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Brindley & Foster


JWAnderson
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Hi everyone,

 

I am at present working on a project to produce a specification to rebuild/reconstruct (?) a two-manual organ built in 1903 by the above mentioned builder as part of an interior restoration at the church. The organ has been rebuilt twice, in 1964 when a screen was built covering the organ, most of the original casework being destroyed and a detached console provided, and again in 1971.

The planned work will include removing the screen and reconstructing the original facade, providing a new attached console and adding a third Choir manual.

 

The original specification was: Gt 8,8,8,4,4 Sw 16,8,8,8,8,4,2,8,8,trem Ped 16,16,8

Additions in 1964 were a 15th unit on the Gt, extended to provide a 12th, and a Lieblich Flute 4' on the Swell.

In 1971, significant changes were made, moving the Sw 16' Bourdon to the Gt and extending it to 8', replacement of Gt Hohl Flute with a Nazard 2 2/3' (the extended 12th being removed), the Gt Open being moved to a unit chest and duplexed to Pd at 4' & 2' and a Mixture (19-22-26) being placed in it's soundboard space. The Sw had only a Larigot installed in place of the Bourdon and the Oboe transposed to 16' (which has now been returned to 8'). The Pedal had a 32' resultant and an 8' extension of the Open Wood added using pipes from a Norman & Beard Open Diapason No.1. The whole of the Pedal was rewinded to a new pin-cushion reservoir.

The original Ventil chests for the Gt & Sw were releathered for the first time then and have been no problem ever since.

 

The aim of the reconstruction is to return the organ back to it's original soundboard specifications but make additions which are sympathetic to the original style and would contribute to the variety of uses that the organ is put to.

 

Working with my client, the final specification we have come up with is below with additions in italics.

 

Great Organ

Double Diapason 16 A

Open Diapason 8

Hohl Flote 8 - scales for new pipes taken from remaining 12 pipes.

Dulciana 8 - common bass

Principal 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2 - 1964

Trumpet 8 B

 

Swell Organ

Bordun 16 C - returned from Gt

Violin Diapason 8

Lieblich Gedact 8

Salicional 8 (common bass)

Voix Celeste 8 (TC)

Gemshorn 4 (tapered)

Flautina 2

Mixture 15.19.22 - 1971 Gt recast

Horn 8

Oboe 8

 

Choir Organ

Rohr Flote 8

Echo Gamba 8 (common bass)

Lieblich Flute 4 - 1964 Sw

Harmonic Piccolo 2

Clarionet 8

Vox Humana 8

 

Pedal Organ

Open Diapason 16 D

Bordun 16 A

Echo Bass 16 C

Quint 10 2/3 A

Octave 8 D

Principal 8 E - bottom 12 pipes will be used in facade to replace dummy pipes

Flute Bass 8 A

Super Octave 4 E

Octave Flute 4 A

Trombone 16 B

Trumpet 8 B

 

I would be interested to hear thoughts from others about this.

 

JA

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Hi everyone,

 

I am at present working on a project to produce a specification to rebuild/reconstruct (?) a two-manual organ built in 1903 by the above mentioned builder as part of an interior restoration at the church. The organ has been rebuilt twice, in 1964 when a screen was built covering the organ, most of the original casework being destroyed and a detached console provided, and again in 1971.

The planned work will include removing the screen and reconstructing the original facade, providing a new attached console and adding a third Choir manual.

 

The original specification was: Gt 8,8,8,4,4 Sw 16,8,8,8,8,4,2,8,8,trem Ped 16,16,8

Additions in 1964 were a 15th unit on the Gt, extended to provide a 12th, and a Lieblich Flute 4' on the Swell.

In 1971, significant changes were made, moving the Sw 16' Bourdon to the Gt and extending it to 8', replacement of Gt Hohl Flute with a Nazard 2 2/3' (the extended 12th being removed), the Gt Open being moved to a unit chest and duplexed to Pd at 4' & 2' and a Mixture (19-22-26) being placed in it's soundboard space. The Sw had only a Larigot installed in place of the Bourdon and the Oboe transposed to 16' (which has now been returned to 8'). The Pedal had a 32' resultant and an 8' extension of the Open Wood added using pipes from a Norman & Beard Open Diapason No.1. The whole of the Pedal was rewinded to a new pin-cushion reservoir.

The original Ventil chests for the Gt & Sw were releathered for the first time then and have been no problem ever since.

 

The aim of the reconstruction is to return the organ back to it's original soundboard specifications but make additions which are sympathetic to the original style and would contribute to the variety of uses that the organ is put to.

