Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Enclosed Or Partially Enclosed Great Organ


Recommended Posts

Absolutely - but I will f*** it up at some stage...

I like the sound of a reed chorus coming from nowhere, too - that's what swell organs are for.

 

 

Greetings,

 

I'd even be willing to meet half way and say that provided there were one or two 8' color stops on the Great in addition to the chorus and primary 8' flute such as Gamba, Gemshorn, Spitz Flute, or Dulciana; I would not then care so much if the division were unenclosed.

 

However, if that isn't the case, I say cage it up!

 

- Nathan

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 64
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I must be honest, I'll happily play an organ with an enclosed great organ. I thought the compton at Wakefield Cathedral was rather a fine beast and I found having the great enclosed on one of the organs I played at University (a 4 rank extension organ) very handy.

 

Like all organs, the success of the organs depends on how well it's done and whether it's an appropriate organ for its space and use. I'd rather have a beautifully finished Schoestein with everything enclosed than a ropey and poorly finished unenclosed neo-baroque job.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I presume that it's an electronic 32' reed - is there an enclosed 32' acoustic stop anywhere in the world?

 

Michael

 

 

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

 

Yep! Ampleforth Abbey. (32ft reed in Swell Box)

 

I would also point out, that a fully enclosed Compton, with a "bass box" (Polyphone) also qualifies.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not acoustic surely?

 

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

 

I thinkest thous mis-interprets the word.

 

I think we were using the term as a guitarist would......acoustic or non-acoustic ie:-real or fake electronic.

 

I feel sure that Atlantic City MUST have an acoustic 32ft enclosed in a box, but it would take me 6 months to find it in the specification; so I'll pass on that one.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote=Colin Harvey,Jul 5 2006, 04:36 PM]

Turner Sims is just a rather unfashionable organ right now.

It's rather a shame because as I have written here before - I was there when it went in (and indeed one of my fellow students was actually helping to install) and it was so good then to have an instrument to play 'properly'.

(Oops - sorry Adrian - St Mary's was great fun but too cold in the winter and too far to bike!!)

 

AJJ

Link to post
Share on other sites

I played a service or two on a small-ish 2m Walker some years ago which had the Sw 8' flute and Dulciana, the 4' flute also, playable on the Gt., which was not enclosed. I can't remember if the 8 + 4 flutes were extended - I think they were. They were quite useful for accompanying the Sw Oboe, as I recall, but it's 40yrs ago now and I'm not sure. It was a Methodist church in Wembley, but that's the limit of my memory - perhaps someone else knows more? Interesting - on playing one of the hymns I forgot to draw the Sw - Gt, so it didn't make a lot of noise, and the cong. refused to sing 'til I did!

 

Regards to all

 

John.

Link to post
Share on other sites

While I was a student I sang at a church that had the pd 16' Trombone totaly enclosed in the choir box (I know the discussion is about the Great organ...). The organist was world class and an improviser of great fame. With that reed in the box he could play brilliant hymn accopmanyments... sneek the reed on and cres. into the most amazing interpretations.

My point: enclose the great....sure, or at least partially if you know it to be right for the situation.

WM

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is a most interesting subject. Thank you, Paul, for your informative post.

 

I must confess that I am currently undecided regarding this matter. This is largely because I have not yet played the organs of Downside Abbey, St. Bride's, Fleet Street or Derby Cathedral. Therefore I would not presume to denigrate such methods of design and construction.

 

All I can say is that in some ways my instinct speaks against such a course of action. However, I have played St. Luke's, Chelsea and one or two other large Compton organs and I was deeply impressed by that which I found. The organs as I experienced them were genuinely musical instruments, with a wide tonal palette, from quiet effects of etherial beauty to the richest grandeur of the tutti.

 

I confess to my surprise, I also discovered that it was quite difficult to believe that the instruments in question were, to various degrees, built on the extension principle - one did not have to resort to convoluted registrations in order to avoid 'missing' notes.

