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David Drinkell

Hollins' Autobiography

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Forumites might know that Alfred Hollins wrote an autobiography "A Blind Musician looks back".  Trolling through the IMSLP website, I found that the book is available for free download (as well as lot of music).  An interesting read, and very welcome on a day like today (New Brunswick experiencing very severe winter weather: the temperature having gone up from -23C to -3, right now we are having blizzards, freezing rain, the lot).  Cancelled choir practice tonight, hope I can get mobile for organ concert tomorrow lunch-time.....

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Thank you for that David. My home city was Hull, although I haven't been back there for many years. 123 Coltman Street is still there - but not the house that Hollins lived in! And Wycliffe Congregational church, with its big 3 manual F & A was closed in the 1930's and demolished in 1939.

Like you the weather here is pretty dreadful - although nowhere near the kind of weather you are having. We have temperatures of double figures but it has rained - and rained - and rained!!! I downloaded Hollins' book and it was a most enjoyable read. I also downloaded some of his pieces. They are, very much, of their time but most are well-written, well-crafted little, and some of them not so little, pieces. I shall enjoy playing some of them.

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Thank you David for bringing this to the forum's attention.  It reminded me again how thoughtless it is of organ builders to use luminous stop controls, something I've often pondered on.  If it only applied to the Compton era maybe it's a criticism which has less relevance today in the pipe organ world, but the fact that most electronic organ makers still use it widely shows a surprising (and somewhat callous?) disregard of the difficulties of those with visual impairment.  And as for touch screens ...

Regarding S_L's remarks about Hollins's music, I was surprised to read some years ago that Hollins's own favourite was apparently the Andante in D, considering the other superficially more impressive works he penned.  However it gave me encouragement in that I was able to play the Andante reasonably competently, which could hardly be said for some of his other pieces!

CEP

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21 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

Thank you David for bringing this to the forum's attention.  It reminded me again how thoughtless it is of organ builders to use luminous stop controls, something I've often pondered on.  If it only applied to the Compton era maybe it's a criticism which has less relevance today in the pipe organ world, but the fact that most electronic organ makers still use it widely shows a surprising (and somewhat callous?) disregard of the difficulties of those with visual impairment.  And as for touch screens ...

Regarding S_L's remarks about Hollins's music, I was surprised to read some years ago that Hollins's own favourite was apparently the Andante in D, considering the other superficially more impressive works he penned.  However it gave me encouragement in that I was able to play the Andante reasonably competently, which could hardly be said for some of his other pieces!

CEP

I believe that Compton's were chosen by the BBC for the installation in broadcasting house because of the luminous light touch stop controls. They create no noise when operated. 

I am struggling to understand the link between luminous stop heads and problems for partially sighted organists. Some help from partially sighted concert organists who have to familiarise themselves with a variety of instruments and would have a well established technique for doing so might be helpful. In short, it seems to me that if you can't see the stop heads then whether they are illuminated or not doesn't really matter. Therefore there must be another way that partially sighted organists manage the instrument.

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On 1/9/2018 at 07:35, ajsphead said:

I believe that Compton's were chosen by the BBC for the installation in broadcasting house because of the luminous light touch stop controls. They create no noise when operated. 

I am struggling to understand the link between luminous stop heads and problems for partially sighted organists. Some help from partially sighted concert organists who have to familiarise themselves with a variety of instruments and would have a well established technique for doing so might be helpful. In short, it seems to me that if you can't see the stop heads then whether they are illuminated or not doesn't really matter. Therefore there must be another way that partially sighted organists manage the instrument.

Me too. I don't think he is a member of this forum but David Liddle did not appear to have any difficulties when he played the organ  in Hull City Hall in the days when the Compton console had a full compliment of luminous stopheads, nearly 150 of them. I believe he also gave a recital on the organ of Derby Cathedral which still has its luminous Compton stopheads.

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If I understand Hollins's opinion, with drawstops one can feel if a stop is on or off, but with luminous touches, they are always in the same position.  However, Hollins wrote that, after a little practice, he was able to tell whether the registers were on or off on an Estey luminous console by the slight warmth generated by the bulbs in the stops that were on.

The Norman & Beard "disc and button" form of control was apparently evolved after consultation with Hollins and was found to be easier to operate by blind organists than ordinary drawstops.

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Apart from what else might be got from this book, it gives the impression that Hollins was a thoroughly nice person.  He also did not seem to have been one who allowed life to get him down, despite all the many difficulties he had to contend with.  Not only was his glass half full, it seems to me that it was flowing over!

CEP

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