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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.

 

This is true up to a dedicate point. The scalings, halving rates etc also have

a say on the result. The materials as well, despite the fact the voicer can

make wood pipes sound like metal ones etc.

Or S. Green's Diapasons, very thin, could be make to sound like heavy, tick

spotted metal ones...

 

Pierre

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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.

 

Having the facility to manufacture your own pipes gives you a level of control and detail you can't really get if the pipes are sub-contracted out. Although some builders enjoy a very close relationship with a supply house (e.g. Schoenstein enjoys a very close relationship with Schopp and they work together on researching new pipe designs - usually in the quest of recreating orchestral sounds in ever greater fidelity), having pipes made in the workshop, next door to the voicing room gives the voicer and builder an opportunity to collaborate with the metal shop, through experiment and working on detail, which isn't as easy if the pipe manufacture is subcontracted out. It also makes the manufacture of replica pipework easier if the builder has the originals in their workshop for research, investigation and restoration, which again is harder to do with a subcontractor - it's a two way process of investigation and testing, re-iterated again and again until the builder is happy with the results.

 

Of course, this isn't to denigrate the skills of subcontracted pipe makers - one only need look at the sub-contracted pipe work of Bill Drake's organs, with many period features (small ears soldered on to the body, chimney flutes soldered at the top, prospect pipe foots brought forward to the front line of the pipe, etc) and the peerless quality of pipe manufacture to see that sub contracted pipe making can be made to work and it's obvious that pipe supply house, deriving their only income from it, make pipes to a highly admirable standard.

 

From my experience, voicing is also a matter of finding out how the pipes react and work in the space. It's not just a question of the voicer imposing their will and ideals on the way the organ should sound. Voicing is about finishing the work done in the workshop and the planning and design of the organ and its pipes to bring out the spirit and character of the organ. Some organs turn out well, others are more challenging - no one ever knows until the organ starts to make its first sounds on site. The work of the voicer usually stands on top of the work done in the metal shop, rarely in spite of it.

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... Of course, this isn't to denigrate the skills of subcontracted pipe makers - one only need look at the sub-contracted pipe work of Bill Drake's organs, with many period features (small ears soldered on to the body, chimney flutes soldered at the top, prospect pipe foots brought forward to the front line of the pipe, etc) and the peerless quality of pipe manufacture to see that sub contracted pipe making can be made to work and it's obvious that pipe supply house, deriving their only income from it, make pipes to a highly admirable standard. ...

 

In which case, given this level of collaboration and artistic control, this would rather prove my point.

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In which case, given this level of collaboration and artistic control, this would rather prove my point.

 

... but I think you miss the point about artistic control and development in the interests of trying to prove your point.

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Having the facility to manufacture your own pipes gives you a level of control and detail you can't really get if the pipes are sub-contracted out.

Although some builders enjoy a very close relationship with a supply house (e.g. Schoenstein enjoys a very close relationship with Schopp and they work together on researching new pipe designs - usually in the quest of recreating orchestral sounds in ever greater fidelity), having pipes made in the workshop, next door to the voicing room gives the voicer and builder an opportunity to collaborate with the metal shop, through experiment and working on detail, which isn't as easy if the pipe manufacture is subcontracted out. It also makes the manufacture of replica pipework easier if the builder has the originals in their workshop for research, investigation and restoration, which again is harder to do with a subcontractor - it's a two way process of investigation and testing, re-iterated again and again until the builder is happy with the results.

 

 

Are you suggesting that a firm which makes its own pipes is somehow better than a firm that doesn't? NO! I agree it is all about experience and skill. Practice makes perfect and although there are many firms with full order books making new organs, there often isn't the work for a full time metalhand making pipes - casting metal is another ball game altogether! Whilst there ARE some firms who will simply ask a supply house for a "principal" to be made, most firms give specific instructions as to scale, mouth width, foot length, etc etc etc. These same details would be given to an in house metalhand, if there was one, so there really is absolutley no difference in this sense as to who makes the pipes. In addition, a specialist pipemaker will be able to supply pipes in Willis, Harrison, or whomever, house style.

 

I don't agree that match pipes need research, investigation and testing over and over again. Historic pipes may warrant material investigation, which would be undertaken by a specialst metalurgist, but general replica pipework is very ordinary stuff for metalhands to make.

