Jump to content
Mander Organs
Sign in to follow this  
David Drinkell

Tuning at the Albert Hall

Recommended Posts

There has been some duplication of this subject, so I will follow bam’s lead by repeating here the post I made in response to his on the ‘Nuts and Bolts’ thread “Albert HallI inaccuracies - again”:

One can’t say that the original work of Henry Willis was totally expunged by the first re-build and massive enlargement by H&H.  The present appearance of the case is entirely due to him.  How much, if any, of the original pipe work remained without re-voicing by H&H is unknown by me.  John Mander equally considers it to be a Harrison organ (see the “Tuning at the RAH” thread) and, very modestly I felt, did not add Mander’s name to the builder’s plate.  

This may be entirely apocryphal, but I have some vague recollection that Willis (which by then would have been HW III) ‘disowned’ the organ after the H&H work.  Agreed that the BBC and the RAH descriptions are misleading.


In my local cathedral (not difficult to guess which) the builder’s plate states: Henry Willis 1851/4, Henry Willis & Sons 1897, Additions Hele & Co 1905, Harrison & Harrison 1938 and 1988.  I would have thought that something similar to this would have been appropriate at the RAH, and I would definitely include Mander’s name.  After their work on the organ (however conservative John Mander claimed it to be), it was immediately obvious that they achieved a significant and dramatic improvement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 My reading of the situation is that HWIII kept his nose clean and said very little directly about the Harrison rebuild,  but left it to henchmen like Batigan Verne to stir things up - as in a long correspondence in The Organ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on Radio 3 describing it as a 'Father Willis' instrument if that is now the line the RAH is taking, however inaccurate it may be.

From what has been written, about 80% of the pipes and the case are Father Willis; the sound picture, the console and about 20% of the pipes are Harrison; and the mechanism, one stop and some tonal tweaks are Mander.  The programme for the the 2018 organ concert was titled 'Grand Organ Celebration' and describing it as a 'Grand Organ' could hardly be more accurate.

I've dug out Ian Bell's article in the November 2004 'Organists' Review' and there's an interesting paragraph which mentions that HWIII was very keen to get the contract.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, yes, it’s entirely understandable that HW III was keen to get the contract.  The organ was built by his grandfather and HW III always  strongly promoted the Willis tradition, and wasn’t afraid of adding his own stamp on FW organs, e.g., at Salisbury Cathedral and St George’s Hall Liverpool, as just two examples.  I’m very interested in the statistics which you quote.  In terms of number of speaking stops, H&H increased the size of the organ in 1933 from 110 to 149 which roughly equates to 26% being additional.  I had always assumed that the majority of the pipework was still by FW, but unsure to what extent it might have been revoiced by H&H.  As observed earlier, in spite of his own distinguished work, John Mander considers this to be a Harrison organ!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 80% / 20% split comes from Ian Bell's articles in some old programmes (June 2004 and October 2006) where he wrote that H&H added 2000 additional pipes. I wonder if his book on he instrument, mentioned in the OR article, will see the light of day?

Share this post


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
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...