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saundersbp

Leeds Cathedral

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"I wonder how many rebuilds are undertaken by British firms outside of the UK (the Harrison restoration at Stockholm being a recent example)? Just as the number of times that European firms rebuild or restore, as opposed to newly construct, organs in Britain would seem to be small in comparison. Is it because the cost, or the prestige of a new instrument is greater than that of a rebuild? Perhaps firms that undertake rebuilds are better known for their rebuilds in the country where they are based? Or they have a better understanding of how to rebuild effectively? Just curious..."

(Quote)

 

I am afraid the problem could be somewhat worse...

When rebuilding an organ, the builder has to work according to

the contract, and this contract he did not write himself, of course.

So he has to obey to the prevalent fashion of a dedicate place and time.

 

......AND...

 

...And if this fashion, in a dedicate place, differs somewhat from what is done

in the neighbourging areas, the builders from this place won't build themselves

a strong reputation with rebuilds, which is of course unfair, because not only

much of them could indeed excell in that matter, but would work that way

with the greatest pleasure.

 

Let us take, at random, a completely virtual example.

Let us have a certain builder from London restore a certain, say, Schulze organ,

as near to its original state as possible.

Be sure this work would be scrutinized in Germany up to the last bolt, with possible

commercial followings.

 

So the efforts to gain external markets for the british builders aren't needed from

the builders alone, but rather, it is a matter that concerns the whole organ community

of the dedicate place.

 

Pierre

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I suspect here that we are looking at a development in organ building practice. In times past, when new instruments were more common, builders built mainly in their native country. They followed a native style, tempered by regional and a company's historical style, some of whom showed more sympathy for the past than others.

 

The organ building world is a different place now, and larger companies have a house style, often an amalgam of different national styles to a greater or lesser extent, and admitted to, also to a greater or lesser extent. International building is more commonplace, and so organ builders are exposed to different national styles and practices more so than in the past which expands their first hand knowledge of different styles and practices. This of course tends to apply to new organs, but has an association to rebuilds.

 

A rebuild is not necessarily approached from the same perspective from one country to another, nor is even defined in the same terms. The materials are ubiquitous, the skills are there, although one's choice is often tempered by the fine detail. This is what sets apart one firm from another, and the quality of advice and decision making from one person to another. Therefore the expectations are not always the same, the decision making process is not always the same and the outcome which is enjoyed by one community, could be reviled by another.

 

As Pierre has said, organ builders are subject to demands placed upon them from outside influences, and one has to distinguish between those companies who will be hampered by this, those who can thrive in the circumstances, and those who do as they are contracted to do. The issue is often in understanding these external demands and being able to apply them to the way the customer sees them. The problem comes when a fundamental disagreement exists, when the customer will not understand or accept the experience of the organ builder. The organ builder still has to live, and so will more likely do as asked. The customer unfortunately is not always right, but the organ builder has to live with the reputation of the instrument as dictated by the customer.

 

If we returned to the way things were, when the organ builder consulted with the customer, and then built his best organ, in his style, as a personal work of art, he would have his own reputation at stake, controlled mainly by his own hand. With a rebuild, things are not as clear. Without knowing precise requirements, every rebuild is different. The organ builder may do a first class job, exactly to the customer's requirements, and the concensus is that it is a failure. He may do a second rate job, which is fine for 10 years, near enough to the customer's requirements, and be internationally applauded for fine work. We have the added problem now, that rebuilds are often regarded as very good if they border more on restorations. Excluding historical work, I wish we could more often understand the 'rebuilt and improved by' as something different from 'rebuilt and butchered by', and give builders more of a chance to improve instruments without being overly critical. If it has been 'butchered', more often than not, the builder will be blamed. 1940 - 1990 is probably responsible for much of this, but I think we are moving on, and if not, we can be more critical. Often the best understanding of an organ comes from those who use it, and the problem lies with these people not being swayed by the fashions of the day, nor indeed any consultants employed. The customer still lies at the root of the result. The organ builder can be of the finest quality but is unable to demonstrate what could really be achieved unless given free rein.

 

I personally believe that the fashion of the day should be to produce the best instument for the building and what goes in within it. This could be neo baroque, hope jones symphonic, or anything in between, or even a new style where an old style does not suffice. Some places have historic instruments which cannot be treated in the same way, but the zenith of the art, to me, is a perfect marriage between instrument, environment and user. It's a very different set of principles to what is often argued now, whether openly admitted to or not, and far more challenging. In places where it has been employed, the results speak for themselves. Listeners will always have a preference for a type of sound, and will try to argue that it works, but that is where the artistry and individuality of different builders comes to the fore, even with a rebuild. You get the conception of the firm you chose, and a result based on open minded principles. A lot of this is based on confidence, and I suspect that this is what is lacking more so now than in the past.