There is nothing new in Organ Building, just a re-cylcing of ideas. The days of Vincent Willis experimenting with pipe constuctions are, I think, largely over.

There is always a place for specialist suppliers/subcontractors as long as they are under the control and instruction of the main firm.

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... but I think you miss the point about artistic control and development in the interests of trying to prove your point.

 

I don't think he has at all, because I don't think that point is valid. The craft is in specifying to an appropriate level of accuracy the scales, halving rates and other information; communicating that information effectively; and, subsequently, in the voicing room, cutting and deploying the moving parts to make the most pleasing sound. These are the factors which contrive to make an instrument work in a space.

 

Cutting the metal sheet up and soldering the bits together in a given order is something either done right or wrong, and it will be quite impossible to convince me that there could possibly be any artistic merit gained by that task being completed by a person on your payroll as opposed to a person on your supplier list. Earlier I made the suggestion that bought-in materials are likely to be subject to greater scrutiny than those made in house, simply because of who is footing the bill for remakes.

 

The list of firms Bazuin provides are not, as s/he states, the best organbuilders in the world. They are merely the most successful, and that implies something in terms of scale; at least sufficient shop space, turnover of work and financial resources to maintain a payroll and pay the maintenance and hefty insurance bills which arise from working with molten metal. The ability to keep that overhead supported implies nothing whatsoever about excellence, only salesmanship.

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David, the last paragraph of your last post here might be *discussed*....

 

Pierre

 

Alright, let's try again... not NECESSARILY the best organbuilders, but certainly the most successful.

 

It ought to be self-evident. 2 staff wages for a year at perhaps about £32,000... benefits and NI contributions cost a further 5-6 maybe... then a grand's worth of insurance for working hot things on the premises... then the plant and equipment, powering it, business rates and heat and light on the portion of workshop they occupy... shall we say £45,000 a year? You'd have to be certain of buying in 30-35 ranks of pipework every year for the next ten or so to make that a sustainable and worthwhile investment. That's probably more than one organ a year, and that alone implies something in terms of size of staff - i.e. probably 6 plus, rather than one or two - either that, or the use of lots of bits out of the P&S catalogue which would rather shoot the artistic integrity argument out of the water.

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I personally couldn't care a less who makes the pipes. I care a great deal more how good they sound though. This discussion is getting far too deep for me!! Isn't it about time for a return of the prodigal son that is "Cynic", to get the forum going again!!

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Alright, let's try again... not NECESSARILY the best organbuilders, but certainly the most successful.

 

It ought to be self-evident. 2 staff wages for a year at perhaps about £32,000... benefits and NI contributions cost a further 5-6 maybe... then a grand's worth of insurance for working hot things on the premises... then the plant and equipment, powering it, business rates and heat and light on the portion of workshop they occupy... shall we say £45,000 a year? You'd have to be certain of buying in 30-35 ranks of pipework every year for the next ten or so to make that a sustainable and worthwhile investment. That's probably more than one organ a year, and that alone implies something in terms of size of staff - i.e. probably 6 plus, rather than one or two - either that, or the use of lots of bits out of the P&S catalogue which would rather shoot the artistic integrity argument out of the water.

 

The size of the business is one thing, the artistic value of its products is another one.

If the business is successfull, then either the product is really good indeed, or it

is very competitive.

Silbermann, Schnitger, J. Wagner, Cavaillé-Coll, Walcker, Willis.....All were big businesses

for their times -and would be today as well-. But they did not produce low-cost products,

but Premium quality.

Now let's have a look at what is named "Boutique builders" in the U.S., also little workshops.

There were, and are, excellent ones. AND there were and are some we, historians, regret everyday they

ever existed...No need for a picture.

 

So there is absolutely no corelation between size of business and quality in organ-building.

 

Pierre

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"I don't agree that match pipes need research, investigation and testing over and over again. Historic pipes may warrant material investigation, which would be undertaken by a specialst metalurgist, but general replica pipework is very ordinary stuff for metalhands to make. "

 

...true - but how many actually get really close to accurately re-creating replica pipework? I can't think of that many successful examples. I probably preside over one of the most successful efforts in the UK - but even here, the builder is at pains to point out the pipes are not exact replicas... (and I think their integrity has much to commend them, despite the very convincing results).

