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I'll try this again, as I just typed a very concise response which the machine managed to delete before I posted it!

 

I think the point here is, would you have been able to accompany the congregation or the choral repertoire on the 1664 stops? Indeed if the further five stops were added a century later they may well have been done out of necessity not the whim of the organist or organ builder. The fact that liturgy has developed is part of life and progress, if the organ doesn't try to keep up or indeed lead, it has lost the battle with the more modern and dare I say less desirable traits in modern church music!

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favour of the wholesale destruction of our organ heritage, but if an organ is failing through mechanical obscelence or condition but the pipework is both good and historic, is it right to insist it is maintained in a condition in which we cannot benefit from the pleasure of hearing it because of an English Heritage attitude?

 

To quote an English Herirtage example, the bell frame at Malvern Priory is becoming unserviceable, but EH have said it cannot be replaced. Essentially meaning the bells will be permanently silenced. I am a member of English Heritage, but feel it is better to try to change attitudes from within!

 

Jonathan

 

No - in fact, I agree with you - and with Patrick's earlier comment regarding organs not being preserved in aspic. I was simply playng the Devil's advocate - and attempting to stress once again that the whole notion of trying to institute some type of national control on further work on organs in the UK would be incredibly complicated - and may even prove self-defeating. With the 'wrong' people in charge, we may end up with a situation in twenty years' time in which the UK is well-supplied with organs effectively preserved in the state in which they will be found say, five years from now - but many would be unplayable and a good number of others had been abandoned some years before, due to their perceived incompatibility.

 

In such a situation, would churches be obliged by law to keep up maintenance on 'historic' instruments? And, if so, what would be the parameters of that maintenance? Who would fund the work? If some churches had abandoned the use of their [now] protected instruments, why would they choose to spend possibly large sums of money conserving them, merely in order to satisfy the whims of organ historiographers? (I mean no offence to any board member or user by that description - I an simply trying to illustrate how difficult it could be to inaugurate such a scheme now, in this country.) In any case, who would monitor the instruments? How would one 'police' such a national scheme? One only has to think of one example in the not-too-distant past - Prohibition. What happened? Put simply, America decided to go 'dry' - and as a direct result, all sorts of black-marked and covert trading on the supply of alcohol grew up, almost overnight. Whilst there is some historical evidence which suggests that the roots of the Mafia go back to medieval Sicily, it could also be argued that it may not have achieved quite the prominence it attained in the middle and latter half of the twentieth century, had not Prohibition come into effect.

 

Picture a dark, rainy Thursday night, outside a nameless church deep in the heartland of England. From somewhere nearby, an owl hoots in the darkness Outside the vestry door, two men stand nervously, one smoking a cigarette. After a brief exchange, the other man steps quickly to a van, until now un-noticed. Opening the back doors, he begins to unload organ pipes - clearly belonging to a shiny new, high-pitched four rank mixture. They are ferried into the church by the smoker, who returns a few minutes later with his arms wrapped around what appear to be Dulciana pipes. These are in turn placed quickly into the back of the van, a blanket is thrown roughly over them and the back doors are closed and locked. Then the smoker reaches into the inside pocket of his long black coat and pulls out a bulging brown envelope, which he hands, somewhat furtively, to the driver. He nods aquiescence and turns to get into the van.

 

Suddenly, the scene is illuminated brightly by three or four sets of vehicle lights. The two men are frozen in terror. From behind the lights comes a voice, magnified through a crackling loud-hailer. "STEP AWAY FROM THE VAN, NOW! YOU ARE SURROUNDED - STEP AWAY FROM THE VAN!"

 

The burning question is: would it be worth a three-to-five stretch in Dartmoor, just to dispose of a Dulciana?

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Guest Patrick Coleman

The burning question is: would it be worth a three-to-five stretch in Dartmoor, just to dispose of a Dulciana?

