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I've seen the odd reference to Italian organs on this forum, and, if I remember rightly, JPM mentioned certain similarities between English organs pre-1850 and Italian traditions, which were too close to be coincidental, yet which he could not explain. I'm completely ignorant about Italian organs, so can anyone here enlighten me on them? Which other major organ tradition does the Italian tradition resemble?

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This appears to have started with Cecil Clutton, and been continued by Peter Williams; but Stephen Bicknell points out there there is no hard evidence for their view. The main points seem to be a hint of similarity in nomenclature for high stops (e.g. Two and Twentieth), and a tendency towards longer compasses than elsewhere. Other things suggested by Williams seem so generic (not to mention speculative) as not to indicate any real link.

 

Also, pre-1650 would be more realistic - at the restoration, the builders returning or coming from France and Holland become the obvious influences (think Harris and Smith).

 

Paul

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The ancient english organ (before Cromwell) belonged to the Ripieno kind,

bevause their Principal chorus was splitted on seperate stops, every rank having

its slider. The basis was:

 

Open Diapason 8'

(Sometimes: a second one, which pipes were on another façade)

(Stopped Diapason 8')

Principal 4' (sometimes two as well)

Twelfth 2 2/3'

Fifteenth 2'

 

The stops being named (from the Quint) after the cypher corresponding to their height, as in

the italian organ.

The difference is the fact the italian organ had no Twelfth (in the bass!), and its rank went higher, with breaks

the ancient Diapason Chorus of course did not have.

 

The link between Northern Italy (one of the two main organ centres during the Renaissance,

the second one being the Brabant) and Britain courd have been the Burgundy.

 

This Ripieno kind of organ is the most polyphonic among all organ styles, and certainly emerged

from the polyphonic music of the Renaissance period. Coumpond Mixtures, whose ranks break

togheter on the same note, where rather made for Power -at least an apparent one- like the

Blockwerk they are a remains of.

 

A beautiful video featuring an authentic italian Ripieno registration:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Jw5zdFw6GI

 

Pierre

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thank you both for your informative replies. How did later Italian organs evolve, e.g. in the nineteenth century? I saw on this board somewhere a comparison of a recent Mascioni organ to the style of William Hill. How was the Italian organ tradition affected by trends elsewhere in Europe?

 

This is a very complex matter, that could fill at least 10 pages here -which is a normal occurence

for such a sophisticated country!-

 

To keep it brief -and of course unsufficient-:

 

-The italian organ of the 19th century does not exist per Se, as there are several "Orgellandschafte"

with distinct traits; (this is of course also true with the earlier styles)

 

-The Ripieno basis continued straight towards the end of the century;

 

-Besides this, there was a tendancy to develop "fancy" stops, accessories, in a manner that

announces the theatre organ; there were little influencies from others countries;

 

-Towards the end of the 19th century, a liturgical reform took place, the "Cecilian movement", which

impact on the organ was a wider influence from abroad, among which England ;

 

-The result was a typically post-romantic organ style, emerging around 1900, which was closer

to the others european styles of that epoch.

 

Pierre

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This appears to have started with Cecil Clutton, and been continued by Peter Williams; but Stephen Bicknell points out there there is no hard evidence for their view. The main points seem to be a hint of similarity in nomenclature for high stops (e.g. Two and Twentieth), and a tendency towards longer compasses than elsewhere. Other things suggested by Williams seem so generic (not to mention speculative) as not to indicate any real link.

 

Also, pre-1650 would be more realistic - at the restoration, the builders returning or coming from France and Holland become the obvious influences (think Harris and Smith).

 

Paul

The Spanish also shared the tradition of naming their upper ranks by the partial from the unison - octava, docena, quincena, decinovena, etc. I think it would be interesting to speculate on the relationship between the Italian and Spanish organ, its design and repertoire, of the 16th to 18th Century, especially in relation to the social, religious and political relationships of the Mediterranean states of this period.

 

It is also interesting to speculate on the relationship between between the English and Dutch schools of the 16th and 17th Century - things like a Fantasia on a Fugue of Sweelinck by John Bull whet the appetite for what interaction might have been going on between these composers (and the organs they knew) at this time. When one considers the writings of Praetorius and his designs for 6ft, 8ft, 12ft, 16ft organs, etc and the early cases known in England - such as the 6ft cases at Old Radnor - and compare against nearly contemporary cases such as the van Covalens choir organ Alkmaar - one is led to speculate about the cross-pollination of ideas.

