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Mander Organs

Peter Collins


Geoff McMahon

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The family of Peter Collins has asked me to post this notice, which I am happy, but also sad to have to do:

 

 

 

With great sadness the Team at Peter Collins Limited, regret to announce the passing of Peter Collins on the 24th October.

 

The Company would like to thank all of its Clients, Staff and Suppliers for their much appreciated support during this difficult time.

 

We are pleased to confirm that the Company continues to operate as normal.

 

The family is planning to organise a Memorial Concert for Peter and wishes to raise money for the LOROS Hospice and Cancer Research. We will circulate more details, once a date and location are confirmed.

 

The Collins Family

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Very sorry to hear this - my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at Peter Collins Ltd.

 

I met Peter Collins while at Southampton University (the Turner Sims Concert Hall organ was the obvious link) and ended up working for him for part of a summer holiday while at University. He was very good to me.

 

Obviously a great loss to the British Organ Building community; he played a leading role in the organ reform movement in Britain and built some key organs of the movement. I felt he had a great sense of conviction and energy in what he wanted to achieve and his fiery energy comes through in the character of many of the organs he built. An organ builder leaves behind a legacy of organs after him and I hope the best examples of his work will continue to be preserved as a testament to his zeal and revolution.

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This is sad news indeed. At St Albans in July I was so sorry that Peter had been unable to present his new organ for the Festival due to illness. Peter had unlimited enthusiasm, energy, knowledge and vision in all things to do with organs. He was a most interesting speaker. In the early days of the St Albans Organ Festival I was so impressed by the small organs he displayed that I ordered a small instrument from him -it produces such a refined and elegant sound that I still enjoy 35 years on. At the time I ordered this I remember playing on other recent organs of his- at the Turner Sims Concert Hall and St Mary's Paddington Green. He had boundless enthusiasm for both of these - however I remember that at St Mary's the features he most commented on were the fiery wooden urns on the top of the case! Over the years every time I met him he had a new enthusiasm -high purity lead pipes, cases with resonant panels, light weight pallets.... Although many of his organs leant towards the north European classical organ, he was enthusiastic about many English builders, and he told me that he thought the sound of the organ in St Sulpice was incomparably fine.

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A great shame. Even though I have not played an organ for a few years I am lucky enough to have NPOR E01290 about 10 minutes walk from my house. I did play a few notes on it after it was installed and a very fine instrument it is too.

 

My sympathies to those who knew him: RIP.

 

Dave

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He was an innovative thinker in the physical and engineering design of responsive mechanical actions, a subject which I have also researched myself. I learnt a lot from his perspectives. He wrote an early and scholarly article on some of his conclusions in a BIOS publication, which was no doubt eagerly consumed by many at the time, including myself. Not only is he to be congratulated on his work per se, but also the fact that he was prepared to share it so readily. A very refreshing mindset, and from the little I knew of him, a kind and gentle man as well.

 

CEP

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The first time I heard a full-size organ by Peter Collins was in the recording of Kenneth Leighton's organ concerto with the late John Scott, recorded in St David's Hall, Cardiff. In the recording, the organ gives a most intense and telling impression, well-structured and clear. And I liked the casework I saw on NPOR. Maybe I felt at home with it because it comes close to much work of the better German builders of his generation.

 

I got to know one of his box organs fairly well, which is situated in Freiburg. It is a fabulously versatile instrument (8 4 4 2 1 1/3) that substituted very successfully for an energetic French-leaning II/30, and is much beloved with musicians and the congregation.

 

What I found very appealing were some of the little improvements, e. g. a bench with two footrests, one higher up; a loose leather collar that connects the blower box and organ, simply and reliably; pull-out brass handles, small but thoroughly reliable; a leather pouch (voc?) under the keys instead of a strip of felt, providing a most comfortable touch.

 

The organist told me that Peter Collins was a very pleasant man, with natural skill and a good sense of humour. Having delivered the organ, he set it down in the church, and it gave the tiniest of bumps. A nut came rolling out. Peter Collins, still clutching the box, lifted his head with a somewhat devious grin and commented: And it's only the first day!

 

Best wishes

Friedrich

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