 

"There is nothing new in Organ Building, just a re-cylcing of ideas. The days of Vincent Willis experimenting with pipe constuctions are, I think, largely over. "

 

If this is the case, then artistic interest in organbuilding is effectively dead and it's just degenerated into plumbing. Without trying out new ideas, refining ideas and constructions, then development of organs and organ construction is effectively stagnant. And sorry, but people like Richards/Fowkes, Pasi, Fritts, Aubertin, etc - are constantly experimenting with pipe construction today. That's partly why they're counted amongst the best builders in the world.

 

"There is always a place for specialist suppliers/subcontractors as long as they are under the control and instruction of the main firm."

 

It's not merely a question of control and instruction. It's a question of collaboration and working together towards a shared vision. They are different things and I'm sorry if I can't explain the sublties of the differences. One is fine for manufacting plumbing parts, the other supports artistic development.

 

"The craft is in specifying to an appropriate level of accuracy the scales, halving rates and other information; communicating that information effectively..."

 

I think there are many, many organbuilders (and artists and craftsmen, for that matter) that would take exception to this. I could do all you outline above with comparative ease. Does this make me a great organbuilder? Of course it doesn't. There are many organbuilders in the US that do precisely this - have all their parts (including soundboards and cases) made by trade suppliers, put it all together and put their name plate on it. You can even sub out the design work as well. Is there anything original in what they've created? Why don't we count some of these builders amongst the finest in the world? (except I'm told many of these types of builders (esp in the US), relying on trade suppliers, believe they are amongst the greatest builders in the world - and they also have the salesmen to back it up - well, what else do they have to offer?)

 

"Cutting the metal sheet up and soldering the bits together in a given order is something either done right or wrong"

 

Errm, no it's not. It takes many, many years to learn how to make a metal pipe. It's not a black and white process as you make out - it's something that requires great skill that takes years to perfect. Just like playing the organ, for exmaple. There are so many little details to take into account - it's just not a question of supplying all the technical dimensions and data and thinking you'll get the same pipe from 2 different supply houses.

 

 

"The list of firms Bazuin provides are not, as s/he states, the best organbuilders in the world. They are merely the most successful... implies nothing whatsoever about excellence, only salesmanship"

 

Oooh! David! Do I detect inverted snobbery and jealousy here? Define "success" as you see it in the context here.

 

Most of the builders Bazuin lists don't employ salesmen and operate on a small-ish scale - maybe 8-12 people - but some are significantly smaller. Some of them have a very small output indeed - maybe one organ every 18-24 months and an all-new organ every 3-5 years. I know of one builder Bazuin particularly admires that is a 1-man company and yet he makes everything - metal pipes, keyboards, etc - himself. Very few of Bazuin's admired companies have had large financial backing to get them started. Why does Bazuin admire them so? Because of their artistic achievements in the field of organ building, their understanding of the craft of building organs, their standards and their principles, their desire to make sure that every part of the organ construction, to the smallest detail, as good as it possibly can be. The reason why people want their organs is everything to do with artistic excellence and very little to do with salemanship: most of these builders will get a contract not through glossy brochures and an offer they can't refuse from a slick salesman, but through discerning clients experiencing their organs and letting their organs' qualities speak for themselves. And, for some reason, these organs are so good that discerning clients are sometimes quite prepared to pay 50-100% more for one of their organs or to accept a significantly smaller organ for the money they have. And, no, these companies don't make vast profits and these organbuilders don't drive around in swanky BMWs to get to their mansions and holiday homes.

 

In summary, there is a great deal of difference between parts supply and collaborating with a specialist in their field and I'm interested how many of the responses above have ignored this point.

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I believe I have commented previously in other threads on my admiration of the Milton organ in its present form, its a very fine instrument indeed and sounds wonderful in the building. There are some issues with workmanship in the console to my mind, where some of the thumb pistons are already problematic.

 

The talk about 2 romantic instruments in the building seems to me to be giving little or no consideration to the job that these organs are called upon to do. Tewkesbury Abbey is above all a parish church, its main requirements are for an organ to lead the liturgy and accompany its choirs. The Abbey is also in very regular use as a venue for choral and orchestral concerts and it needs the organ to be able to play its part such concerts when required.

