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Tewkesbury Abbey


nachthorn

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As a rule of thumb can we at least agree that the best organ builders in Europe and America make their own metal pipes and that really first-rate organs with sub-contracted metal pipes are the exception?

 

For the UK - no, I don't think so. On my list of top ten UK builders, only one makes their own pipes so far as I know. Terry Shires seems to be doing most of the serious work.

 

I think in mainland Europe where space is less of a premium and old buildings are re-used (take Aubertin's premises for instance, and the Metzler wood seasoning facility which enables them to have their own forest) the story may be slightly different.

 

In general, does it make the slightest difference whether scales and sizes and styles are being dictated to an in-house staff, or someone else's? Personally, I don't think it does.

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For the UK - no, I don't think so. On my list of top ten UK builders, only one makes their own pipes so far as I know. Terry Shires seems to be doing most of the serious work.

 

I think in mainland Europe where space is less of a premium and old buildings are re-used (take Aubertin's premises for instance, and the Metzler wood seasoning facility which enables them to have their own forest) the story may be slightly different.

 

In general, does it make the slightest difference whether scales and sizes and styles are being dictated to an in-house staff, or someone else's? Personally, I don't think it does.

 

I really wonder wether these selfmade pipes are better then a specilialised firm could provide. We're being told so, but is it really more than commercial talk?

W/Sh/Couldn't a specialised firm have better tools/machines, better 'production' processes, better skills due to the single type of work they do?

 

"Jack of all trades" keeps running in my head ...

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I really wonder wether these selfmade pipes are better then a specilialised firm could provide. We're being told so, but is it really more than commercial talk?

W/Sh/Couldn't a specialised firm have better tools/machines, better 'production' processes, better skills due to the single type of work they do?

 

"Jack of all trades" keeps running in my head ...

 

 

There are of course excellent pipe suppliers, and Stinkens is one of them.

Already during the 19th century, organ-builders like Dalstein & Haerpfer

and Stahlhuth bought their reed stops from Mazurie in Paris; the Van Bever

brothers in Brussels had all their (Zinc!) pipes made elsewhere, and their organs

are among the best if their time.

 

The question is in fact what the purposes behind this are.

Stahlhuth bought his french-style Trompettes harmoniques in Paris, and

his Tubas in Britain.

There was an artistic purpose to this, and something like that was done

recently in Magdeburg.

 

But DIY also has its advantages; besides artistic achievements, to make one's pipes

is the best means to build something really personnal, particularly as far as structural

stops (Diapason choruses for instance) are concerned.

 

Pierre

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I also think it a pity that an opportunity was missed to be really bold and restore the colours and finishes of the cases, something I gather Jones was keen to do. Having seen a photographic exhibition at Tewkesbury showing what was uncovered of the original case colours the black case now seems somewhat dull (even if full of the marvellous embosed Dallam pipes).

 

PJW

 

Kenneth Jones told me he had proposed full restoration/reinstatement of the original decoration but that this was opposed by the Cathedral Fabric Commission or whatever it was called in those days. Such a pity, as the one test panel he showed me was a riot of colour. Just think of all those pink-faced cherubs below the impost, with a sky-blue baclground and detail picked out in gold leaf. What an opportunity missed!

 

JS

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I wonder how useful such an instrument would be, given the size of the choir and the vast repertoire which is performed.

 

Give a musician a musical instrument, and they will make music, overcoming any perceived limitations.

 

Let's face it, yours wasn't exactly designed for Bairstow and Elgar either, but it does it very well indeed if you're prepared to demonstrate understanding of what that organ is about.

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Give a musician a musical instrument, and they will make music, overcoming any perceived limitations.

 

Let's face it, yours wasn't exactly designed for Bairstow and Elgar either, but it does it very well indeed if you're prepared to demonstrate understanding of what that organ is about.

 

Edited - board became strange briefly.

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Give a musician a musical instrument, and they will make music, overcoming any perceived limitations.

 

Let's face it, yours wasn't exactly designed for Bairstow and Elgar either, but it does it very well indeed if you're prepared to demonstrate understanding of what that organ is about.

 

Edited - board became strange briefly.

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Give a musician a musical instrument, and they will make music, overcoming any perceived limitations.

 

Let's face it, yours wasn't exactly designed for Bairstow and Elgar either, but it does it very well indeed if you're prepared to demonstrate understanding of what that organ is about.

 

Sorry, but this is stretching things too far, David. The present instrument contains eighty two speaking stops spread over five divisions; it has two full length 32ft. stops on the Pedal Organ, three enclosed departments (including the G.O. reeds, which are placed in the Solo expression box). There are a total of eight separate 16ft. flues and fifteen clavier 8ft. flues (to give some idea of tonal variety). There are, including the Pedal extensions, seventeen reed stops. When I have heard this instrument, it seemed that great use was made of much of it.

 

Now, consider an instrument by Dallam (Worcester Cathedral, 1613)

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Two open diapasons of mettal

Two principals of mettal

Two small principals or fifteenths of mettal

One twelfth of mettal

One recorder of mettal, a stopt pipe

 

CHAIRE ORGAN

 

One principal of mettal

One diapason of wood

One flute of wood

One small principal or fifteenth of mettal

One two and twentieth of mettal

 

Or Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford, c.1631 (somewhat smaller than the chapel of King's College, Cambridge)

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

two Diapasons

two Principals

two Fifteenths

two Two-and-twentieths

CHAIRE ORGAN

 

one Stopped Diapason

two Principals

one Recorder

one Fifteenth

 

I am sure that the excellent incumbent musicians would do their best, confronted with such an instrument. But if you are seriously suggesting that this is an acceptable alternative to the present 'Harrison' organ, with which to accompany their present repertoire (something that an instrument by Dallam clearly was never designed to do), well, all I can say is, I am rather surprised....