 

There is a certain old Compton of my acquaintance, somewhat worse for wear; apart from tuning little has been done to it for many years. The building in which it stands is rather inefectually heated during the winter months. Notwithstanding, I had occasion to play this organ a couple of months ago and I was immediately struck by the beauty of the tone. The regulation was still remarkably good. Certain stops (such as quiet solo reeds) were in need of restoration, but the diapason choruses and the chorus reeds themselves were excellent.

 

Whilst my preference is for clavier stops to be straight and without duplexing, I am also aware that Comptons managed to create some real masterpieces by the judicious - even inspired - use of extension and duplexing.

 

Therefore, whilst I have reservations, I am only too well aware of the moving effect which some larger examples of the work of John Compton have had on some professional musicians - not all of them organists, for the record.

 

 

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

 

 

I shall no doubt end this post with preposterous proposition which should get everyone going, but first things first.

 

Why, I wonder, has no-one written the book about John Compton?

 

Here was an organ-builder with a fantastic grasp of all things tonal, who had a very sound knowledge of mechanical things and who was at the cutting edge of organ-design. He was an early pioneer in the success of the theatre organ, he developed a system of extension organs which has yet to be bettered, he built up the largest pipe-organ factory ever seen in the UK, at North Acton, and left an impressive legacy.

 

Around him were people of real talent and experience, and I suppose John Compton was the name behind the first "combination organs" utilising electronic sound production and real pipes. The Compton electrones were beautifully made examples of early valve-electronics (many still in regular service).

 

The use of innovation was not restricted to the use of extension, but also included those remarkable 32ft Polyphones (a sort of valved wooden labrynth) which are related in many ways to the old "folded-horn" speaker enclosures. There were the famous 32ft Cornets, which so effectively simulated a 32ft reed when drawn with a 16ft reed. His articles about Diaphones demonstrate a sharpness of mind which is seldom found in organ-building; not only covering the theory of them, but highlighting many of the inherent problems of regulation.

 

I llok at Compton switchgear and I am impressed. I look at verious organ components, all beautifully varnished, and I am impressed by the quality.

 

If ever an organ-builder represented "Made in Britain" (as it was then understood), John Compton was a perfect example of someone who valued quality on all fronts.

 

Born in Nottingham, John Compton possibly discovered his love of cutting-edge innovation during his apprenticeship with Brindley & Foster of Sheffield; a company who possibly developed the most complex of all pneumatic-actions, based on the German cone-valve chests, and incorporating a number of very clever registrational aids which they called "Brindgradus".

 

Even during wartime, when he was posted to Italy, John Compton was to be seen "experimenting" (vandalising?) various old Italian organs, as he tried out all sorts of tonal experiments.

 

So when a board member such as "pcnd" speaks of being impressed by a Compton organ, I for one am not in the least bit surprised, for they usually are indeed "musical" instruments.

 

Somewhere I have a very detailed set of schematics for a Compton extension organ, which show the various derivations and borrowings, and whether hearing a totally enclosed pure extension organ, divided usually into two seperate expression chambers, or hearing a more typical part-straight (Swell) and part extension (Great, Pedal etc) such as Wakefield Cathedral or St.Bride's, the effect is almost always entirely convincing.

 

In voicing terms, Compton perfected a very English style of romantic voicing, with quite heavily blown, leathered diapsons which never sound at all dull or ponderous as one might expect. Whether quiet Flutes and Strings, or roaring Tubas and strident Orchestral Trumpets, the voicing was usually magnificent.

 

Another aspect of Compton's work, which few ever realise, is the fact that many of those high-pitched (derived) Cymbels and Acuta Mixtures, are not, as the stop-head suggests Iv raks or V rks, but often many more than that stated. Compton had the good sense not to upset the establishment of the day by stating the facts too obviously!!

 

Listen to the (pre neo-classical) sound of a Compton organ. Were they not altogether brighter and lighter than almost all his competitors with a clear sense of chorus-work?

