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T C Lewis & Thomas Hill

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Is it just me, but am I right in believing that the remarkable legacy of both T C Lewis and Thos.Hill was sidelined by the fashion for ever smoother and more powerful sounds?

 

I don't actually object to the classic sounds of Arthur Harrison, the reed dominated sound of Willis or the vintage Bentley roar of Hill, Norman & Beard, but to my ears, (with the exception of Liverpool Cathedral), nothing comes close to the quality of what these two organ-builders achieved.

 

A quick listen to the following gives some idea of what we turned our backs on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why didn't we, as a nation, build on that fantastic quality of English sound?

 

 

MM

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Is it just me, but am I right in believing that the remarkable legacy of both T C Lewis and Thos.Hill was sidelined by the fashion for ever smoother and more powerful sounds?

 

I don't actually object to the classic sounds of Arthur Harrison, the reed dominated sound of Willis or the vintage Bentley roar of Hill, Norman & Beard, but to my ears, (with the exception of Liverpool Cathedral), nothing comes close to the quality of what these two organ-builders achieved.

 

A quick listen to the following gives some idea of what we turned our backs on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why didn't we, as a nation, build on that fantastic quality of English sound?

 

 

MM

 

 

You have a point, MM, as always. If you're looking for choruses, there's nothing much in the UK that will better a William Hill or a Lewis chorus. Of course, the answer is that at the time, nobody was particularly bothered about choruses! Organists of the day wanted smooth comfortable actions, they wanted proudly-contrasted solo stops that stayed in tune, in solo playing the taste was for orchestrations and the most successful firms delivered the most refined tone possible. Original Lewis reeds (which you will not find often) are nothing particularly special, neither are Hill strings. I pick those features out as examples, but there are more.

 

Accompanying on a typical Arthur Harrison is not only far more comfortable and convenient than on your typical Lewis or Hill, but the typically top-sliced tone surrounds and supports a choir in a remarkable way. Remember that in many places, that was the only job the organ had to do. The idea of solo organ music, of recitals, of recordings wasn't on the agenda at all. I've probably told the tale somewhere here before, but E.T.Cook the long-serving organist of Southwark Cathedral is recorded as never using more upperwork on his magnificent Lewis than a 4' Principal!

 

There was huge surprise when Marcel Dupre first played Bach in London - and the surprise? It was because Dupre was heard to draw the whole Diapason chorus to Mixture and didn't have any reeds on to 'cover' the mixture! It is a fact that organ-builders of the time may not have voiced their Mixtures for use with only fluework at all!! Puts your typical Willis 17-19-22 into context, doesn't it?

 

The reason for practically all early 20th century rebuilds was the perceived need for better consoles. With better consoles (on well engineered pneumatic action) comes higher pressures available for other uses. Solo stops, and particularly reeds, LOVE higher pressures. They stay in tune better because the tongues can be thicker, they can have better trebles. Typical Hill reeds are fun, and I know some of the big old Hill organs very well, but it's true, the thrill comes from those reed basses. If you were listening with critical Edwardian-style ears, you'd notice that the trebles are often weak. This is because the whole job was frequently voiced on 3.5" - not a pressure that gives particularly strong treble reed tone. To use them as on those you-tube clips, you need the bold fluework drawn as well. It's worth noting too, some of the most successful organs by Hill and Lewis that remain have been worked over by other firms, whatever points were originally weak have received attention, believe me!

 

I think it's that pressure (3.5") adopted by both firms in this topic that gives the greatest chance of success. Neo-Baroque organs on 2.5" can't match that fullness of tone, that balance, blend and refinement without dullness. Late romantic organs with Diapasons on 4" 5" and 6" can't sing in the same way. As is well known, if you increase the wind-pressure on Diapasons beyond a certain point the harmonics become seriously unpleasant - that's why Hope Jones, Norman and Beard and others started putting a little soft leather over the upper lips of their large Diapasons. The only other alternative is to arch the mouth like you do with Flutes, and the result - they sound like flutes.

 

About ten years ago I took some Dutch friends (professional musicians) to Choral Evensong at Wor***ter. I knew they would enjoy hearing the choir greatly. Most unfortunately, we timed it wrong and caught an organ-recital before the service. No way of avoiding it. Ah well...Adrian Lucas started with some Bach. My poor friends, and poor me. I was sitting there squirming as we had inflicted upon us a complete display of the most unmusical Diapasons (sorry Pierre) that have ever been dragged through a Bach fugue. The perpetual quest for smoothness of tone found its nadir at Wor***ter.

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.....But they were perfectly suited to Howells. The 8' and the 4' ranks should have

been copied elsewhere...(Indeed, I know no organist here who would have come to the idea

of playing Bach there!)

 

Do not forget this:

 

 

As a kind of goûts réunis among the varied british styles.

 

Pierre

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.....But they were perfectly suited to Howells. The 8' and the 4' ranks should have

been copied elsewhere...(Indeed, I know no organist here who would have come to the idea

of playing Bach there!)

 

Do not forget this:

 

 

As a kind of goûts réunis among the varied british styles.

 

Pierre

 

You're clever, Pierre!