 

:o

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Guest Patrick Coleman
To quote an English Herirtage example, the bell frame at Malvern Priory is becoming unserviceable, but EH have said it cannot be replaced. Essentially meaning the bells will be permanently silenced. I am a member of English Heritage, but feel it is better to try to change attitudes from within!

 

Jonathan

 

Recently our DAC considered a demand from CADW (the Welsh version of English Heritage) for a church to display medieval timbers from a now defunct bell frame. At least they let the parish concerned make their bells safe! Nevertheless, I would ask why parish money (which is there for the spread of the Gospel) should be used to preserve heritage. OK when said heritage is in the service of the Gospel or attracts people to places of prayer and witness. But just to display a piece of wood?

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Recently our DAC considered a demand from CADW (the Welsh version of English Heritage) for a church to display medieval timbers from a now defunct bell frame. At least they let the parish concerned make their bells safe! Nevertheless, I would ask why parish money (which is there for the spread of the Gospel) should be used to preserve heritage. OK when said heritage is in the service of the Gospel or attracts people to places of prayer and witness. But just to display a piece of wood?

Hear, hear!

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And a country where historic instruments are supposedly preserved by the state, namely France, seems to spend far too little on keeping them playable!

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Sometimes it helps the cause of an argument to take something to its logical extreme. One August in the mid-1970s, whilst at a nearby summer school of music, I secured a play on the organ over which pcnd now presides. As he points out, some of the pipework is very old. Yet, I doubt whether anyone playing that organ and using those ranks of pipes would expect the instrument to be pumped by hand and the music desk at the console lit by candles.

 

As Patrick has observed, we argue endlessly on this forum about Tierce Mixtures and the kind of organ Bach would have played on, just as "experts" argue endlessly about how to play Bach on the organ. We forget sometimes that humans now tend to be taller than they were at the time of JSB. We forget at our peril that tastes change and change back again. History shows time and time again how each generation tends to reject the ideas and practices of the immediate previous generation. That is how we progress whether it be organ design, liturgy, education or anything else. Of course we don't always get it right, but as Eastern cultures such as Zen point out, nothing is ever the same because the moment is past.

 

I have been playing the organ since 1962 and was interested in the organ for several years before that. In that time I have seen fashions in repertoire, playing style and organ design change considerably and, in some cases, begin to turn full circle. On Saturday in north London I heard French classical organ music of the Clerambault period played in a rather romantic style on a digital organ which imitates Cavaille-Coll; to me it sounded totally wrong.

 

Ultimately, nobody can say definitely what is right and what is wrong.

 

Malcolm

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Sometimes it helps the cause of an argument to take something to its logical extreme. One August in the mid-1970s, whilst at a nearby summer school of music, I secured a play on the organ over which pcnd now presides. As he points out, some of the pipework is very old. Yet, I doubt whether anyone playing that organ and using those ranks of pipes would expect the instrument to be pumped by hand and the music desk at the console lit by candles.

 

As Patrick has observed, we argue endlessly on this forum about Tierce Mixtures and the kind of organ Bach would have played on, just as "experts" argue endlessly about how to play Bach on the organ. We forget sometimes that humans now tend to be taller than they were at the time of JSB. We forget at our peril that tastes change and change back again. History shows time and time again how each generation tends to reject the ideas and practices of the immediate previous generation. That is how we progress whether it be organ design, liturgy, education or anything else. Of course we don't always get it right, but as Eastern cultures such as Zen point out, nothing is ever the same because the moment is past.

 

I have been playing the organ since 1962 and was interested in the organ for several years before that. In that time I have seen fashions in repertoire, playing style and organ design change considerably and, in some cases, begin to turn full circle. On Saturday in north London I heard French classical organ music of the Clerambault period played in a rather romantic style on a digital organ which imitates Cavaille-Coll; to me it sounded totally wrong.

 

Ultimately, nobody can say definitely what is right and what is wrong.