 

All this from derivations and extensions, which carefully avoided consecutive octave extensions, unlike many American-built organs of the same period.

 

Even the Tierces would usually be derived (switched) from the Celeste rank, in order that the tuning sounded correct.

 

However, the real genius was not so much to be found in the actual method of extension-principle applied, but in the way a whole instrument was musically cohesive; each voice carefully matched to the next, and each extension carefully graded in such a way, that the full organ pleno was, in effect, one very large Mixture stop, in which every rank made a contribution to the whole, as well as standing apart in its own rights.

 

So now for my preposterous statement in the form of a proposition.

 

I believe that John Compton, when seen in the light of the prevalent fashions of his day, was "possibly" the equal to Arp Schnitger in his, and furthermore, like the great baroque master, he could replicate one good result after another, as befits a true master organ-builder.

 

Lastly, it's very interesting to note that many ex-Compton men went on to do great things of their own, and not least, the founder members of the "other" neo-classical revival in the form of Grant, Deegens and Rippen.

 

I would like to think that they, and others, owed a great deal to what John Compton taught them.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
===================

I shall no doubt end this post with preposterous proposition which should get everyone going, but first things first.

 

Why, I wonder, has no-one written the book about John Compton?

 

Here was an organ-builder with a fantastic grasp of all things tonal, who had a very sound knowledge of mechanical things and who was at the cutting edge of organ-design. He was an early pioneer in the success of the theatre organ, he developed a system of extension organs which has yet to be bettered, he built up the largest pipe-organ factory ever seen in the UK, at North Acton, and left an impressive legacy.

 

Around him were people of real talent and experience, and I suppose John Compton was the name behind the first "combination organs" utilising electronic sound production and real pipes. The Compton electrones were beautifully made examples of early valve-electronics (many still in regular service).

 

The use of innovation was not restricted to the use of extension, but also included those remarkable 32ft Polyphones (a sort of valved wooden labrynth) which are related in many ways to the old "folded-horn" speaker enclosures. There were the famous 32ft Cornets, which so effectively simulated a 32ft reed when drawn with a 16ft reed. His articles about Diaphones demonstrate a sharpness of mind which is seldom found in organ-building; not only covering the theory of them, but highlighting many of the inherent problems of regulation.

 

I llok at Compton switchgear and I am impressed. I look at verious organ components, all beautifully varnished, and I am impressed by the quality.

 

If ever an organ-builder represented "Made in Britain" (as it was then understood), John Compton was a perfect example of someone who valued quality on all fronts.

 

Born in Nottingham, John Compton possibly discovered his love of cutting-edge innovation during his apprenticeship with Brindley & Foster of Sheffield; a company who possibly developed the most complex of all pneumatic-actions, based on the German cone-valve chests, and incorporating a number of very clever registrational aids which they called "Brindgradus".

 

Even during wartime, when he was posted to Italy, John Compton was to be seen "experimenting" (vandalising?) various old Italian organs, as he tried out all sorts of tonal experiments.

 

So when a board member such as "pcnd" speaks of being impressed by a Compton organ, I for one am not in the least bit surprised, for they usually are indeed "musical" instruments.

 

Somewhere I have a very detailed set of schematics for a Compton extension organ, which show the various derivations and borrowings, and whether hearing a totally enclosed pure extension organ, divided usually into two seperate expression chambers, or hearing a more typical part-straight (Swell) and part extension (Great, Pedal etc) such as Wakefield Cathedral or St.Bride's, the effect is almost always entirely convincing.

 

In voicing terms, Compton perfected a very English style of romantic voicing, with quite heavily blown, leathered diapsons which never sound at all dull or ponderous as one might expect. Whether quiet Flutes and Strings, or roaring Tubas and strident Orchestral Trumpets, the voicing was usually magnificent.

 

Another aspect of Compton's work, which few ever realise, is the fact that many of those high-pitched (derived) Cymbels and Acuta Mixtures, are not, as the stop-head suggests Iv raks or V rks, but often many more than that stated. Compton had the good sense not to upset the establishment of the day by stating the facts too obviously!!

