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A british style of organ deisgn/building/eveloution


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As some will know, I am connected with a church currently considering options for its instrument. However, this enquiry is not connected with that situation, but is a request for discussion in a general sense.

 

Is there what one might call a modern school of thoguht about a british style of organ? Obviously there are opinions favouring creation of a replica of a past instrument, opinions about 'historically informed' restoration, etc.. These, I suspect, throw up various other considerations - for example, what part of an instruments history is considered historically significant, and does that mean that otherparts are by definition insiginificant.

 

Is there a discernible national style in the building of new instruments? Does that style, perhaps, only manifest itself in large schemes?

 

Where does the eclectic style of instrument(for example, as in many cathedrals), evolved over the years lie in this spectrum of endeavour?

 

Personally, I do not favour any one opinion over another out of context - which is just another way of saying that local circumstances must form a large part of any scheme and the decisions surrounding it.

 

I realise that the sort of questions I've mentioned above only scratch the surface of possible debate - but perhaps may serve to stimulate others.

 

(My reading on the subject of the development of organs started with Sumner, and onwards through Clutton & Niland, etc., and is still carrying on!)

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This is an interesting point for discussion and not an easy one to answer.

 

The world has got an awful lot smaller over the past couple of decades. In some respects, the style of organbuilding is not as closely related to the geographical location of the builder as it used to be. One certainly sees wide variations of style within any one country.

 

We like to think of our own work as being founded in English roots, but developed from that to ensure versatility, but still being true to our English roots. One can wax lyrical about that without much real meaning. Rather than listen to (or read) me pontificating about that, may I suggest that you listen to the relatively new CD made by Thomas Trotter on the east organ at St Giles Cripplegate. This is an organ of only 13 stops (although two of the Great Organ stops are borrowed to the Pedal Organ making it look as if it had 15 stops). The CD has a wide variety of music, both geographical and in time and I think it displays a high degree of versatility. But when you come to the John Stanley, I think the English roots are very evident.

 

Instead of listening to me, why not buy a copy of the CD? I am happy to offer it to members of the discussion board at a reduced price of £7:50 including postage. Just send a cheque made out to Mander Organs for £7:50 and mention that you are a member of the discussion board and don't forget to include your return address for the CD! In case you need it, here is the address:

 

Mander Organs

CD Offer

St Peter's Square

London E2 7AF

 

John

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Thank you for those comments.

 

Yes, it does seem harder thesedays to establish what might be a national style. This, of course, is overlaid by all sorts of historical considerations - and all that before one gets to whatever are the personal preferences of those who may be footing the bill for an instrument or work on an existing instrument.

 

Is it, for example, valid to return an organ to a state believed to be matching the intentions of the original builder? (The original builder's intentions, of course, may from the outset have been modified to a greater to lesser degree by the views and imperatives of those whopaid for the instrument.) Circumstances (liturgical, development of musical styles, etc.) may well have changed, taking the needful use of the instrument into different areas. Having posed that question, I recently had a delightful time on the restored organ in St Swithun's, Worcester. On the other hand, our larger instruments in this country have tended to be rebuilt and enlarged as new developments have come along - and are still musical instruments, in the main. I suppose I am drawn to both ends of that spectrum - though I tend to feel that an instrument's current environment should govern what happens to it, unless very exceptional conditions apply. So, I wonder where the views of players and of diocesan/denominational advisers, independent advisers, and organ designers and builders also lie - and whether there is a consensus on these matters.

 

Another way of describing my view as a player, then, would be 'confused' - which is why I find these questions interesting.

 

I should certainly like to take up Mr Mander's generous offer in relation to the CD, but no longer use cheques. I wonder if it can be found via an online retailer - even if at full price.

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For whatever it may be worth - and I speak as just an organist, not an organ builder or consultant - I think that the best organs are those constructed with their space in mind.

 

I'm sure Mander and his counterparts would agree than a new organ has to be the right size, not only for the building but for whatever space assigned to it within said building. It needs to be appropriate for the regular job(s) it may have to perform - in most cases accompanying congregations; in many cases accompanying choirs with a varied repertoire; in a few cases, playing in recitals and concerts.

