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Gresham Lecture, Catholics versus Protestants:

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Catholics versus Protestants: How liturgy affected the development of the organ

 

Speaker(s): Richard Townend, Birger Marmvik

 

Date/Time: 16/09/2010, 6pm

 

Venue: St Margaret, Lothbury - City of London

 

When Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt the church of St Margaret in Lothbury after the Great Fire, it had no organ. The George Pike organ was completed in 1801 and its pipe work, standing in its original case, forms the basis of the 1984 restoration by John Budgen. The rich sound that comes from its pipes have a clarity that has led many renowned experts to call it one of the finest classical organs in Great Britain. It was played by Mendelssohn.

 

For details of the lecture, see

http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?PageId=...mp;EventId=1102

 

and for details of the organ, see

http://www.stml.org.uk/organ.html

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This lecture can now be heard online.

http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?PageId=...mp;EventId=1102

 

Early on the speaker said, "I have assumed that none of you know nothing about the organ", whereas he meant that he assumed that EVERYONE there knew nothing. As a talk for non-organists it was generally well done, and some of the lecture would be of interest to those who know a lot about the instrument. I think that some of us would argue with some of his statements.

 

He ascribes the reinvention of the organ to an anonymous medieval monk, and suggests that the first of these organs consisted only of 8 foot diapasons - reasonable enough - but in giving an example of what this monk heard, there was not just melody, but harmony from about 600 years later.

 

The link above also gives details of two forthcoming lectures:-

- The German revolution in English organ technology.

- From Trocadero to Troxy: A Tradition Returns.

 

The second of these is about the "largest Wurlitzer in Europe". The instrument referred to might have been the largest at the time, and there are hopes of restoring it. However, I am not sure that it will then be the largest in Europe, as it will have to compete with the one being rebuilt at the National Golf Club near Uckfield, which claims to be the largest outside of America and Australia.

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This lecture can now be heard online.

http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?PageId=...mp;EventId=1102

 

Early on the speaker said, "I have assumed that none of you know nothing about the organ", whereas he meant that he assumed that EVERYONE there knew nothing. As a talk for non-organists it was generally well done, and some of the lecture would be of interest to those who know a lot about the instrument. I think that some of us would argue with some of his statements.

 

He ascribes the reinvention of the organ to an anonymous medieval monk, and suggests that the first of these organs consisted only of 8 foot diapasons - reasonable enough - but in giving an example of what this monk heard, there was not just melody, but harmony from about 600 years later.

 

The link above also gives details of two forthcoming lectures:-

- The German revolution in English organ technology.

- From Trocadero to Troxy: A Tradition Returns.

 

The second of these is about the "largest Wurlitzer in Europe". The instrument referred to might have been the largest at the time, and there are hopes of restoring it. However, I am not sure that it will then be the largest in Europe, as it will have to compete with the one being rebuilt at the National Golf Club near Uckfield, which claims to be the largest outside of America and Australia.

 

 

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

 

 

I'm normally up to date with theatre organ matters, but from what I've read of the Uckfield Wurlitzer, it is assembled from various sources rather than one. It means that the former South Bank Wurlitzer remains the largest Wurlitzer installed BY THE COMPANY in Europe.

 

Of course, if the assembly is done well, (which is usually the case), the organ will sound wonderful, and will be like any other good Wurlitzer, so it will be the largest in Europe by far, and the nearest we will have to those gigantic 40+ rank instruments across the pond.

 

Actually, the largest cinema organ in Europe was never a Wurlitzer, but the 36 rank Christie at the Regal, Marble Arch, designed by Herbert Norman and Quentin Maclean. I even have a recording of it on vinyl, before the instrument was ripped out and stored in two truck trailers on a farm somewhere. (A very sad story indeed!)

 

MM

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

 

 

I'm normally up to date with theatre organ matters, but from what I've read of the Uckfield Wurlitzer, it is assembled from various sources rather than one. It means that the former South Bank Wurlitzer remains the largest Wurlitzer installed BY THE COMPANY in Europe.

