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Enclosed Or Partially Enclosed Great Organ


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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

 

Hi

 

There a a couple of web sites dedicated to Compton organs - on the Theatre Organ side there's Ivor Buckingham's Compton List, for the electronics there's the snappily named Compton Melotones and Electrostatic Organs:- http://uk.msnusers.com/ComptonMelotonesand...trostaticOrgans

and there's a similar site for Compton Pipe Organs:- http://www.msnusers.com/ComptonPipeOrgans

Then there's http://www.musicalmuseum.co.uk/compton.html

 

And there may well be others - that's just what I've come across.

 

There's also the chapter in Elvin's "Pipes and Actions" which was mentioned the other day, and articles in the period magazines - The Organ has one about John Compton's wartime activities in Italy and another about the COmpton Miniaturas (and there may well be others - those are what I can remember seeing in my collection).

 

I don't know if any Compton factory records survive - I suspect any at Rushworth's were destroyed along with that firm's records recently.

 

There's plenty to go at - and the time to write a biog. is probably now, while there at least a few people with first-hand memories to talk to. Any takers?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest Barry Oakley
===================

 

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.

 

 

MM

 

Well I had my ideas and you have yours. Looking forward to reading the output of your pen, perhaps on this site.

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Guest Barry Oakley
Hi

 

I don't know if any Compton factory records survive - I suspect any at Rushworth's were destroyed along with that firm's records recently.

 

There's plenty to go at - and the time to write a biog. is probably now, while there at least a few people with first-hand memories to talk to.  Any takers?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Tony, I got the impresion when I spoke to AR quite some years ago that there was not much, if anything, by way of any useful records. But thanks for your suggestions.

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Perhaps I'm not looking close enough, but are there indications as to which ranks are derived from which on the stoplist to which you have linked?
I've only had a fairly brief go on this organ and didn't have time to investigate it properly, but I'm fairly confident that all the ranks are "straight", except for the borrowings noted on NPOR. I would not be surprised, though, if all the "prepared for" stops were to be derived from a single extended rank.
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Hi

 

Sadly, so it seems, and lack of records makes the job much harder.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

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

 

I'm not sure that this is entirely true.

 

It could be argued, unkindly and inaccurately, that one Compton organ is much the same as the next Compton organ. There is a good reason for this, insomuch as the in-house organ-building style was that of a broadly similar approach based, more often than not, on the unit-extension principle and (at a guess) utilising as near standard components as was possible. After all, if something works and continues to work well, you don't change it.

 

I have certainly found this in the few Compton theatre organs I have crawled around, of which John Compton made 261 examples; far outstripping the number imported from America or made by their British competitors.

 

I suspect that a purely chronological approach would be difficult if not impossible, but would this really serve a purpose? After all, chronology is only a writing discipline which clarifies a story and acts as a framework, but there are other ways of doing it.

 

The problems really start when it comes to the big re-builds such as Bangor Cathedral, Hull City Hall, Holy Trinity Hull and even Wakefield Cathedral, because each of these are really quite different. St Brides, Fleet Street, which owes nothing to John Compton personally, is quite a radical departure from the majority of Compton organs which went before.

 

Far more interesting in my view, is the ever enquiring mind which saw fit to indulge in the pursuit of tonal-synthesis; perhaps the first organ-builder to do this after Frans Casper Schnitger, and for quite different reasons. Of course, that fits in well with the other experiments in electronic organ manufacture; perhaps only limited by the electrostatic tone generation used by Compton.

 

The use of Aliquot pitches is quite remarkable, and the two Mixtures on the Great organ of the Bournemouth Pavilion must stand as utterly unique; including as they do the most extraordinary pitches covering just about every note of the octave!

 

If there is one thing which most fascinates me about John Compton, it is to be found in the extraordinary cross-discipline of his knowledge, which encompassed electronics, electrical engineering, ergonomics, tonal synthesis and the very effective extension system developed from the much cruder ideas of Robert Hope-Jones. Then there were his successful developments of unusual registers, such as Diaphones and Polyphones; the latter firmly rooted in a scientific as well as a practical understanding of human hearing limitations.

 

Then add to this the organ-building legacy he left, and which continued in a different way in the work of others.

 

New College, Oxford, is a remarkable example of a organ which broke new ground (more so than the organ of the RFH I think), and it comes as no surprise to find that Grant, Deegen and Bradbeer used aliquots in certain instruments. Would they have had the courage to do this without the Compton precedent, I wonder?

 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing is to compare an organ such as Holy Trinity,Hull, (rebuiilt from the Forster & Andrews instrument and including a few very historic ranks) with maybe 5,000 pipes, to an organ with a similar number of stops, but perhaps half the number of pipes.

 

Is one more musical than the other?

 

I personally react to many Compton organs in much the same way that I react the protoype supersonic fighter aircraft, the TSR-II, at the Duxford Air Museum; all designed without computers by men (I actually knew some of them) who wielded nothing more than slide-rules and carefully sharpened 3H pencils. (Many of these men went on to build the Concorde)

 

They were typical of a remarkable generation, and I believe that John Compton ranked alongside them.

 

MM

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Perhaps I'm not looking close enough, but are there indications as to which ranks are derived from which on the stoplist to which you have linked?

 

      Best,

 

          Nathan

 

 

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

 

Nathan, I'll try and dig out the source for the Compton extension principle, which includes all the borrowings and derivations.