 

Whatever an organist wants, he or she needs to put aside any preconceptions of "our ideal organ" and listen very carefully to what an organ builder / consultant says. Such people are skilled in determining what sound a building may require, and in drawing up specifications to achieve that. It's all well and good to put one's foot down and demand a double reed here, an Open Wood there or a greater number of pedal stops - one may even argue that such things must be included as characteristically "British" or "eclectic" sounds - but if the building doesn't require them, or if the builder is going to have to sacrifice some other stop(s) to include them, one must take that into account and try to accept doing without.

 

If you look at the most successful recent builds - St Barnabas Dulwich, Marlborough College, Glenalmond College, Jesus College Cambridge - you'll see instruments that, despite lacking certain characteristics, are exactly what their buildings need. They are also excellent representatives of their respective builders' work, and thus proof of this point that "the builder's advice should always be heeded!"

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For whatever it may be worth - and I speak as just an organist, not an organ builder or consultant - I think that the best organs are those constructed with their space in mind.

 

I'm sure Mander and his counterparts would agree than a new organ has to be the right size, not only for the building but for whatever space assigned to it within said building. It needs to be appropriate for the regular job(s) it may have to perform - in most cases accompanying congregations; in many cases accompanying choirs with a varied repertoire; in a few cases, playing in recitals and concerts.

 

Whatever an organist wants, he or she needs to put aside any preconceptions of "our ideal organ" and listen very carefully to what an organ builder / consultant says. Such people are skilled in determining what sound a building may require, and in drawing up specifications to achieve that. It's all well and good to put one's foot down and demand a double reed here, an Open Wood there or a greater number of pedal stops - one may even argue that such things must be included as characteristically "British" or "eclectic" sounds - but if the building doesn't require them, or if the builder is going to have to sacrifice some other stop(s) to include them, one must take that into account and try to accept doing without.

 

If you look at the most successful recent builds - St Barnabas Dulwich, Marlborough College, Glenalmond College, Jesus College Cambridge - you'll see instruments that, despite lacking certain characteristics, are exactly what their buildings need. They are also excellent representatives of their respective builders' work, and thus proof of this point that "the builder's advice should always be heeded!"

 

Yes, that's along the lines of my instinctive feelings - as you say, as a player. I wonder if there are nuances, particularly in relation to the historical perspective or otherwise, which designers/builders/consultants would also call into play.

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Is there a "British style of organ composition" or "British style of worship" currently that will dictate considerations? I am not aware of anything exceptional but might have missed something in the making. If not, then you will probably end up with something that will facilitate music of one particular genre more than another. That might mean a swing towards a "French romantic" or "German baroque" say, though one could argue that a characteristic of a good versatile organ (not necessarily an "eclectic" organ - I doubt many people would still think that HNB eclecticism of the 1970s was the pinnacle of the British organ with their positives and square pistons) is that music of any age can sound good.

 

The variety of excellent work coming out of British organshops lately, whether inspired by the Victorians (Willis), the English 18th century (Drake, G&G), or just the attempt to build a versatile instrument that takes styling cues from a former age but produces something with unique character (Tickell at Dulwich, Mander at St Ignatius) makes me think we have two different styling streams going on. One seeks to replicate excellence from former ages of British organs, the other seeks to produce something essentially undateable. Which in the long run will still be around without tonal changes and modifications a hundred years from now we cannot know; but I would think most people would be quite happy with an instrument of either stream and current levels of quality. Things are certainly much improved from the days of the first Royal Festival Hall organ, with Compton jokingly supplying near identical specifications to each of its three manuals, but with Germanic positf names, British great stop names and French swell names.