 

Malcolm

 

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I don't quite know how even the idea of "heritage" can be applied to the organs in the UK, unless it is a last ditch attempt to preserve what bit remains; which would be understandable.

 

It seems to me, that in a country like the Netherlands, the "Golden Age" delivered great wealth, and on the basis of that, a lot of money was spent on organs and other artistic treasures of the age. Few countries have so MUCH culture per acre, and for a tiny little country, it is utterly remarkable.

 

However, why does so much of it remain?

 

I'm sure the answer is quite complex, as these things tend to be, but Holland went into some economic decline after the 18th century, and because religion did not especially value organs or grand choral undertakings in the context of worship, the old instruments were left largely alone or, at worst, modified a little as funds permitted. (Yes, I know this is a simplistic statement; deliberately so for the moment).

 

Get outside the few big cities in the Netherlands, and you are surrounded by agricultural communities which, although technologically very "on the ball," have probably not changed a vast amount. Indeed, should someone step into the 21st century from the 18th century, they would still recognise many things to-day, but may puzzle over the lack of people working the land; such is the science of modern farming and market gardening.

 

The industrial age was slow to get to Holland, and even when it did, it was never on the scale of other countries such as England and Germany, where whole cities were built in a matter of a few decades. When it comes to old, large towns and cities, what remains in the UK? York and Bath certainly, as well as smaller places such as Beverley, but even somewhere as historically important as York was invaded by the railways, engineering works, sweet factories and other industries.

 

Where there is vast wealth, (as England once had), there is vast spending, and nowhere is that more obvious than in America. In Germany, many of the magnificent baroque and rococco churches were filled with vast organs, which can't have done much for the original heritage of the buildings.

 

The underlying economics cannot be ignored, and "preservation" is often the act of either doing nothing or doing the bare minimum, which is why an organ like Doncaster PC, (which was treated with respect by Norman & Beard and J W Walker), remains very much a Schulze organ with a few useful additions, most notably, rather better manual-reeds.

 

I am no expert in the ways of Netherlands religious practices, but within the context of church-worship, was there ever anything other than psalms and improvisations, unless it was Roman Catholic?

 

I'm sure that no-one needs a history-lesson about English church-music, but apart from Coronations, the BIG events were rare. The Puritans did their worst, and in the more up-market churches, choral music was not the great spectacle it eventually became, It was but a few lay-clerks and boy-choristers hidden behind screens and completely isolated from the "turba". I recall Evensong at York Minster, when they did Weelkes, Morley or Gibbons services, where the organ was only there for minimal support. It was like stepping back to Tudor times....refined, elegant, very low key and not meant to be heard in the nave. To achieve that, you can make do with a Samuel Green type of organ or even a chamber-organ.

 

So was there ever a true "organ culture?"

 

The organs prior to about 1850, were still very much much in that mould of gentle refinement, when people muttered into their prayer books and mumbled their way through hymns and psalms.

 

It's hardly surprising that when the great choral tradition exploded, it exploded very noisily. It was an age of factories, steam, engineering shops, brass bands and hearing-loss caused by industry. (I know this from my youth, when I spent a year working in an engineering factory. I would go home with my ears ringing, whilst the incidence of deafness among old people who had worked the looms, was very high. Even many engineers in their late forties wore hearing-aids).

 

England's "organ culture", (we used to have one), was very different after perhaps 1850. It owed little to history, or even to that of other countries, but really looked to the orchestra as the source of inspiration. This was the age of heroic music; from Beethoven to Brahms and Wagner. That famous quote, "I want the film score like Wagner; only bigger," could easily have applied to the British sensibility. (PIty it was the American film-director, Cecil B de Mille, talking about the film "The ten commandments.")

I cringe to think where British organ-building might have ended up, but for the imported Schulze organs, which demonstrated that generous scaling was a better way of getting power, rather than by simply blowing the pipes harder with ever more powerful machinery. However, make no mistake, it was power that was required to drive congregational singing and provide an orchestral richness for choral events.

