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Contrabombarde

Death of a major Compton announced

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Are you sure that's not in fact a light console?  The pale patches on the keyboards are spaced like the picture higher up in this thread, rather than musical octaves (though I suppose it could be some kind of moire effect distorting it).

Paul

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On 04/03/2019 at 09:47, pwhodges said:

Are you sure that's not in fact a light console?  The pale patches on the keyboards are spaced like the picture higher up in this thread, rather than musical octaves (though I suppose it could be some kind of moire effect distorting it).

Paul

You may be right PW!
I'd have expected to see another console somewhere, but at least we KNOW there was one.

Exercising brain re: Moire Effect.  I may be on the wrong track, but I'm thinking two combs sliding across each other. That physics I believe.
Edit:  Nope!  Got that wrong. I was thinking of Murray fringes

I shall look up the Moire effect.

Second edit:  Now if we'd included the accent......... moiré fringes.  😎

Edited by MusoMusing
Woeful scholarship

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For those interested, there is another article about it in the issue of Private Eye which came out today.  I can't post a link as it's print-only!

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On 04/03/2019 at 22:56, MusoMusing said:

re: Moire Effect

As the song goes:

"When a grid's misaligned

with another behind

that's a Moiré ..."

The bane of digital photography, with obvious disadvantages when looking at old or poorly scanned photos of organ parts. 

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5 hours ago, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

As the song goes:

"When a grid's misaligned

with another behind

that's a Moiré ..."

 

That's pure genius!!!    Ha Ha Ha.

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Completely off-topic, but did you know that there was a directional navigation light, which showed an arrow pointing left or right when seen from the bridge of a ship?     It was designed to keep vessels away from something or other, and used a light and the Moire effect to create the directional arrows.

Ever day is a school day!

MM

 

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Let's get a few things straight on this:

1. The theatre pipework additions were only a few ranks as far as i know. The very large and original classical concert organ was all there.

2. The utter nonsense the council quotes that it would have cost £250 per pipe to test all of them for asbestos contamination, is complete XXXXXX - of course they would NOT have needed to test each pipe!! If asbestos dust was suspected they could simply have had the lot cleaned as a precautionary measure!! (Duh!!). It's been done before (relative recently in Holland I understand) and probably over here (cleaning an organ from asbestos dust I mean). I'd have thought an organ professional working with an asbestos company could clean the whole organ (or at least all the pipework) for a damn site less than £1.5m!!!

3. A quote of £2m to fully restore the organ - yes I expect if they'd have gone to H&H that's the sort of quote the'd have got - BUT the point is that no one asked the  council to restore it! All they needed to do was hand it over to the people who have looked after it for years who would have gladly taken it away and found a new home for it.

 

My loathing of this council over this willful vandalism is in the extreme. They should be sacked and prosecuted.

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Amen! But I doubt whether it would have cost two million even if a top firm like Harrisons' or our hosts did it.

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19 minutes ago, David Drinkell said:

Amen! But I doubt whether it would have cost two million even if a top firm like Harrisons' or our hosts did it.

I agree.  However, I'm sure that there is 'restoration' and 'restoration'.  There must be many levels of restoration, depending on such things as levels of damage (if any), replacements (if needed) of pipes, action or structure, etc., and even possible extension.

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The point is no one expected or asked the council to restore it, so the restoration figure they quote is pointless!! In any case it was pretty well fully working when the power was switched off in 2015

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Sadly, this is a fait accompli on the part of the Council, and there is nothing further to be done.  The Council can’t be “sacked” and won’t be “prosecuted”.  

There is another Compton possibly at risk, but I have to stress possibly as we simply don’t know what plans the BBC might have for the future of the Compton at the London Maida Vale studios when they move out.  Perhaps they do have plans but are keeping the details to themselves at this stage.  

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52 minutes ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Sadly, this is a fait accompli on the part of the Council, and there is nothing further to be done.  The Council can’t be “sacked” and won’t be “prosecuted”.  

There is another Compton possibly at risk, but I have to stress possibly as we simply don’t know what plans the BBC might have for the future of the Compton at the London Maida Vale studios when they move out.  Perhaps they do have plans but are keeping the details to themselves at this stage.  

I doubt the Beeb or the orchestra will want to take it with them. I know however there's an organisation interested in it, for restoration and preservation.

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That's a positive bit of news....Lord knows, we need it at the moment, after the debacle at Wolverhampton.

I've actually added a section about the events at Wolverhampton in the upcoming "tome", which is now nearing completion. After Southampton Guildhall and St.Bride's, Fleet Street, this was possibly the most important example of Compton's work.