 

Tewkesbury is very much a case in point. Carlton Michell deliberately designed the organ now known as The Grove to combine Lewis-style fluework and Willis-style reeds - i.e. both musical thrills contained within one (relatively small) specification. Note, however, that the big Great Mixture and those splendid reeds are all on the same (higher) pressure, so to a certain extent, the rot has already started! This would have been done, once again, not for tonal reasons but for practical/control reasons. The ventil that completes the Diapason Chorus is also the one that can be prepared to bring on the climax reeds.

 

Westminster Cathedral has an extremely similar stop to the Tewkesbury IV Great Mixture - the V Grand Chorus - once again on a high pressure. When playing at Westminster Cathedral, I find I have to brace myself as I draw this stop - when it comes on it's like a cold shower, a physical shock - or thrill, if you will. For anyone who doesn't know that organ, the Grand Chorus gives the Westminster Cathedral organ a very un-Willis sound (possibly the idea of John Courage who helped to design and fund the instrument) and the stop itself is sited very close by, above, about 6 feet from the player's right shoulder. In the body of the cathedral it makes perfect sense, though (to repeat) it's an extremely un-Willis-like sound. Thomas Lewis is on record as saying something along the lines of

'if I thought Willis was right, I'd shut up shop tomorrow'

and I think he was referring to the fact that a standard Willis organ depends for its most rich and exciting tone more or less completely on the reeds. That was certainly the opinion at the time - the reason that H&H were asked to rebuild The Albert Hall organ was that the diapasons lacked body! Mind you, the fact that the Diapasons are not overscaled or particularly overblown on a Willis is why those choruses still sound musical to us today whereas some H&H choruses don't.

 

Yes, Howells could be played at Wor***ter but it was not his favourite organ by some long way. I don't think he was particularly interested in organ-building details; to him (and to those of his generation in England) the smoothness of both unison tone and choruses and the contrasts afforded by intense orchestral 'colour stops' were part and parcel of a 'proper' organ sound. Note that the playing style of the time was frequently the same - smooth in touch as well as smooth in control of crescendo and diminuendo.

 

Why are certain firms successful? They deliberately provide what the public wants. Harrison and Harrison definitely knew their business and offered exactly what the times required. I still believe there is nothing finer than an H&H to accompany that glorious two generations of anglican composers from early Stanford through to mid-period Howells, taking in Bairstow et al.

 

Caution: Ego-Centred PS

I love Lewis choruses myself. In November last year I'd booked a couple of evenings in Ripon Cathedral to record a normal (recital-programme) CD. We finished work with time to spare, so I decided to record a second programme entirely of Bach (shock horror!) on the same organ. IMHO it's come out well - those are wonderful choruses. If one keeps off the elephantine H&H reeds from 1912, that organ plays Bach very well... proper choruses on a proper pressure, that's what does it! The resulting CDs will be out soon, I can't wait for the purists to start criticising my choice of organ in print.

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A the other end of the scale....as a student I used to play this regularly - it is still one of my favourite instruments. A cool acoustic and some lovely stops - you could spend half a day on it and not get tired of the sounds.

 

A

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Caution: Ego-Centred PS

I love Lewis choruses myself. In November last year I'd booked a couple of evenings in Ripon Cathedral to record a normal (recital-programme) CD. We finished work with time to spare, so I decided to record a second programme entirely of Bach (shock horror!) on the same organ. IMHO it's come out well - those are wonderful choruses. If one keeps off the elephantine H&H reeds from 1912, that organ plays Bach very well... proper choruses on a proper pressure, that's what does it! The resulting CDs will be out soon, I can't wait for the purists to start criticising my choice of organ in print.

 

We look forward to hearing them, Paul. Around 23 stops on Great, Swell & Choir are reckoned to survive unaltered from the Lewis organ of 1878 and the Great diapason chorus now has a well-deserved BIOS Certificate of Recognition. I know I'm biased (forgive the weak pun), but it's a gloriously lively, vigorous, ringing sound.

 

JS

(Ripon)

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No discussion of Lewis would be complete without a mention of this fine, largely untouched specimen, which under a JL Pearson stone vault sounds magnificent:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=D00013

 

The 1987 H&H restoration was the blueprint for that at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne.

 

 

I followed this link fondly imagining it would bring up St.John's, Upper Norwood which is also a wonderful Lewis organ recently restored under a Pearson vault.

I wonder how many other Pearson churches have Lewis organs.

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I followed this link fondly imagining it would bring up St.John's, Upper Norwood which is also a wonderful Lewis organ recently restored under a Pearson vault.

I wonder how many other Pearson churches have Lewis organs.

 

 

How about St Peter's, Vauxhall? - a dozen stops, but sounds 3 times the size in a vast acoustic.

 

Another interesting organbuilder/architect connection is that between T C Lewis and William Burges, as seen in the two beautiful small organs he provided in 1875 for the two new estate churches at St Mary, Studley Royal and Christ-the-Consoler, Skelton-on-Ure, both within 5 miles of Ripon and both exquisite examples of High Victorian church architecture. The Skelton instrument (NPOR R01403) is of similar design to Vauxhall but, alas, no longer playable. The church at Studley Royal, on the Fountains Abbey estate, is in the care of English Heritage/National Trust and the organ was carefully restored by H&H about 30 years ago. It sounds quite magnificent.

 

See Studley Royal

 

One wonders how this all came about: was it a Masonic connection, perhaps, or were they both members of the same London club?