 

I don't know how many people have tried accompanying a big choir and a thousand in the congregation, where sound just vanishes; when even Full Swell is 'mf' at best and the Open Woods compulsory for all but the quietest moments. I've known situations, where the only expedient was to use full Swell coupled to full Great flues, just to keep people in time! (York Minster is one place where, for the Service of Nine Lessons & Carols, this is obligatory for much of the time).

 

My problem with "restoration" is the danger of simply going back to all the mistakes made the first time around; possibly because organ-builders didn't know how to meet the challenge posed by changing style of worship. William Hill may have built lovely instruments in the 1840's, but the one I knew best at Eastbrook Hall, Bradford, could barely support the singing of the choir; let alone the 1,500 people who regularly worshipped there. It was, to all intents and purposes, a Snetzler organ with pedals; quite lost in such a vast building. Fortunately, that particular organ found a more suitable home in Cambridge, where it now sounds delightful in a much smaller building.

 

At the other extreme, there are organs made around or after the turn of the 20th century, which have a similar lack of impact; simply because everything is either 16ft, 8ft or 4ft, but heavily blown to increase the volume. The ultimate examples of this are the few remaining organs of Hope-Jones (and others), which no matter how well built or how beautifully voiced the individual ranks may be, are just musically almost useless.

 

So who decides, and are they capable of deciding?

 

If there is no reference to the projected use, the musical relevance or worth of an instrument as an artistic entity from the MUSICAL point of view, what on earth is the point of exact restoration?

 

So many churches have changed radically. They have been downsized, cut in half, mutilated, roofs lowered to save on heating, carpeted and generally ruined in many instances, what hope is there that an original organ, fully restored, would sound remotely like it did when first installed?

 

Yes, I can understand the worth of restoring an organ like St.Augustine's, Kilburn, or a lovely Isaac Abbott and the Anneesens near Halifax, as well as other thoroughly good instruments which remain largely as they were built, in churches which remain as they were when the organ was built and installed, but such instances are comparitively rare. For the most part, even good organs have often evolved over a period of time and across several re-builds; Beverley Minster being a classic example.

 

Why ruin what has been achieved, merely because Beverley contains stops by Snetzler?

 

This is the difference between us and the Netherlands. We've always had plenty of money to swap, change and mess around with organs until quite recently, and our "heritage" is the heritage of re-building organs, as I stated originally.

 

If anyone requires proof of this, let them listen to the organ of Hull City Hall, which started life as a Forster & Andrews, no doubt sounding much the same as any other big Forster & Andrews. Those who knew it, (possibly all gone now), never expressed enormous affection for what had been there before it got damaged by a bomb, but they loved what Compton did to it to make it such a renowned instrument.

 

Let the "restorers" go to work on it........I shall chain myself to the bellows!

 

MM

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"I am unsure whether your first comment (in parentheses) is to be taken as a compliment - or not..."

 

It was! I'll get over the fact that you wouldn't vote for the Dutch Pedal Reed party...somehow :o

 

With all the hypthetical questions we ask here, we forget that the rebuilding culture in the UK is not unique to the UK. Even in the Netherlands many organs were rebuilt in the 19th century and beyond. Now, the 19th century material in the old organs tends to be preserved as historic too. Even the pneumatic 1940s Echowerk by Mr Bik (!) was preserved on the Batz organ in the Lutheran Church in Hague when it was restored 2 years ago. No-one, even the Netherlands would ever imagine destroying the Compton organ in Hull to re-create the original Forster and Andrews. This is to miss the point entirely.

 

The question of purpose ignores the fact that good organs also have their own intrinsic artistic qualities. This sets them apart from lorries. And steam trains (much as I like those too).

 

As pncd said

 

"On the other hand, who is to judge that these instruments have become unfit for their intended purpose?"

