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John Robinson

York Minster organ rebuild

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5 hours ago, robertsharpe said:

There is extensive Bairstow correspondence in the organ archive here.  

What a beautiful signature !

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5 hours ago, robertsharpe said:

Not yet, John.  I will mention this to Francis when i next have an opportunity.

That would be wonderful, thank you, Robert.

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Bairstow was equally minded to express his disappointment after the Willis organ in Sheffield City Hall failed to come up to expectations after the completion of the hall.

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1 minute ago, Barry Oakley said:

Bairstow was equally minded to express his disappointment after the Willis organ in Sheffield City Hall failed to come up to expectations after the completion of the hall.

A man who was not reserved in speaking his mind, so I believe!

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On 14/03/2019 at 08:51, D Quentin Bellamy said:

I'd understood that Canterbury had a Hammond.  So was that their second foray into electronics?

See HERE

 

Since mentioning the Compton "external organ" at Canterbury, I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't an electronic "Melotone" unit. It was about this time that Compton built combination organs for the first time; specifically at Yarmouth and at Church House, Westminster. They therefore had the technology to do it.

I can't give it a lot of priority, but I'll dig around a little bit as time allows: not that I'm optimistic of finding the definitive answer.

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42 minutes ago, DouglasCorr said:

Allan Wicks showed me their electronic organ around 1974 I’m pretty sure it was a Hammond.

Perhaps the same one they installed in 1963? Someone told me not so long ago that they had seen one there some years after this, so it may have remained for some time.

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Hi

There are Hammond Organs adverts in "The Organ" magazine from many years ago mentioning the Canterbury Cathedral installation.  If I have time & feel up to going upstairs I'll try and look them out and see what date they were published.

Every Blessing

Tony

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34 minutes ago, Tony Newnham said:

Hi

There are Hammond Organs adverts in "The Organ" magazine from many years ago mentioning the Canterbury Cathedral installation.  If I have time & feel up to going upstairs I'll try and look them out and see what date they were published.

Every Blessing

Tony

The Organ October 1947  

Boosey & Hawkes ad The Hammond Organ - a typical setting for the War Memorial that LIVES

” the control of volume is as effective as its softest as in the majesty of its heavier tonal possibilities

when used to fill a larger building such as Canterbury Cathedral - as indeed it does”

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3 hours ago, philipmgwright said:

The Organ October 1947  

Boosey & Hawkes ad The Hammond Organ - a typical setting for the War Memorial that LIVES

” the control of volume is as effective as its softest as in the majesty of its heavier tonal possibilities

when used to fill a larger building such as Canterbury Cathedral - as indeed it does”

It just shows what puffery electronic organ manufacturers have always allowed themselves to indulge in, and still do.  Personally I think a better description is rowlocks.

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A Hammond Model E was installed in Canterbury Cathedral in 1938 while the pipe organ was being being refurbished. It was still there at the end of the war, eventually being returned  to Boosey & Hawkes  in 1954. I believe that the organ was loaned, as it was good publicity.The cost of the console at that time was £550. The D20 speakers made by  Boosey & Hawkes cost £72.10s. the type that my father had when he bought a secondhand version after the war for £250 with two speakers. 

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1 hour ago, Colin Pykett said:

It just shows what puffery electronic organ manufacturers have always allowed themselves to indulge in, and still do.  Personally I think a better description is rowlocks.

Hmmm, a Hammond in a big room can create quite a punch for what it is, it's still an impressive sound, though it might not be to everyone's taste, likewise for pipes too.

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58 minutes ago, carrick said:

Hmmm, a Hammond in a big room can create quite a punch for what it is, it's still an impressive sound, though it might not be to everyone's taste, likewise for pipes too.

To clarify, I don't necessarily disagree.  But recall that my post referred to the advertising rather than the product.  Over-enthusiastic ad-men/women can be a decided bane for a firm, though they often seem to be among the last to realise it.  But I doubt this is really the forum to pursue it further.

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On 07/04/2019 at 09:29, DouglasCorr said:

Allan Wicks showed me their electronic organ around 1974 I’m pretty sure it was a Hammond.

Allan Wicks also said that it sounded all right for playing trio sonatas rather than large scale pieces

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On 23/03/2019 at 18:17, Barry Oakley said:

Bairstow was equally minded to express his disappointment after the Willis organ in Sheffield City Hall failed to come up to expectations after the completion of the hall.

Apparently, HWIII wasn't entirely enamoured of his own work in this instance, either. However, this was more because of the dreadful acoustic ambiance of this hall, which is utterly 'dead', and devoid of any resonance, or even 'bloom' whatsoever.

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On 22/08/2019 at 00:26, pcnd5584 said:

Apparently, HWIII wasn't entirely enamoured of his own work in this instance, either. However, this was more because of the dreadful acoustic ambiance of this hall, which is utterly 'dead', and devoid of any resonance, or even 'bloom' whatsoever.

Up until 20 years ago I lived in Sheffield and regularly attended orchestral concerts there. I was also a member of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus during the 1980’s and it was very noticeable how dead the City Hall was in terms of any acoustic. The Willis organ there, it has a good typical specification on paper, remains largely unused on a regular basis.

In more recent years the hall has undergone some internal work, partly to improve its dry acoustic but I cannot comment on any success other than a friend’s report that it is marginally improved.