 

JS

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You have a point, MM, as always. If you're looking for choruses, there's nothing much in the UK that will better a William Hill or a Lewis chorus. Of course, the answer is that at the time, nobody was particularly bothered about choruses! Organists of the day wanted smooth comfortable actions, they wanted proudly-contrasted solo stops that stayed in tune, in solo playing the taste was for orchestrations and the most successful firms delivered the most refined tone possible. Original Lewis reeds (which you will not find often) are nothing particularly special, neither are Hill strings. I pick those features out as examples, but there are more.

 

Accompanying on a typical Arthur Harrison is not only far more comfortable and convenient than on your typical Lewis or Hill, but the typically top-sliced tone surrounds and supports a choir in a remarkable way. Remember that in many places, that was the only job the organ had to do. The idea of solo organ music, of recitals, of recordings wasn't on the agenda at all. I've probably told the tale somewhere here before, but E.T.Cook the long-serving organist of Southwark Cathedral is recorded as never using more upperwork on his magnificent Lewis than a 4' Principal!

 

There was huge surprise when Marcel Dupre first played Bach in London - and the surprise? It was because Dupre was heard to draw the whole Diapason chorus to Mixture and didn't have any reeds on to 'cover' the mixture! It is a fact that organ-builders of the time may not have voiced their Mixtures for use with only fluework at all!! Puts your typical Willis 17-19-22 into context, doesn't it?

 

The reason for practically all early 20th century rebuilds was the perceived need for better consoles. With better consoles (on well engineered pneumatic action) comes higher pressures available for other uses. Solo stops, and particularly reeds, LOVE higher pressures. They stay in tune better because the tongues can be thicker, they can have better trebles. Typical Hill reeds are fun, and I know some of the big old Hill organs very well, but it's true, the thrill comes from those reed basses. If you were listening with critical Edwardian-style ears, you'd notice that the trebles are often weak. This is because the whole job was frequently voiced on 3.5" - not a pressure that gives particularly strong treble reed tone. To use them as on those you-tube clips, you need the bold fluework drawn as well. It's worth noting too, some of the most successful organs by Hill and Lewis that remain have been worked over by other firms, whatever points were originally weak have received attention, believe me!

 

I think it's that pressure (3.5") adopted by both firms in this topic that gives the greatest chance of success. Neo-Baroque organs on 2.5" can't match that fullness of tone, that balance, blend and refinement without dullness. Late romantic organs with Diapasons on 4" 5" and 6" can't sing in the same way. As is well known, if you increase the wind-pressure on Diapasons beyond a certain point the harmonics become seriously unpleasant - that's why Hope Jones, Norman and Beard and others started putting a little soft leather over the upper lips of their large Diapasons. The only other alternative is to arch the mouth like you do with Flutes, and the result - they sound like flutes.

 

About ten years ago I took some Dutch friends (professional musicians) to Choral Evensong at Wor***ter. I knew they would enjoy hearing the choir greatly. Most unfortunately, we timed it wrong and caught an organ-recital before the service. No way of avoiding it. Ah well...Adrian Lucas started with some Bach. My poor friends, and poor me. I was sitting there squirming as we had inflicted upon us a complete display of the most unmusical Diapasons (sorry Pierre) that have ever been dragged through a Bach fugue. The perpetual quest for smoothness of tone found its nadir at Wor***ter.

 

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

 

 

 

A very interesting reply with some fine observations, so if I go aux contraire a little, I'm not actually disagreeing so much as drawing attention to certain exceptions and/or contradictions.

 

Low pressure reeds can be utterly oustanding, but not necessarily terribly stable of tune. The Bavokerk at Haarlem has superlative reeds throughout, but not terribly loud ones, other than the bigger reed basses of the Pedal.

 

Lewis followed Schulze fairly closely, but he baulked slightly at going the whole way. Apparently, he very slightly arched the lips of his quint ranks.

 

The Lewis at Southwark uses French style pedal reeds, which are quite magnificent. The Tubas, where installed, were perfectly good, but perhaps not in the class of Fr Willis or the best reeds of H,N &B. The Tuba at Ashton-under-Lyne is a good example, and what it lacks in ferocity, it more than makes up for in blending quality.

 

As a broad observationone tends to think of Lewis as the English Schulze, but of course, he also worked with the organs of Cavaille-Coll (Manchester Town Hall), and also came under the pro-French influence of Kendrick Pyne in Manchester.

 

The waters become a little murky, because the Willis take-over of Lewis may or may not enter the equation.

 

Does anyone know the precise history of Lewis from 1901 to his death in 1915?

 

Having relinquished his position at the Willis firm, he worked for Norman & Beard for a short while (1902), and also worked independently under the style of Thomas C Lewis rather than just Lewis, or as part of the Willis concern.

 

An even broader observation leads me to believe that the Norman & Beard reeds at Doncaster PC were probably the best thing that could have happened to this instrument. because judging by the reeds at Armley, (good enough chorus and pedal reeds, but made by whom?), the reeds are far better at Doncaster.

 

The same criticism can be levelled at the work of Charles Brindley of course; his reeds tending towards inferior quality, in spite of magnificent fluework very often.

 

MM

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Tewkesbury is very much a case in point. Carlton Michell deliberately designed the organ now known as The Grove to combine Lewis-style fluework and Willis-style reeds - i.e. both musical thrills contained within one (relatively small) specification.

