Jump to content
Mander Organs
Nick Bennett

Manchester Town Hall

Recommended Posts

"Pierre PESCHEUR was the builder that provided Louis Couperin with an instrument which incorporated parts of an organ from 1601 by Matthijs LANGHEDUL."

(Quote)

 

I like to read the Couperin name in the same sentence as Matthijs Langhedul, who introduced the

flemish organ in France.

Let us drop the late 18th century french style (with second Trompettes and much "boom-ta-ta-ta"),

and think of reintroducing the Sesquialtera.

(Couperin and de Grigny sound quite well on flemish organs. Have a try at Haringe, or Tongeren,

where Serge Schoonbroodt just recorded a Grigny CD).

 

Oh, and why a 16' on the Pedal ? This was extremely seldom.

 

My modified version:

 

Positif

Montre 8 en façade

Bourdon 8

Prestant

Sesquialtera 1 1/3'- 4/5', 2 2/3'-2'

Nasard

Doublette

Tierce

Larigot

Fourniture

Cymbale

Cromorne

Trompette

Clairon

 

Grand-orgue

Montre 16

Bourdon 16

Montre 8

Bourdon 8

Gros Nasard

Prestant

Grosse Tierce

Sesquialtera 1 1/3'- 4/5', 2 2/3'-2'

Nasard

Doublette

Quarte

Tierce

Grand cornet

Grosse fourniture

Fourniture

Cymbale

Trompette

Clairon

Voix humaine

 

Bombarde

 

Bombarde 16

Trompette

Clairon

Cornet 5r

 

Récit

Cornet 5r, first rank (8) double, one open, one stopped

 

 

Echo

 

Bourdon 8

Prestant 4'

Nasard

Doublette

Tierce

Cymbale

Trompette

 

Pédale

 

Flûte 8

Flûte 4

Trompette

Clairon

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

cnv00010.jpg

The console. Extremely uncomfortable, the pedals are too far under the keyboards.

 

cnv00011.jpg

 

A view of the ballroom from the top of the organ. Wonderfull building and very good acoustic in this room. Not dead and not too much reverberating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The console. Extremely uncomfortable, the pedals are too far under the keyboards.

I'm pretty sure that the console is by Jardine, but that it was introduced rather earlier than 1970 (the only date NPOR records them as having worked on this organ). Apart from anything else, I'm pretty sure that by 1970 the Jardine firm had scaled-down far beyond the point where they could have supplied and fitted a new V+P console.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is from Jardine, as I played several Jardine organs around Manchester, from the same period, and they all seems to suffer the same uncomfortable consoles !

This said, it's not ugly, even if it's a bit heavy. The two "pilars" being doors hiding the old electric combination system, that explains partly the wideness of these pilars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I came across the Manchester organ by chance. A Polish friend had given a recital at the Cathedral about 1991, and while we wandered round the city the next morning, we went into the town hall, and asked if he could see the organ, a very kind gent, disapeared for a few minutes, and came back with some keys and moved the moveable console out so our friend could have half an hour tinkering, it was a good sound, just wish I had my tape recorder at the time.

regards

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a schoolboy in Manchester in the early 60s and although I never managed to play the instrument, I understood that Jardine's had already taken responsibility for looking after it.

 

Incidentally, I practised on a 3 manual Jardine in a church adjacent to the school in Rusholme and that too had a most uncomfortable console. The balanced swell pedals were set so high you needed double jointed knees to get your feet on them without falling off the bench!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has just been uploaded to Youtube by the Scott brothers:

Considering it would appear to have been virtually unplayable for the past couple of decades it actually sounds remarkably in tune and most of the notes seem to be sounding!

