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Nothing New Under The Sun?


Guest Cynic

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It is not often that one meets a new gadget (let alone one that is immediately intelligible in use) and last week I met something for the first time which struck me as a very good idea indeed. It is on the 2005 Eule organ in St.Sebastian's Cathedral, Magdeburg. This is a simply stunning new instrument of some size, although the cathedral itself is not particularly large. I could write about it at length, maybe later I'll put a link so that you can all read about it. I would describe it as an unqualified success, a real credit to the makers and to the cathedral organist Matthias Mueck who designed it.

 

Above the stops of the Swell (which for excitement can match St.Mary Redcliffe, and for subtlety can beat it!) is an additional stop handle. It is a hand-draw for the swell shutters. It is linked in directly, so that both always move together. This is not just so that an assistant can open the box when the player has both feet busy (like the opening of the Reubke) but it has other advantages.

 

The handle comes out about twice as far as all the other stops, but this makes it lighter to draw and gives more opportunity for the range of the swell to be illustrated visually. If I want to know just how nearly shut the box is - not wanting to have used the last drop, as it were - a quick glance tells me. Generally the foot may know there's a little bit to go, but not often just how much. A happy idea is that darker-coloured wood has been dovetailed into the shaft in the shape of a crescendo mark.

 

They could catch on! I want one, anyway. [Pity that it wouldn't work on either of my two consoles. First of all, I have two boxes already and no room for more stop-heads, on the larger of my consoles (ex Tewkesbury Abbey), it's all stop tabs and there will be four boxes.]

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Whilst not having the ability of enabling an assistant to operate the swell shutters, some organ consoles have indicators for the degree to which a swell box is open - either by means of a digital bar graph (as at Wakefield Cathedral), or by means of an 'analogue' rolling indicator (as on the former organ in St Lawrence, Upminster). Crescendo pedals also frequently employ some sort if indicator too.

 

I don't know if the Compton heritage of the instruments mentioned and their consoles has any significance here.

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Whilst not having the ability of enabling an assistant to operate the swell shutters, some organ consoles have indicators for the degree to which a swell box is open - either by means of a digital bar graph (as at Wakefield Cathedral), or by means of an 'analogue' rolling indicator (as on the former organ in St Lawrence, Upminster). Crescendo pedals also frequently employ some sort if indicator too.

 

I don't know if the Compton heritage of the instruments mentioned and their consoles has any significance here.

 

 

This is true. The Compton in Holy Trinity Hull has three of these devices below the music desk, one each for Swell, Solo and General Crescendo. I have also come across a row of lights used to give feed-back on a detached console - there were some of these on the 1948 Walker five-decker console at Tewkesbury though many bulbs were blown when I first came across this. Even so, I don't think either of those systems gave such an immediate (and accurate) feed-back as this clever system. The Compton indicators have a travel of no more than 3/4 of an inch, this German stop head travels a good five inches...to be really useful, identifying the last bit of travel is critical.

 

[Paragraph deleted by moderator]

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Cynic

 

Sorry to burst your bubble, I played a couple of times on an otherwise dreadful 1920s Vermeulen organ in the Netherlands with precisely this device. There really is nothing new under the sun, which is not to say that it isn't a good idea.

 

Bazuin

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Paul, almost "traditional" in central Germany. For example, Ladegast Merseburger Dom, 1855.

 

Cheers

B

 

Sorry I had to miss you.

 

 

Thanks for this. I didn't mean to suggest that nobody else had ever thought of this (excellent) idea, merely that this was the first time that I had met with one and I very much approve of it.

 

I very much enjoyed hearing your instrument again, Barry - how lucky Magdeburg is to have not one but two brand new cathedral organs in the space of four years!

 

What would amuse forum members is that both instruments show a pronounced inclination towards the romantic repertory, this compares strikingly with the continuing desire over here for people to design something that will play Bach and Messiaen first and then worry about whether it will accompany a choir or play the rich repertoire of the last hundred and fifty years! I was told (if I understood correctly) that one of the voicers who had built the Eule organ at St.Sebastian had actually learned reed voicing with H&H in Durham. See folks - many abroad respect and appreciate our organs, pity some of us don't!

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"that one of the voicers who had built the Eule organ at St.Sebastian had actually learned reed voicing with H&H in Durham. "

(Quote)

 

Well, this would be a Scoop. I will check this!

(Halas, no belgian to date...)

 

Pierre

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  • 4 weeks later...

[Paragraph deleted by moderator]

 

Willis instruments with the infinite speed and frustration pedals have Morris Minor fuel gauges showing how open the shutters are. A little more refined than half a dozen lights, and a doddle to wire up with basic bits from a scrapyard or motor factors.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

This topic has been heavily pruned, and some posts edited, because of attempts by Cynic to besmirch the professional reputation of an organist and firm of organ builders.

 

Cynic, I know something of the background to this and have to tell you that the Mander Organs forum is not a platform for you to post offensive and unfounded allegations about someone who has (contrary to what you say) been an organist for 40 years, and to make defamatory comments intended to be injurious to the trade of an organ builder.

 

Any more of this from Cynic, and his posting privileges will be removed.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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[Paragraph deleted by moderator]

 

Willis instruments with the infinite speed and frustration pedals have Morris Minor fuel gauges showing how open the shutters are. A little more refined than half a dozen lights, and a doddle to wire up with basic bits from a scrapyard or motor factors.

 

.....although the guages usually are wildly inaccurate and give little information as to exactly how far open the shutters actually are!

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This topic has been heavily pruned, and some posts edited, because of attempts by Cynic to besmirch the professional reputation of an organist and firm of organ builders.