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The variety of excellent work coming out of British organshops lately, whether inspired by the Victorians (Willis), the English 18th century (Drake, G&G), or just the attempt to build a versatile instrument that takes styling cues from a former age but produces something with unique character (Tickell at Dulwich, Mander at St Ignatius) makes me think we have two different styling streams going on. .................................Things are certainly much improved from the days of the first Royal Festival Hall organ, with Compton jokingly supplying near identical specifications to each of its three manuals, but with Germanic positf names, British great stop names and French swell names.

 

If one looks beyond the stop names still I believe one can see a clear link between all these.

 

A

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The very existence of this thread is quite interesting; you will never find

anything like that on a french or german forum, as everyone there never

questionned the fact there was, is, and will be, local styles of their own,

despite the globalization of the culture.

But does this mean the english/ british Orgellandschaft to be actually poorer

than the continental ones ? And/or less interesting/ valuable/ worth ?

Should someone who never went to Britain read this Discussions board, he could well

be lead to that conclusion; same with much british litterature, among which W-L Sumner

is an excellent example.

There is, and always have been, something like a "we're just a little island" Mantra, despite

the incredible historic achievments of the Empire, and this, even while this very empire

ruled a third of the entire world -Globalization ? Anything new ?-.

 

The history of the british organ is actually incredibly rich, varied, and extremely well documented

compared with others interesting ones (think of the iberic peninsulae for example, for which we

have near to nothing). But fact is, those riches were obtained with much borrowings from abroad:

France, the Netherlands, Flanders, Southern Germany, central Germany, Spain/ Portugal, they all

contributed to the various british organ styles in the course of time.

 

But if a german would recognize, in Armley for example, an indisputably german organ, he would

certainly not do with the very next step, that is, the "Schulze Diapason choruses" built in imitation

by the british organ-builders. The thing was immediately integrated in the british manner.

 

Because here it is: one might say " there are fewer interesting british repertoire than the continental ones", but, above all, there is a british way of "making music", regardless of the origin of the paper sheet the conductor uses.

 

Take the Saint-Saëns mass of Donald Hunt I linked to yesterday on the "Youtube" thread.

If we give the score a "table study", we must quickly recognize it is actually, from a musical

point of view, a rather poor thing. It was composed at 18 years old by Saint-Saëns, as his fourth

work; this is nothing else as a youth exercise, largely inspired by the Messe royale by Dumont of which

one might say it is a "remake".

And though, be sure nobody on the continent never heard this work like Mr Hunt made it sound -and actually,

a vast majority of the continentals never even heard of it.

So this interpretation is at least as british as it is french; it is a re-creation in a way that is unquestionnably

british.

But then in Wo'ster, at the time I went there on a somewhat regular basis, the people said they made french music.

French??? Really ???

 

So we have here a malentendu from the start.

 

The same with the very limitations of the historic organs. The baroque british organ was despised because "you cannot play Bach with this music-box with no Pedals". Aside to the fact one cannot expect to play a "fully correct" Bach

anywhere outside central Germany, for obvious reasons that exist with any other composer from any area and period,

it was also forgetting the fact those limitations existed in a vast majority of the continental styles as well; in Flanders,

the Netherlands and Germany, there were much little organs with no Pedals as well.

 

Today the trend -the tradition?- of "look abroad what they do" continues, and this, while in that very "abroad"

the interest for the british romantic organ is ever rising.

 

What we on the continent learnt those last decades is the fact one cannot go further in the evolution if

you cannot built on a complete historic basis; that is, you won't create a sound new organ design if you do not

have examples of what preceeded you. Or you will ever re-invent the wheel.

We need the complete film before writing the next chapter, and that means for the organ: we must be reconciliated

with all organ styles from all periods, and restore examples of them.

 

If you are still with me, this means, in (poor) english, this: In order to be able to create a really modern,

sound british organ style, you first need a reconciliation with the complete historical set, Music-box-with-no-Pedals and Hope-Jones included.

 

With my very best wishes !

 

Pete (from New Scotland, fighting to keep his head on his shoulders in the local Highlands)

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As ever, this board, exemplified in members' contributions to this thread, has provided much food for thought. Which most definitely does not require a quick an facile response from me!

 

Thank you all so far - for stimulating thought!

