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Lee Blick


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Guest stevecbournias

we all have our partialities its true but a world class organ like atlantic city is hardly bad taste

 

it is excellent

 

the effort to craft it alone

 

thoughtless words cant detract from it its dignity

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the atlantic city organ is far from being bad taste

it is a magnificent organ

the voicing is exquisite

the great chorus brilliant and exciting

the reeds fiery and brite

the most outstanding artisans were employed in its construction

it has double-languids throughout diapason, flute and string stops for power

anybody who judges it from hearsay or a written spec and not from playing or hearing it shows their own bad taste and judgement

 

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

 

Oh please!

 

It was a complete mish-mash of international ideas, from Schulze through to the worsts aspects of orchestral excess. It bankrupt the company that built it, and they didn't have much of a pedigree to start with.

 

It is nothing more than a collection of organs scattered around a very large auditorium, all controlled from a vast, electro-mechanical telephone exchange and a ridiculous console which must be a nightmare.

 

I have heard recordings and I don't really want to hear any more. I have talked to people who knew the organ, and I've talked to people who know the organ now.

 

Yes, it has worth, like any vast musical-engineering project, but it still reminds of that film, where hundreds of children pound away at pianos scattered around a vast room. I'm just surprised that Howard Hughes didn't have a hand in its' construction!

 

What is the MUSICAL point other than to make a lot of noise in a lot of different places at the same time?

 

Much the same could be said of the Lord & Taylor (Wanamaker) organ, which I have heard in the flesh. At least that one works and is now in good voice, but again, it is more noise than music.

 

Neither of these organs are in the same class as the huge Skinner at Wolseley Hall, Yale, and that probably goes for West Point also. The Yale Skinner is a masterpiece of the genre, and whilst it may now be unfashionable, it has a certain musical integrity which is sadly lacking in the monsters mentioned above.

 

Unless it is a theatre style instrument, the organ should not be regarded as a musical synthesiser!

 

MM

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Guest stevecbournias

ive been there many times and in the organ

 

it was deemed needed as such

 

also there was a competition between atlantic city and wanamaker ongoing

 

willis-3 was working on a sample 100" reed pipe for the stentor department at wanamaker for corboin but the deal fell thru

 

willis-3 was going to want public credit for any work done and rodman wanamaker didnt want any non-american pipes so the deal went by the wayside

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ive been there many times and in the organ

 

it was deemed needed as such

 

......... there was a competition between atlantic city and wanamaker ongoing

 

willis-3 was working on a sample 100" reed pipe for the stentor department at wanamaker for corboin but the deal fell thru

 

willis-3 was going to want public credit for any work done and rodman wanamaker didnt want any non-american pipes so the deal went by the wayside

 

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

 

 

He He....that says it all, doesn't it?

 

It's doubly funny to think of Wanamaker foresaking a Willis rank, whilst the Willis company were happy to install a Wurlitzer one at St.Paul's Cathedral.

 

MM

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Guest stevecbournias

the late christopher dearnley told me whilst standing at the mander 5 manual console at st pauls that the militaire was a wurlitzer rank

 

however i have heard that actually it wasnt

 

it was by anton gottfried of erie penn

 

he supplied pipes to atlantic city

 

i saw one stop

 

the egyptian horn

 

fractional and hi pressure in the gallery iv section of the

bombard manual 7 section and it had spun brass bells

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My only concept of the size of the hall is from photos, where it does look huge - does the organ *need* to be that large? A serious question, I just have no idea what kind of scale this building is.
It is vast (not, I hasten to add, that I've ever been there). You can fly a helcopter inside it - it's been done (I wonder whether they accompanied it on the 64' Dulzian. :) )

 

Clearly a hall that size needed an exceptional instrument. But there was no reason why it had to have as many manuals and stops as the Midmer-Losh has.

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

The economy version would be to attach a diaphonic valve to the city sewers, but I expect it would sound much the same as the rest of the instrument.

You've obviously read the 256ft pipe story on Pipechat!
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Guest stevecbournias

austin organ co built a shell of a console w/ 6 manuals for the atlantic city proposal

 

midmer-losh was known for extended manuals beyond 61 notes

 

the 7th manual is a bombard with 4 sub sections

 

1-gallery diaphone&100" reeds

2-gallery harmonic flute chorus

3-gallery diapason chorus

4-gallery orchestral hi pressure reeds-25"

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Guest stevecbournias

generally not but some other organs of small dimensions had extended manuals

 

i think they liked the idea of pedal on manual capability

 

personally i can live without it

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That's interesting. What sort of range are we talking of here? Did they build any other organs with seven-octave manuals?