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Here is an example of a 19th century italian organ, with contemporary music:

 

 

(It might be somewhat surprising. But before "judging", remember, all things

authentic are surprising)

 

As for the "cecilian reform" inspired post-romantic organ, here is one of the latest examples:

 

 

 

Pierre

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Did the first of those just wander in from a local fairground?

 

Paul

 

I feared precisely this.

I wrote: "before "judging", remember, all things

authentic are surprising".

 

The ancient music we know today represents less than 10% of what existed.

Among the 90% which remains, there are much things that are too "spicey"

for our aseptised tastes, and this, not only in Italy of course.

We are still, by far, more influenced by the victorian period than we believe it.

When presented with historic material, it might be interesting to think

"If I were there at this time, it is probable I would do the same thing,

so what ? Let us think again". The alternative is to get rid of the History

at all, and then, condemn oneself to re-write it. Any takers ?

 

Pierre

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Hey, I wasn't condemning it! I like a decent fairground organ. But if you feared such a remark, that means you also saw the possibility.

 

Anyway, I'd say there's more evidence there to support a hypothesis of Italian influence on fairground organs than there is elsewhere for Italian influence on early English organs; doesn't mean it's true, of course.

 

Paul

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Indeed, and we may also think there has been some influence of this style

upon the theatre organ.

 

Pierre

And looking of course at the architecture of these buildings they were a theatre for the Mass and other celebrations. There is little between the Opera and the Chiesa in many Italian towns.

Serrasi built glorious instruments from the factory in Bergamo** and they are fine instruments for the opera transcriptions that worshippers adored in the liturgy. The Offertory in the Roman church is a non-liturgical moment and is a fine place to play these works and utilize the Italian symphonic organs. (The French Offertories are also unrelated and can be anything for this 'space'.) Drums are the basic requirement in these instruments. There are 16ft reeds in the Treble for melodies in the Tenor and horizontal 2ft flutes of blistering brilliance projecting above the player's head. All immense fun and all rather goes hand-in-hand with the buildings, altars and vestments. I am sure God giggled many a-time.

 

Best wishes

Nigel

 

** Donizetti was a native of Bergamo and for those unable to pay Opera prices they heard all the notable tunes in the Mass. Anyone dare do the Mad Scene now?!

 

Serrasi's finest in Bergamo. Even the organ looks as if it is built as a box in the Opera.

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Hey, I wasn't condemning it! I like a decent fairground organ. But if you feared such a remark, that means you also saw the possibility.

 

Anyway, I'd say there's more evidence there to support a hypothesis of Italian influence on fairground organs than there is elsewhere for Italian influence on early English organs; doesn't mean it's true, of course.

 

Paul

 

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

 

There is, of course, a direct influence on classical organs which came from the Fairground organ, so far as I know. It is the use of the "Freine Harmonique" or "Harmonic Bridge", which I understand to have been introduced by Gavioli. I hope I'm not wrong, but I may be. I can't recall where I heard it or read it. The influence of the Fairground organ on the theatre organ was, of course, considerable.

 

Wurlitzer were manufacturers of "Band Organs" which we associate with the term fairground organs.

 

Of course, Wurltzer were also respected German violin makers during the time of Bach.....so you never know.

 

The Jaquard Loom also had a tremendous influence on the player organs, and that dates back to about 1799, if I recall correctly.

 

Finally, the Italian fair organ/player piano/barrel organ makers Ciappa, originally from Italy, flourished in London for a long time, and may still exist since I haven't bothered to check.

 

MM

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

 

There is, of course, a direct influence on classical organs which came from the Fairground organ....

MM

 

And we must not forget that the organ was secular before it became sacred - older than Christianity. Am I correct? If so, then the fairground and dance-hall organs (you must all see the Belgium examples in the Utrecht museum) might be classed by some as the true direct descendants of the ancient organ.

Best wishes,

N

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

 

There is, of course, a direct influence on classical organs which came from the Fairground organ, so far as I know. It is the use of the "Freine Harmonique" or "Harmonic Bridge", which I understand to have been introduced by Gavioli.

 

MM

 

According to Wikipedia the Gavioli firm started in Italy in 1806 and had offices in Paris from 1850s. I wonder what interaction there may have been with Paris based church organ builders of this era, for example Cavaille Coll.

 

As fairground organs are out in the open and in a noisy environment, quite a lot of power is required to be heard, did Gavioli have any unique ways to produce the volume of sound necessary in the reeds and flue pipes and did this migrate into church organ building? :blink:

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According to Wikipedia the Gavioli firm started in Italy in 1806 and had offices in Paris from 1850s. I wonder what interaction there may have been with Paris based church organ builders of this era, for example Cavaille Coll.