 

Exactly. Except that, as pncd has told us before, he thinks the organists that play them every week should have the freedom to change them as they see fit. My point is that, assuming the project has a conservation aspect, they shouldn't. I hope it's fair to say that this is BIOS position as well, hence their long battle to assume the status of statutory advisory body.

 

Rather than simply imagine ever-more hypthetical situations the legal protection of organs would create, why don't we consider how these relationships work in countries other than this one? The answers are not always positive, but unless we understand the narratives (both good and bad) we can't comprehend how such a culture operates and how it could apply here.

 

Bazuin

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Guest drd
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

I don't quite know how even the idea of "heritage" can be applied to the organs in the UK, unless it is a last ditch attempt to preserve what bit remains; which would be understandable.

 

It seems to me, that in a country like the Netherlands, the "Golden Age" delivered great wealth, and on the basis of that, a lot of money was spent on organs and other artistic treasures of the age. Few countries have so MUCH culture per acre, and for a tiny little country, it is utterly remarkable.

 

However, why does so much of it remain?

 

I'm sure the answer is quite complex, as these things tend to be, but Holland went into some economic decline after the 18th century, and because religion did not especially value organs or grand choral undertakings in the context of worship, the old instruments were left largely alone or, at worst, modified a little as funds permitted. (Yes, I know this is a simplistic statement; deliberately so for the moment).

 

Get outside the few big cities in the Netherlands, and you are surrounded by agricultural communities which, although technologically very "on the ball," have probably not changed a vast amount. Indeed, should someone step into the 21st century from the 18th century, they would still recognise many things to-day, but may puzzle over the lack of people working the land; such is the science of modern farming and market gardening.

 

The industrial age was slow to get to Holland, and even when it did, it was never on the scale of other countries such as England and Germany, where whole cities were built in a matter of a few decades. When it comes to old, large towns and cities, what remains in the UK? York and Bath certainly, as well as smaller places such as Beverley, but even somewhere as historically important as York was invaded by the railways, engineering works, sweet factories and other industries.

 

Where there is vast wealth, (as England once had), there is vast spending, and nowhere is that more obvious than in America. In Germany, many of the magnificent baroque and rococco churches were filled with vast organs, which can't have done much for the original heritage of the buildings.

 

The underlying economics cannot be ignored, and "preservation" is often the act of either doing nothing or doing the bare minimum, which is why an organ like Doncaster PC, (which was treated with respect by Norman & Beard and J W Walker), remains very much a Schulze organ with a few useful additions, most notably, rather better manual-reeds.

 

I am no expert in the ways of Netherlands religious practices, but within the context of church-worship, was there ever anything other than psalms and improvisations, unless it was Roman Catholic?

 

I'm sure that no-one needs a history-lesson about English church-music, but apart from Coronations, the BIG events were rare. The Puritans did their worst, and in the more up-market churches, choral music was not the great spectacle it eventually became, It was but a few lay-clerks and boy-choristers hidden behind screens and completely isolated from the "turba". I recall Evensong at York Minster, when they did Weelkes, Morley or Gibbons services, where the organ was only there for minimal support. It was like stepping back to Tudor times....refined, elegant, very low key and not meant to be heard in the nave. To achieve that, you can make do with a Samuel Green type of organ or even a chamber-organ.

 

So was there ever a true "organ culture?"

 

The organs prior to about 1850, were still very much much in that mould of gentle refinement, when people muttered into their prayer books and mumbled their way through hymns and psalms.

 

It's hardly surprising that when the great choral tradition exploded, it exploded very noisily. It was an age of factories, steam, engineering shops, brass bands and hearing-loss caused by industry. (I know this from my youth, when I spent a year working in an engineering factory. I would go home with my ears ringing, whilst the incidence of deafness among old people who had worked the looms, was very high. Even many engineers in their late forties wore hearing-aids).