As for the costings to emerge from the Wolverhampton City Council, the original instrument cost about £400,000 in to-day's money when it was first installed. Even with the later additions, it was only 44 ranks.....not quite St Paul's or the Royal Albert Hall.

MM
 


 

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It points to civic authorities needing to have someone, at least, in the permanent role of custodian. For some time I believe Wolverhampton had been without its organist. I’m sure that had there still been a knowledgeable custodian in place, the Wolverhampton Compton would have remained in existence.

Although he was paid a pittance by Hull City Council, the late Peter Goodman strove endlessly to keep the City Hall’s wonderful Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in good order. The only time he was overruled was when the city fathers insisted that the remote Compton console was placed in a new fixed position under the facade to make way for pop concerts.

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5 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

It points to civic authorities needing to have someone, at least, in the permanent role of custodian. For some time I believe Wolverhampton had been without its organist. I’m sure that had there still been a knowledgeable custodian in place, the Wolverhampton Compton would have remained in existence.

Although he was paid a pittance by Hull City Council, the late Peter Goodman strove endlessly to keep the City Hall’s wonderful Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in good order. The only time he was overruled was when the city fathers insisted that the remote Compton console was placed in a new fixed position under the facade to make way for pop concerts.

Peter was a wonderful custodian and a very musical City Organist at Hull, and he carried on the excellent work done by Norman Straffod. I am always amazed by the City Hall organ, which rather like the organ of St Paul's, seems to be right for almost everything.

However, the bigger point surely, is that we do not have suitable machinery when it comes to the protection of important instruments. A BIOS listing has no real teeth and English Heritage are only interested in visual things it would seem. Lottery funding would have been ruled out at Wolverhampton, because the removal of the organ was a first priority. 

It merely needs some sort of emergency appeals procedure, by which interested parties may first of all prevent things happening until all interested parties have explored the options and proposals.

It's a curious thing, but the original Forster & Andrews organ at Hull City Hall, would never have come about without an act of parliament, because there were those who regarded the organ as being far too large for the hall, and raised objections. I'm glad to say that they were overruled.

I'd love to know what might have happened were Wolverhampton in the Netherlands. Scrapping half a million pound's worth of organ would not have gone down well, but of course, it would never have happened in the first place.

It angers me that so many city and town halls have rubbish instruments, and a good example is St George's Hall, Bradford. People somewhere could have benefitted from the gift of a remarkable instrument.

MM

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Some organs in France have ‘listed’ status as historic monuments, but I think these tend to be 18th century or earlier survivors, often with a very splendid case.  S_L will doubtless know more about this, but I suspect an equivalent of the Wolverhampton Compton would not qualify.   

As you say, doubtless it would have been a different story in the Netherlands.

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2 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Some organs in France have ‘listed’ status as historic monuments, but I think these tend to be 18th century or earlier survivors, often with a very splendid case.  S_L will doubtless know more about this, but I suspect an equivalent of the Wolverhampton Compton would not qualify.   

I'm not sure that I do but, as far as I am aware, organs in churches are the property of the State whether that be national, or delegated locally, I'm not altogether sure. All I know is that my next door neighbour plays! He was taught by the Titulaire in our local town who jealously guards the organ and was very reluctant to allow me to have any time to practice. Jean-Louis, my neighbour, said that he would go and speak to the local Mairie, not the Parish Priest,  who would overrule the Titualaire. In the end my house organ was finished and there was no need to attempt to exert external influence on the Titulaire.

Organs in concert halls I'm not sure about!!

 

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"It's a curious thing, but the original Forster & Andrews organ at Hull City Hall, would never have come about without an act of parliament, because there were those who regarded the organ as being far too large for the hall, and raised objections. I'm glad to say that they were overruled."

And some organ builders, Willis amongst them, said the original concept (1911), was too large for the space and declined to submit a proposal. How wrong they were.
 

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@MusingMuso Wolverhampton was 53 ranks as the instrument was, for the most part, pretty much a straight job. With the theatre additions, that took it up to 57 ranks. The 53 ranks alone make it the largest they built from scratch to have been installed in a civic building. Southampton comes in at 50 ranks.

 

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23 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Some organs in France have ‘listed’ status as historic monuments, but I think these tend to be 18th century or earlier survivors, often with a very splendid case.  S_L will doubtless know more about this, but I suspect an equivalent of the Wolverhampton Compton would not qualify.   

As you say, doubtless it would have been a different story in the Netherlands.