 

As fairground organs are out in the open and in a noisy environment, quite a lot of power is required to be heard, did Gavioli have any unique ways to produce the volume of sound necessary in the reeds and flue pipes and did this migrate into church organ building? :blink:

 

What is the wind pressure, typically, in a street organ?

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I've seen the odd reference to Italian organs on this forum, and, if I remember rightly, JPM mentioned certain similarities between English organs pre-1850 and Italian traditions, which were to close to be coincidental, yet which he could not explain. I'm completely ignorant about Italian organs, so can anyone here enlighten me on them? Which other major organ tradition does the Italian tradition resemble?

Dominic Gwynn would be the person to ask about this. There was an article on the EEOP organs two or three years ago in Organ Building which pointed out some potential similarities between Tudor organs and contemporary Italian ones - though there are possible links with Spain too.

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  • 3 weeks later...

(I have only just noticed this thread.)

 

I am not aware of any Iberian-style organs surviving (in Italy) from the period when the south was under Spanish rule- nor that any were, in fact, built. Similarly, for the Spanish Netherlands. I would be more than pleased to be corrected.

 

Although much more familiar with the Spanish organ and some of its historical survivors, I do not see many correspondances with Italian instruments. Much of the repertoire is quite different, too: the loud (and soft) reed and ‘cornet’ solos and duets of Correa de Arauxo (with complex, contrapuntal accompaniment and interludes), for example. These would seem to have more of an affinity in colour with the French school which, however (as with the English trumpet voluntary), is much more vertical in its harmony.

 

The battala, contrasting the (exterior) horizontal reeds with the (interior) vertical ones (and accompanied more homophonically) is another, almost uniquely Iberian form. Do not forget Jannequin and Biber, though.

 

Many of the most important Spanish religious edifices possessed two organs (Epistle and Gospel), to the north and south of the (architectural) choir: e.g. Toledo, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia. The Spanish preferred, moreover, their organs to speak from these directions, rather than directly down the nave, as with many north European instruments.

 

Goetze & Gwynn have restored an historic instrument in Spain and Gerhard Grenzing has long been the most active builder and restorer in the country.

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The italian an the iberian organs belong to two different worlds; the iberian

organ descent from the brabanter one (Niehoff, to cite the best known builder

from that area), like the flemish, the french and the northern styles.

The iberic organ was grounded by flemish builders (Langhedul school), in a period

when Belgium belonged to the spanish crown.

Italy, on the other hand, was the other centre of the organ culture in the Renaissance,

along with the Brabant; a completely different kind of organ emerged (Ripieno), which remained

remote from most of foreign influences up to the end of the 19th century, despite some

foreign builders who tried some synthesis (The flemish Willem Herman, the german Eugen Casparini)

there during the 17th century.

 

Pierre

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  • 2 weeks later...
...Italy, on the other hand, was the other centre of the organ culture in the Renaissance,

along with the Brabant; a completely different kind of organ emerged (Ripieno), which remained

remote from most of foreign influences up to the end of the 19th century, despite some

foreign builders who tried some synthesis (The flemish Willem Herman, the german Eugen Casparini)

there during the 17th century.

 

Pierre

 

It seems we have more evidence of influence on Italian organ building, rather than it influencing other styles.

 

It has been mentioned some time back, but the Welshman George William Trice (born 1848) set up an organ building company after failing with his originally intended coal importing business in Genoa in 1880. He had trained with Sweetland of Bath and spent some time with Cavaillé-coll. His first organ partnership in Genoa was with Pietro Anelli and Zeno Fedeli in 1884 at the aptly named Quinto al Mare. They became famous for building a large organ with electric action at S. Andea, Genoa in 1888.

 

One of their apprentices was called Giovani Tamburini, who of course went on to greater things. This might explain why some Italian organs of the late 19th and early 20th Century suddenly found themselves with stops called Diapason, Eufonio and Dulciana, amongst other things.

 

Trice's action was quite a complex and costly affair, some sort of cone chest with Barker lever and coupled to him being foreign and Protestant, his business did not survive. But his influence did. There are one or two examples of his work still intact. The organ in the Waldensian church in Florence (originally the Anglican Church who moved to smaller premises but left their organ) is still going strong and spoken about with great respect by the Tuscan organ builders.

 

However, like most things in Italy, Italian is best. They are very proud of their Ripieno.

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Now to illustrate the italian influence in the southern german-speaking area,

here is an interesting video on the Egedacher organ in Zwettl (AT):

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZvpZMTA9_Q

 

Note the "Biforo"; it is under this form that others stops of that kind were

named "Unda-Maris" from 1697 (Casparini, "Ondamaris", Görlitz)

 

Pierre

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