 

England's "organ culture", (we used to have one), was very different after perhaps 1850. It owed little to history, or even to that of other countries, but really looked to the orchestra as the source of inspiration. This was the age of heroic music; from Beethoven to Brahms and Wagner. That famous quote, "I want the film score like Wagner; only bigger," could easily have applied to the British sensibility. (PIty it was the American film-director, Cecil B de Mille, talking about the film "The ten commandments.")

I cringe to think where British organ-building might have ended up, but for the imported Schulze organs, which demonstrated that generous scaling was a better way of getting power, rather than by simply blowing the pipes harder with ever more powerful machinery. However, make no mistake, it was power that was required to drive congregational singing and provide an orchestral richness for choral events.

 

I don't know how many people have tried accompanying a big choir and a thousand in the congregation, where sound just vanishes; when even Full Swell is 'mf' at best and the Open Woods compulsory for all but the quietest moments. I've known situations, where the only expedient was to use full Swell coupled to full Great flues, just to keep people in time! (York Minster is one place where, for the Service of Nine Lessons & Carols, this is obligatory for much of the time).

 

My problem with "restoration" is the danger of simply going back to all the mistakes made the first time around; possibly because organ-builders didn't know how to meet the challenge posed by changing style of worship. William Hill may have built lovely instruments in the 1840's, but the one I knew best at Eastbrook Hall, Bradford, could barely support the singing of the choir; let alone the 1,500 people who regularly worshipped there. It was, to all intents and purposes, a Snetzler organ with pedals; quite lost in such a vast building. Fortunately, that particular organ found a more suitable home in Cambridge, where it now sounds delightful in a much smaller building.

 

At the other extreme, there are organs made around or after the turn of the 20th century, which have a similar lack of impact; simply because everything is either 16ft, 8ft or 4ft, but heavily blown to increase the volume. The ultimate examples of this are the few remaining organs of Hope-Jones (and others), which no matter how well built or how beautifully voiced the individual ranks may be, are just musically almost useless.

 

So who decides, and are they capable of deciding?

 

If there is no reference to the projected use, the musical relevance or worth of an instrument as an artistic entity from the MUSICAL point of view, what on earth is the point of exact restoration?

 

So many churches have changed radically. They have been downsized, cut in half, mutilated, roofs lowered to save on heating, carpeted and generally ruined in many instances, what hope is there that an original organ, fully restored, would sound remotely like it did when first installed?

 

Yes, I can understand the worth of restoring an organ like St.Augustine's, Kilburn, or a lovely Isaac Abbott and the Anneesens near Halifax, as well as other thoroughly good instruments which remain largely as they were built, in churches which remain as they were when the organ was built and installed, but such instances are comparitively rare. For the most part, even good organs have often evolved over a period of time and across several re-builds; Beverley Minster being a classic example.

 

Why ruin what has been achieved, merely because Beverley contains stops by Snetzler?

 

This is the difference between us and the Netherlands. We've always had plenty of money to swap, change and mess around with organs until quite recently, and our "heritage" is the heritage of re-building organs, as I stated originally.

 

If anyone requires proof of this, let them listen to the organ of Hull City Hall, which started life as a Forster & Andrews, no doubt sounding much the same as any other big Forster & Andrews. Those who knew it, (possibly all gone now), never expressed enormous affection for what had been there before it got damaged by a bomb, but they loved what Compton did to it to make it such a renowned instrument.

 

Let the "restorers" go to work on it........I shall chain myself to the bellows!

 

MM

 

Thanks MM - this hits the nail on the head completely, I think.

 

 

 

BTW, please forgive me for one selective quotation:

 

England's "organ culture", (we used to have one), was very different after perhaps 1850. It owed little to history, or even to that of other countries, but really looked to the orchestra as the source of inspiration. This was the age of heroic music; from Beethoven to Brahms and Wagner. That famous quote, "I want the film score like Wagner; only bigger," could easily have applied to the British sensibility. (PIty it was the American film-director, Cecil B de Mille, talking about the film "The ten commandments.")