Many, myself included, have reason to be grateful to the titulaire at Houdan, Monsieur le General Paris, who was so generous in showing off the wonderful Clicquout organ....

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4 hours ago, carrick said:

@MusingMuso Wolverhampton was 53 ranks as the instrument was, for the most part, pretty much a straight job. With the theatre additions, that took it up to 57 ranks. The 53 ranks alone make it the largest they built from scratch to have been installed in a civic building. Southampton comes in at 50 ranks.

 

Thanks for correcting me. I was blindly quoting what the late Steve Tovey said on the YouTube video about the organ. He also claimed that the instrument had over 6,000 pipes, which I think is very unlikely. The Hull City Hall instrument is around that sum, and St Bride's comes out at around 4,000.

I haven't done any analysis, as the organ no longer exists, but there is a section in my "tome" which I have added, concerning the death of the instrument.

There still remains a slight mystery concerning the 2008 addition of a Wurlitzer-replica Brass Saxophone, which presumably perished.  I have not found a full specification of the instrument as it was before being scrapped, so I restricted myself to 2006. Even that was difficult to work out, because my understanding is, that after several attempts at this and that, the Tibia Clausa rank ended up being a Moller one, after several trials of other pipes by Conacher and Wurlitzer. By 2006, I also understand that the replica Krummet (by Duncan Booth) was replaced by a Wurlitzer Vox Humana.. I presume that the Wurlitzer Tibia (originally at Blackpool) ended up back where it began.
 

If anyone knows how the Brass Saxophone fitted into the stop-list, I would be able to bring the stop-list up to date, as it was before the scrappage.

MM

 

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On 29/03/2019 at 20:33, MusoMusing said:

That's a positive bit of news....Lord knows, we need it at the moment, after the debacle at Wolverhampton.

I've actually added a section about the events at Wolverhampton in the upcoming "tome", which is now nearing completion. After Southampton Guildhall and St.Bride's, Fleet Street, this was possibly the most important example of Compton's work.

As for the costings to emerge from the Wolverhampton City Council, the original instrument cost about £400,000 in to-day's money when it was first installed. Even with the later additions, it was only 44 ranks.....not quite St Paul's or the Royal Albert Hall.

MM
 


 

On 07/03/2019 at 23:12, DariusB said:

For those interested, there is another article about it in the issue of Private Eye which came out today.  I can't post a link as it's print-only!

£400,000 in today's money for a brand new 44 rank extension organ sounds implausible (and the Compton at Wolverhampton sounds like it had perhaps 53 ranks). What might a ball-park figure be for a new 53 rank extension organ in a concert hall if I was looking to commission one (not that I am - just curious on the pricing! Most new concert hall organs are probably "straight" and have mechanical action which I would expect pushes up the cost considerably).

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30 minutes ago, Contrabombarde said:

£400,000 in today's money for a brand new 44 rank extension organ sounds implausible (and the Compton at Wolverhampton sounds like it had perhaps 53 ranks). What might a ball-park figure be for a new 53 rank extension organ in a concert hall if I was looking to commission one (not that I am - just curious on the pricing! Most new concert hall organs are probably "straight" and have mechanical action which I would expect pushes up the cost considerably).

Fifty-three ranks at today's prices I reckon would cost, at best, just under £1million.

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3 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

Fifty-three ranks at today's prices I reckon would cost, at best, just under £1million.

The value of money is easy to assume on the basis of inflation accounting, and I would agree that a 50 rank organ would cost considerably more than £400,000 today.  There's good reason for this, because certain things have increased in value by rather  more than simple monetary inflation. Property is one obvious example, and the costs of a factory such as the Chase Road premises in North Acton, would now be extremely expensive. Then the price of fine , seasoned timber has to allowed for. I don't know how the costs have increased over the decades, but I'm fairly certain that they will have outstripped monetary inflation by a considerable margin.  There are also many incidental costs these days, such as additional holiday pay, more public holidays,, higher wages and lots of other, less obvious increases. The 1930's were also a time of great hardship, even for working people, and wages were very low. There has also been a decline in civic philanthropy and patronage.

My estimates are therefore inaccurate, except in terms of simple monetary inflation accounting. It means that the £400,000 quoted was just a ball-park minimum, when the reality should probably be at least 50% or more extra, using the same (very efficient) production methods employed at the  Compton factory.

A further factor was the immense profitability of cinema-organ building, ad at Downside Abbey for example, if something wasn't right, John Compton would just rip it out and start again; money being less important than the finished result. It was prestige jobs such as that (which must also have included Southampton Guildhall and Wolverhampton) which elevated the Compton firm to the highest echelons of organ-building at the time.