 

It would be nigh impossible to accompany a choir (in the quire) from the Grove console, certainly not a comfortable or sensible solution for the daily services. The Grove is also famously not at concert pitch rendering it unable with an orchestra. For all its historic interest and musical worth the Grove remains a large, ugly and expensive red herring of little or no liturgical or concert use.

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I probably preside over one of the most successful efforts in the UK

 

I've always admired your modesty, Colin :-)

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"I don't agree that match pipes need research, investigation and testing over and over again. Historic pipes may warrant material investigation, which would be undertaken by a specialst metalurgist, but general replica pipework is very ordinary stuff for metalhands to make. "

 

...true - but how many actually get really close to accurately re-creating replica pipework? I can't think of that many successful examples. I probably preside over one of the most successful efforts in the UK - but even here, the builder is at pains to point out the pipes are not exact replicas... (and I think their integrity has much to commend them, despite the very convincing results).

 

The point here is that you can't know whether you have accurately recreated the pipework unless you can compare it to the original. Your builder was stating the obvious rather beautifully.

 

"There is nothing new in Organ Building, just a re-cylcing of ideas. The days of Vincent Willis experimenting with pipe constuctions are, I think, largely over. "

 

If this is the case, then artistic interest in organbuilding is effectively dead and it's just degenerated into plumbing. Without trying out new ideas, refining ideas and constructions, then development of organs and organ construction is effectively stagnant. And sorry, but people like Richards/Fowkes, Pasi, Fritts, Aubertin, etc - are constantly experimenting with pipe construction today. That's partly why they're counted amongst the best builders in the world.

 

Pray give some examples. I would be fascinated to know how you can change the construction of a pipe. I am not aiming to be facetious, as I'm sure someone said the self same thing to John Compton. I think just to say that organ building is now a recycling of ideas, is a bit harsh. However there can be a legitimate challenge to the man that says 'This has never been done before' - Are you absolutely confident of that ?

"There is always a place for specialist suppliers/subcontractors as long as they are under the control and instruction of the main firm."

 

It's not merely a question of control and instruction. It's a question of collaboration and working together towards a shared vision. They are different things and I'm sorry if I can't explain the sublties of the differences. One is fine for manufacting plumbing parts, the other supports artistic development.

 

This is wonderful, and of course quite correct ! A builder would be daft not to work with his subbies. It is as much a man management issue as an artistic one in the first instance. Ultimately though, the builder has to direct, and be responsible for the outcome. It comes down to personalities, as to whether, if the subby has a good idea, it happens or not.

"The craft is in specifying to an appropriate level of accuracy the scales, halving rates and other information; communicating that information effectively..."

 

I think there are many, many organbuilders (and artists and craftsmen, for that matter) that would take exception to this. I could do all you outline above with comparative ease. Does this make me a great organbuilder? Of course it doesn't. There are many organbuilders in the US that do precisely this - have all their parts (including soundboards and cases) made by trade suppliers, put it all together and put their name plate on it. You can even sub out the design work as well. Is there anything original in what they've created? Why don't we count some of these builders amongst the finest in the world? (except I'm told many of these types of builders (esp in the US), relying on trade suppliers, believe they are amongst the greatest builders in the world - and they also have the salesmen to back it up - well, what else do they have to offer?).

 

Ah, but could you do it all and know you would be right. Or could you be wrong and convince everyone you were right because the result was what you intended all along. Many things happen behind closed doors. Also, how much of what happens is accidental, but succesful, and if so, who will take the credit. What I am merely saying is you can't always exercise the level of control you would like, claim to have done, or indeed think you have, to achieve the final result. Some of it is down to luck. Absolutes do not really exist in practical reality.

"Cutting the metal sheet up and soldering the bits together in a given order is something either done right or wrong"

 

Errm, no it's not. It takes many, many years to learn how to make a metal pipe. It's not a black and white process as you make out - it's something that requires great skill that takes years to perfect. Just like playing the organ, for exmaple. There are so many little details to take into account - it's just not a question of supplying all the technical dimensions and data and thinking you'll get the same pipe from 2 different supply houses.