 

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

 

I recall that the bottom two manuals are full piano-size keyboards, but I may be wrong.

 

However, as we are discussing SIZE, and it clearly matters to some people, the Boardwalk Hall (Atlantic City Convention Hall, NJ) seats 17,000 people and the interior roof area is no less than 4 acres....a whole upside-down farm!

 

I guess that makes it about twice the size of the RAH in London, which manages to survive on a mere musical diet of 9,999 pipes. Double that, and have bits of organ scattered around the building, and 19,998 pipes would be sufficient, surely?

 

They may be able to fly helicopters around the hall, but I can tell you that they have regular midget-car racing there, which must do the organ leather-work a whole lot of good! (I like midget-car racing!)

 

I wonder what the seals and valves are like on the 100" Grand Ophicleide?

 

At least the midget-car men would probably understand the gravity of blowing a gasket on the C-side!

 

MM

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Guest stevecbournias

SEATING was to be 40000

 

so senator richards wanted an organ that could be heard

 

the chambers r spacious but the grilles r not the most generous-sized ive ever seen so to avoid tone being lost he supplied a lot of organ

 

also he didnt want wanamaker and courboin to outdo him since richards had an enormous ego

 

and so the competition began

 

wanamaker ended in 1928

 

atlantic city went into the depression years of the 30s

 

the voicing is quite excellent

 

the ophicleide was revoiced in 1938 by roscoe evans curator former reed voicer at wurlitzer and it has a brilliant fiery post horn-like tone

 

the other gallery big guns were shut down in the 40s having been unsuccessful in their aim

 

the tuba imperial in the solo on 100" is quite nice and doesnt overwhelm in the hall

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

 

I recall that the bottom two manuals are full piano-size keyboards, but I may be wrong.

 

No, you are quite correct and the third manual has 73 notes, only 4,5,6 and 7 being of conventional length

 

However, as we are discussing SIZE, and it clearly matters to some people,  the Boardwalk Hall (Atlantic City Convention Hall, NJ) seats 17,000 people and the interior roof area is no less than 4 acres....a whole upside-down farm!

 

I  seem to recall reading somewhere that the Hall could seat 41,000 people, which since it is at least the size of a soccer stadium seems plausible. I think I have chapter and verse somewhere but having to get up for work at 6.00 dissuades me from going and looking for it now. Brian Childs

 

MM

 

Hi, have inserted a couple of comments in the quoted text.

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Guest stevecbournias

tuba maxima and trumpet mirabilis in bombard manual 7 subsection gallery 1 diaphones-100" reeds r silent since the 1940s

 

ive seen these

 

they r in a closet like enclosure so shallow u can almost touch across the soundboard from the hallway behind them thru the mini chamber tho hi and get to the grilles where these ominous cannons point with their 90 degree hooded tops

 

immediately front and below r top rows of seating

 

ive been told that they r not devastating like what happened to me in 1971 at st john the divine

 

i sat under the state trumpet on 50 inches and when it blasted off----------so did I----

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the late christopher dearnley told me whilst standing at the mander 5 manual console at st  pauls that the militaire was a wurlitzer rank

 

however i have heard that actually it wasnt

 

it was by anton gottfried of erie penn

 

he supplied pipes to atlantic city

 

i saw one stop

 

the egyptian horn

 

fractional and hi pressure in the gallery iv section of the

bombard manual 7 section and it had spun brass bells

 

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

 

 

Well, this is always going to be one of those unanswered questions I suspect, because there is a certain dichotomy of views from them who should know or might have known, and which I think amused the late Julian Rhodes.

 

There was the story as told by Aubrey Thompson-Allen (AGGO-RCCO magazine 1973) that Willis met Senator Emerson Richards, and that he ordered a "Brass Trumpet" on seeing the photographs etc. Aubrey Thompson-Allen was unaware, so he claimed, that the rank was made by Wurlitzer, but when he found out he never informed Willis.

 

Then there is another version, which claims that Willis threw out the shallots and tongues and replaced them.....but then, Willis 3 WOULD have claimed that, wouldn't he?

 

Henry Anton Gottfried claimed that he recalled the rank being voiced by his father.

 

Ian Bell suggests that "Whatever HWIII may have claimed for the shallots later, they are definitely not Willis."

 

Others, including Stephen Bicknell, suggest that the rank is but a standard Wurlitzer Post Horn, but then, that is not the same as a Wurlitzer Brass Trumpet.

