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Blenheim Palace Willis

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I was looking for info about the organ at Blenheim Palace and found PD's comment on the tuning here.

http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...ost&p=14434

 

The message mentions turning up having not done homework. I'm trying to help someone avoid just that.

 

Is there anything else worth knowing in advance about this organ (beyond what's available at NPOR &c)?

 

Thanks.

 

J

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I was looking for info about the organ at Blenheim Palace and found PD's comment on the tuning here.

http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...ost&p=14434

 

The message mentions turning up having not done homework. I'm trying to help someone avoid just that.

Is there anything else worth knowing in advance about this organ (beyond what's available at NPOR &c)?

 

Thanks.

J

 

There was an extensive article on the Blenheim Palace organs in the February 2008 edition of Organists' Review by Stephen Duckett, whose e-mail signature describes him as "Under Butler to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough", though he seems to be an organist as well. Hope this might be helpful.

 

Douglas.

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Stephen Duckett is an accomplished organist and also Under Butler at the Palace, I believe he also arranges all the recitals there now. I am sure if you contact him he can tell you more about this instrument or you could contact Paul Carr a member of this board who has given several recitals on this instrument.

There was an extensive article on the Blenheim Palace organs in the February 2008 edition of Organists' Review by Stephen Duckett, whose e-mail signature describes him as "Under Butler to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough", though he seems to be an organist as well. Hope this might be helpful.

 

Douglas.

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Stephen Duckett is an accomplished organist and also Under Butler at the Palace, I believe he also arranges all the recitals there now. I am sure if you contact him he can tell you more about this instrument or you could contact Paul Carr a member of this board who has given several recitals on this instrument.

 

Yes, SD was the Duke's Under Butler and also the organ Curator for the last five years. He has really moved things forward there during that time, including getting the lovely Chapel organ cleaned, so that now it all works again! He left in March to move to pastures new. The Sunday Music Series, which he founded and includes many organ recitals continues, and is run by the Operations Department. Heather Carter is the contact at operations. Sunday Music is informal - the organ is towards the end of the tour through the palace, so everyone comes past. I usually play two 42 minute slots with a 15 minute break. Some people stay and hear the whole lot, others stay for one or two pieces and some hurry past quickly!!

 

As for the Willis, it's truely fabulous, but in need of TLC and £s. I played two Sunday Music recitals in May - none of the pistons function well these days, all of the Great pistons are off, the Swell just about work if you hold them in and wait, and wait... So it's a great exercise in hand registration!! Middle A was off on all swell stops and there are several notes in the lower octave of the pedal board off on all pedal stops, but still work through the couplers. However Solo to Pedal brings on an A flat at the moment, so best left alone! And, yes, the whole organ is well on the way to a semitone sharp... finally on the down side the action is very heavy, I like a weighty action, but playing this one for long results in aches the next morning!

 

But, if that makes it all sound a little sad, I must balance that by saying that the sounds are wonderful, especially if you're lucky enough to be there when the Long library is empty (after functions, for instance) as the oak floor makes it all so much more lively than the red carpet and soft furnishings!

Highlights: As Cynic has mentioned before it has one of the the finest examples of a Tuba around, a full length 32' Violone which just purrs, and a delightful choir division with lots of colour. The Great Chorus is extremely bright and lively and with the 16 and Quint 5 it has real gravitas.

You will fall in love with it.

 

(Advert alert!)

I'm playing there again on Sunday 20th September 1.00pm.

and see http://www.paulcarr.co.uk/PDF%20files/Blen...0May%202009.pdf

Hope that's useful.

 

P.

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Yes, SD was the Duke's Under Butler and also the organ Curator for the last five years. He has really moved things forward there during that time, including getting the lovely Chapel organ cleaned, so that now it all works again! He left in March to move to pastures new.

P.

 

 

Shame to hear that Steve has left Blenheim - what a fantastic job being the under butler if it entitles you to play that organ any time you want. As it was, I met him whilst wandering around the palace, introduced myself and was flabbergasted to be allowed to spend the rest of the afternoon happily playing away whilst the tourists milled around. That tuba has to be one of the finest ever made.I hope his successor is as generous to visiting organists!

 

Contrabombarde

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Shame to hear that Steve has left Blenheim - what a fantastic job being the under butler if it entitles you to play that organ any time you want. As it was, I met him whilst wandering around the palace, introduced myself and was flabbergasted to be allowed to spend the rest of the afternoon happily playing away whilst the tourists milled around. That tuba has to be one of the finest ever made.I hope his successor is as generous to visiting organists!

 

Contrabombarde

 

I don't think they'll be a successor, not for the organ role... :(

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I last played this about ten years ago. What I remember - apart from the joy of one of most breathtakingly beautiful consoles ever made - was how comfortable it was to play, how responsive the action was and how generally easy it was to play. Almost at an H&H level of comfort and convenience. It was a real eye-opener. And the sound is fabulous. The only bad news is the weird swell pedals, which take a bit of getting used to

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...The only bad news is the weird swell pedals, which take a bit of getting used to

Ah, yes, I forgot to mention those! They're trigger swells with out the triggers, they're balanced - which means to close the boxes you have to get you foot underneath the pedal and push up!! Once you're used to them they're very rewarding and musical to use.

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Thanks, everyone, for the information - especially Paul Carr.

 

Best wishes

 

J

You're very welcome! :rolleyes:

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This is unrelated I fear but can anyone help me with dates and any biographical detail about Errol Williams? I believe he was curator of the organ at Blenheim Palace in the late 1980s.

Thanks.

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This is unrelated I fear but can anyone help me with dates and any biographical detail about Errol Williams? I believe he was curator of the organ at Blenheim Palace in the late 1980s.

Thanks.

There is a Rev. Errol Williams who is/was vicar of Bibury near Cirencester - not sure whether this is relevant or not though.

 

A

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