 

But, you're either any good or you're not. Do the pipes work or not. Even the best pipemakers get a dud one now and again. Voicers will normally tell whether a pipe is any good. You can teach a monkey to make a pipe, and it'll probably work. Making good consistent pipes takes practice, adopting different techniques takes time, if you're willing to do it, sorting out the funny ones needs experience, and sometimes a bit of luck. However, making pipes is a mechanical process which you're either good at, or not.

"The list of firms Bazuin provides are not, as s/he states, the best organbuilders in the world. They are merely the most successful... implies nothing whatsoever about excellence, only salesmanship"

 

Oooh! David! Do I detect inverted snobbery and jealousy here? Define "success" as you see it in the context here.

 

Most of the builders Bazuin lists don't employ salesmen and operate on a small-ish scale - maybe 8-12 people - but some are significantly smaller. Some of them have a very small output indeed - maybe one organ every 18-24 months and an all-new organ every 3-5 years. I know of one builder Bazuin particularly admires that is a 1-man company and yet he makes everything - metal pipes, keyboards, etc - himself. Very few of Bazuin's admired companies have had large financial backing to get them started. Why does Bazuin admire them so? Because of their artistic achievements in the field of organ building, their understanding of the craft of building organs, their standards and their principles, their desire to make sure that every part of the organ construction, to the smallest detail, as good as it possibly can be. The reason why people want their organs is everything to do with artistic excellence and very little to do with salemanship: most of these builders will get a contract not through glossy brochures and an offer they can't refuse from a slick salesman, but through discerning clients experiencing their organs and letting their organs' qualities speak for themselves. And, for some reason, these organs are so good that discerning clients are sometimes quite prepared to pay 50-100% more for one of their organs or to accept a significantly smaller organ for the money they have. And, no, these companies don't make vast profits and these organbuilders don't drive around in swanky BMWs to get to their mansions and holiday homes.

 

I wouldn't want to be too effusive here. You really would have to get to know the man and how he makes, spends and invests his money. As a client you have no real right to know this, so only know what you see.

In summary, there is a great deal of difference between parts supply and collaborating with a specialist in their field and I'm interested how many of the responses above have ignored this point.

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"Are you suggesting that a firm which makes its own pipes is somehow better than a firm that doesn't? NO!"

 

Ehh, in most instances, yes. Sorry. This doesn't mean that there aren't organ builders who sub-contract and come up with a first-rate result (Bill Drake is a good example), but they are the exception rather than the rule. I think Grenzing falls into this category as well.

 

"There is nothing new in Organ Building, just a re-cylcing of ideas."

 

Yes, this is true, but we don't yet understand fully why the historical examples(of all sorts) which still impress us so much are as impressive as they are. The best organ builders all involve research in their organbuilding to a greater or lesser extent. Peter Williams was right - the future of organ building lies firmly in the past. Although perhaps not exclusively as long ago as Williams suggests.

 

"The list of firms Bazuin provides are not, as s/he states, the best organbuilders in the world."

 

I'm really sorry David, they just are. You could add a small number of other names to the list (Aubertin perhaps, probably Ahrend still, although I haven't seen anything from the son), perhaps also Taylor and Boody or Patrick Collon or even Koegler. Occasionally other builders rise to that level (Gronlund at the German Church in Stockholm, or Marcussen at Helsingborg, or Porthan at Kotka) but their product doesn't always reach the giddy heights of the others. They are the best organ builders in the world, because they are working at the highest artistic level. I can't believe anyone who has played some organs by any of these builders would disagree. In the case of Flentrop, they also have the best restoration portfolio in the world.

 

"They are merely the most successful"

 

I doubt any of them are among the most successful either in terms of number of orders, or turnover, or profit, or even securing the most prestigious contracts.

 

"I know of one builder Bazuin particularly admires that is a 1-man company and yet he makes everything - metal pipes, keyboards, etc - himself."

 

The gentleman in question works for Henk van Eeken but has his own small business as well. He does everything from casting the pipe metal to doing the calligraphy on the stop labels. See here: http://www.martinbutter.nl/instrumentenen.htm (listen to the new sound samples on the house organ page - have you ever heard a more beautiful house organ? It's incredible...)

 

Bazuin

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The issues which this discussion has raised are neatly illustrated by this documentary on YouTube abot Henk van Eeken - a fascinating glimpse into the working methods of perhaps Europe's most accomplished organbuilder. This vividly illustrates the limitations of subcontracting:

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Bazuin

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Bazuin, some comments from Henk van Eeken on those videos are

to be regretted.