 

 

Well, yes and no! I think that the official guide to the organs does/did say something like this; that the Grove organ possessed Schulze style diapasons and Willis type reeds. I'm not entirely sure where this came from (I did know but have forgotten and I can't find the reference easily at the moment) but it could have been Clutton & Niland. Having lived with this instrument almost daily for about three years some time ago I must say that I was never convinced that the reeds were anything like Willis in style. Then comes along one Stephen Bicknell and puts us all right!

 

In his book, 'The History of the English Organ' he has a chapter headed, 'Progressive Trends 1880 - 1900'. I will quote him from p. 289,

 

'This instrument (ie the 'Grove') has an importance out of all proportion to the short-lived company which built it. Its position in the development of the English organ has been somewhat misrepresented in the past, hence it must be described here in more detail. Most have accepted the easily grasped idea that it contains a 'Schulze-type diapason chorus' coupled with 'Willis-type reeds': this is not the case. The principals are indeed bold and bright, and the mixtures have no tierces; however, they are derived from the work of Lewis (and are thus already one remove from the work of Schulze) but are treated with a combination of breadth and boldness that has moved away from Lewis's dry and academic style. However, the choruses are backed up by an astonishing variety of soft and solo stops, quite unlike the simple families of gedacts, harmonic flutes and gentle strings known to Lewis (and, indeed, to Willis): the development of new imitative string tone and exotic innovations such as the Zauberflote (a stopped pipe overblowing to the second harmonic, and therefore of three times the normal length) are characteristic. The chorus reeds (voiced by W J Northcott) are also derived from Lewis's practice: despite his reputation for using low pressures, he also developed his own style of high-pressure reed voicing, which appeared at St Peter Eaton SSquare and in his concert organs. The Grove Organ reeds, are the antithesis of the techniques developed by Vincent Willis. The quality of the result is outstanding: the organ is at once more colourful and more dynamic than anything before it, and the success of the overall result suggests a very confident hand.

 

It's a great read (!) and worth re-reading many times to digest.

 

 

With regard to the English romantic organ and its use there are, of course, always interesting exceptions or deviations and puzzles. I'm sure that eminent persons here are correct in stating that mixtures were only ever used with reeds drawn. But my organ http://npor.rcm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?...ec_index=R01807 (and not entirely correct here!) was built in 1887 with no great reeds at all http://npor.rcm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?...ec_index=N07450. True there was an enclosed tube which could have been considered and used as a reed, but this was quite far from the great organ and could only really have been for climaxes. So here, the organist must have used the great chorus as 16 - mixture; at least on occasion when the swell reeds were not in action.

 

A fascinating period!

 

F-W

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Please forgive my post above which includes, as always, a few sweeping statements. I accept that the 1887 organ at All Saints' Cheltenham was built with an essentially all-Diapason Great, but this is not a common thing. It was designed by a musical vicar and Gustav Holst's father, I believe. Later improvements were certainly down to them, including a famous trip with an open cart to rescue redundant Hill pipes from Worcester Cathedral when Hope-Jones discarded these. They are what were used by A.J.Price (a Cheltenham organ-builder) to make up a second (chancel) Great, the division (now called 'Choir') that is sited in that splendid (later) Prothero case.

 

The case in the North Aisle is a gothic-inspired as you can get, so Arthur Hill who designed it, and knew very many examples of historic diapason choruses from his travels in Europe might well have gone all out to make something special. However, this does not gainsay your average organist's way of registering. We must all have seen the early Novello edition of Bach complete with Bridge and Higgs registrations- Fugues that start with 8's, and (if you're lucky) add Principals for a climax. It is worth repeating an idea I have put forward here before: organ builders are frequently better at drawing up a proper specification than organists. The well-educated ones also know a good bit more of the history and development of their instrument too.

 

As for Tewkesbury, Stephen Bicknell could write what he liked (and frequently did) but nobody can persuade me that - however the results were obtained - the effect of those reeds is not essentially exactly the same as those of a typical 1880s 'Father' Willis. If SB was suggesting that these are not Willis-style but Lewis-style reeds, I would invite anyone (in his post-demise defence) to name me a Lewis organ with high pressure chorus reeds from around 1880. Such HP chorus reeds as Lewis or his company ever installed come from a good bit later on.

 

To restore some balance to this post, SB was (in my opinion) the finest writer on The English organ yet. Even so, the expert has not yet lived with the capacity to exclude their own theories when pontificating.

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As for Tewkesbury, Stephen Bicknell could write what he liked (and frequently did) but nobody can persuade me that - however the results were obtained - the effect of those reeds is not essentially exactly the same as those of a typical 1880s 'Father' Willis. If SB was suggesting that these are not Willis-style but Lewis-style reeds, I would invite anyone (in his post-demise defence) to name me a Lewis organ with high pressure chorus reeds from around 1880. Such HP chorus reeds as Lewis or his company ever installed come from a good bit later on.

 

To restore some balance to this post, SB was (in my opinion) the finest writer on The English organ yet. Even so, the expert has not yet lived with the capacity to exclude their own theories when pontificating.

 

Stephen wrote in 1999 (Bios Journal) that the Grove reeds were in some way to emulate the high pressure reed batteries of Willis, but, he says the effect they have is different and wonders whether they relate in some way to the heavy pressure reeds that Lewis added to such organs as St. Peter's, Eaton Square (originally Bishop, but with Lewis reeds dating to somewhere between 1872 to 1884) or those at St. Andrew's Hall, Glasgow.