 

It may take a little time, because I can't quite recall where I saw it.

 

It is absolutely fascinating!

 

MM

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The use of Aliquot pitches is quite remarkable, and the two Mixtures on the Great organ of the Bournemouth Pavilion must stand as utterly unique; including as they do the most extraordinary pitches covering just about every note of the octave!
Not quite utterly. There's a similar set of mutations on the Choir-Swell at Atlantic City (9, 10, 11, 12, b14, 15 + their octaves). I see the construction of this organ began in 1929 - the date of the Bournemouth Pavilion organ. Is this just a coincidence?
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  • 8 months later...

I've played a couple of organs with enclosed Great organs.

One was a Lawton & Osbourne installed at a school and that had most of the Great enclosed except for the Open Diapason Large 8' and possibly the Octave 4'. It is a really great organ to play and definitely has some power.

The other organ is a Rodgers 751 electronic at my own church. Personally I don't really like the enclosed Great on this organ but all other organists at the church seem to make good use of it. Also I think that this organ lacks some important stops like a 12th or whether this is made up for in the Mixture IV, I have no idea.

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Guest Barry Williams
I've played a couple of organs with enclosed Great organs.

One was a Lawton & Osbourne installed at a school and that had most of the Great enclosed except for the Open Diapason Large 8' and possibly the Octave 4'. It is a really great organ to play and definitely has some power.

The other organ is a Rodgers 751 electronic at my own church. Personally I don't really like the enclosed Great on this organ but all other organists at the church seem to make good use of it. Also I think that this organ lacks some important stops like a 12th or whether this is made up for in the Mixture IV, I have no idea.

 

 

The short answer is that it is fine if it is well done. I played the organ at St Jude's Thornton Heath and found the enclosed Great organ superb. The box opened fully and was under infinite speed and gradation pedal control, (Willis III). It was a joy to play and gave greater flexibility than would have been possible on an unenclosed Great Organ in those circumstances.

 

However, I suspect that such treatment in the hands of a lesser organ builder would have been disastrous.

 

Barry Williams

 

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

All the Compton records were destroyed.

 

:rolleyes:

MM

 

 

I have heard that the Compton records were destroyed when the company that took Compton over ceased.

 

It seems that their own records were also destroyed.

 

I would be pleased to have further information about this.

 

Barry Williams

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The short answer is that it is fine if it is well done. I played the organ at St Jude's Thornton Heath and found the enclosed Great organ superb. The box opened fully and was under infinite speed and gradation pedal control, (Willis III). It was a joy to play and gave greater flexibility than would have been possible on an unenclosed Great Organ in those circumstances.

 

However, I suspect that such treatment in the hands of a lesser organ builder would have been disastrous.

 

Barry Williams

I have heard that the Compton records were destroyed when the company that took Compton over ceased.

 

It seems that their own records were also destroyed.

 

I would be pleased to have further information about this.

 

Barry Williams

 

Hi

 

I understand that a lot of Compton's records were destroyed during the blitz. Their pipe organ business was sold to Rushworth & Dreaper, and in a fit of vandalism their records were destroyed very recently when they went out of business - I gather they were burnt before the Willis company could get their hands on them when they bought the factory.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hello from Hamburg...!

Not really on topic (Gt enclosure...) - but I found out that this topic became more and more dedicated to the work of John Compton.

I had a brief encounter with the instrument at Derby Cathedral, and I must put myself into the line of those saying that a musical instrument it was. For me, it was my first with a (partially? can't remember...) enclosed Gt, and most surprising for me, I had to learn, that the extension principle (or "unit-organ") is not the horrible dragon as was told to students in continental Europe (say: Germany + Austria, where I have experienced it) over decades.

I know that the Derby organ has been modified and "straightened" - but I was really surprised to read the brochure, which is being sold there, and to learn about which stop was derived from which rank.

(This brochure might be reommended for starting to study Compton's extension principles)

 

From continental view, the amount of borrowings was just *enormous*! But, it was practically not audible!

Well, I did not play Bach or Buxtehude, but Mendelssohn, and I heard the organ during the service.

 

...It was one of those lessons in my life, where I learned, that you always have to question what "they" (in that case teachers of "Orgelbaukunde"...) tell you...

 

And, returning to the topic, I think the question if an enclosed Gt makes sense, is, as so often, the question, WHO is going to build it. They told us students, a good organ has to have a case! Later I learned, that Silbermann's Freiberg organ has no "roof", and that Schnitger's Oberwerk in Hamburg Jacobi has not either, but it projects via the ceiling vaults...as do those wonderful organs of the late Johannes Klais (NOT Hans Gerd Klais) in neo-gothic churches in Western Germany and Belgium... another dogma, which is somehow relative...

 

And I loved the Derby console with those luminous controllers.... much better to have a "flock" of stops of a division than lined up, as on most organs of Karl Schuke (Berlin)... I have to confirm Barry Jordan's concerns (articulated previously on this forum) about using the same motion to call AND to cancel a stop... but if I get the advantage of changing stops, whose controls would - in a conventional line-up - normally be far away from each other, with one motion only and even in strange combinations, then I would find it attractive.

As far as I remember, the stops on the Derby console have been "grouped" within the layout of the jambs... I dislike those giant consoles where the drawknobs are are equally far away from each other - even between the columns!

Even if it's your "own" instrument, it sometimes can be hard to find the right knob...

 

A blessed Easter Night to all!

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