 

Listen to the (pre neo-classical) sound of a Compton organ. Were they not altogether brighter and lighter than almost all his competitors with a clear sense of chorus-work?

 

All this from derivations and extensions, which carefully avoided consecutive octave extensions, unlike many American-built organs of the same period.

 

Even the Tierces would usually be derived (switched) from the Celeste rank, in order that the tuning sounded correct.

 

However, the real genius was not so much to be found in the actual method of extension-principle applied, but in the way a whole instrument was musically cohesive; each voice carefully matched to the next, and each extension carefully graded in such a way, that the full organ pleno was, in effect, one very large Mixture stop, in which every rank made a contribution to the whole, as well as standing apart in its own rights.

 

So now for my preposterous statement in the form of a proposition.

 

I believe that John Compton, when seen in the light of the prevalent fashions of his day, was "possibly" the equal to Arp Schnitger in his, and furthermore, like the great baroque master, he could replicate one good result after another, as befits a true master organ-builder.

 

Lastly, it's very interesting to note that many ex-Compton men went on to do great things of their own, and not least, the founder members of the "other" neo-classical revival in the form of Grant, Deegens and Rippen.

 

I would like to think that they, and others, owed a great deal to what John Compton taught them.

 

MM

Elvin's "Pipes and Actions" has an interesting and substantial chapter on Compton. I know Wakefield well, an instrument enhanced by the conservative work done in 1985 by Wood of Huddersfield. It's perhaps a shame about Compton's treatment of the much-admired Lewis at Ilkley, but I suppose most other builders wouldn't have given that approach a second thought either.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Downside is also an interesting Compton to hear - some attractive sounds at the p to mf levels (not including some of the 'composite' solo stops - some of which I think are quite vile) but the full choruses leave me at least strangely unsatisfied. The big reeds are also quite 'thick' sounding. The acoustic helps a lot though and generally if one registers with care the instrument can give quiite a good account of itself.

 

AJJ

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Barry Oakley
===================

I shall no doubt end this post with preposterous proposition which should get everyone going, but first things first.

 

Why, I wonder, has no-one written the book about John Compton?

 

Here was an organ-builder with a fantastic grasp of all things tonal, who had a very sound knowledge of mechanical things and who was at the cutting edge of organ-design. He was an early pioneer in the success of the theatre organ, he developed a system of extension organs which has yet to be bettered, he built up the largest pipe-organ factory ever seen in the UK, at North Acton, and left an impressive legacy.

 

Around him were people of real talent and experience, and I suppose John Compton was the name behind the first "combination organs" utilising electronic sound production and real pipes. The Compton electrones were beautifully made examples of early valve-electronics (many still in regular service).

 

The use of innovation was not restricted to the use of extension, but also included those remarkable 32ft Polyphones (a sort of valved wooden labrynth) which are related in many ways to the old "folded-horn" speaker enclosures. There were the famous 32ft Cornets, which so effectively simulated a 32ft reed when drawn with a 16ft reed. His articles about Diaphones demonstrate a sharpness of mind which is seldom found in organ-building; not only covering the theory of them, but highlighting many of the inherent problems of regulation.

 

I llok at Compton switchgear and I am impressed. I look at verious organ components, all beautifully varnished, and I am impressed by the quality.

 

If ever an organ-builder represented "Made in Britain" (as it was then understood), John Compton was a perfect example of someone who valued quality on all fronts.

 

Born in Nottingham, John Compton possibly discovered his love of cutting-edge innovation during his apprenticeship with Brindley & Foster of Sheffield; a company who possibly developed the most complex of all pneumatic-actions, based on the German cone-valve chests, and incorporating a number of very clever registrational aids which they called "Brindgradus".

 

Even during wartime, when he was posted to Italy, John Compton was to be seen "experimenting" (vandalising?) various old Italian organs, as he tried out all sorts of tonal experiments.