 

So he isn't really saying the Grove reeds are not Willis-style, but perhaps Lewis was making high pressure reeds around the same period that were closer to Willis than we think.

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At this point, this discussion demonstrates we should build a copy

of the Grove organ in order to learn more about it.

And we should not wait up to the next flood there....

 

Pierre

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Here's quite a good recording (youtube-style) of the Grove.

 

Sorry if this has recently been posted elsewhere.

 

 

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

 

 

Wow!

 

How I regret the fact that I've passed Tewskbury hundreds of times, but I've never once been to the abbey or heard the organ.

 

MM

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Good old Audsley (Vol.II, p. 8) describes Lewis's reed pressures in his 1877 organ for the Public Halls (later St. Andrew's) Glasgow. The Great is on no less than six separate chests with 5 different pressures designed to increase the power towards the treble end of each rank. The 'front Great' flues and trumpet are on 3.5" in the bass, 4" in the middle and 4.5"in the treble and the three chorus reeds on the 'back Great' (Double Trumpet 16', Trombone 8' and Clarion 4') are on 4" in the bass, 5" in the middle and 6" in the treble. These pressures are comparable with the chorus reeds in the Grove organ on 5.75".

 

The Glasgow Lewis also had several reed stops on the solo division, including a Tuba and Tuba Clarion and it is unlikely that these were on less pressure than the Great reeds, but as yet I have not found proof of them being as high as the 12" pressure Tuba in the Grove.

No doubt someone on the forum may have heard or possibly played the Glasgow organ before its destruction in the fire of 1962.

 

According to Christopher Gray (BIOS Journal 1998) the pressures used by Lewis in 1874 for his organ at St. Peter's Eaton Square, were 3.5" for the flues, 5.25" for the Great and Pedal reeds, 4" for the Pedal flues and 10" for the solo Tuba. This would suggest that the Glasgow Tuba was on a similar pressure.

 

By 1901, for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, he was using 14" for the reeds.

 

I am not trying to prove that his tonal philosophy was similar to Willis, but we can not always clearly categorize organ builders into either high or low pressure reed voicing etc. It is, of course, a fact that Lewis favoured low pressure for his organs, but used higher pressures when necessary.

 

Michell had known Vincent Willis from the early 1870's and they remained friends until Michell's death in 1921, Thynne was dismissed (most likely) from Lewis's in 1881 and when he and Michell set up their short-lived company they managed to pinch a good number of Lewis staff including his foreman George Adams. Northcott, the voicer of the Grove reeds, was trained at Walker's and so perhaps did not feel he had to follow either Willis or Lewis reed voicing of the period, but create something unique.

 

There is also the possibility that the subsequent reed voicing styles of both Lewis and Willis were influenced by the Grove organ, but neither would ever have admitted it.

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Good old Audsley (Vol.II, p. 8) describes Lewis's reed pressures in his 1877 organ for the Public Halls (later St. Andrew's) Glasgow. The Great is on no less than six separate chests with 5 different pressures designed to increase the power towards the treble end of each rank. The 'front Great' flues and trumpet are on 3.5" in the bass, 4" in the middle and 4.5"in the treble and the three chorus reeds on the 'back Great' (Double Trumpet 16', Trombone 8' and Clarion 4') are on 4" in the bass, 5" in the middle and 6" in the treble. These pressures are comparable with the chorus reeds in the Grove organ on 5.75".

 

The Glasgow Lewis also had several reed stops on the solo division, including a Tuba and Tuba Clarion and it is unlikely that these were on less pressure than the Great reeds, but as yet I have not found proof of them being as high as the 12" pressure Tuba in the Grove.

No doubt someone on the forum may have heard or possibly played the Glasgow organ before its destruction in the fire of 1962.

 

According to Christopher Gray (BIOS Journal 1998) the pressures used by Lewis in 1874 for his organ at St. Peter's Eaton Square, were 3.5" for the flues, 5.25" for the Great and Pedal reeds, 4" for the Pedal flues and 10" for the solo Tuba. This would suggest that the Glasgow Tuba was on a similar pressure.

 

By 1901, for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, he was using 14" for the reeds.

 

I am not trying to prove that his tonal philosophy was similar to Willis, but we can not always clearly categorize organ builders into either high or low pressure reed voicing etc. It is, of course, a fact that Lewis favoured low pressure for his organs, but used higher pressures when necessary.

 

Michell had known Vincent Willis from the early 1870's and they remained friends until Michell's death in 1921, Thynne was dismissed (most likely) from Lewis's in 1881 and when he and Michell set up their short-lived company they managed to pinch a good number of Lewis staff including his foreman George Adams. Northcott, the voicer of the Grove reeds, was trained at Walker's and so perhaps did not feel he had to follow either Willis or Lewis reed voicing of the period, but create something unique.

 

There is also the possibility that the subsequent reed voicing styles of both Lewis and Willis were influenced by the Grove organ, but neither would ever have admitted it.

 

 

David may well be right in everything he says. He certainly has access to information I've not got to hand here, and I accept that once again my sweeping statements may have missed accuracy by quite a bit.