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The very existence of this thread is quite interesting; you will never find

anything like that on a french or german forum, as everyone there never

questionned the fact there was, is, and will be, local styles of their own,

despite the globalization of the culture.

 

 

But does this mean the english/ british to be actually poorer

than the continental ones ? And/or less interesting/ valuable/ worth ?

Should someone who never went to Britain read this Discussions board, he could well

be lead to that conclusion........

 

 

 

The history of the british organ is actually incredibly rich, varied, and extremely well documented

compared with others interesting ones (think of the iberic peninsulae for example, for which we

have near to nothing). But fact is, those riches were obtained with much borrowings from abroad:

France, the Netherlands, Flanders, Southern Germany, central Germany, Spain/ Portugal, they all

contributed to the various british organ styles in the course of time.

 

But if a german would recognize, in Armley for example, an indisputably german organ, he would

certainly not do with the very next step, that is, the "Schulze Diapason choruses" built in imitation

by the british organ-builders. The thing was immediately integrated in the british manner.

 

 

 

The same with the very limitations of the historic organs. The baroque british organ was despised because "you cannot play Bach with this music-box with no Pedals".

 

 

What we on the continent learnt those last decades is the fact one cannot go further in the evolution if

you cannot built on a complete historic basis; that is, you won't create a sound new organ design if you do not

have examples of what preceeded you. Or you will ever re-invent the wheel.

We need the complete film before writing the next chapter, and that means for the organ: we must be reconciliated

with all organ styles from all periods, and restore examples of them.

 

If you are still with me, this means, in (poor) english, this: In order to be able to create a really modern,

sound british organ style, you first need a reconciliation with the complete historical set, Music-box-with-no-Pedals and Hope-Jones included.

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

 

 

 

My apologies to Pierre for trimming his reply a little, in the interests of clarity.

 

In my own lifetime thus far, I have seen fashions change a number of times; not always successfully or lastingly.

 

When I started getting interested in the organ, I suppose the "revolutionary" Royal Festival Hall instrument must have been a decade old, and even then, it was still the big talking point which divided opinion at almost any gathering of organists. It was a point of division which really amounted to an age-gap attitude; the older parish organists absolutely sure that the increasingly unfashionable Arthur Harrison; Hill, Norman & Beard and Willis instruments represented the apogee of British organ-art. The younger generation would probably have been quite happy to put a match to many of them!

 

Fashion took a new twist with the significant re-build of the organ at York Minster which, (drawing a veil over the acoustic problems of the building), produced an organ of extraordinary colour with a unique personality. That led, of course, to the superb new Walker organ at Blackburn Cathedral, which to this day, has probably never been bettered as a means of combining the disparate elements of French and German organs.

 

Unknow to us at the time, there was nothing new about this, because the Hungarian and Czech organ-builders were doing similar things; especially Rieger-Kloss.

 

Then we had a bit of a niche interest in all things William Hill, with Mander Organs getting involved with the instrument at Holborn. A very nice musical instrument resulted, it has to be said, but whether it had much of a lasting influence is a matter for conjecture. Still, if nothing else, it served to remind us of a more "classical" age in English organ-building prior to 1900 or thereabouts, and in which I have a considerable interest.

 

Now Pierre mentions the integration of "Schulze choruses" into English organs, but I would immediately dispute this.

 

However, to first remind ourselves, this is what a Schulze organ sounds like:-

 

Schulze Organ, St Bart's, Armley

 

To the best of my knowledge, only the organ-builders T C Lewis and Charles Brindley could ever be said to have followed that particular path. (In the case of Charles Brindley, he actually preceded Schulze, but not to the full extent of a making replica "German" organs, in spite of the fact that he had worked with the Schulze company in Paulinzelle, prior to establishing himself as an organ-builder in England).

 

Most, if not all other organ builders simply increased the power of the Great choruses, and none more so than Arthur Harrison, with his leathered No.1's. For the majority of organ-builders, the "Schulze influence" meant nothing more than a large scale first Diapason of funereal gravity and imposing power, which had very little to do with Schulze at all.