The Town Hall is about to be closed for the next six years whilst a £330 million (yes you read that correctly) restoration project gets under way. Apparently the organ is to be dismantled and put into storage during this process. A recent city council report advises that funding for its restoration should be raised privately rather than as part of the town hall refurbishment which seems a little unfair given that all other fittings and fitments are to be fully restored. I wonder who will be dismantling and storing it, and what will happen to it if the fundraising doesn't hit the required target?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Contrabombarde said:

Apparently the organ is to be dismantled and put into storage during this process.

Perhaps there's no alternative, but this sounds like the thin end of the wedge.  Will it ever be reinstated, I wonder?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A most interesting video, and all thanks to the Scott brothers for making it and Contrabombarde for posting it.  The organ sounds very impressive to me, and certainly very Cavaillé-Coll.  It must be one of the least-known large organs in the country.  I was surprised at how small the hall is, for a place the size of Manchester. There were mentions in "The Organ" many years ago in a pair of articles about J. Kendrick Pyne, the legendary and (it seems) eccentric organist, but the most important account is one of Cecil Clutton's earlier articles, published in October 1930 ("The Organ" No. 38, Vol. X).  Around the same time, Clutton contributed an article to the Willis house magazine "The Rotunda", contrasting various national traditions in registration, including a sympathetic outline of the French Romantic.

Clutton's Manchester Town Hall article commences with a "resumé of the French system of tonal design", praising in particular the blend of different types of tone, in contrast to the British  fashion for big diapasons and heavy-pressure reeds.

There follows a short account of the genesis of the organ. It was designed by the local organ enthusiast B. St. J. B. Joule.  Like a lot of rich organ buffs in those days, he was a member of a brewing family, and he donated organs to least two churches where he was organist, the second and largest being the enormous (for the date) Jardine at St. Peter's, Manchester (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N10808), with a French-influenced  scheme.  It subsequently went to St. Bride, Old Trafford where it was last rebuilt as a large two-manual by Cowing of Liverpool. When St. Bride's closed, Jardines took the organ into store and, for some time, their website has featured a paragraph stating that they are rebuilding it in St. Catherine's Priory, Lincoln.  The Town Hall organ was designed in consultation with W.T. Best and the builder.

It has been remarked more than once that there was a French influence on organs west of the Pennines, in contrast to the Schulze influence to the east.

The original organ was built in 1877 and  Cavaillé-Coll added an unenclosed Solo Organ in 1893. Clutton refers to one J.E. Taylor LRIBA, of the City Architect's department, who was an organ enthusiast and was apparently responsible for the enlargement by Lewis in 1913.

"The Corporation of Manchester are, indeed, fortunate in having such an expert as Mr. Taylor in their service, and I think that both he and Messrs. Lewis deserve the highest praise for the exemplary way in which the 1913 rebuild was carried out."

Looking at the date, we should remember that by 1913, T.C. Lewis no longer had any connection with the firm he had founded, although he was still working on a smaller scale.  The late Eduard Robbins, omnipotent Lewis expert, used to get very annoyed with anyone who mixed up the work of T.C.L. and that of Lewis & Co.  It could well be, though, that Lewis & Co. would have handled the rebuild and enlargement of such an instrument with more sympathy than most other builders at the time.

So, in 1913, there was a new console (in former times, it was rumoured that Kendrick Pyne invited French organists like Guilmant to play at the University and English organists like Parratt to play at the Town Hall, so that his own handling of English and French consoles would appear more virtuosic), the addition of an Echo Organ and enlargements to the Solo Organ.  The Cavaillé-Coll tubas, which had been en chamade, were brought within the case and revoiced (as were the Pedal reeds) on 12".  Mr. Johnson maintained that the effect was very much as it had been before, but stability was improved. The Diapason 1 on the Great was made louder, but provision for English tastes in diapason tone ("toujours rosbif" as Cavaillé-Coll put it) was largely provided by the leathered Stentor on the Solo.  The Clarinet, Stentor and Tromba were enclosed in the Swell and could be transferred thereto by a coupler "Solo Extension to Swell".