 

In my own humble justification, however, I'd like to list (below) the wind pressures on The Grove as given by Husskisson Stubington in 1956 at which time he had been organist of Tewkesbury more than ten years and had both designed and overseen the Walker work.

 

To a certain extent, these seem right to me. For instance, it is firmly established in Abbey history that Walkers had to revoice The Grove's Tuba when it moved to The Apse in 1948 because it was found impossible to raise as high a pressure there as that which it spoke on when in The Grove. I know the Grove Great reeds pretty well too, though maybe I haven't played that organ as many times as 'father-willis' above. To my ears, they have to be on more than 5.75" ... of course, I have been wrong before.

 

As given in The Organ, no.141 Volume XXXVI page 17

 

 

Great Flues 4.5"

Great Reeds 8"

Swell Flues 5"

Swell Reeds 8"

Choir All 4"

Solo Flues 6"

Solo Reeds 16"

Pedal Flues 5"

Pedal Reeds 16"

 

 

Of course, HS may just have dreamed these figures up, but then he did play/know/see The Grove before anyone but Michell and Thynne had tinkered with it, and he did have a large firm (Walkers) working closely with him, it would be their men who would have measured these for the scheme.

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

 

The waters become a little murky, because the Willis take-over of Lewis may or may not enter the equation.

 

Does anyone know the precise history of Lewis from 1901 to his death in 1915?

 

Having relinquished his position at the Willis firm, he worked for Norman & Beard for a short while (1902), and also worked independently under the style of Thomas C Lewis rather than just Lewis, or as part of the Willis concern.

 

MM

 

This has been discussed (and corrected) several times already, but here goes again:

 

The FIRM of "T.C.Lewis" was, basically bust from 1900 and John Courage set up "Lewis & Co." in 1901 - as a LIMITED COMPANY (Registration No 70718) in which Lewis initially worked but in which he had no control. Somewhere along the line, he more-or-less fell out with Courage and left to work with others and also on his own on - presumably the working for others was when he needed the money?

 

Courage got tired of Lewis & Co. making losses and even by 1914 was in discussions with the partners in HW&S (which was NOT a Limitied Company and therefore could not, legally, take over Lewis & Co.) with regard to a merger of some kind. Henry 2 couldn't do anything about 'buying in' then as he was still paying off his father's debts.

 

In 1919, after the end of WWI and when HW&S needed more staff (and better premises) the discussions were re-opened, the Willis contingent bought the shares of Lewis & Co, and because of the legal limitiations the Company became "Henry Willis & Sons & Lewis & Co. Limited.". John Courage was also included as a Director of the firm and stayed on the Board of HW&S (as far as we can see from the minute books) until 1926. At about that time the title of the Company (still 70718) was changed by dropping the Lewis & So. Ltd.. Henry Willis & Sons Ltd. is still Co. reg. No 70718

 

Thomas Christopher Lewis was never involved with "Henry Willis & Sons & Lewis & Co. Ltd." or with "Henry Willis & Sons Ltd.".

 

DW

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This has been discussed (and corrected) several times already, but here goes again:

 

The FIRM of "T.C.Lewis" was, basically bust from 1900 and John Courage set up "Lewis & Co." in 1901 - as a LIMITED COMPANY (Registration No 70718) in which Lewis initially worked but in which he had no control. Somewhere along the line, he more-or-less fell out with Courage and left to work with others and also on his own on - presumably the working for others was when he needed the money?

 

Courage got tired of Lewis & Co. making losses and even by 1914 was in discussions with the partners in HW&S (which was NOT a Limitied Company and therefore could not, legally, take over Lewis & Co.) with regard to a merger of some kind. Henry 2 couldn't do anything about 'buying in' then as he was still paying off his father's debts.

 

In 1919, after the end of WWI and when HW&S needed more staff (and better premises) the discussions were re-opened, the Willis contingent bought the shares of Lewis & Co, and because of the legal limitiations the Company became "Henry Willis & Sons & Lewis & Co. Limited.". John Courage was also included as a Director of the firm and stayed on the Board of HW&S (as far as we can see from the minute books) until 1926. At about that time the title of the Company (still 70718) was changed by dropping the Lewis & So. Ltd.. Henry Willis & Sons Ltd. is still Co. reg. No 70718

 

Thomas Christopher Lewis was never involved with "Henry Willis & Sons & Lewis & Co. Ltd." or with "Henry Willis & Sons Ltd.".

 

DW

 

 

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

 

 

Thank you for the resume David. I recall seeing this previously now that I've seen it again. It's quite complicated in some ways, and of course, it leaves holes and gaps in the knowledge of what T C Lewis was up to at various points. I believe there wre family connections in the West Country, and of course, his time at H,N & B (perhaps only Norman & Beard) raises speculative thoughts; especially that concerned wih reed voicing. (I'm thinking of the Rundle father & son dynasty of reed voicers).

 

I think the real sadness is that he probably died a disappointed and rejected figure; suggesting that he was out of sync with fashion, and possibly had not the slightest business acumen; quite content to just build beautiful organs.

 

What astounds me, (to return to the original point), is how close he was to creating the perfect development of what was essentially a classical style; owing much to German influence and Schulze in particular. To a lesser degree, the same was true of Brindley: most of his organs having being destroyed or altered beyond recognition.