 

My instrument may not have been designed to play either Bairstow or Elgar - but it is considerably larger than the above schemes and even in its present state, infinitely more useful.

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I wonder how useful such an instrument would be, given the size of the choir and the vast repertoire which is performed.

 

Well, the Thynne organ is still there ! and as for the usefullness of a Dallam organ,

suffice to ask on the french forum, where there are two organistes titulaires

of Dallam organs in Brittany...

 

Pierre

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Well, the Thynne organ is still there ! and as for the usefullness of a Dallam organ,

suffice to ask on the french forum, where there are two organistes titulaires

of Dallam organs in Brittany...

 

Pierre

 

It should still be borne in mind the type of repertoire which any instrument in King's College Chapel will be required to accompany - or play, for that matter. The two Dallam organs in Brittany (and I know that at least one of those is rather larger than the two examples which I quoted above) are almost certainly not required to cope with a similar repertoire to that which is performed at King's, Cambridge. Are these organs even required to accompany any singing at all, for that matter?

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No they don't!

 

The situation there is exactly the same as here: the larger Houses will make some, possibly the larger part, of their own pipes and buy other stuff in; many of the others will have their own metalhand who is capable of making an occasional stop and doing excellent repairs.

 

There are more independent pipemakers in each of those countries than there are in the UK.

 

DW

 

 

Ok - thanks for the clarification. I did witness though at Rieger that everything was made there from shallots, squares, drawstop heads and now I think they may be making their own drawstop solenoids and Solid State system previously bought from AJ Taylor, not to mention reusing off cuts of wood for their heating system!

 

On another note thanks DW for putting some excellent pictures up on your website of your latest adventures! The work looks fantastic!

 

Best wishes

 

JT

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"Already during the 19th century, organ-builders like Dalstein & Haerpfer

and Stahlhuth bought their reed stops from Mazurie in Paris; the Van Bever

brothers in Brussels had all their (Zinc!) pipes made elsewhere, and their organs

are among the best if their time."

 

 

Of course Pierre, but this was a completely different age when building organs on an industrial scale (and with a good deal of duplication) was the order of the day. Some builders did it will, Van Bever was certainly one of them. Post-organ-reform, the goalposts have changed artistically and the demand for organs is comparitively small.

 

"to make one's pipes

is the best means to build something really personnal"

 

Exactly my point. Keeping it in house gives an organ builder complete personal control of the artistic result.

 

Bazuin

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Keeping it in house gives an organ builder complete personal control of the artistic result.

 

I think this is total nonsense - unless an organbuilder is working completely alone and employing no staff at all, 'complete personal control' is always going to be delegated at some level.

 

Whether that's to an employed metalhand or to a subcontractor makes no difference, except a) subcontractors don't require lots of your space and expensive plant, and :) a subcontractor has to put mistakes right at their expense, not yours.

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2. Stinkens pipes have been used very much by Nicholsons in the 60's and 70's and there are some fantastic independent pipe makers now in the UK. However I don't agree 100% about the "cost of new instruments if every organbuilder of every size is expected to train and retain a team of pipemakers". It was once the norm in the UK for everything to me made in house. They certainly do it in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

 

This is happening sucessfully in all trades these days, none more so than in the car trade - You can by a Seat Ibiza, Volkewagen Polo, Skoda Fabia, Audi A3 etc - they are all essentially the same thing, but like pipes, its what the designers DO with them that makes the difference. An independant pipemaker is usually very skilled and has the ability to make exactly what is required.

Such a change from the days of Compton, for instance, who made virtually everything that went into an organ themselves, even winding their own magnets etc. Even electronic builders (including very large ones) will go to a specialist console manufacturer to have custom built consoles made, the same one who builds the console for pipe organ builders, incidentally!

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This is happening sucessfully in all trades these days, none more so than in the car trade - You can by a Seat Ibiza, Volkewagen Polo, Skoda Fabia, Audi A3 etc - they are all essentially the same thing, but like pipes, its what the designers DO with them that makes the difference. An independant pipemaker is usually very skilled and has the ability to make exactly what is required.

Such a change from the days of Compton, for instance, who made virtually everything that went into an organ themselves, even winding their own magnets etc. Even electronic builders (including very large ones) will go to a specialist console manufacturer to have custom built consoles made, the same one who builds the console for pipe organ builders, incidentally!

 

Indeed. I should be far more concerned about the quality of the in-house voicers. If subcontracted pipes were of an inferior quality, that supplier would quickly go out of business, since few would buy his products.

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"Indeed. I should be far more concerned about the quality of the in-house voicers. After all, if subcontracted pipes were of an inferior quality, that supplier would quickly go out of business, since few would buy his products."

 

The quality of the pipes of Terry Shires, Stinkens etc, isn't in question. The fact is that the best organ builders in the world (Flentrop, Verschueren, Metzler, van Eeken, Fritts, Pasi, Richards/Fowkes etc) all make their own organ pipes. Apart from anything else, it allows them to experiment with all kinds of different factors (casting techniques for example). This isn't to say that making a organ with sub-contracted pipes can't produce an artistic result.

 

Bazuin

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The quality of the pipes of Terry Shires, Stinkens etc, isn't in question. The fact is that the best organ builders in the world (Flentrop, Verschueren, Metzler, van Eeken, Fritts, Pasi, Richards/Fowkes etc) all make their own organ pipes. Apart from anything else, it allows them to experiment with all kinds of different factors (casting techniques for example). This isn't to say that making a organ with sub-contracted pipes can't produce an artistic result.

 

Bazuin

Yes, I realise that this would have an effect on the speech of the pipes - but I should have thought that a voicer (be he good or bad) would have a somewhat greater influence over the final outcome.

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