 

By way of contrast, I don't think Willis ever followed the "Schulze" fashion, even though there are certain elements of it to be found at Westminster Cathedral and Liverpool Cathedral: two very distinctive and untypical Willis organs; the latter outstandingly fine and incredibly effective in that massive space.

 

What amazes me, is that the T C Lewis legacy has never properly been built upon as the basis for a uniquely British style of instrument, so far as I am aware. What Lewis achieved, and to a lesser extent Charles Brindley, was remarkable, but it was swept away by the fashion for the more orchestral style; culminating in the a-typical styles of Arthur Harrison and Willis III with which we are so familiar.

 

Let's remind ourselves of what T C Lewis could do:-

 

Southwark Cathedral T C Lewis

 

Lewis - Ashton under Lyne T C Lewis

 

Interestingly, I remember having a forum exchange with someone, (I forget who), of Dobson Organs in the US.

 

He said that the organs built by theDobson company were broadly based on those of T C Lewis, and having heard a few recordings of thier instruments, I would't doubt it for a moment. G.Donald Harrison was similarly inspired, and the formulation of the "American Classic" was the splendid tonal result.

 

Using YouTube as our comparative source, the following are very interesting:-

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RziML81b4J8

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocMYRvnpeXg...re=mfu_in_order

 

I thought it best to offer the Bach Trio movements first, because they demonstrate the delightful clarity of quite simple registrations, on what is quite a modest organ, without recourse to spikey registrations of any sort.

 

The following demonstrates a somewhat larger Dobson organ, which I would dearly love to hear and play. I think I could live with this instrument very happily.

 

 

 

MM

 

PS: What on earth is Pierre doing in Nova Scotia?

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So are we asking what is an English style? In truth, I think history suggests it can be a little bit of almost anything, and in a way, I think amalgamation is the English style. What I now think we are faced with, is trying to create a consistent style out of the amalgamation, when we haven't really done it before, in order to say 'This is the modern English organ'. Having heard numerous recent new British organs, unless built in a strict historical style, they all sound rather too similar, which does indeed support the argument of what is trying to be done. The end result is cogent with the philosophy.

 

I don't believe the philosophy is necessarily sound however, and furthermore, don't know where it is going. Are we really going to be building identical organs in 100 years time to those we build now? If so we would be going back to rate of development not seen since the 16th Century. Some might argue that this is a good thing. I would like to see a proper contextualised discourse supporting this before I believed it.

 

A previous poster pointed the right direction by suggesting that the organ must be right for the building. This to me is way forward, that would mark out a true English (note why not British) organ style. It would be far truer to the roots of amalgamation, with an anglicised (sorry) twist. This would mean that we could take a far more mature view of the 17th C, 18th C, early mid and late 19th C, Hope Jones et al, neo classique, more so than neo baroque as other than GDB/R and a few other small snippets we didn't really do neo baroque, styles rather than pigeon holing them. There is a time and place for everything, and every building is different. Moreover, every customer is different, and the majority want what they want, and are not that quick to take education and advice beyond their own sphere of thinking. It's rather like asking Constable to paint in the style of Turner, because I like Turner's work, but I want Constable to do the job. However what is right for the space is a miniature by Sir Peter Lely.

 

AJS

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The starting question could have been raised easily in Germany, too.

Amalgamation can be found very much in the south of Germany, with influences from Italy or France (depending on region), and not to forget the "almost French" style of catholic organs in the southern Netherlands, as on the other hand the "almost North German/Netherlands" style of flemish instruments. Most of the Baltic organ styles, as the Scandinavian, are rooting elsewhere.

As somebody said above, there are two streams, one searching for the essence of the past, the other one searching for - well, what should one say? Suiting most needs and organist's wishes?

Current new builds of German organs do not offer any contemporary style, except the fact, that the current MIX BALANCE of older styles shows the date of the design. By the moment, it is fashionable to have voices rootin in German Romantic Style, while the fashion of writing Cavailé-Coll stopnames onto the knobs (I mean, rarely we do hear the corresponding sound, too...) is not over.