 

AJS

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Thanks for these reflections! Another point to throw into the debating chamber: will recently built mechanical action organs be less likely to be rebuilt in future than electropneumatic action organs? Will the Marcussen in Manchester's Birdgewater Hall, which has suffered (IMHO, undeservedly) bad press be more likely to end up being totally rebuilt in a few decades, major changes to specification, voicing, scales, action, than the lovely new Tickell at Worcester (direct electric action, hardly difficult to enlarge, connect other new sections placed around the building as funding permits)?

 

The history of organ building over the past couple of hundred years in the UK at least has seen many organs progressively enlarged from humble origins thanks to the "innovation" of not having to directly mechanically connect console to soundboard with the resulting perceived strictures and limitations of tracker action. Organs would thus be enlarged and put on heavier wind, requiring assisted action.

 

But with the large modern mechanical instruments that have been installed over say the past forty years in this country and elsewhere, i am tempted to wonder if they are as large, complex and complete as they will ever be, or ever need to be. Does having mechnical action insure that you limit the chance of significant future reconstruction?

 

That's certainly not to say that all rebuilds result in a bigger instrument, and nor would I advocate that they should (one only has to follow the recent thread about the five manual R&D in a Scottish monastery which was sensibly halved in size and manuals in its latest rebuild). But one might ask, why rebuild an instrument at all, especially a modern mechanical action organ? Or is that daring to suggest that its initial appearance is the finest it will ever be for that building and that it can never be improved upon or changed except for the worse?

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"will recently built mechanical action organs be less likely to be rebuilt in future than electropneumatic action organs? "

(Quote)

 

The answer is available in Germany !

 

Pierre

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will recently built mechanical action organs be less likely to be rebuilt in future than electropneumatic action organs?

 

Well that depends on a number of things. I think they will be if users of them are not satisfied. This then depends on why they are not satisfied. Was the original conception correct, was the execution of it successful, do we know something important and relevant that we did not know when it was built, has the use for the instrument changed substantially. These are all questions at the root of the answer. Is it therefore a successful marriage of instrument, environment and use. If not, we as human beings with sensitivity will pick up on this and want to achieve it, so the instrument will change. I personally believe the conception of many recent new concert hall organs in this country, and for that matter, all over the world, is wrong; this is not the CAD conception, or the intention of the tonal designer, both of whom would be highly skilled and well intentioned. I cannot yet work out how biscuit tin principals and wall to wall french reeds work in a dead acoustic - not specifically an acoustic without reverberation, but an acoustic which is sonically neutral. So, will organs of this type be rebuilt, or even thrown out? Yes I think they will because they fail at a basic level with the way they interact with people's ears in the environment where they are. This is not to say they are bad instruments, far from it, just in the wrong home. Born to be victims of fashion yet again. There is a place for every type of instrument ever produced, and some that have yet to be. Unless the relationship is right, from the beginning, dissatisfaction will sooner or later ensue, and, money permitting, the organ will be changed.

 

AJS

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"Is it therefore a successful marriage of instrument, environment and use"

(Quote)

 

An interesting, sound concept. But what when items N° 2 and 3 change ?

Do we need to rebuild the organ whenever carpetry is introduced/removed/replaced ?

Or when the liturgy evolves ?

Again, this view implies the organ to be a tool, a piece of furniture, not a work of Art.

 

Pierre

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"will recently built mechanical action organs be less likely to be rebuilt in future than electropneumatic action organs? "

(Quote)

 

The answer is available in Germany !

 

Pierre

 

The answer being.....

 

?????

 

Are they rebuilt through revoicing? Changed specification? Enlarging with electric action to new chests? Totally new action and internal redesign? Enlighten those of us who haven't had the luxury of playing any recent German organs!

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The neo-baroque organs from the 60's and 70's are, in Germany,

already an endangered Species, be them electro-pneumatic or tracker.

At best, they are sold in eastern Europe.

At worst....... ;)

 

Here is a good example:

http://www.bunkorgel-reinoldi.walcker.com/

 

.....And round and round we go !

 

Pierre

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"Is it therefore a successful marriage of instrument, environment and use"

(Quote)

 

An interesting, sound concept. But what when items N° 2 and 3 change ?

Do we need to rebuild the organ whenever carpetry is introduced/removed/replaced ?

Or when the liturgy evolves ?

Again, this view implies the organ to be a tool, a piece of furniture, not a work of Art.

