. Also, given the situation with public funding in the UK, those of us without fashionable venues or 'historic' instruments are in the hands of private funders whether we like it or not. I am wondering whether there is anything at all we can learn from this fascinating discussion?

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I'm not sure I see things in the same black-and-white way that many of the responses above do. Each organ and each potential project needs to be assessed on its own merits and a number of factors and circumstances affect the decisions made. The factors include:

 

How viable is it to restore the organ to its original condition?

How desirable is it to restore the organ to its original condition?

 

On the desirability, people need to look at whether the original organ is worthy of restoration - what if it was a poor organ by a poor builder from the beginning? And also consider whether it really is the right thing to restore the organ or leave it as it is.

 

On the viability, people need to assess how accurately and successfully an historic restoration can be achieved and how likely it is to happen.

 

We also need to be concious that there are various points of view to assess the organ for viability and desirability:

 

Some people will be looking at the organ from a functional point of view - how will it work in its environments for its tasks? Will it do everything wanted in the way people want it to do it? (Many people who contribute to this forum fall into this group - and I can remember a story of a couple of experts almost coming to blows at Naumberg over how to register and play the organ).

Others will look at it from a object and contextural point of view - how does this organ fit in with other organs? What does it represent of organs and organbuilding?

 

And in some cases, the organ cannot be regarded as a whole, especially if different parts come from different sources - what about the organ at Old Radnor? What should we do with the Walker organ of 1870 in the C15th case?

 

Just from the purely organ-based point of view, it's necessary to judge the organ on its own merits, whether or not it meets your own or current tastes. What should we do with an early Grant, Degens and Rippen organ with 1960s electric action?

 

Of course some people will always perceive some restorations to have been inappropriate. Some historic restorations have been done badly. But a little knowledge is a dangerous thing so are these arguments really a case that historic restoration is an invalid avenue?

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What should we do with the Walker organ of 1870 in the C15th case?

 

Probably leave it as it is....

 

What should we do with an early Grant, Degens and Rippen organ with 1960s electric action?

 

Ok, I'll stick my head above the parapet and risk accusations of double-standards by saying this but: petrol and a match? :)

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Nor match nor petrol, but leave it alone with a fair maintenance.

 

The news from Vilnius aren't that good. Göteborg, where are you ?

 

Please prove I am an old stupid lad, and spend a fair budget

on that one !

The Casparini project don't end up at Rochester....

 

Pierre

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"I believe it is better to have unplayable organs than "bettered" ones,"

 

And I agree wholeheartedly.

 

Barry Jordan wrote

 

"I believe that it is irresponsible to try to judge all instruments by the same criteria."

 

and I agree with this as well in as much as we can distinguish objectively between organs which have a high technical quality and those which don't. The question of losing instruments as a result of subjective judgements based on perceived artistic merit is another matter altogether. Here, Pierre's comments are, in my opinion, absolutely correct.

 

Pierre's opinion ignores totally, in my view, that organs are by and large artefacts that are intended to serve a particular purpose. This is, generally, to be played in worship, mostly but not always christian. If they do not adequately serve this purpose, no-one schould be forced to repair them, keep them in shape, or even to give them house-room. A church or concert hall is not a museum. Conservationist approaches are of course to be welcomed, but if they are to be any more than byaying at the moon they must offer some way out of this fundamental dilemma. For example: you agree to fix up the "historic" organ, and we'll give you another one that serves your purposes. These approaches have of course one fundamental problem - they cost money.

 

I am annoyed by the view that it sn't really to possible to distinguish between a good and a bad orgen in the same style, which lies behind most extremely conservationist approaches (alternatively: even bad instruments must be preserved as a sort of dire warning, which seems prima facie absurd). Of course it's possible, because there is a set of sonic parameters, even if they are difficult to define, which are quite apparent to anyone sympathetic to the general style of instrument.

 

Let's face it: not all organs are art. There are hundreds of hymn machines all over the world, and who cares whether they are rebuilt, revoiced, altered or scrapped? When is an organ so venerable that it's holy? After 10 years, or 20, or 100? And NEVER forget: if organ builders had always left the past untouched, we'd never have had St Sulpice, or St Ludgeri Norden, or Jakobi Hamburg, or hundreds of others.

 

All attempts at an all-encompassing approach to this issue of what to do with unsatisfactory or messed-around-with or even "dead" instruments are doomes to failure. There is simply no ONE answer.

 

Cheers

B

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"Pierre's opinion ignores totally, in my view, that organs are by and large artefacts that are intended to serve a particular purpose. This is, generally, to be played in worship, mostly but not always christian. If they do not adequately serve this purpose, no-one schould be forced to repair them, keep them in shape, or even to give them house-room."