 

Working with my client, the final specification we have come up with is below with additions in italics.

 

Great Organ

Double Diapason 16 A

Open Diapason 8

Hohl Flote 8 - scales for new pipes taken from remaining 12 pipes.

Dulciana 8 - common bass

Principal 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2 - 1964

Trumpet 8 B

 

Swell Organ

Bordun 16 C - returned from Gt

Violin Diapason 8

Lieblich Gedact 8

Salicional 8 (common bass)

Voix Celeste 8 (TC)

Gemshorn 4 (tapered)

Flautina 2

Mixture 15.19.22 - 1971 Gt recast

Horn 8

Oboe 8

 

Choir Organ

Rohr Flote 8

Echo Gamba 8 (common bass)

Lieblich Flute 4 - 1964 Sw

Harmonic Piccolo 2

Clarionet 8

Vox Humana 8

 

Pedal Organ

Open Diapason 16 D

Bordun 16 A

Echo Bass 16 C

Quint 10 2/3 A

Octave 8 D

Principal 8 E - bottom 12 pipes will be used in facade to replace dummy pipes

Flute Bass 8 A

Super Octave 4 E

Octave Flute 4 A

Trombone 16 B

Trumpet 8 B

 

I would be interested to hear thoughts from others about this.

 

JA

 

=========================

 

 

Firstly, I wonder if this organ wasn't a "Carnegie Organ?"

 

Andrew Carnegie, the second wealthiest man in the world after Rockerfeller, funded about 7,000 organs in various countries, and the choice of builder for the organ in his Scottish home, Skibo Castle, was none other than Brindley & Foster. Looking at the specification and the date of that instrument (1904), suggests a considerable similarity of style. The specification may be found in the NPOR [N18136 Version 3.1]

 

Diverting slightly, Carneigie was a Humanist, but mellowed his views considerably towards religion, and proved to be a very generous benefactor to the churches when he embarked on his philanthropic works; building libraries, swimming pools and geenrally giving his money away.

 

Of course, I also wonder if Brindley & Foster, being based in Sheffield, didn't have a slight advantage over other builders of the day, for they were the pre-eminent organ-builders in what was a steel-making city; the very trade in which Carnegie made his fortune in America.

 

Being more specific, I would suggest that the specification drawn up is broadly right for a Brindley & Foster organ of this period. Some have been hacked about and tonally altered beyond recognition; most have been scrapped. Only a few remain in original condition, and many of those are in a precarious condition: perhaps the penalty for being misunderstood and even deeply unfashionable.

 

I suspect that by 1903, the dominant influence was that of Foster rather than Brindley; the latter expiring in 1893, but having retired from the firm in 1887.

 

The later Brindley & Foster style is difficult to categorise, because although they followed the fashions of the day to some extent, and moved towards the orchestral style around the turn of the century, they lost their way and fell behind the opposition in that particular pursuit. Clearly, by then, the old "German" style of Charles Brindley and his Schulze connection was largely forgotten, and presumably, most of the the original German workmen had passed away by this time.

 

Foster was an ex-Willis man, but more than that, he was predominantly an engineer with a remarkable facility for pneumatic-action innovations. He also pursued the idea of standardised components and pipe-scales; perhaps leading to organs of a predictable, consistent style, but with few of the tonal innovations of his competitors. It was theis influence which had the greatest impact on a young John Compton, who learned much of his craft from the Sheffield firm.

 

So you really have a "factory organ".......standarised, lots of common components, easily replicable pipe-scales and a predictable musical character. Unfotunately, it was a style of organ-building which found few takers, and by the turn of the century, the company seems to have been in serious decline, with relatively few organs built. It has to be said that other builders, (notably Willis and Norman & Beard) were much more successful in producing the more orchestral style.

 

However, this may not be quite such a bad thing, because remnants of the older Charles Bindley sound remained. The chorus work, where it existed, was never stifled or blown very hard, with the result that they make a good foundation for enlightened rebuilding. Tonally, the big differences appear to be any quite keen string registers, slightly fatter-toned reeds, bigger scale Flutes etc etc. The chorus-work probably remained much as it had always been, but with less attention to voicing detail, for which Charles Brindley was renowned.

 

In fact, taking the revised specification posted, it is exactly what a larger Brindley & Foster organ of the period would have been like, and so long as the new work blends wit the old, you would appear to be on excatly the right lines.

