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Mander Organs
Martin Cooke

Tracking down an organist

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I keep a bit of an eye on eBay and some organ music volumes that I have recently been pleased to buy were the Dupré arrangements of the Handel Organ Concerti. These were owned by someone called G. Copperwheat, and a fair bit of his organ music is for sale on eBay right now. The strange thing is that Mr Copperwheat sought to preserve his music by running strips of sellotape along all the edges of the pages, and sometimes all over the covers. Actually, in a rush of blood to the head, I have just purchased Norman Gilbert's Psalm Fantasy, which in its virgin state would have been one of those pretty Novello editions in pink with the stained glass St Cecilia window on the left side. Well, this gentleman had 'preserved' this piece with sellotape and had also reinforced the covers with large sheets of wallpaper. I realise that back in the 70s I used fablon to cover all my Novello Bach albums and, of course, now, they are all cracked down the spines and in quite a mess. Although I AM actually interested in ways in which other organists seek to preserve their music and go in for fancy bindings etc, what I am wondering about in this thread is if anyone knew or came across G Copperwheat. On line, an Eric William Copperwheat is mentioned - he was organ scholar at Jesus College Cambridge in 1946, just before Peter Hurford. He seems to have got his FRCO whilst at Cambridge, and then gone off to work in New Zealand. But there is no mention of my gentleman. Does anybody happen to have come across him? I suppose he must have died recently - ( Eric William died in 2012) - and now his music is being disposed of. 

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Sorry, this is a long reply which won't help much about Copperwheat, but it does illustrate what can be found about apparently 'unknown' people-who-might-be-organists if you search long enough, and if you manage to get to the end of this post ...  So here goes. 

On sheet music repair, I do so agree about Sellotape.  The music master at school many years ago was the first to demonstrate its horrors and he insisted on the use of what was then called 'gumstrip', rolls of brown paper strip coated with what tasted like fish glue on one side.  But it worked jolly well and was kind to the paper, not besmirching the copy if it later dried out and came off, although if put on properly it seldom did.  It can still be obtained easily today - I have a sizeable roll of it - but the label has disappeared so I can't remember whether it's now called something different

Can't help with Copperwheat, though if you only have an initial rather than style and/or full first name, might the previous owner of the music have been female rather than 'Mr'?  Could this factor assist your search?   It's funny, but only the other day I had a similar problem. I was wondering why that prolific and well known writer on organs and other historical matters, Laurence Elvin, apparently attracts so little attention on the web (apart from the titles of his books).  For instance, I've looked in vain for a decent bio which goes beyond the little he himself discloses in his publications.  Much the same goes for Rollin Smith - in view of the amount and reasonably high profile of their respective outputs, you'd at least think they would have a Wikipedia page especially in view of that vast army of utter nonentities who seem to qualify for one.  Sometimes, as with them and Copperwheat, the internet does inexplicably seem to let us down, though perhaps a factor with Elvin and Smith is that much of their work seems to have been published privately.  Mind you, I'm not all that bothered about either of them so didn't search desperately hard - it was just something to do while we were snowed up.  More info might be out there somewhere - as it might be for Copperwheat.

While on the subject, I've had a similar problem which I still crack on with.  Some years ago my wife bought me a gorgeous 1870 edition of Hopkins and Rimbault (though when she saw what arrived I think she was even more than usually mystified by the things which elicit such joy ... ).  I had been looking for this edition for a long time because, among other things, it's the first of theirs which describes early Victorian electric actions (pre-Hope-Jones) and it's nice to have the original material to hand.  Water engines ditto.  It's interesting in another and quite unexpected way as well.  On the flyleaf one can just discern the name and address of the original owner.  Written in almost completely faded but beautiful copper plate handwriting, he was "Matthew Dickie Junior, Brook House, Offerton Road, Stockport near Manchester, December 1871".  (Put in quotes because that's what he wrote).  Though very neat, the writing is large and has a slightly laboured and juvenile appearance about it.  This suggests he was not much more than a lad at the time and that he probably received the book as a Christmas present, given the date, but twenty years or so later the web plus genealogy records have revealed he was apparently a wealthy mill owner (Litton Mill) which he had perhaps inherited from his father.  Readily-available records have a lot to say about him from about that time onwards, yet he seems to have stuck with his "Matthew Dickie, Junior" appellation for a long time, even using it as his telegraphic address.

I find provenance such as this adds immeasurably to the fascination of the actual books themselves, even though they are purchased for their contents rather than simply as collectors' items.  In this case, as Matthew Junior the mill owner was possibly (probably?) a local organist, I wonder whether he took a trip across the Mersey c. 1890 when Hope-Jones's first and famous organ at St John's, Birkenhead was bruited abroad in the Stockport area where he lived?  As the number who flocked to see it was apparently measured by the thousand, the assumption might be warranted.

So I completely understand Martin's fascination for tracking down organists.  Very best of luck Martin.
 

CEP

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I've recently bought a few of these scores from the 'Copperwheat collection', as it were. Thankfully I've managed to remove much of the tape from them! 

I recently noticed some scores I bought secondhand quite sometime ago in southern France bore the name 'Elie Carail' at the top - a quick google search round that he was a priest and organist in that region at the time. 

There are quite a few others in my collection but none famous!

I recently pointed out to a colleague that his copy of a work by Leonce de Saint Martin was autographed by the composer - something he had failed to notice!

 

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9 hours ago, timothyguntrip said:

I recently pointed out to a colleague that his copy of a work by Leonce de Saint Martin was autographed by the composer - something he had failed to notice!

I was excited to discover that a piece of Guilmant I had been given as a youngster had his signature inconspicuously at the bottom of the front cover. Then I spotted other, digitised pieces of his on the net with precisely the same 'signature'. I rather suspect that Guilmant's publisher had a rubber stamp!

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For repairing scores, I tend to use book repair tape. This is clear plastic, but much thicker and stronger than regular sellotape, and supposedly of archival quality so won't damage the scores. I guess I will find out in a few decades whether this is true or not.

As for interesting signatures on second music, I have a copy of a piece that used to belong to C.H. Trevor. 

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