It is evident that Clutton considered that the Cavaillé-Coll character had not been spoiled and, at that time, there was probably no one else in Britain whose opinion was more trustworthy.

The only alterations when Jardines replaced the console in 1970 appear to have been the addition of a Nazard to the Solo and the replacement of an 8' Diapason with a 4' Flute on the Pedal. The console, as suggested earlier on this thread, could well have been sub-contracted out to Nicholson, or bought in from a supply house, if Jardines were not then working on a large enough scale to build it themselves.  It looks like a fine piece of work to me.  I notice a piston "Mix and Muts Off" - the imagination boggles slightly....

All credit, I think, to Jardines for keeping the organ going for so long.  I hope it will rise again when the renovations to the building are finished.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it would appear that Jardine's website needs updating, as the former St Peters/St Brides organ is now installed and playable (well, some of it at least) in St Katherine's Cathedral, Lincoln.  The local newspaper has a video of it being played in 2017 at https://thelincolnite.co.uk/2017/02/musical-opportunities-await-visitors-to-lincolns-secret-second-cathedral/

It's lacking any case in the photos but the church is apparently fitting the case of the redundant Wadsworth  in St Edmund's Whalley Range (Manchester) around it. That was my parish church as a child, though the church had been closed due to roof problems long before I started to attend and I only ever went into the church building once, services being held in the hall, where they continue to this day. (The church building was later tastefully converted into flats.) The organ had an attractive case but was in a chamber in the south side of the choir, so I'm not sure how the case will blend with the organ as distributed across the west balcony of its new home, if and when it gets fitted if it hasn't already been installed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

its a sad fact of life, or so it seems, that most council (Lab/Con/Lib) run places, have no need for any organ, and the money needed to return it to a good condition, is deemed a "waste". Just look at a few miles down the road, in Warrington. It has, what is acknowledged by many, as the "best example", of a C-C, in the UK, And apart from a few very good people, protesting some thing needs doing,,,, its just not going to happen. Ultimately, ANY council in the UK with something that is going to cost a lot, and not give a short term return, is just  a waste. Obviously, just my own opinion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Lottery Fund made a grant to cover the restoration of the organ in Colchester Town Hall.  Bill McVicker was the consultant and handled the application.  I should imagine that Manchester would be similarly eligible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/10/2018 at 13:14, Peter Allison said:

its a sad fact of life, or so it seems, that most council (Lab/Con/Lib) run places, have no need for any organ, and the money needed to return it to a good condition, is deemed a "waste".

Fortunately, not yet a universal attitude!  Leeds Town Hall, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank goodness for Leeds Council, but they have a tradition there of music making  and a city organist still, am sure that would have made some difference. But I read a while back that just down the road, Kirklees or Calderdale council, who run the weekly recitals at Huddersfield, where Gordon Stewart is organist.... very nearly came to finishing the concerts at the town hall, so leaving the Willis organ hardly used, which it has kind of backed down from now, it  seems. Which is good news, as Leeds is my "go to venue" up here , as they have an amazing concert programme of classical music

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

Thank goodness for Leeds Council,  …………………………………………………………….. they have an amazing concert programme of classical music

I looked at the 'What's on' brochure and you are so right. Lots of exciting music performed by some of the world's great players and orchestras. I noticed all kinds of absolute 'gems' - including a performance, conducted by David Hill, of 'Messiah' - accompanied by Black Dyke Mills Brass Band!!

I went to, what I think, was the opening recital, after the Wood Wordsworth rebuild in 1972, given by, I think, Flor Peeters - but I'm sure I will be corrected on that if I'm wrong! The organ is reputed to be the largest 3 manual in the country - and, at 84 speaking stops, I can well believe it! But, I know, if I'm wrong there will, again, be someone on here to correct me!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it  is the largest 3 manual, unless Simon Lindley was wrong, ha ha ha.