Newly built voix celestes and Trompettes harmoniques can be found in churches of German cities with just 20.000 inhabitants.

 

I frankly confess, that even I am very little engaged in promoting contemporary music, and for the standard audience, the gap between the acceptance of contemporary music and the attractivity of masterworks from the past is bigger than ever. Having an audience preferring to listen to the past, this is a certain brake for the development of contemporary organ building, no matter which European region we are talking about.

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I find it impossible to look at this question without thinking of the H&H at Coventry Cathedral, which, for me, came close to redefining the British organ - or, at least, setting out afresh what it might be. If the RFH was something of a first trial - can one liken an instrument of >100 stops to an experiment? - then I'd like to think that Coventry pretty much succeeded. And I s'pose a number of factors permitted it: H&H had the RFH experience on which to build; there was the new cathedral; and then there was the physical position which the organ was to occupy. Did these demand "new thinking"? Yes - well, anyway, I suspect so.

 

Certainly, it seems to me at least that Coventry looked a long way into the future, with its cleaner choruses, and fierier reeds than H&H had done before; but it also looked back too, with an Open Wood foundation on the Pedal, and both a Double Open Diapason and Bourdon on the Great. Despite these few "old fashioned" features, I think British organ building moved a long way forward with Coventry.

 

Do others feel the same way as me about it? Or, if not Coventry, then any other instruments?

 

Rgds

MJF

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The topic touches on the age old question, rarely answered with reliability of whether the instrument or the composition came first. The organ has been repeatedly redesigned to play the repertoire, such as it is chosen to be by preference of the customer with a nod to different schools.

 

My somewhat radical suggestion to create the modern organ of the future is to make this role secondary, as in truth it is an unobtainable position in absolute. The inability to 'authentically' play the repertoire is the norm and the modern English organ seems to aim to do it with its genesis in eclecticism. I would rather accept it as the norm, and make the primary design of the instrument to be that of best fit with the building in which it resides. With a correctly tutored ear all things past become possible, and new things in the future become equally possible. This is indeed difficult as it requires a breadth of hearing and testing that many in the trade do not have, an end to 'house' styles to some degree, and a problem of educating customers who simply don't function at the same high level, nor would they need to, but have closed minds to many things.

 

We all have to earn a living mi'lud.

 

AJS

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I find it impossible to look at this question without thinking of the H&H at Coventry Cathedral, which, for me, came close to redefining the British organ - or, at least, setting out afresh what it might be. If the RFH was something of a first trial - can one liken an instrument of >100 stops to an experiment? - then I'd like to think that Coventry pretty much succeeded. And I s'pose a number of factors permitted it: H&H had the RFH experience on which to build; there was the new cathedral; and then there was the physical position which the organ was to occupy. Did these demand "new thinking"? Yes - well, anyway, I suspect so.

 

Certainly, it seems to me at least that Coventry looked a long way into the future, with its cleaner choruses, and fierier reeds than H&H had done before; but it also looked back too, with an Open Wood foundation on the Pedal, and both a Double Open Diapason and Bourdon on the Great. Despite these few "old fashioned" features, I think British organ building moved a long way forward with Coventry.

 

Do others feel the same way as me about it? Or, if not Coventry, then any other instruments?

 

Rgds

MJF

My point absolutely.

 

AJS

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I'm certainly an admirer of the Coventry instrument.

 

Best fit for building, and immediate and projected usage spring to mind as the best way forward. I confess I rather balk at the idea of a perfect restoration (or as near perfect as may be imagined) if that produces somethign of a 'museum piece' out of kilter with the usage of the building, and the instrument-characteristics to fulfil those usages, interesting though it may be.

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Here, again, we drift towards utilitarism-pragmatism; interesting with projects

of limited scope for money-deprived churches, but we won't create a style with it.

Maybe an other viewpoint might be interesting:

What do you think customers from abroad would want from a british builder ?