 

So when a board member such as "pcnd" speaks of being impressed by a Compton organ, I for one am not in the least bit surprised, for they usually are indeed "musical" instruments.

 

Somewhere I have a very detailed set of schematics for a Compton extension organ, which show the various derivations and borrowings, and whether hearing a totally enclosed pure extension organ, divided usually into two seperate expression chambers, or hearing a more typical part-straight (Swell) and part extension (Great, Pedal etc) such as Wakefield Cathedral or St.Bride's, the effect is almost always entirely convincing.

 

In voicing terms, Compton perfected a very English style of romantic voicing, with quite heavily blown, leathered diapsons which never sound at all dull or ponderous as one might expect. Whether quiet Flutes and Strings, or roaring Tubas and strident Orchestral Trumpets, the voicing was usually magnificent.

 

Another aspect of Compton's work, which few ever realise, is the fact that many of those high-pitched (derived) Cymbels and Acuta Mixtures, are not, as the stop-head suggests Iv raks or V rks, but often many more than that stated. Compton had the good sense not to upset the establishment of the day by stating the facts too obviously!!

 

Listen to the (pre neo-classical) sound of a Compton organ. Were they not altogether brighter and lighter than almost all his competitors with a clear sense of chorus-work?

 

All this from derivations and extensions, which carefully avoided consecutive octave extensions, unlike many American-built organs of the same period.

 

Even the Tierces would usually be derived (switched) from the Celeste rank, in order that the tuning sounded correct.

 

However, the real genius was not so much to be found in the actual method of extension-principle applied, but in the way a whole instrument was musically cohesive; each voice carefully matched to the next, and each extension carefully graded in such a way, that the full organ pleno was, in effect, one very large Mixture stop, in which every rank made a contribution to the whole, as well as standing apart in its own rights.

 

So now for my preposterous statement in the form of a proposition.

 

I believe that John Compton, when seen in the light of the prevalent fashions of his day, was "possibly" the equal to Arp Schnitger in his, and furthermore, like the great baroque master, he could replicate one good result after another, as befits a true master organ-builder.

 

Lastly, it's very interesting to note that many ex-Compton men went on to do great things of their own, and not least, the founder members of the "other" neo-classical revival in the form of Grant, Deegens and Rippen.

 

I would like to think that they, and others, owed a great deal to what John Compton taught them.

 

MM

 

I heartily concur with what MusingMuso has to say about John Compton and I have a strong sentimental admiration of his work and its undoubted quality. Without question he was a gifted man, streaks ahead of his time, ranking high amongst the best of Britain’s organ builders. If any testimony is needed to the outstanding quality of his work (and Forster & Andrews) one need look no further than Holy Trinity, Hull, where this magnificent organ, although now in need of a well-deserved restoration, has clocked up close on 70 years without any major attention. I look forward to the fruition of the efforts I know Paul Derrett is working towards.

 

As to why nobody has written a book on John Compton I, too, am at a loss. Indeed, I commenced some enquiries several years ago to do just that. But I soon realised that it would be an impossible task. I wanted to draw on the experience and anecdotes of past, long-serving employees, but it would seem that they had nearly all passed to the great organ chamber above.

 

I was given a few leads by Alistair Rushworth but most of them drew blanks. I think the most interesting person I did speak with was an elderly lady, the wife of a man named Frank Hancock? who was latterly Compton’s principal reed voicer. He was gravely ill when I spoke with her, but she did tell me that he had been recently passing on his skills and knowledge to reed voicers in London.

 

One interesting part of my conversation touched on John Compton’s war efforts. Such was the excellence of his electronic components that the MOD used the company for the production of intricate assemblies needed for the war effort. She had worked in the office at Acton, handling orders for both organ and MOD work and it was at Compton’s where she met her husband.

 

Sorry this has not touched on the subject of enclosure.