My father organised a couple of recitals there, years ago, and I recorded them, and a few more since (all with permission) its a superb instrument

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, S_L said:

I looked at the 'What's on' brochure and you are so right. Lots of exciting music performed by some of the world's great players and orchestras. I noticed all kinds of absolute 'gems' - including a performance, conducted by David Hill, of 'Messiah' - accompanied by Black Dyke Mills Brass Band!!

I went to, what I think, was the opening recital, after the Wood Wordsworth rebuild in 1972, given by, I think, Flor Peeters - but I'm sure I will be corrected on that if I'm wrong! The organ is reputed to be the largest 3 manual in the country - and, at 84 speaking stops, I can well believe it! But, I know, if I'm wrong there will, again, be someone on here to correct me!!!

The Black Dyke "Messiah" is a long-standing Leeds tradition.  I remember Simon Lindley telling me years ago that they invite a different conductor each year but take no notice of him!

The Leeds Town Hall organ may be the largest straight 3 manual organ in the country, but if you go by speaking stops, the Compton at St. Luke's, Chelsea has 97, and there would likewise be some 3 manual theatre organs which have more than the 81 speaking stops at Leeds.

Incidentally, NPOR has a minor error in describing the pre-Wood, Wordsworth rebuild as having 4 manuals - it had 5.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

The Black Dyke "Messiah" is a long-standing Leeds tradition.  I remember Simon Lindley telling me years ago that they invite a different conductor each year but take no notice of him!

 

As a former orchestral player I can give you a list of, well-known, conductors who we took little, or no, notice of! 

I heard the Huddersfield Methodist Choir 'do' 'Messiah' in the early 70's. That was accompanied by Brass Band too! I believe that was also a Huddersfield tradition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/10/2018 at 13:14, Peter Allison said:

its a sad fact of life, or so it seems, that most council (Lab/Con/Lib) run places, have no need for any organ, and the money needed to return it to a good condition, is deemed a "waste". Just look at a few miles down the road, in Warrington. It has, what is acknowledged by many, as the "best example", of a C-C, in the UK, And apart from a few very good people, protesting some thing needs doing,,,, its just not going to happen. Ultimately, ANY council in the UK with something that is going to cost a lot, and not give a short term return, is just  a waste. Obviously, just my own opinion

The reality is that local councils have a number of statutory legal duties such as providing care to elderly people and vulnerable children. Central government funding to local authorities has been reduced so much in recent years that some are at the point where even if they spent their entire budget on the things they have a legal obligation to provide for they would no longer be able to afford to meet all their obligations. Consequently the non-statutory functions like litter collections in parks, weekly dustbin rounds, keeping libraries open and tuning the organ in the town hall are not so much low priority as no priority since they will point out, "if we spend money on organ repairs and an old person comes to harm because we haveen't spent enough on elderly care we could be taken to court". Some more fortunate councils have access to income streams, historic reserve savings and sources of funding not available to other areas, hence the extent to which non-statutory services are deprioritised varies. Perhaps Leeds with its reputation and piano competition and sponsorship deals etc can generate a big enough income to keep the hall's organ in concert-worthy condition, but there are only so many such venues in the country that can do so.

Those of us who are organ lovers need to recognise that in the present climate, if we want organs to be preserved, then increasingly it's our pockets or our fundraising skills that need to contribute to tuning, maintenance, repairs and rebuilds as noone else is going to pay. Unless we pay directly ourselves or manage to raise funds through channels such as the Lottery fund, we cannot expect every church and other building with a historic organ in need of restoration to somehow find the money themselves. The only other option to keep organs going is for organbuilders to radically reduce the costs of maintaining and restoring organs without compromising their quality or playability, though that debate is perhaps important enough to be continued through on the organ building part of this forum. After all, if the Manchester Town Hall organ could be reinstated and fully restored for say £10,000 then even a cash strapped council might just about manage that. At £1 million plus, it's almost a guarenteed non-starter with council funds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×