 

Pierre

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What do you think customers from abroad would want from a british builder ?

 

OK -

 

1) It has to be properly engineered, both to work well and to last. This suggests tracker action and mechanical stop action, but not as an absolute. Essentially, if you couldn't achieve something with tracker action, why are you doing it? (I am thinking of things like bits of extended pedal upperwork lying around all over the place.)

 

2) One characteristic which has been fairly consistent from 1815ish to now is the English releationship between Swell and Great, which is as unique as, say, French classical GO and Recit.

 

3) The voicing of the organ should be absolutely critical to the identity of the firm's work, and the voicer should preferably be the same person who has conceived, designed and scaled the instrument in their heads and knows what will work. I would by instinct reject any proposal by a firm where voicing appears to be a relatively inconsequential thing delegated to a fairly uninvolved member of staff, with no particularly evident interest by the proprietor or directors - and, rarely, where pipes are ordered from a supply house 'voiced'. It usually shows. (I don't care in the least who actually makes the pipes, though, as some readers may recall!)

 

 

In an early post MSW mentioned four recent organs which he/she considers a success. Interestingly, two on that list were ones I judged to be spectacularly badly suited to their buildings (though not as spectacular as some not mentioned), both suffering from quite poor tonal finishing (I quite honestly couldn't bear to be in the room when the Swell reeds of one of them were played), and one also significantly less well engineered than I would have expected (I haven't seen inside the other). All that proves is just how subjective these things are.

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"One characteristic which has been fairly consistent from 1815ish to now is the English releationship between Swell and Great, which is as unique as, say, French classical GO and Recit. "

(Quote)

 

And here we enter into the matter !

There are others points...

 

Pierre

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OK -

 

 

2) One characteristic which has been fairly consistent from 1815ish to now is the English releationship between Swell and Great, which is as unique as, say, French classical GO and Recit.

 

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

 

Actually, you're completely wrong....I think.

 

If you were to look at some pre-1840-ish instruments, the "Swell" would often be little more than a tiny expressive department with just a handful of stops, and a Great organ twice the size and power.

 

During the "German System" years, Swell organs certainly increased in importance, but even then there were enormous differences in the relative power of Swell and Great, with different builders having very different ideas.

 

It was Hill and Gray & Davison, (possibly a few others), as well as the Northern builders of Manchester who made the first really substantial Swell organs, but they were refined affairs on the whole, without any great power.

 

Then came a seed change, as the more symphonic style emerged, and one could hardly argue about the panache and effective of a Fr Willis 12 stop Swell such as St Paul's. Here, the power was entirely due to the very dominant reeds of outstanding quality, which in many ways, also formed the basis for the similar effectiveness of an Arthur Harrison Swell.

 

However, perhaps "Heckolphone" has something else in mind, and I have missed the point somehow.

 

MM

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Actually, you're completely wrong....I think.

 

If you were to look at some pre-1840-ish instruments, the "Swell" would often be little more than a tiny expressive department with just a handful of stops, and a Great organ twice the size and power.

 

During the "German System" years, Swell organs certainly increased in importance, but even then there were enormous differences in the relative power of Swell and Great, with different builders having very different ideas.

 

It was Hill and Gray & Davison, (possibly a few others), as well as the Northern builders of Manchester who made the first really substantial Swell organs, but they were refined affairs on the whole, without any great power.

 

Then came a seed change, as the more symphonic style emerged, and one could hardly argue about the panache and effective of a Fr Willis 12 stop Swell such as St Paul's. Here, the power was entirely due to the very dominant reeds of outstanding quality, which in many ways, also formed the basis for the similar effectiveness of an Arthur Harrison Swell.

 

However, perhaps "Heckolphone" has something else in mind, and I have missed the point somehow.

 

MM

 

Hi

 

Maybe he meant from 1850ish? That to a large extent marks the watershed, even though smaller organs in the early 1800's sometimes had no choir and a swell dept descending to Tenor C rather than the earlier Great & Choir as the first 2 manuals.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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