 

Of course, if the assembly is done well, (which is usually the case), the organ will sound wonderful, and will be like any other good Wurlitzer, so it will be the largest in Europe by far, and the nearest we will have to those gigantic 40+ rank instruments across the pond.

 

Actually, the largest cinema organ in Europe was never a Wurlitzer, but the 36 rank Christie at the Regal, Marble Arch, designed by Herbert Norman and Quentin Maclean. I even have a recording of it on vinyl, before the instrument was ripped out and stored in two truck trailers on a farm somewhere. (A very sad story indeed!)

 

MM

 

Hi

 

The Regal, Marble Arch Christie isn't really a cinema organ in the current meaning of the word - simply because it uses comparatively little extension/duplexing, it's more a transitional instrument between the earlier "straight" orchestral organs - especially those by Hill, Norman and Beard for cinemas (for example, see http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...c_index=N15535) and the later extension organs typical of the Christie name. You'll be pleased to heat that this organ has recently been purchased for restoration (I hope a historically informed restoration!).

 

In terms of the largest cinema organ in the UK (although not strictly in a cinema, but very much of the genre) is the Compton installation in the Southampton Guildhall - 41 ranks on the Classical Console, and I think there's an additional Tibia on the theatre organ side, plus the Melotone unit. This is a dual-purpose organ. Stop lists are at NPOR N11620 (Classical Console - scroll down and there's info on the distribution of the ranks between the chambers) and N18285 for the TPO console (as yet we have no information on the derivation of the various stops in the theatre spec.

 

The UK's other large dual purpose instrument (Dome, Brighton) also has a significant number of ranks.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

The Regal, Marble Arch Christie isn't really a cinema organ in the current meaning of the word - simply because it uses comparatively little extension/duplexing, it's more a transitional instrument between the earlier "straight" orchestral organs - especially those by Hill, Norman and Beard for cinemas (for example, see http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...c_index=N15535) and the later extension organs typical of the Christie name. You'll be pleased to heat that this organ has recently been purchased for restoration (I hope a historically informed restoration!).

 

In terms of the largest cinema organ in the UK (although not strictly in a cinema, but very much of the genre) is the Compton installation in the Southampton Guildhall - 41 ranks on the Classical Console, and I think there's an additional Tibia on the theatre organ side, plus the Melotone unit. This is a dual-purpose organ. Stop lists are at NPOR N11620 (Classical Console - scroll down and there's info on the distribution of the ranks between the chambers) and N18285 for the TPO console (as yet we have no information on the derivation of the various stops in the theatre spec.

 

The UK's other large dual purpose instrument (Dome, Brighton) also has a significant number of ranks.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

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

 

 

We must include Wolverhampton Civic Hall, as well as Hull City Hall; the latter having an extended Tibia rank and percussion stops.

 

MM

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

 

 

We must include Wolverhampton Civic Hall, as well as Hull City Hall; the latter having an extended Tibia rank and percussion stops.

 

MM

 

Hi

 

To an extent, yes, but unlike the others I mentioned, these are more concert organs with theatre organ trappings added (not a bad things though) rather than being designed from the beginning as dual purpose organs. Compton seems to have had a pretty good idea of the market in his time.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

To an extent, yes, but unlike the others I mentioned, these are more concert organs with theatre organ trappings added (not a bad things though) rather than being designed from the beginning as dual purpose organs. Compton seems to have had a pretty good idea of the market in his time.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

But in the case of Hull City Hall some of the percussion stops, Pedal Drums, Choir Celesta and Solo Chimes & Glockenspiel ("Steel Bars") were put there in 1911 ! Sir Edward Bairstow famously wrote a letter deploring the inclusion of these "vulgar" contraptions. Compton certainly added more, and was responsible for the extended Tibia on the Solo , but the existence of these stops from before the First World War surely suggests that this instrument was conceived as a dual purpose one from its inception.

 

Brian Childs

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