 

Cynic, I know something of the background to this and have to tell you that the Mander Organs forum is not a platform for you to post offensive and unfounded allegations about someone who has (contrary to what you say) been an organist for 40 years, and to make defamatory comments intended to be injurious to the trade of an organ builder.

 

Any more of this from Cynic, and his posting privileges will be removed.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

 

 

I hereby apologise to Manders for any embarrassment I may have caused.

 

If I add that I am sufficiently sure of my facts in this matter for my comments not to be actionable, or at least to be readily defended, maybe this will not be received as it is meant. I do however believe that I have not spoken without foundation. [several lines deleted by moderator.] I have not named names, but would very much like to do so. Only my intention to save further embarrassment for you, dear moderator, holds me back.

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Guest Geoff McMahon
I hereby apologise to Manders for any embarrassment I may have caused.

 

If I add that I am sufficiently sure of my facts in this matter for my comments not to be actionable, or at least to be readily defended, maybe this will not be received as it is meant. I do however believe that I have not spoken without foundation. [several lines deleted by moderator.]

 

Paul, you are not getting it. This is not the place to make the allegations you were making.

 

I have not named names, but would very much like to do so. Only my intention to save further embarrassment for you, dear moderator, holds me back.

 

As you see, part of this latest comment of yours has had to be deleted by the moderator. I suggest that, if nothing else, what should "hold you back" is the knowledge that the next time the moderator has to delete parts of your contribution (because they denigrate another organ builder) will be the last time. Your posting privileges will be removed without further notice.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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Also knowing the job involved fairly well and its history, I would like to support Cynic's assertion that he has not said anything factually inaccurate (though I obviously missed something about whether or not someone was an organist). It is also factual reporting to mention that significant chunks of it have been revoiced, at additional cost, and a noisy wind system redesigned, also at additional cost.

 

In another thread on this board (Leeds Cathedral, I think), I read earlier today some far more direct assertions about recent instruments by Klais, Skrabl and others, some of them very specific indeed, and using language far more emotive and less factually grounded than we have seen here. A more cynical person might be tempted to conclude that the country of the builder's origin was in some way involved.

 

If it's fine to question the suitability of 'outside' builders for British jobs on the basis that we have organ builders of our own, surely we ought to be able to freely discuss the (in some cases, very significant) shortcomings of some UK workmanship so that all might be able to learn from this? Or have I missed some major point through not having seen quite all of the topic?

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Guest Geoff McMahon
Also knowing the job involved fairly well and its history

 

I doubt very much that you have the whole picture. Therefore,

 

In another thread on this board (Leeds Cathedral, I think), I read earlier today some far more direct assertions about recent instruments by Klais, Skrabl and others, some of them very specific indeed, and using language far more emotive and less factually grounded than we have seen here. A more cynical person might be tempted to conclude that the country of the builder's origin was in some way involved.

 

... comparisons with other topics are uninformative.

 

If it's fine to question the suitability of 'outside' builders for British jobs on the basis that we have organ builders of our own, surely we ought to be able to freely discuss the (in some cases, very significant) shortcomings of some UK workmanship so that all might be able to learn from this?

 

This paragraph nearly caused your entire post to be deleted.

 

Or have I missed some major point through not having seen quite all of the topic?

 

This is the Mander Organs forum.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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OK.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

 

 

Please don't Cynic....sleep on it...tomorrow is another day and I for one feel the discussions on this board would be shorn of a great deal of illuminating information and jolly commentary if you resign.

 

I have no idea which builder you are talking about, and don't need to know either, but the Mander Organs board is probably not the appropriate place to hang out dirty washing in terms of competitors' wrong doings....despite your obviously strong feelings regarding this.

 

On another subject which is (almost) taboo - digital organs - I have great interest, but since JPM's appeal not to discuss them, I have stopped; not because my interest in them has ceased but because I respect the stance of moderator on this subject because of what Manders is and what it stands for.

A final shot.........reading through the last four or so posts it looks to me like both sides have got hot under the collar and should go away and reflect......I am sure that JPM would (tomorrow) be as sad as the rest of us if Cynic did resign..

Best wishes

Richard

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I too would find it a big loss for this board should Cynic resign.

BUT...

We should never forget the owner of this Board is an organ-builder,

an active member of the organ world also.

I myself am responsible for the biggest french-speaking organ forum,

and mind you, I pay a lawyer each month to help with its administration;

moreover, I share the moderation with no less than 8 (eight!) friends,

total 9 people active about 1 hour per day each, plus a lawyer as a consultant...

And I am not even an organ-builder, with co-workers who need to earn a living!

 

Be sure our hosts are sometimes feeling unconfortable with this Board, so let us

help them with at least a hint of diplomacy.

An alternative for some awkward subjects could be the opening of another

forum. This is a five minutes job (....But more later!).

 

About the digital organs: I too forbade discussions about them on my Forum.

There are enough places on the Web where they can be discussed.

 

Pierre

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I too would find it a big loss for this board should Cynic resign.

BUT..............

We should never forget the owner of this Board is an organ-builder,

an active member of the organ world also.

.............

 

Pierre

 

Absolutely - this is a great message board for those that love the organ, its construction, its music, how to play better, the latest scores, CDs, new organs at home and abroad, concerts, Utubes etc..!

 

It's not appropriate to have over heated quarrels, gripes etc especially if there is even the remotest risk of embarrassing the generous hosts - who I am sure have enough to do to run their organ workshop without having to moderate these threads.

 

And yes - Cynic please sleep on it - no one ever got anywhere through falling on their sword. :rolleyes:

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Having only met you in person once (long time ago!), I too would also miss your contributions, particularly the vast coverage of well known and forgotten bywaters of the repertoire that you are able to help fellow members with.

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