 

I think the two "YouTube" clips I posted earlier in the thread demonstrate the change in tonal style fairly accurately, and the newer style after the turn of the century was not massively different to what Charles Brindley would have done.

 

 

I wish you well with the project.

 

MM

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Hi everyone,

 

 

 

The aim of the reconstruction is to return the organ back to it's original soundboard specifications but make additions which are sympathetic to the original style and would contribute to the variety of uses that the organ is put to.

 

Hi

 

Returning the organ to original specification and making additions are mutually incompatible!

 

Why not just restore as original - presumably it was deemed adequate and fit for purpose at the time. Too many attempts to "improve" organs end up with stops that just sound "wrong".

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

Returning the organ to original specification and making additions are mutually incompatible!

 

Why not just restore as original - presumably it was deemed adequate and fit for purpose at the time. Too many attempts to "improve" organs end up with stops that just sound "wrong".

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

=========================

 

 

I think that the term, "returning the organ to the original soundboard specification" implies that, as far as possible, the original organ will exist as it was built. I presume that the original organ was pnematic action with ventil chests, and elctrifying the action will make no difference to the speech of the pipes.

 

So what is the problem with additional material and unit chests?

 

If the organ sounds as good or better than the original, I can think of no musical objections or even grounds for such, considering that the organ has been previously altered/rebuilt.

 

MM

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=========================

 

 

I think that the term, "returning the organ to the original soundboard specification" implies that, as far as possible, the original organ will exist as it was built. I presume that the original organ was pnematic action with ventil chests, and elctrifying the action will make no difference to the speech of the pipes.

 

So what is the problem with additional material and unit chests?

 

If the organ sounds as good or better than the original, I can think of no musical objections or even grounds for such, considering that the organ has been previously altered/rebuilt.

 

MM

 

Yes MM, the action was pneumatic with ventil chests, which are mostly in original condition, apart from releathering and respringing some of the pallets. The action was electrified when the console was detached in 1964.

 

We are planning to move all of the original pipework back to where it should be on their respective soundboards and any additions will either utilize existing chests from previous rebuilds or new electro-pneumatic chests. This will make sure that additions made will be identifiable easily.

 

We are definately planning to keep the original Ventil soundboards as they are, I believe, the only example by Brindley & Foster in New Zealand now. There were only two B&F instruments imported into NZ, one two-manual and one three-manual, the latter being built in 1896 with pneumatic action and ventil chests (I think), but rebuilt with slider chests and same tonal scheme by Norman & Beard in 1913.

 

I do not know how much the voicing of the original pipework has been changed (if at all), but do not think that there would be any problem with making additions to the scheme. All of the original stops will be as they were in 1903 and the organist can choose not to use the additional stops if they so wish.

 

One question I do have is about having both the 8' Octave (extended with metal pipes from the Open Diapason which is all wood) and the 8' Principal. I had heard that a lot of the time B&F had wooden pipes in the bottom octave of the Open Diapason and metal pipes from C13 upwards.

 

JA

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Yes MM, the action was pneumatic with ventil chests, which are mostly in original condition, apart from releathering and respringing some of the pallets. The action was electrified when the console was detached in 1964.

 

We are planning to move all of the original pipework back to where it should be on their respective soundboards and any additions will either utilize existing chests from previous rebuilds or new electro-pneumatic chests. This will make sure that additions made will be identifiable easily.

 

We are definately planning to keep the original Ventil soundboards as they are, I believe, the only example by Brindley & Foster in New Zealand now. There were only two B&F instruments imported into NZ, one two-manual and one three-manual, the latter being built in 1896 with pneumatic action and ventil chests (I think), but rebuilt with slider chests and same tonal scheme by Norman & Beard in 1913.

 

I do not know how much the voicing of the original pipework has been changed (if at all), but do not think that there would be any problem with making additions to the scheme. All of the original stops will be as they were in 1903 and the organist can choose not to use the additional stops if they so wish.

 

One question I do have is about having both the 8' Octave (extended with metal pipes from the Open Diapason which is all wood) and the 8' Principal. I had heard that a lot of the time B&F had wooden pipes in the bottom octave of the Open Diapason and metal pipes from C13 upwards.

 

JA

 

=======================

 

 

On the last point, you are absolutely right. One of the few remaining B & F organs from their best period (1870-80's), though electrified but almost unaltered tonally, sits just half a mile from me. The Pedal organ has an Open Wood at 16ft; the pipes of the 8ft Octave and above being of plain metal, and even called Octave Wood as the 8ft extension.

 

MM

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