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Mander Organs
Denis O'Connor

Albert Hall organ inaccuracy-again.

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The recent broadcast of the Leipzig Gewandhaus described the Harrison and Harrison organ as a Henry Willis.I have submitted a complaint stating that this was inaccurate and we look the radio 3 for the highest standards. I am beginning to wonder if it matters at all!

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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.

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I don’t think the BBC can be held too much at fault for merely repeating what the RAH say about the organ. The fact the the hall doesn’t seem to know (or care) about the instrument under their protection is however concerning. 

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The console tablet on the organ of Hull City Hall states very, very  boldly, "Rushworth & Dreaper" and the real builders lesser so. Anybody with historical knowledge knows that whilst R&D maintained the organ after the demise of Compton, it is fundamentally Forster & Andrews of 1911 and rebuilt and enlarged by Compton 1950-1951. Is the Trades Description Act now defunct?

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No names - no pack-drill!  I have visited an organbuilder’s workshop (now closed) where one wall was covered with original builders’ plates  - mostly ivory or porcelain - which they removed from the organs they had worked on.

It’s a bit untidy, but we now have two current threads largely on the same subject - see also “Tuning at the Albert Hall”,

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On 29/08/2019 at 09:17, Barry Oakley said:

The console tablet on the organ of Hull City Hall states very, very  boldly, "Rushworth & Dreaper" and the real builders lesser so. Anybody with historical knowledge knows that whilst R&D maintained the organ after the demise of Compton, it is fundamentally Forster & Andrews of 1911 and rebuilt and enlarged by Compton 1950-1951. Is the Trades Description Act now defunct?

It is claimed that the original organ was weak and ineffective. Compton's revoiced everything, and the result was spectacular. In my view, the Compton name should still be there, because R & D did nothing much tonally.

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12 hours ago, MusoMusing said:

It is claimed that the original organ was weak and ineffective. Compton's revoiced everything, and the result was spectacular. In my view, the Compton name should still be there, because R & D did nothing much tonally.

It is certainly documented that the original F&A work lacked adequate speech and Compton's later work involved a massive revoicing more in keeping with what was needed for the hall. The Compton name still appears alongside that of Forster & Andrews, but comparatively much, much smaller than "Rushworth & Dreaper." As well as maintaining the organ, R&D oversaw transposing of the original movable Compton console to a fixed position and its conversion to drawstop. They also oversaw the installation of a solid-state capture system. And as you say,  MM, Compton's revoicing  was "spectacular." But I suspect R&D may have done some tinkering with the voicing, perhaps with the reeds, why I cannot imagine. Compton's reed voicer, Frank Hancock, was acknowledged to be one of the best in the business.

 

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