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A blast from the past


MusingMuso
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I have been going through hundreds of old slides recently, and converting them to digital images as a way of preserving them.

Two of the photographs I scanned were particularly interesting, and date from 1964 when I was all of 15. I can't recall what camera I used at the time, but memory tells me it may have been a Korroll camera with small frame film. (Possibly 110 format?) The quality of the originals and subsequent degradation of the slides hasn't helped, but after a bit of fiddling around, (with the wonderful, but now unobtainable 'Picture Publisher' programme), the end results are acceptable.

 

The first photograph is of Henry Willis IV, but the second one is a slightly poignant one, for it shows Dr Caleb Jarvis, (then Liverpoool City Organist) emerging from the old Rushworth & Dreaper works in Liverpool.

Now the $6m question....how do I upload photographs these days or do we need someone with a website?

 

Best,

 

MM

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MM wrote :I have been going through hundreds of old slides recently, and converting them to digital images as a way of preserving them.

 

That is only a temporary step. Some of the old photographic prints have survived for more than a century and remain in good condition, and printed material on good quality paper has a life measured in centuries.

 

Digital media can be very shortlived, for example recordable CDs may become unreadable within 5 years, and we don't know how long other media will last. There is also the issue of the technology that can access these media. In 1986 the BBC started the Domesday Project, with data collected on BBC micros and transferred to a laser disk. Only 15 years later there were no readers capable of handling the data, and an engineer had almost to reinvent some of the system to make the data accessible. Who has a punched card reader, who can read computer tapes from 20 years ago, who can read 8 inch floppy disks, 5 1/4 floppies, or 3 1/2 floppies. CDs for computer storage already show signs that they will soon be on the way out.

 

So, to preserve data on digital media it is necessary to recopy them from time to time well within the life expectancy of the media, and to retransfer them from older to newer media when technology changes.

 

Meanwhile, our local photographers (the oldest in England) has glass negatives dating back 150 years, and still capable of yielding prints which compare favourably with most modern monochrome images.

 

 

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MM wrote :I have been going through hundreds of old slides recently, and converting them to digital images as a way of preserving them.

 

That is only a temporary step. Some of the old photographic prints have survived for more than a century and remain in good condition, and printed material on good quality paper has a life measured in centuries.

 

Digital media can be very shortlived, for example recordable CDs may become unreadable within 5 years, and we don't know how long other media will last. There is also the issue of the technology that can access these media. In 1986 the BBC started the Domesday Project, with data collected on BBC micros and transferred to a laser disk. Only 15 years later there were no readers capable of handling the data, and an engineer had almost to reinvent some of the system to make the data accessible. Who has a punched card reader, who can read computer tapes from 20 years ago, who can read 8 inch floppy disks, 5 1/4 floppies, or 3 1/2 floppies. CDs for computer storage already show signs that they will soon be on the way out.

 

So, to preserve data on digital media it is necessary to recopy them from time to time well within the life expectancy of the media, and to retransfer them from older to newer media when technology changes.

 

Meanwhile, our local photographers (the oldest in England) has glass negatives dating back 150 years, and still capable of yielding prints which compare favourably with most modern monochrome images.

 

 

 

Thank you David, that is very good advice for me and to anyone in the same situation. I have lost quite a number of slides due to poor storage conditions at a commercial site, for which there can never be any sort of true compensation. Damp and fungal infections are the great enemy of film, and I have quite a task on my hands (and eyes) to re-touch some of the images. (I'm getting quite good at it). Where the slides are of historic importance or of great personal interest, I shall keep them, but the bulk are of no great significance and will probably get dumped. I shall certainly transfer them to more modern media as it arises, and even store them on two alternative formats.

 

Thanks also to AJJ and the request from Sarah Beedle regarding photographs of Caleb Jarvis....a superb organist, and at the time of the photograph, the Civic Organist in Liverpool, with responsibilities which covered recitals at St George's Hall, as well as accompaniment (etc) on the big R & D organ at the Philharmonic Hall.

 

There is also a very faded slide which shows four people together, and one of them I recognised immediately as Dr Reginald Dixon of Lancaster, but I wonder if I didn't also get a shot of Healey Willan at the same time, and possibly some of the cathedral clergy at Liverpool.

 

Best,

 

MM

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MM wrote :I have been going through hundreds of old slides recently, and converting them to digital images as a way of preserving them.

 

That is only a temporary step. Some of the old photographic prints have survived for more than a century and remain in good condition, and printed material on good quality paper has a life measured in centuries.