 

Pierre

 

I first think we need to differentiate between instruments that are a work of art and those which are not. Those which are at the same level as the works of Constable, Lowry, Francis Bacon, Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, Reubens, Raphael etc are, to my mind, excluded from the discussion. However, there will always be the opposing sides of an argument, trying to resolve the question 'What is the organ here to do?' Analysing the organ as you would a piece of art - style, school, motivation and message, method etc, helps here more than you might initially think. Was the original builder motivated to produce it solely as a work of art, or as a living breathing usable instrument, in fact, in the case of many instruments, both I think apply; or was it something produced to meet the needs of a simple mass market, or the call of a patron ? Not every organ falls into the former category, and certainly in the UK, many fall into the latter mass market category. Those, and others, substantially changed over time could be said to fall into the 'mongrel' category. Some might initially be aggravated by my use of the word mongrel, but not every dog is a pedigree, and look at what character, interest, usefulness and enjoyment would be lost if there were no mongrels. Per se, it is not a bad thing, and to my mind, there is no place for one-up-man-ship in this debate.

 

It does however encapsulate the seeds of the argument that these instruments can be altered, as indeed mongrels are when they interbreed. I see little strength in the argument that they should be left as they are. A particularly noteworthy example of the genre of Victorian mass market organs can be argued as desirable to keep as is, and I think, should be - however not all of them - there is some genuine rubbish out there not just from the Victorian period, and we should be man enough to admit it and sort it out. We should also be able to see evolution in an instrument, and categorise it as an evolving instrument. This too is a distinct format, and who are we to choose where to stop the process.

 

What I think is sadly missing is an algorithm - a way of guiding custodians to know what to do with an instrument. If well enough constructed, all instruments that should be saved and kept as they are will be, and those that can change will be allowed to change without every one being described as worthy of restoration because someone considers it historic. It could also give power to the argument for reversal of past mistakes if enough substantive material and evidence remains for this to be done effectively.

 

I am aware that this is a massive topic, and I don't want to take a whole page trying to explain what should be the subject of a book. The short answer is, it depends on the organ.

 

AJS

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The answer being.....

 

?????

 

Are they rebuilt through revoicing? Changed specification? Enlarging with electric action to new chests? Totally new action and internal redesign? Enlighten those of us who haven't had the luxury of playing any recent German organs!

Revoicing Yes.Spec change Yes.Enlarging Yes.Redesign and new action Yes (but not so often as the rest).

 

I tried to find some examples on the web, preferably with English content, but I failed.

 

* We see revoicing by enlarging the pipe mouth (height), stabilizing and enlarging the wind system

* We see small changes (omit the 2nd mixture on GT instead of a new Viola 8', maybe the first string in that orgen (Universitätskirche Rostock, Schuke 1965))

* We see additions of auxiliares, mostly enclosed, sometimes with HP stops, occasionally with electric valves for each pipe, so extension use is possible

* We see installation of older pipework, formerly on cone-chest, within new pipework and on slider chest

* Where the 2nd point happens, often an additional all-electric console is beeing purchased, if the rest of the organ not already was electric.

 

In Karlsruhe, Klais refurbishes a Klais of the 50ies, adding a new division on ep slider, but trying to keep the old qualities.

 

Search for "Waldkirchen" among the Organs list - Here the Eisenbarth firm integrated pipework of a previous Eisenbarth into a new instrument, the ranks changed divisions, where moved some notes down for scale enlargement etc.

 

Philipp Klais will be present at the Rostock Kolloquium, where exactly such questions will be raised, regarding the large Sauer of 1938 and earlier. It will be interesting.

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I don't think 18 ranks of mixtures on the Pedal Organ was ever fashionable in the UK!

 

Today maybe ?

 

Pierre

 

As long as we constantly have a Great/Swell to Pedal coupler mentality, independent designs for the Pedal division will never happen. It is the necessary stop(s) that is required for accompaniment so that graduation of sound (up and down) is made more seamless. This is our tradition and one that is borne perhaps from the days of long compass I often think - something that our continental brethren have never really experienced. There is nothing more satisfying to play that repertoire and let your little finger on the left hand play an A or a G below. Even the charming little chamber organ in Merton College the other Saturday made me smile as the bottom C# played an A below in the 16ft register! Suddenly a small instrument has gravitas and a really strong and resonant Perfect Cadence in D.

 

Best wishes,

N

 

PS Where the builder has tried to constract a 'proper' Pedal division, the couplers still get used and thus the Bass line becomes far too pronounced. Surprising how habits rarely die like this in literature.

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Revoicing Yes.Spec change Yes.Enlarging Yes.Redesign and new action Yes (but not so often as the rest).

 

 

I found another example in the recent update of the Klais HP:

 

http://www.klais.de/m.php?sid=127

 

Here is the spec

 

Most likely, the Solo Division is the augmentation (making need for a new console, too), and the rest is a restoration.

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This is our tradition and one that is borne perhaps from the days of long compass I often think - something that our continental brethren have never really experienced. There is nothing more satisfying to play that repertoire and let your little finger on the left hand play an A or a G below. Even the charming little chamber organ in Merton College the other Saturday made me smile as the bottom C# played an A below in the 16ft register! Suddenly a small instrument has gravitas and a really strong and resonant Perfect Cadence in D.