 

However, we do have a similar indigenous quotation to hand:

 

"The English do not like music, they simply like the noise it makes." {T. Beecham}

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Yes, I can understand the worth of restoring an organ like St.Augustine's, Kilburn, or a lovely Isaac Abbott and the Anneesens near Halifax, as well as other thoroughly good instruments which remain largely as they were built, in churches which remain as they were when the organ was built and installed, but such instances are comparitively rare.

 

But of course, the fine organ at Kilburn (I practised on it a little in the early years of the century) is not in fact complete anyway, even if you don't look at H&H's proposed work!

 

Jonathan

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However, we do have a similar indigenous quotation to hand:

 

"The English do not like music, they simply like the noise it makes." {T. Beecham}

 

The original is even better:

 

"The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes."

 

Sir Thomas Beecham, A Mingled Chime 1944

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Guest drd
However, we do have a similar indigenous quotation to hand:

 

"The English do not like music, they simply like the noise it makes." {T. Beecham}

 

 

The original is even better:

 

"The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes."

 

Sir Thomas Beecham, A Mingled Chime 1944

 

Yes, apologies for the misquotation. My own copy of A Mingled Chime is still somewhere in a box, not yet unpacked after moving.

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Interesting references to Hull City Hall and that no self-respecting organ restored would dream of eliminating the Compton additions and return it to F&A original design. Maybe only a decade ago some people I know would have been falling over themselves to have it de-Comptonified.

 

It had a conservative restoration in I think the 1980s by Rushworth and Dreaper which from what I could gather resulted in Compton's illuminated push button stops were replaced by conventional drawstops. Comparing photos of the console before and after, personally I prefer the looks of the revised console. But in changing the console, were R&D responding to a perceived need for something more conventional, or were they just cultural vandals? How will that change be judged in history?

 

Either way, it remains something of an undiscovered jewel and is thrilling to play.

 

Contrabombarde

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Interesting references to Hull City Hall and that no self-respecting organ restored would dream of eliminating the Compton additions and return it to F&A original design. Maybe only a decade ago some people I know would have been falling over themselves to have it de-Comptonified.

 

It had a conservative restoration in I think the 1980s by Rushworth and Dreaper which from what I could gather resulted in Compton's illuminated push button stops were replaced by conventional drawstops. Comparing photos of the console before and after, personally I prefer the looks of the revised console. But in changing the console, were R&D responding to a perceived need for something more conventional, or were they just cultural vandals? How will that change be judged in history?

 

Either way, it remains something of an undiscovered jewel and is thrilling to play.

 

Contrabombarde

The change to conventional drawstops was more likely the result of difficulty in finding suitable replacement bulbs!

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Interesting references to Hull City Hall and that no self-respecting organ restored would dream of eliminating the Compton additions and return it to F&A original design. Maybe only a decade ago some people I know would have been falling over themselves to have it de-Comptonified.

 

It had a conservative restoration in I think the 1980s by Rushworth and Dreaper which from what I could gather resulted in Compton's illuminated push button stops were replaced by conventional drawstops. Comparing photos of the console before and after, personally I prefer the looks of the revised console. But in changing the console, were R&D responding to a perceived need for something more conventional, or were they just cultural vandals? How will that change be judged in history?

 

Either way, it remains something of an undiscovered jewel and is thrilling to play.

 

Contrabombarde

 

 

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The only major change at Hull, so far as I know, was the addition of extra swell louvres. The Swell was always a little weak, as was typical of the Forster & Andrews style and that of many of their contemporaries. (Terraced dynamics - think perhaps Schulze influence).

 

It was a pity about the Compton stops and console mechanism, but I suspect that it would have been very expensive to refurbish.

 

Still, we should be grateful that Compton's far superior tonal work was retained, and the result is there for all to hear.

 

I used to play this instrument fairly often, and it is really quite spectacular.