 

I find it quite astonishing that Barry should re-state the position which caused the loss of so many valuable historic instruments across Europe. Good, representative organs should be preserved precisely because they are significantly more than "artefacts that are intended to serve a particular purpose." Given Barry's geographical location, where many churches are served well by historic instruments of different sorts, (Ladegast especially, a little further afield Gottfried Silbermann), I wonder if his colleagues who have to serve 21st century church culture with the supposed 'limitations' of their historic museum pieces agree with him?

If an organ has significant historical value this must take priority over the supposed transient requirements of the 21st century.

 

 

"I am annoyed by the view that it sn't really to possible to distinguish between a good and a bad orgen in the same style, which lies behind most extremely conservationist approaches (alternatively: even bad instruments must be preserved as a sort of dire warning, which seems prima facie absurd). "

 

I have tried already in this thread to distinguish between good and bad organs, I believe firmly that historic organs (in the broadest sense) can be objectively judged on their technical qualities, and the inherent craftsmanship. Whether we as musicians happen to like them or not, it is not our place to judge, or to condemn them on subjective grounds. I appreciate that where Barry comes from, there are spectacularly bad organs from the DDR time, cheaply made from poor materials, and little artistic vision. If these are the organs Barry refers to, then I agree with him that saving them on conservationist grounds is absurd. If we are discussing the typical 10-stop Victorian organ in an English village church (even from the second rank of builders) I would strongly disagree.

 

Let's take another example. In Sweden, from the early 1930s onwards, an influential organisation called the Organ Council of the Friends of Hymn Singing, decided that church organs in Sweden "should have a good organ with the resources to play liturgically". In other words each organ had to have 2 manuals and an independent pedal. Unfortunately this led to the destruction of many smaller 18th, and especially 19th century organs (mostly single manual with pedal pull-down) in Sweden which were of a uniformly far better quality than anything being built at the time. Attempted restorations were "almost always disastrous". Fortunately many instruments were saved by the enterprising efforts of one individual, Dr Einar Erici. "Erici's idea was that was than an organ with two manuals and pedal was totally unnecessary if the historical one had worked for 100 years". *

 

This is just one example of transient circumstances causing the loss of organ heritage. There are countless others as we all know.

 

"When is an organ so venerable that it's holy? After 10 years, or 20, or 100? And NEVER forget: if organ builders had always left the past untouched, we'd never have had St Sulpice, or St Ludgeri Norden, or Jakobi Hamburg, or hundreds of others."

 

For me this is a red herring. All the given examples are those of builders rebuilding organs in the same tradition in which they worked but from earlier generations. Such circumstances simply don't exist any more. The fact the builders in question were also among the greatest of all time (who can we say that of now?) is also of some significance I think.

 

"There is simply no ONE answer."

 

No, but if the answer isn't obvious, surely its better to preserve than to change!

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

 

* quotes from Axel Unnerback 'The organ as Scrying Glass', from 'The Organ as a Mirror of its Time', Oxford 2002

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I would certainly never imply that a good organ needs 2 manuals....

 

There was not only a second rank of builders, there was a 3rd and 4th and 5th as well. I am certainly aware of the dangers inherent in destroying organs of the more recent past, and mostly deflect any attempt to do this. But, to give one example, I recently inspected an instrument by the local builder Beyer, ca. 1860. It was playable for barely 20 years before the parish gave up all attempts to keep it working. The pipework is dreadful, the technical construction amateurish at best. The parish now wonders if they could perhaps "restore" it. I have advised against it, strongly, and I hope the reasons are obvious. It would cost them a lot of money, and bring them no joy.

 

Apropos St Sulpice - I think it is stretching things a little to promote the idea that this was the "same tradition" further down the line..... as regards St Jakobi the point is granted, but the question then becomes, should we not have left it as Kemper did? And if not, why not? If the answer to that basically is, because Schnitger was Schnitger and Kemper Kemper, then I would maintain that exactly the sort of subjectivism that is being pilloried is in play. Quite apart from the fact that the "reconstruction" of the historical condition of the organ in itself is often a "creative" matter; based on experience and study, perhaps, but still a guess. Nobody knows for sure. St Jakobi and perhaps even more Norden are certainly amongst the organs I really love, but the fact that they may well reflect Jürgen Ahrend's ideas as much as Schnitgers should not be ignored.

 

My point is certainly not that any opinion is valid. It is however that an informed opinion may well say, "Away with it". And I also do not believe that it is moral to force the owner of any artefact or object to live with it if he doesn't want it or if it does not meet his needs; you could perhaps forbid him to scrap it.