We are again presented with the worn-out Fabrikorgeln neo-baroque Mantra!

One never wins diffaming the others....Wie Schade.

 

Pierre

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"This doesn't mean that there aren't organ builders who sub-contract and come up with a first-rate result (Bill Drake is a good example), but they are the exception rather than the rule. I think Grenzing falls into this category as well."

 

This is subtly different to the previous suggestion (more from others than from you) that buying in pipework means you're not a good builder.

 

 

 

"The list of firms Bazuin provides are not, as s/he states, the best organbuilders in the world." - "I'm really sorry David, they just are..."

 

I should have qualified that by saying not necessarily the best. What I wished to pick at was not the list itself but its use to defend the maxim that the best all make their own pipes. Countless examples - Drake, Shaftoe, Tickell - don't. Many of the worst make their own, too.

 

I stand by the assertions behind the flawed expression, namely -

 

i) whether you make your own pipes or not has much more to do with size of operation than quality of work, and the two don't necessarily go together (Rushworth? Daniels? Osmond? Hele?)

 

ii) whether making your own or buying in, the end result is only as good as the instinct and impulse which informs the decision making about scales, materials and all the rest of it, and how well you communicate that information. That doesn't mean any fool could do it, as Colin stated; it's about having the experience and flair to realise what will work and what won't. Whether you communicate that information to someone downstairs or someone on the end of the phone is, of itself, of little or no relevance to the end result.

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To return, probably briefly, to the topic of the organs in Tewkesbury Abbey, this thread brought to mind the Advent Carol Services held there in the 1970s. These were organised by Hugh Shelton and sung by his choir of trebles from the Chapel Choir of the Blue Coat School, Birmingham augmented by altos, tenors and basses from various establishments in the area. In the years that I attended, John Pryer played the Milton organ and Nigel Morris the Elliott.

 

The 1975 service was recorded by John Ankcorn, the father of two of the trebles and a slightly edited version was produced as an LP which was sold to raise funds to 1) help the Blue Coat School choir give concerts outside Birmingham and 2) for the Abbey appeal. The microphones were placed high on the screen and were thus well situated to capture the sound of the Milton organ and John's wonderful playing, including improvisations when the choir was moving around and interludes in such carols as "The Cherry Tree". I've just played this LP for the first time in about 30 years and the organ does indeed sound wonderful. There is also what is probably quite a rare recording of the Elliott used to accompany "Prepare Thyself Zion". From memory, it was placed just to the west of the screen with the choir a bit further east.

 

They were great occasions, very good natured but with a pretty good standard of singing, with Hugh's very individual style of conducting, a bit like brushing his hair downwards, sticking in my mind. There was a three hour rehearsal during the afternoon followed by a hot meal, usually baked potatoes, sausages and beans (umm, maybe not ideal but very tasty!), a quick break over the road for the men and then the service. On another year, there was a bit of a surfeit of tenors and I ended up turning pages for John and being at amazed at his improvisatory skills, mostly carried out while chatting to me about the organ. He also very kindly let me have a quick play between the rehearsal and our meal.

 

Did any other members ever attend?

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The issues which this discussion has raised are neatly illustrated by this documentary on YouTube abot Henk van Eeken - a fascinating glimpse into the working methods of perhaps Europe's most accomplished organ-builder. This vividly illustrates the limitations of subcontracting:

Bazuin

 

Indeed it is most illuminating to hear somebody talking about their work in such a way - and a person who is in the midst of such a vast array of old instruments. But one of the interesting parallels with my friend Bernard Aubertin, is that they both come from a family line of craftsmen using wood and knowing all their lives the excellence of design and construction that goes hand-in-hand with such a profession. This natural in-built knowledge seems to be invaluable in their organ-building work.

Another point that is made concerning the in-house construction of pipe making is the ability to analyse the metals and the copying of old models and perhaps experimentation. Perhaps the latter we didn't see here as Mr van Eeken seems locked more into the fashioning of instruments in the 'old style' without using the old to influence more new schemes that bring them into the present. I may be wrong, but I wonder if he has any instruments that are his alone - not copies. I notice that some carving was copied from another famous organ. It would be good to know the whereabouts of the soundtrack organ too. Did I miss where it was?