 

Digital media can be very shortlived, for example recordable CDs may become unreadable within 5 years, and we don't know how long other media will last. There is also the issue of the technology that can access these media. In 1986 the BBC started the Domesday Project, with data collected on BBC micros and transferred to a laser disk. Only 15 years later there were no readers capable of handling the data, and an engineer had almost to reinvent some of the system to make the data accessible. Who has a punched card reader, who can read computer tapes from 20 years ago, who can read 8 inch floppy disks, 5 1/4 floppies, or 3 1/2 floppies. CDs for computer storage already show signs that they will soon be on the way out.

 

So, to preserve data on digital media it is necessary to recopy them from time to time well within the life expectancy of the media, and to retransfer them from older to newer media when technology changes.

 

 

 

 

 

This is perfectly true, of course, but the big advantage of doing so is that, being digital, they can be copied ad infinitum without degradation of quality. Obviously, the safest thing to do would be to keep at least two, and better still several, copies on different media just in case of failure.

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MM - do you have any photographs of organ consoles, please (at least three-quarter, if not full view - or even of each stop-jamb)? If so, I should be very interested to see them, if this were possible, please.

 

Thank you.

Sadly, I had some good photographs of the Bavokerk, Alkmaar and other nortable organs in the Netherlands, but all these have perished with age and storage conditions. Generally speaking, I'm not in the habit of photographing consoles I'm afraid, but I probably have a lot of archive material containing photographs.

 

Sorry! :(

 

MM

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Here are the 3 photographs to which MM referred along with his own notes and descriptions.

 

The first is obviously Henry Willis IV, the second is Caleb Jarvis, but the third is a bit of a mystery to me after all this time. The little man is Dr AH Reginald Dixon of Lancaster Cathedral, I know that, and I think one of the clergymen is the then Dean of Liverpool Cathedral. However, who is the second gentleman from the left? Could it be Healey Willan in his latter days? This was 1964, I believe, and Willan died in 1968. Hopefully, someone may know.
All these have been rescued from badly colour faded slides and converted to greyscale.

 

PICT0115-BW.jpg

 

 

 

 

CALEB-JARVIS-PUBLISH-MODFD-.jpg

 

 

 

PICT0113-PUBLISH.jpg

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Thanks for that useful interview clip, which confirms that the gentleman in question cannot have been Healey Willan....the mystery continues.

 

As for the Francis Jackson interpretation of the Willan masterpiece, I couldn't agree more. Whenever organists of a certain age get together, and mention is made of that recording, it is usually followed by a tacit, mutual nod of admiration, after which everyone agrees that it is the "definitive" interpretation.

That said, there is a rather fine interpretation of said work on You Tube, played by Virgil Fox at Girard, and although I've never sat down with the score to check the absolute accuracy of it, the musical qualities are remarkably fine. Yet even this recording doesn't have that fluid timing and lyrical beauty of Jackson's performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0ccc22AFfY

 

But can anything really measure up to the perfection of Francis Jackson?

Somehow, I doubt it, even to the extent of suggesting that no-one will EVER play it better. For me at least, it marks the apogee of the British organist.at a certain point in time.

 

Best,

 

MM

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I've just compared FJ's recording with John Tuttle at St Pauls Toronto (albeit rebuilt in the 50's the original instrument HW had in mind). http://www.gothic-catalog.com/Willan_Introduction_Passacaglia_Fugue_Tuttle_p/g-48629.htm

FJ's is a much more 'poised' performance and a much clearer recording. Of course THAT Tuba helps! Interestingly, the St P's chorus reeds and Tubas are mostly Harrison & Harrison and it does sound more lush that the 63 Walker with its very bright mixtures.

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I've just compared FJ's recording with John Tuttle at St Pauls Toronto (albeit rebuilt in the 50's the original instrument HW had in mind). http://www.gothic-catalog.com/Willan_Introduction_Passacaglia_Fugue_Tuttle_p/g-48629.htm

FJ's is a much more 'poised' performance and a much clearer recording. Of course THAT Tuba helps! Interestingly, the St P's chorus reeds and Tubas are mostly Harrison & Harrison and it does sound more lush that the 63 Walker with its very bright mixtures.

 

 

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

 

 

Yes, a very fine performance and a superb recording. As you suggest, it isn't quite Francis, and the York recording just has that added bit of magic to it, which I'm sure derives from that wonderfully elastic sense of timing and phrasing, as well as the lyrical legato and moments of daylight. There's so far nothing to quite compare, and we're now almost 50 years down the line from that EMI "Great Cathedral" release.

 

That's how legends are created.

 

Best,

 

MM

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