 

Incidentally though: a lot of the DDR-organs are a lot better than BRD organs of the same period. The real abilities of Hans-Joachim Schuke have long been unjustly eclipsed by those of his more famous brother, while the Jehmlich instruments of the 50s are delicious in their gentle way, even if they opened a blind alley into which Eule later rushed.

 

Cheers

b

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There are many interesting points in Mr Jordan's last post.

Let us quote:

 

"There was not only a second rank of builders, there was a 3rd and 4th and 5th as well"

 

 

Indeed, and it was ever so.

The problem, again, is the definition: what is a third grade builder ?

 

If you read Dufourcq's book of 1949, Cavaillé-Coll was in that league....

"All Cavaillé organs resemble each other; this is their least drawback..."

He did not hesitate to file Cavaillé-Coll with the Fabrikorgeln industrial

builders...

 

So if we cannot judge, let us the Nature do. A really, objectively poor built organ

will decay by itself. No one bad baroque organ, for example, has survived; all

the ones that we still have are quality jobs.

Now we have a dedicate number of Post-romantic organs still with us. A minority

is in the final stage, while others, often deemed ripe for scrap 10 years ago, obviously

need to be kept.

 

"...the fact that the "reconstruction" of the historical condition of the organ in itself is often a "creative" matter"

 

As a wrote above, this is typical for the "Neo" period.

But the aim to authenticity was only words, the real game being to create something

new on an inspirationnal, not objective, "ancient" basis.

Again, the Datas are enormous, but the people involved had nor the time, nor the will,

to go through them.

Let us take only Praetorius "De Organographia" as an example.

In 1926, when Oscar Walcker built the first neo-baroque organ for the Freiberg university,

the experts said they took Praetorius as an example.

"De Organographia" is written in an ancient norddeutsch language very few modern germans

still understand. It is actually -and this is true for Schnitger's writings as well- closer to

the "Brusselsvloems" you can still hear in some pubs in Brussels, late at night, when the Duvel

has lifted some inhibitions. Amaï seg efkes, d'ass awwer nitt woer!

 

Oscar Walcker, him, knew the text, and he laughed at the guys "who did not even read a quarter

of the stuff".

Among others, "De Organographia" describes Gambas (not Strings!), overblown pipes, Doppelflötes

and the like; he warned against the tendency of the Schnarrwerk to rattle...

 

"...the fact that they may well reflect Jürgen Ahrend's ideas as much as Schnitgers should not be ignored. "

 

Ahrend's organs also deserve a place, but as such. We all know there are gems there. The fact

they are something different than what was believed does not matter. Again, I wrote I am against

the today's tendency to revoice such organs. We must keep them as they are.

 

We ow to Schuke the rediscovering of the works of Joachim Wagner, a builder in the shadow

of G. Silbermann, but historically even more significant as the "mature" version of the multinational

synthesis which defines the central german 18th century organ.

Gratulieren !

As for Jehmlich, this builder has deep roots in a tradition which goes back to that Silbermann-grounded

tradition. The DDR was just a moment in that history (though quite long for the human beings of course).

 

 

Pierre

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There has been some interesting comments about this thread from abroad.

Let us summarize two points:

 

1)- The real name of the game is to have "his own name on a big organ".

 

Of course it is, and probably since the middle ages -since organs do exist-.

The human breed is the human breed, the same since we -apparently at least-

began to differ from the others ape Species.

Saint Augustin, in his "Confessions", explains it all; We human beings can behave

differently than wild animal Species, but this is not in our nature. This must be the fruit

of a personnal decision, and implemented with constant efforts.

 

2)- Dear old ape Peter forgets -or deliberately omits?- to mention the belgian organ scene

is spoiled by politics, "social games" also.

 

Of course it is !

We have had to fight here against countless disasters, caused by 1): "I wanna have my name

in the middle of that new console".

And if it goes somewhat better nowadays, we aren't naive enough to think it is because of us, the handfull

of organ historians here; rather because Belgium's economics is rapidly "gaining" the level of the

"third world", cash-drained also.

But this is like everywhere else, no more, nor less.

The difference between Belgium and the others countries is our cynic humor, which allows us

to understand, and tell unashamedly everywhere we are, we are little guys in the middle of

a nowhere made a would-be "country" by Britain and France in order to have "something

between them, probably just to count the shots. And so whenever something not that smart

happens here, it goes public at once, without that "sacred national union" that generally prevails

elsewhere to hide "family problems" !

 

Addenda: a little video, taken by a local organist in Vilnius, displays the state of affairs

with the Casparini organ:

 

http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=1j7xtaEVszs

 

Das' e lîîd ôôn' Wortt / Das ist ein Lied ohne Worte. No words are necessary..... :P

 

And here is the state of affairs with the copy at Rochester, U.S.A.:

 

http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=KlKEUswM_60&...feature=related

 

Pierre

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