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Did John Scott Whiteley not make a recording for Priory on the Sheffield organ, seem to remember a GEO one

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2 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

Up until 20 years ago I lived in Sheffield and regularly attended orchestral concerts there. I was also a member of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus during the 1980’s and it was very noticeable how dead the City Hall was in terms of any acoustic. The Willis organ there, it has a good typical specification on paper, remains largely unused on a regular basis.

In more recent years the hall has undergone some internal work, partly to improve its dry acoustic but I cannot comment on any success other than a friend’s report that it is marginally improved.

And yet and yet…

Very many years ago, doing night work at St Paul’s, we took as usual our tea break at 2.00 am in the crypt mess with the two night watchman, who in those days patrolled the Cathedral each night. The conversation turned to the reverberation in the Cathedral (12 ¼ seconds according to HWIII and faithfully repeated by me ever since) and I remarked on the case of Sheffield City Hall where, as I amusingly put it, the reverberation ceases ¼ second before you lift you hands from the keys.

The older of the two watchmen listened gravely as I expatiated, with all the skill and certainty with which youth is invariably blessed, on acousticians generally and Hope Bagnell in particular. Waiting politely to see if I had finished, the aged watchman then said that his experience was different. It turned out he had been a bassist, I think with the Hallé. It was the only hall, he said, in which he had been able to hear from his position among the basses what everybody else was doing. For this reason, he said, he felt he gave a better performance at Sheffield than anywhere else. 

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The Sheffield organ is used regularly but infrequently ( I played it last in June).  The acoustic is awful and the organ isn't in great shape, though David Wood does a great job keeping it going and is doing repairs slowly as funds become gradually available - far from the complete clean and overhaul it really needs.  It all works although the quiet parts of the Solo are very unreliable and there's water damage to the 32' Open.   But playing the restored organ at the Freemason's Hall in London  - which is just a smaller version of the same instrument - made me realise how well the Willis III voicing copes with a very dry acoustic, and how good the Sheffield organ could be if it was really restored properly.  

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21 hours ago, DariusB said:

The Sheffield organ is used regularly but infrequently ( I played it last in June).  The acoustic is awful and the organ isn't in great shape, though David Wood does a great job keeping it going and is doing repairs slowly as funds become gradually available - far from the complete clean and overhaul it really needs.  It all works although the quiet parts of the Solo are very unreliable and there's water damage to the 32' Open.   But playing the restored organ at the Freemason's Hall in London  - which is just a smaller version of the same instrument - made me realise how well the Willis III voicing copes with a very dry acoustic, and how good the Sheffield organ could be if it was really restored properly.  

Sounds as though the Sheffield City Hall organ is no different to many other civic organs and I wonder if the Wolverhampton demise will be repeated elsewhere. When I lived in Sheffield the local ex Willis man used to perform running repairs although it was the handymen of the local organists association who kept it in tune. It's interesting to learn that water has got in and damaged the 32 Double Open Wood. I thought the building would have been in a good state of repair.

Around, I suppose 25 years ago, I arranged for the late Peter Goodman, former City Organist at Hull, to have access to the hall and play the organ. Although not good, hearing the organ played in an empty hall was a vast improvement to when a mass audience was present. But I was told at one time that the hall was essentially designed for oratory, music was really a secondary consideration. What a shame, as visually the hall is pleasing to the eye.

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But wasn’t Wolverhampton a case of murder, rather than death from natural causes?  I don’t know Sheffield City Hall, or whether there is a potential audience for organ performances.  But I clearly remember the Royal Festival Hall with its virtually dead acoustic and large audiences at the ‘Wednesday at 5.55’ recitals.  They had enormous influence for good - agreed there is a world of difference between the RFH organ and any by Henry Willis III.  I am bold enough to suggest that both can be very fine.  

I ought to add apologies to York Minster - an organ I admire enormously.  We have rather strayed from York.

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23 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

Did John Scott Whiteley not make a recording for Priory on the Sheffield organ, seem to remember a GEO one

Hi

Yes he did.  Great European Organs no 56, dating from early 2000's.  I have a copy in my CD collection, but I've not played it recently so can't comment on the sound, but I don't recall any significant issues when I did listen.

Every Blessing

Tony

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2 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

But wasn’t Wolverhampton a case of murder, rather than death from natural causes?  I don’t know Sheffield City Hall, or whether there is a potential audience for organ performances.  But I clearly remember the Royal Festival Hall with its virtually dead acoustic and large audiences at the ‘Wednesday at 5.55’ recitals.  They had enormous influence for good - agreed there is a world of difference between the RFH organ and any by Henry Willis III.  I am bold enough to suggest that both can be very fine.  

I ought to add apologies to York Minster - an organ I admire enormously.  We have rather strayed from York.

I suppose you could argue that we have strayed from the York Minster rebuild although there’s a tenuous link with Sheffield through Bairstow’s involvement in the 1930’s. I hold my hand up along with others who are tempted to digress from topics. Let me not get on about the RFH.

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I was referring to my own straying rather than yours!  I gather that the RFH organ possibly isn’t a favourite?  It will always be controversial, but I think the 5.55 recitals there introduced the organ repertoire to a whole generation who might otherwise have never encountered it.  Of course, you could argue that this was limited to people who happened to be in London, or who worked there - although London has a huge catchment area.  For these reasons, I think the RFH was a source for good.  Three players at random - Helmut Walcha, Francis Jackson and Noel Rawsthorne all spread the gospel of organ music in their different styles at those recitals.

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