I would hazard a guess that a more realistic figure today would probably be at least double the £400,000 quoted, and maybe even close to the  £1 million Barry suggests..

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@MusingMuso For your benefit, here's a spec straight from the Civic Hall Compton console, working in sides reading from left to right. Row 1 is the bottom stop rail, Row 3 is the top stop rail. The Krummet was replaced by the Sax. 

Left Stop Jamb
Row 1 - Pedal
32ft Harmonics of
16ft Harmonics of
16ft Bombarde
16ft Posaune
16ft Trumpet
8ft Bombarde
8ft English Horn
4ft Bombarde
16ft Piano
Cymbal Tap
Triangle
Crash Cymbal
Bass Drum P
Bass Drum F
Choir to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Solo to Pedal
Solo Octave to Pedal

Row 2 - Effects
Fire Bell
Surf
Train Whistle
Steam Boat
Sleigh Bells
Break - Pedal
32ft Sub Bass
16ft Contra Bass
16ft Open Bass
16ft Salicional
16ft Violone
16ft Sub Bass
16ft Bourdon
10 2/3 Quinte
8ft Octave
8ft Salicional
8ft Flute
5 1/3 Twelfth
4ft Fifteenth
4ft Flute
IV Fourniture

Row 3 - Swell
16ft Violone
8ft Geigen
8ft Viola de Gamba
8ft Viole Celeste
8ft Rohr Flute
4ft Geigen Octave
4ft Viola
2ft Fifteenth
IV Mixture
16ft Double Trumpet
8ft Trumpet
8ft Hautboy
4ft Clarion
Sub Octave
Octave
Tremulant
Solo to Swell

Back rail - Solo
8ft Violone Cello
8ft Viole Celeste
8ft Harmonic Flute
4ft Harmonic Flute
8ft Clarinet
8ft Orchestral Oboe
8ft Kinura
8ft Brass Sax
8ft English Horn
8ft Tuba
8ft Trumpet
4ft Tuba Clarion
8ft Tibia Clausa
4ft Tibia Clausa
12th Tibia Clausa
2ft Tibia Clausa
4ft Glock
4ft Xylo
4ft Vibraphone
Chimes
8ft Grand Piano
Unison Off
Sub Octave
Octave
Tremulant
Great to Solo Sub
Great to Solo Unison
Great to Solo Octave
Great to Solo Quint
Great to Solo Tierce

Left Stop Jamb
Row 1 - Choir
2ft Tibia Clausa
2ft Tibia 12th
2ft Fifteenth
1 3/5 Tierce
II Acuta
8ft Horn
8ft Posaune
8ft English Horn
8ft Tuba
8ft Brass Sax
8ft Kinura
4ft Vibraphone
Triangle Tap
Cymbal Tap
Chinese Block
Castanets
Tambourine
8ft Grand Piano
4ft Grand Piano
Octave
Great to Choir
Swell to Choir
Solo to Choir
Tremulant

Row 2 - Great
4ft Xylo
Tremulant
Sub Octave
Octave
Solo to Great
Swell to Great
Choir to Great
16ft Grand Piano
8ft Grand Piano
4ft Grand Piano
Break - Choir
16ft Salicional
16ft Bourdon
8ft Violone Cello
8ft Open Diapason
8ft Gemshorn
8ft Tibia Clausa
8ft Salicional
8ft Vox Angelica
8ft Claribel Flute
8ft Lieblich Gedeckt
4ft Tibia Clausa
4ft Salicet
4ft Flauto Traverso
4ft Lieblich Flote
2 2/3 Nasard

Row 3  - Great
16ft Double Open Diapason
8ft Violone Cello
8ft Open Diapason I
8ft Open Diapason II
8ft Open Diapason III
8ft Stopped Diapason
8ft Tibia Clausa
4ft Octave
4ft Principal
4ft Tibia Clausa
2 2/3 Tibia Clausa
2ft Super Octave
12th
2ft Fifteenth
IV Fourniture
IV Harmonics
16ft Contra Posaune
8ft Tromba
8ft Horn
8ft English Horn
8ft Brass Sax
8ft Kinura
4ft Clarion
4ft Glock




As for prices for a new organ - I've always gone along the lines of others, budget for £10-15k per rank and you shouldn't too far off the mark. A new English Horn (theatre organ) will cost about £3500 for the pipework, plus the cost of the chest, winding, labour. 

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