 

Best wishes,

N

 

Hi

 

I thoroughly agree! I regularly play a GG-compass organ - and for many hymns as well as the period repertoire, the pedals are hardly needed! It sounds like the Merton organ has a "short octave" - is there a low B? If so, it's porbably actually GG. The organ here has full compass in the lower 1/2 octave - and a rare "return coupler" arrangement for the 30 note CC-f1 pedal pull downs.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Philipp Klais will be present at the Rostock Kolloquium, where exactly such questions will be raised, regarding the large Sauer of 1938 and earlier. It will be interesting.

 

 

Very interesting, I'm sure - I last heard the Marienkirche organ back in 1993 and would like to attend the Colloquium (let's hope Ryanair will still be flying to Rostock by then!). How does one go about registering (Anmeldung usw)?

 

JS

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Very interesting, I'm sure - I last heard the Marienkirche organ back in 1993 and would like to attend the Colloquium (let's hope Ryanair will still be flying to Rostock by then!). How does one go about registering (Anmeldung usw)?

 

JS

 

There are no formal things like registration - just show up (we surely will not be too many for the location)!

 

Ryanair is still running the Stanstead - Luebeck flights. Rostock is not available anymore.

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Hi

 

I thoroughly agree! I regularly play a GG-compass organ - and for many hymns as well as the period repertoire, the pedals are hardly needed! It sounds like the Merton organ has a "short octave" - is there a low B? If so, it's porbably actually GG. The organ here has full compass in the lower 1/2 octave - and a rare "return coupler" arrangement for the 30 note CC-f1 pedal pull downs.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Dear Tony,

Just the 'A' although as there was so little rehearsal time to explore, it might be possible that Eb plays the B of course. Rarely are these two black keys needed at the bottom, as you know, especially the C#. For those readers that have yet to experience these instruments, C# is not a Tonic note as in the strong unequal temperament (as Merton College is following its restoration by G & G - but not stated in the Organ Register survey alas nor the 'short octave' either - else I would have chosen different repertoire to play), it would be impossibly sour. Neither would it be used in a 1st Inversion of A Major. Players coming across old instruments on the continent will frequently find bottom notes missing on the pedal board as they were never used in those times. It would be nice to know who has found the first time in a pedal line that a bottom C# is needed in the pedals! (Something to keep us all occupied as the rain lashes down these days and the lawns cannot be mowed.)

 

Best wishes,

N

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Dear Tony,

Just the 'A' although as there was so little rehearsal time to explore, it might be possible that Eb plays the B of course. Rarely are these two black keys needed at the bottom, as you know, especially the C#. For those readers that have yet to experience these instruments, C# is not a Tonic note as in the strong unequal temperament (as Merton College is following its restoration by G & G - but not stated in the Organ Register survey alas nor the 'short octave' either - else I would have chosen different repertoire to play), it would be impossibly sour. Neither would it be used in a 1st Inversion of A Major. Players coming across old instruments on the continent will frequently find bottom notes missing on the pedal board as they were never used in those times. It would be nice to know who has found the first time in a pedal line that a bottom C# is needed in the pedals! (Something to keep us all occupied as the rain lashes down these days and the lawns cannot be mowed.)

 

Best wishes,

N

 

Hi Nigel

 

Interesting - if you've got a minute, maybe you could drop NPOR an e-mail with the additional info.

 

Our chamber organ here is in equal temperament and tuned to A=440 as it is used with other instruments regularly. The original pitch was diffrent - tuning slides had been fitted probably about 20 years ago. I would guess that the original tuning might have been non-equal (it's been dated at c.1820).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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It would be nice to know who has found the first time in a pedal line that a bottom C# is needed in the pedals! (Something to keep us all occupied as the rain lashes down these days and the lawns cannot be mowed.)

 

Best wishes,

N

 

One might ask a similar question about the earliest appearance of bottom C# in the manuals.

 

This note is one of the many puzzles associated with BWV 565 (T & F in D minor) where it appears in bar 2 in the LH. Its function is thematic rather than harmonic, so there is no way round it in performance.

 

Research has shown that the standard manual compass for organs in Thuringia and Saxony right up to around 1760/1770 was C,D - c''' occasionally d'''.

 

I think I'm right in saying that, although bottom C# occurs in a few of Bach's other organ works, organists of the day, faced with this missing note, could get round it by various means including transposing the piece upwards a whole tone. However, BWV 565 in E minor would not have been possible, as the piece already demands c'''.

 

Whilst this by no means clinches JSB's non-authorship of this problematic piece, it does suggest a much later dating than the traditional recieived wisdom of an early Jugendwerk.

 

(How did we get here, by the way? - it's a long way from Leeds Cathedral!)

 

JS

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Just goes to show the importance of Leeds.

N

 

...in the universe of the (self-appointed) contributors to this forum... :lol:

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