 

I think Carlo Curley once said, (before they fitted carpets and damaged the acoustic somewhat), that it was one of the loudest organs in the world.

 

Many said it could be heard at King George Dock a mile away, but I think they were telling porkie pies.

 

It COULD be heard over the noise of traffic in the city streets below!!!!!

 

MM

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The only major change at Hull, so far as I know, was the addition of extra swell louvres. The Swell was always a little weak, as was typical of the Forster & Andrews style and that of many of their contemporaries. (Terraced dynamics - think perhaps Schulze influence).

 

It was a pity about the Compton stops and console mechanism, but I suspect that it would have been very expensive to refurbish.

 

Still, we should be grateful that Compton's far superior tonal work was retained, and the result is there for all to hear.

 

I used to play this instrument fairly often, and it is really quite spectacular.

 

I think Carlo Curley once said, (before they fitted carpets and damaged the acoustic somewhat), that it was one of the loudest organs in the world.

 

Many said it could be heard at King George Dock a mile away, but I think they were telling porkie pies.

 

It COULD be heard over the noise of traffic in the city streets below!!!!!

 

MM

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I am an unashamed admirer of the workmanship and tonal genius of John Compton and the organ of Hull City Hall is an instrument I hold in the highest regard. Indeed, as a teenager in the early 50’s I was fortunate (and privileged) to frequently observe its rebuilding in the hall. Unfortunately, I no longer live near enough to regularly enjoy such a wonderful creation.

 

Compton transformed the original F&A instrument of 1911, essentially adding a positive division and substantially increasing its power. F&A organs have something of a reputation of being more gentle than powerful, something Compton rectified in this instance. But that’s not to say the instrument is incapable of now speaking in a gentle fashion.

 

As far as the 1980’s changeover to drawstops is concerned, as one contributor has said, they were no longer available in the original (a Compton creation) form. Compton was a man who if he had an idea and it was not available on the market, he would make it. I guess if he were around today he would be using stopheads based on LED illumination. I know when I spoke to the late Peter Goodman on the matter of Compton luminous stops he did express a preference for conventional drawstops. I rather fancy that for a man of his somewhat diminutive stature they were something to hold on to.

 

As for R&D’s involvement it does rather annoy me to see their nameplate on the console, grossly overshadowing those of F&A and Compton as though it was one of their organs. Not wishing to take anything away from F&A, I maintain it is essentially Compton.

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I hope when the organ is restored in Hull Parish Church that the Compton lighted stops will remain, the only other instrument I can recall with these is Downside Abbey.

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I hope when the organ is restored in Hull Parish Church that the Compton lighted stops will remain, the only other instrument I can recall with these is Downside Abbey.

And Derby Cathedral if I remember correctly. I grew up with instruments using Compton illuminated stopheads and have always been comfortable with them.

JC

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I hope when the organ is restored in Hull Parish Church that the Compton lighted stops will remain, the only other instrument I can recall with these is Downside Abbey.

 

Derby Cathedral?

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And Derby Cathedral if I remember correctly. I grew up with instruments using Compton illuminated stopheads and have always been comfortable with them.

JC

 

Wow! We must have both posted that at exactly the same time!

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Derby Cathedral?

 

 

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Southampton Guildhall? BBC organ, Maida Vale? There must be others, surely?

 

MM

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Southampton Guildhall? BBC organ, Maida Vale? There must be others, surely?

 

MM

 

All Saints, Weston -Super-Mare

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And Derby Cathedral if I remember correctly. I grew up with instruments using Compton illuminated stopheads and have always been comfortable with them.

JC

 

I seem to remember that Derby has stopknobs now - Rushworth & Dreaper put them in I think.

 

A

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I seem to remember that Derby has stopknobs now - Rushworth & Dreaper put them in I think.

I didn't know that, and I used to play there once or twice a year!

 

Doesn't St Luke's Chelsea have luminous stopheads? Or am I completely making that up?

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