 

Apparently, if it is a Wurlitzer register, then the pipes should have a brass sleeve for the tuning-wire, and apparently they do not; suggesting Gottfried rather than Wurlitzer.

 

HOWEVER...... :) ......it may well be that Gottfried got his spun-brass tubes from Wurlitzer, who were also noted builders (makers?) of Band Organs, which in the UK we call Fair Organs. These ALWAYS have highly polished and laquered spun-brass tubes, so there may be more than a grain of truth in this, unless they came as second-hand Gavioli items!!

 

Ah! The joys of endless (pointless?) research.

 

The simple fact is, the Trompette Militaire at St.Paul's is a very American-style trumpet which came from America, and all things considered, there probably wasn't a lot to choose between one and t'other supplier. It remains a superb reed!

 

Now who was that German gentleman who voiced Cavaille-Coll's reeds for him?

 

:)

 

 

MM

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

Well, this is always going to be one of those unanswered questions I suspect, because there is a certain dichotomy of views from them who should know or might have known, and which I think amused the late Julian Rhodes.

 

There was the story as told by Aubrey Thompson-Allen (AGGO-RCCO magazine 1973) that Willis met Senator Emerson Richards, and that he ordered a "Brass Trumpet" on seeing the photographs etc.  Aubrey Thompson-Allen was unaware, so he claimed, that the rank was made by Wurlitzer, but when he found out he never informed Willis.

 

Then there is another version, which claims that Willis threw out the shallots and tongues and replaced them.....but then, Willis 3 WOULD have claimed that, wouldn't he?

 

Henry Anton Gottfried claimed that he recalled the rank being voiced by his father.

 

Ian Bell suggests that "Whatever HWIII may have claimed for the shallots later, they are definitely not Willis."

 

Others, including Stephen Bicknell, suggest that the rank is but a standard Wurlitzer Post Horn, but then, that is not the same as a Wurlitzer Brass Trumpet.

 

Apparently, if it is a Wurlitzer register, then the pipes should have a brass sleeve for the tuning-wire, and apparently they do not; suggesting Gottfried rather than Wurlitzer.

 

HOWEVER...... :) ......it may well be that Gottfried got his spun-brass tubes from Wurlitzer, who were also noted builders (makers?) of Band Organs, which in the UK we call Fair Organs. These ALWAYS have highly polished and laquered spun-brass tubes, so there may be more than a grain of truth in this, unless they came as second-hand Gavioli items!!

 

Ah! The joys of endless (pointless?) research.

 

The simple fact is, the Trompette Militaire at St.Paul's is a very American-style trumpet which came from America, and all things considered, there probably wasn't a lot to choose between one and t'other supplier. It remains a superb reed!

 

Now who was that German gentleman who voiced Cavaille-Coll's reeds for him?

 

:)

MM

The one thing you miss out is that Gottfried's trademark stamp on the boot of bottom C is there, but the name was scored out (probably by Willis).

 

I think that, on the whole, I'd trust Ian Bells' assessment that the stop was supplied by Gottfried. Who originally made the tubes is possibly a different matter.

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all of the organs mentioned have musical value in that music itself is defined as art expressed thru sound

 

ive played the yale and westpoint organs and have heard the wanamaker organ time and again and sat at the 7 manual atlantic city console which is very comfortable and everything within easy reach including manual 7

 

so i politely disagree

 

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

 

Apart from the fact that the blood-supply must be severly restricted by playing at an upwards angle in excess of 45 degrees and with fingers at head-level, I guess a 7-manual console is "comfortable." It may have been more sensible to have an underfloor goldfish bowl, a revolving Howard Seat and two-manual levels surrounding the organist through 360 degrees. It would probably be ergonomically rather better.

 

Personally, I find 5-manuals a bit of a problem, because I start skidding on the keys, no matter how well positioned the top manual may be.

 

However, back to "artistic concept," which is where the American behemoths depart from the traditions of the organ and even from the organs built in America a generation before.

 

As Atlantic City is more or less impossible to assess, perhaps we should look at West Point NJ.....easily the largest church instrument in the world. It is a vast instrument by any standards, and probably has one or more of just about everything ever voiced. However, there is use of considerable extension, which may be musically acceptable in the hands of a true master, but far less musically satisfactory is the nature of the total package, which has grown and grown over the years. What, I ask, is the point of having "baroque" section on a symphonic instrument such as this, and why did they feel it necessary to buy them from Stinkens in Holland?