 

Maybe I have it wrong, but I can't help but think that the organ at Liverpool Cathedral owes so much to that Anglo-German style, yet also embraced many American thoughts and practices. I expect a whole book could be written about the genesis of the Liverpool instrument.

 

I just wonder why it is that the "revival" of the neo-classical and the more recent Anglo-French fashion, completely ignored what Lewis, Brindley as well as Michel & Thynne achieved, each in their own way.

 

I think if I were involved as a consultant for a new organ, these builders would be my first source of inspiration.

 

As an anecdotal footnote, and having known some of the elder-statesmen of the former Courage company, I can well understand their frustration with Lewis. He did, after all, make generous use of Courage storage space and possibly their brewery transport personnel as well. That was certainly the case with the organ at Southwark Cathedral, and quite how one can run a brewery and store/deliver organs at the same time, I cannot imagine.

 

I suspect that if Lewis arrived at the Brewery on Shad Thames, everyone would run and hide.

 

MM

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"I think if I were involved as a consultant for a new organ, these builders would be my first source of inspiration."

(Quote)

 

This would be by no ways a bad start, indeed. As far as your question is concerned, I think

the "Reformers" wanted us so strong to believe they represented a "complete departure" from

the 19th century that they could not accept at all:

 

1)- 19th Century organs which obviously rooted in older traditions;

 

2)- True Baroque organ which paved the may towards the romantic ones.

 

And so something like a Schulze Diapason Chorus was to be dismissed, better, ignored,

along with what followed; and so, baroque organs like those of Casparini, Jordi Bosch

in Spain, and even Gabler, not to mention many others in central Europe, were "best left",

or, even better, destroyed (Görlitz!!!).

 

When I toured Britain in the 1980's, the "Schulze Diapason chorus" was still praised, though,

but the "Reform" had not yet reached its dictatorial nadir in Britain then.

 

Pierre

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"I think if I were involved as a consultant for a new organ, these builders would be my first source of inspiration."

(Quote)

 

This would be by no ways a bad start, indeed. As far as your question is concerned, I think

the "Reformers" wanted us so strong to believe they represented a "complete departure" from

the 19th century that they could not accept at all:

 

1)- 19th Century organs which obviously rooted in older traditions;

 

2)- True Baroque organ which paved the may towards the romantic ones.

 

And so something like a Schulze Diapason Chorus was to be dismissed, better, ignored,

along with what followed; and so, baroque organs like those of Casparini, Jordi Bosch

in Spain, and even Gabler, not to mention many others in central Europe, were "best left",

or, even better, destroyed (Görlitz!!!).

 

When I toured Britain in the 1980's, the "Schulze Diapason chorus" was still praised, though,

but the "Reform" had not yet reached its dictatorial nadir in Britain then.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

 

I'm not quite sure that this is correct Pierre, but I fully understand your reasons for suggesting this to be the case.

 

I'm just about old enough to recall the continuing objections to the organ at the Royal Festival Hall, even though my interest in the organ only developed properly around 1964.

 

Let's look at the chief protagonists of the "neo-baroque" in England.

 

A few principal names spring to mind, but of course, it was Ralph Downes who was the leqding light, with encouragement and support from the likes of Dennis Thurlow (then at J W Walker's), Peter Hurford, Francis Jackson, Geraint Jones and a number of others. In point of fact, another organ-builder in on the start of all this was Roger Yates, who converted an old organ to a neo-classical specification, and very successfully it has to be said. Sadly that organ has ceased to exist in true British fashion! (Interestingly, that organ was very close to what I suggest is the English ideal of "classical")

 

What date might one expect of the following specification?

 

1955? 1965? Perhaps 1975?

 

Actually, the date of the re-build was 1937

 

 

 

PEDAL

 

Principal Bass 16 wood

Violone 16 (Great)

Sub Bass 16

Gross Quint 10 2/3

Principal 8

Floten Bass 8

Nachthorn 4

Blockflote 2

Cornet III 5.8.10

Posaune Bass 16 (Ext from Great)

Fagott 16 (Swell)

Posaune 8 (From Great)

Krummhorn 4 (From Choir)

 

 

CHOIR

 

Viola da Gamba 8

Gedeckt 8

Dulciana 8

Wald Flote 4

Nasat 2 2/3

Octavin 2

Terz 1 3/5

Krummhorn 8

Posaune (from Great)

Glockenspiel 8 (Ten C) (Percussion - steel bars)

 

 

GREAT

 

Violone 16

Principal 8

Viola 8

Hohl Flute 8

Quint 5 1/3

Octave 4

Flute 4

Quint 2 2/3

Super Octave 2

Sesquialtera 12.17

Cymbale IV 19.22.26.29

Posaune 8

 

 

SWELL

 

Principal 8

Klein Gedekt 8

Salicional 8

Unda Maris 8

Octave 4

Gedeckt Flote 4

Cornet III 12.15.17

Fagott 16

Trumpet 8

Oboe 8

Clarion 4

 

COUPLERS

 

Swell to Pedal

 

Swell octave

 

Swell suboctave

 

Choir to Pedal

 

Choir octave

 

Choir suboctave

 

Great to Pedal

 

 

 

The loss of this organ is quite tragic, even though Ken Tickell provided a new, smaller instrument, which no doubt pleases. However, the re-built instrument of 1937 was based on a Brindley & Foster organ from the 1870's, which was their best period, and would have been voiced either by Brindley, or more likely, Karl Schulze, who was part of the Schulze family who had worked at Doncaster PC/Meanwood (Armley Schulze) etc.