Link to post
Share on other sites
As to why nobody has written a book on John Compton I, too, am at a loss. Indeed, I commenced some enquiries several years ago to do just that. But I soon realised that it would be an impossible task. I wanted to draw on the experience and anecdotes of past, long-serving employees, but it would seem that they had nearly all passed to the great organ chamber above.

 

 

 

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

 

Well, taking a slightly different tac to the "biographical" approach, I think enough is known about the man, his legacy and the organs he built. Anecdotes are wonderful of course, but they are not a parmount consideration for an appreciation of his work.

 

Perhaps a book is a bit ambitious, but certainly a well-researched paper or file would go some way towards redressing the sins of omission.

 

I suspect that, on the cinema organ side of things, there are many people who would have detailed knowledge which could be added to that already known.

 

There is certainly a great deal that IS known and the evidence is all around us to this day.

 

If anyone wishes to send me anything they know of John Compton's life and work, I would invite them to contact me, because I already have quite a lot on file.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am delighted to see at last John Compton is being accepted as the brilliant organ builder he undoubtedly was.

 

I can remember some fifteen years ago, when `John Compton' was a dirty word, being severly castigated for even attempting to offer a scheme to enlarge a fine example of a Compton three manal when everyone apart from the organist and the church in general, but including the Dioscesan Organ Advisor was for chucking it out and replacing it with a small classical mechanical organ. Even worse was the report from an eminent organ advisor totally condemning it, writing his death warrant without ever having seen or heard the instrument.

 

With a Compton just sit down and make music on it - most musicians can, many organists can't. Most of the `missing notes' will be the ones the organist does not play - no one seems to complain about missing notes when Manual to Pedal couplers are used on straight instruments.

 

FF

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am delighted to see at last John Compton is being accepted as the brilliant organ builder he undoubtedly was.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Oddly enough, the first two Compton organs (other than that in a local cinema) I got to know, have been mentioned by "Gross Geigen" already; namely Ilkley Parish Church (a rebuild of a Lewis organ) and Wakefield Cathedral.

 

I was all of 15 at the time, and I was just enthralled by the way Compton achieved what he did, when other just dismissed them as "cheap pretenders."

 

Before the modest intervention of Philip Wood at Wakefield, it was quite a revelation to walk inside the spacious chamber at Wakefield Cathedral: spacious because there wasn't a lot inside!!

 

There was the big swell box of course (an independent and almost entirely straight division) and then the rest, which amounts (I'm guessing!) to around 12 to 15 ranks of extended pipework....certainly not a lot more.

 

It says a lot, that one of the finest recitals I ever heard was played by Jane Parker Smith on this very instrument, and the organ certainly didn't disappoint.

 

I'm especially pleased that Frank endorses the Compton name and speaks highly of him, as anyone with good ears should do.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

As MM pointed out, geniuses in organ-building were not restricted

to one "good" period, and John Compton is one of them.

Just for the sake of it, I know a french very knowledgable

expert and organist wishing to try a structure in which one enclosed

division provides for several manuals by borrowing (more correct:

attribution) and extensions, Mixtures included.

He would build an organ with two of these enclosed divisions....

In France this is viewed as something brand new!

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
As MM pointed out, geniuses in organ-building were not restricted

to one "good" period, and John Compton is one of them.

Just for the sake of it, I know a french very knowledgable

expert and organist wishing to try a structure in which one enclosed

division provides for several manuals by borrowing (more correct:

attribution) and extensions, Mixtures included.

He would build an organ with two of these enclosed divisions....

In France this is viewed as something brand new!

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

Really?

 

I'm incredulous!

 

Don't they know that Marcel Dupre once appeared for a couple of weeks in Paris at the console of a theatre organ? (Paramount Theatre, Paris? 2 manual, 10 rank Wurlitzer; installed in 1937?)

 

Of course, I always think that purest and best organs are unenclosed, like those in Haarlem:-

 

http://www.draaiorgelmuseum.org/comptgb.htm

 

Time to enjoy moules frites and biere framboise?

 

:lol:

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...