On the question of making pipes, I can say that builders swap scales and historical facts - especially when one has been restoring. The opportunity to make a few experimental pipes is so necessary. For instance, the triple over-blowing flute in the organ of St Louis in Paris came about because of that information swapping and subsequent experimentation. It is one of the most remarkable sounds created lately by organ builders anywhere. It could never have been born had the builder not had this facility. Nor arguably would the Cavaillé-Coll instruments have had such individuality if the father (Dominique) could not have used the information from the son (Aristide) sent home from his travels. These were all mostly new sounds to France.

In conclusion, these hands-on builders have a total tonal conception in their mind from the outset of design. They do everything. I suggest that they could never contemplate allowing others to provide the sound-source in this situation. Therefore, their output is about one major new organ every 2 or 3 years. It would be good to have a list of van Eeken organs for our knowledge and edification. The next Aubertin after these past three years is nearing completion with the Pedal Quint being installed today.

Best wishes,

Nigel

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perhaps Europe's most accomplished organbuilder.

 

Bazuin

 

Gentlemen - please forgive me:

 

Given these extraordinary statements (which follow many others of late) I feel that if we are to take them even vaguely seriously (certainly I) need to know who ,where and what you are. "Bazuin".

 

It seems to me that this vexed question of 'best' is propelled by a certain "only old-fashioned is good" attitude which is destructive, demoralising to those of us who have worked for a long time to bring standards up in the UK and so opinionated as to make one shudder.

 

Fact: there are firms which, due to the paucity of funding to pay for their labours, have constantly to source materials and labour to achieve a result which defies its cost.

 

We have four men in the firm who can make pipes: 1. Our pipe-maker (who came to us from Paul Fritts); 2. Our senior voicer, who spends most of his time voicing and organising our second voicer; our Foreman, who spends all of his time otherwise engaged and 4. me. We make some of our own reeds and, when the new (ex Fritts) man has fully acclimatized and dragged himself out of the distant past in terms of hammered lead, we will make some of our own flue pipes. However, Terry Shires, who makes pipes for most, if not all, UK builders (whether they care to admit it or not!) makes pipes for us to our scales, using, in many cases, our tools (such as the langward punches for dubbed lower lips) and often under our close scrutiny. The truth is that, as his staff are making pipes all day, every day, they are quicker at it than are we - note: QUICKER (and therefore LESS EXPENSIVE) than are we. And, though this is often something completely missed by the armchair fanatic, time is money.

 

Now, as to opinions as to the 'best' organbuilders (and that is all that it is - OPINION) I'm sorry, but we really do need to know who you are if you express such opinion in such a way.

 

End of rant and further apologies.

 

DW

 

ps. To return this (now rather sordid) discussion to its original topic - The Grove organ is stupendous. The Milton organ isn't. If it comes to a showdown, I know which one should go.

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To return, probably briefly, to the topic of the organs in Tewkesbury Abbey, this thread brought to mind the Advent Carol Services held there in the 1970s. These were organised by Hugh Shelton and sung by his choir of trebles from the Chapel Choir of the Blue Coat School, Birmingham augmented by altos, tenors and basses from various establishments in the area. In the years that I attended, John Pryer played the Milton organ and Nigel Morris the Elliott.

 

 

Did any other members ever attend?

 

 

Yes! I sang in this 3 times in the early/mid 1980's as an alto dep with St Mary's Warwick, who sang with the Bluecoat School Choir (nearly all items combined but one or two solo slots for each choir). I remember the three services vividly - fantastic atmosphere, packed house, and brilliant playing from John Pryer who improvised at the end on the Grove organ (the rest of the service was played by John Belcher on the Milton organ with its 5 manual Walker console). Simon Lole conducted some items and a chap (whose name escapes me from the School), did the rest.

I dont ever remember the Elliot organ being used.

Best wishes

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Gentlemen - please forgive me:

 

Given these extraordinary statements (which follow many others of late) I feel that if we are to take them even vaguely seriously (certainly I) need to know who ,where and what you are. "Bazuin".

 

I agree with you - but, good luck with that. Bazuin seems to want to play his cards very close to his chest....

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