 

What fascinates me about this specification, is not just the obvious link with a German past, but almost a direct link back to the organs Bach would have known, in spite of Roger Yates electrifying what must originally have been a tracker-action instrument.

 

So it began earlier than we might suspect, but of course, a mini intellectual Mafia brought a new understanding of the baroque to our shores; no doubt inspired by German scholarship and exprience, but via American scholarship and research centred around the Peabody Institute where Ralph Downes had taught. If anyone ca cast their mids back far enough, they may recall a frantic, frustrating but eventually successful search for an Englishman called Jenneth Bartle, who knew the Schnitger organ at Steinkerken, and who turned out to be a principal employee of Schott's Music Publishers in Berlin. This led to the unearthing of an elite group of people from both America and England, which included Geraint Jones (then working for the British Council after WW2), and others from America who were pursuing the ideal baroque organ sound.

 

Thus, information and mis-information passed freely from Germany to England and America, and was used by the likes of G. Donald Harrison at Aeolian Skinner. G Donald Harrison was greatly inspired by Lewis, who in turn, (like Charles Brindley), had been influenced by Schulze. I would therefore argue, or at least offer the proposition that THEY were nearer to the baroque than what followed.

 

I'm not quite sure why the neo-neo-baroque (sic) ever saw the light of day, other than the fact that the scholars got it wrong, and the organ-builders tried to get it right. I'm sure we're all familiar with the Ralph Downes philosophy, which had a profound effect on the type of organs built in the UK. Larry Phelps at Casavant followed a similar course, but the pioneer work of Bunjes in America, and Flentrop in Holland stood well apart from the true baroque; whatever the musical merits of these new style instruments.

 

In retrospect, the "neo-baroque" movement was seriously flawed both sides of the pond, but I very much doubt that it amounted to anything "dictatorial" (to qoute Pierre's word).

 

Rather, it was a fashion based on a catalogue of errors and misunderstandings, where Silbermann was discussed in the same sentence as Schnitger, in a strange polyglot of disparate styles.

 

Interestingly, the best fall-out from this were the organs at Gloucester, Blackburn, York Minster (re-build) and Liverpool RC cathedral; none of which are variously French, English, German or particularly neo-baroque. Actually, they're probably closer to what Rieger Kloss were doing in the former Eastern Bloc; though whether they knew this or not, I do not know. If not, then it was a remarkable marriage of minds and new organ philosophy.

 

As for "Schulze choruses being admired," I suspect that they always have been and always will be, but there is a slightly strong, quinty quality which requires a strong musical constitution, whereas the terraced dynamics do not lend themselves well to certain styles of music. However, the German classical heritage is certainly an important aspect of what Schulze created.

 

MM

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In my own humble justification, however, I'd like to list (below) the wind pressures on The Grove as given by Husskisson Stubington in 1956 at which time he had been organist of Tewkesbury more than ten years and had both designed and overseen the Walker work.

 

To a certain extent, these seem right to me. For instance, it is firmly established in Abbey history that Walkers had to revoice The Grove's Tuba when it moved to The Apse in 1948 because it was found impossible to raise as high a pressure there as that which it spoke on when in The Grove. I know the Grove Great reeds pretty well too, though maybe I haven't played that organ as many times as 'father-willis' above. To my ears, they have to be on more than 5.75" ... of course, I have been wrong before.

 

As given in The Organ, no.141 Volume XXXVI page 17

 

 

Great Flues 4.5"

Great Reeds 8"

Swell Flues 5"

Swell Reeds 8"

Choir All 4"

Solo Flues 6"

Solo Reeds 16"

Pedal Flues 5"

Pedal Reeds 16"

 

 

Of course, HS may just have dreamed these figures up, but then he did play/know/see The Grove before anyone but Michell and Thynne had tinkered with it, and he did have a large firm (Walkers) working closely with him, it would be their men who would have measured these for the scheme.

 

Stephen Bicknell referenced an earlier article by Huskisson Stubington (The Organ vol. 24 1944-5) about the Tewksbury organs, so he must have been aware if there were discrepancies in the recording of the various pressures. His comments about the reeds being comparable with certain Lewis reeds before 1885 make sense if the lower pressures he quotes are correct. Could the pressures have been lowered after Stubington's tenure?

We both seem to have believable sources and for the moment I can't find any others to substantiate either.

 

I'm sure John Budgen would know what pressures he found in 1980.

 

Anyway, I have just ordered a copy of the new CD of Carleton Etherington playing both the Grove and the Milton, it is being released on the 31st January by Presto Classical (excuse the advert, but I'm sure many board members would be interested to know).

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

 

 

 

 

 

So it began earlier than we might suspect, but of course, a mini intellectual Mafia brought a new understanding of the baroque to our shores; no doubt inspired by German scholarship and exprience, but via American scholarship and research centred around the Peabody Institute where Ralph Downes had taughtMM

 

 

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

 

 

I'll correct my own mistake before some bum academic beats me to death with old trackers. Ralph Downes taught at Princeton University of course, and not the Peabody Institute. I was quite proud of the fact that I'd written the whole reply from memory, save for the Oakham PC specification, and then discovered my sleight of mind.

 

MM

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