 

I am not faulting the individual ranks or the voicing, but questioning the whole concept of an instrument where sheer size and testosterone rule the day. That is NOT something which is apparent at Liverpool Cathedral, St.Paul's Cathedral or the Royal Albert Hall (why do we always forget Norwich?). In these places, the organs have been thought out, properly executed and are of a piece musically, just as so many Skinner organs are, or at least were.

 

There is an aristocratic beauty about original Skinner organs, and a lot to commend those of Aeolian-Skinner and the work of G.Donald-Harrison. I think anyone who sits at one or the other would immediately recognise this, and the music will reflect the basic respect an organist will feel for the instrument.

 

Perhaps the final answer is right there in America, with the superb organ at St.John-the-Divine, NY, now in storage I understand, following the fire. It is quite a "small" instrument by US standards, but it is definitely one of the best. Forget the State Trumpet.....it's a wonderful party-horn, but not the thing which separates this organ from others. Like the Willis organ at Liverpool Cathedral, it has musical integrity.

 

It's very difficult to admire the dress-sense of a homelss tramp (hobo), but at least there is a good reason for it. I don't see how anyone who is a musician can admire an organ which is "mix and match" at best, and only "pick and mix" at worst.

 

MM

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Might I somewhat hesitantly suggest that somewhat different criteria need to be applied to instruments intended for liturgical use than apply to those purely for use as concert instruments, a consideration which does not always seem to have been taken into account in some of the comments made on this thread.

 

The principal purpose of a liturgical organ is surely the support of singing, but doing this actually covers an enormous range from a few highly trained professionals to a gathering of several thousand barely on nodding terms with the words or tune of even one of our better known hymns. Moreover, the support may be required at various places in the building. It seems to me that this can provide a certain justification for providing various departments spread at strategic locations around a large building, which has no application to instruments intended purely for concert use, though even here a remote echo or antiphonal department is sanctioned by long usage, hardly likely to end civilisation as we know it, and merely provides the organ equivalent of effects which orchestral composers have also sought to exploit (where performing conditions allowed of it) eg Vaughan Williams in the Tallis Fantasia.

 

Brian Childs

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in 1970 at westpoint NY an entire division was trashed

the pipes were priceless foreign material by bonavia-hunt and cavaille-coll

apparently there was some metal fatigue and for whatever reason the whole section was piece-meal tossed over the edge (snip)...........

 

..............later in 1974 a new transept organ was built by gress-miles using unvoiced 2/7 mouth pipes from bier in germany in a hauptwerk and positiv and pedal

 

these were very classical and brilliant in their intonation

 

the present organist is a long-time personal friend........and he has and will continue to eliminate much needless unitization

 

recall that the present 1950 console of 850 stop tongues had no combination action until the 1970s

 

 

 

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

 

 

(Priceless material) Good heavens! Scandalous!

 

(1974 Transept Organ)....in fairness, it sounds OK on its' own, but this confirms what I stated, that these very large instruments are really often a collection of unrelated instruments controlled from a telephone exchange.

 

(Combination action) That really amazes me, but then, I should have realised this when I once studied the spec, shouldn't I? Silly me!

 

In effect, although it is a classical organ, the stop-key duplications must have been similar to that of a theatre organ, where voices are duplexed on more than one manual. I bet that gets the classical folk confused!

 

Anyway, West Point is there, it's huge, it's unique and above all it works. I guess it's like an old Chevrolet Impala; completely OTT, but somehow adorable in all its' excess.

 

:o

 

MM

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Might I somewhat hesitantly suggest that somewhat different criteria need to be applied to instruments intended for liturgical use than apply to those purely for use as concert instruments................It seems to me that this can provide a certain justification for providing various departments spread at strategic locations around a large building, which has no application to instruments intended purely for concert use.

 

 

 

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

 

That isn't my gripe Brian. It has more to do with the way completely different styles of voicing and even musical purpose are scattered far and wide in far flung corners.

 

There is a similar mis-match of styles evident in the Mander organ at Sheffield, which has become so unloved by the current people there. Essentially, it was and is a Fr Willis "core" organ, and adding "baroque" divisions to a basically English Romantic instrument from the 19th century was never going to be a great idea, whatever the organist of the day believed.

 

There was so much that was experimental about Atlantic-City, and that perhaps equally applies, on a very much smaller scale, to the organ at Sheffield and others elsewhere.

 

The Aeolian-Skinner at Riverside had, to quote Virgil Fox, a part of the organ "a whole city block away," but at least it was matched to the rest and sounded fine.

 

MM

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