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I thought this might be of interest.

The Facebook page of the organbuilding workshop of Atelier Bertrand Cattiaux has this video showing some of the work to dismantle the organ of Notre Dame de Paris for the work of 1990-1992. I am guessing it won't be long before they start dismantling it once again for restoration work following last year's near disaster: hopefully within a few years the beast will roar again. Meantime the video from Cattiaux is at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2614655468778918

Dave

 

 

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5 hours ago, DaveHarries said:

I thought this might be of interest.

The Facebook page of the organbuilding workshop of Atelier Bertrand Cattiaux has this video showing some of the work to dismantle the organ of Notre Dame de Paris for the work of 1990-1992. I am guessing it won't be long before they start dismantling it once again for restoration work following last year's near disaster: hopefully within a few years the beast will roar again. Meantime the video from Cattiaux is at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2614655468778918

Dave

 

 

Just goes to show how dirty things can be when dismantling an organ!

I doubt though whether 'the beast will roar again' in a few years. Progress on restoring the cathedral is painfully slow, and the current pandemic will not help. 

I would be pleasantly surprised if everything is back to full operation even in ten years time.

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Super little video! I liked the bits where some of the large pedal pipes were being 'roped' over gallery down into the nave and you could see tourists still flocking around the side aisles. And also when the old console went over the side too! You don't realise how high up it all is until you either go into Notre Dame or see a video like this! No hard hats either!!

M. Macron's 'five years' was always optimistic and the current situation will have put a lot of pressure on that. Ten years may be a little pessimistic but I'll bet it is nearer the mark for when the 'monster' does roar again! We shall see!

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4 hours ago, S_L said:

Super little video! I liked the bits where some of the large pedal pipes were being 'roped' over gallery down into the nave and you could see tourists still flocking around the side aisles. And also when the old console went over the side too! You don't realise how high up it all is until you either go into Notre Dame or see a video like this! No hard hats either!!

M. Macron's 'five years' was always optimistic and the current situation will have put a lot of pressure on that. Ten years may be a little pessimistic but I'll bet it is nearer the mark for when the 'monster' does roar again! We shall see!

Ten years is optimistic. The French do not appear to be particularly adept at dealing with emergencies/restorations like this. I know it's not a fair comparison but the way York Minster was restored in its response to the fire shows what can be done. The general impression is that the French are not interested and the President of France is incompetent. 

It would also be asking too much for the Positif de Dos be restored as part of the project. The case for this has recently been restored to an excellent condition and was stored in the upper galleries. Hopefully the fire hasn't damaged this. Realising Pierre Cochereau's dream of the restored Positif de Dos with his ambitious proposal of an eighteen stop division is probably fanciful. But from a visual perspective at least the restoration would be welcome. Who knows, there may be some musical value to it as well.

All highly unlikely given current circumstances and the disinterest of the French people.

 

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As SL said, a fascinating video.  Thanks to Dave for posting the link.  I winced when they took a pair of pliers to the wiring looms emerging from the console and just chopped through them, especially as I've done the same thing myself from time to time.  Always seems sacrilegious somehow!  It reminded me, though, of something I often ponder on, which is how on earth did the old organ builders prior to the industrial revolution manage to achieve what they did?  Nothing other than horse power for transport beyond the church door, meaning that everything possible would have been done on site, either within the building or in huts outside in the church yard.  Many of the workforce probably lived there with their families as well until the job was done - commuting would have been unknown.  And only human muscle power for working winches - they might have used a man inside a wheel as when constructing the buildings themselves.  Many cathedrals still have those in the roof space today, so maybe they were pressed into service again for organ building purposes.  No steel scaffolding, just rickety wooden affairs.  And the difficulties of working during the short, dark, cold days of a north European winter with only candles for illumination.

Makes you think, and wonder at their achievements.

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2 hours ago, contraviolone said:

Ten years is optimistic. The French do not appear to be particularly adept at dealing with emergencies/restorations like this. I know it's not a fair comparison but the way York Minster was restored in its response to the fire shows what can be done. The general impression is that the French are not interested and the President of France is incompetent. 

All highly unlikely given current circumstances and the disinterest of the French people.

 

I have to say that there is a lot of this post that I don't agree with! 

Where do you get that the French people are not interested? It might be a slightly romantic view but I would say that Notre Dame is at the heart of the French nation!  And M. Macron is incompetent? 

I think there is a good deal more interest, from the French people, in the rebuilding of Notre Dame than there was in the UK after the fire at York Minster - or Windsor! True that within the French population there is a sizeable anti-religion group. My next door neighbour's wife said "Let it burn!" But he was in tears! Sizeable audiences attend the organ recitals on a Sunday afternoon, and up and down the country, far more than ever would in the UK and, whilst the French don't go to church they pack the place on August 15th or at Toussaint

 

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1 hour ago, Colin Pykett said:

As SL said, a fascinating video.  Thanks to Dave for posting the link.  I winced when they took a pair of pliers to the wiring looms emerging from the console and just chopped through them, especially as I've done the same thing myself from time to time.  Always seems sacrilegious somehow!  It reminded me, though, of something I often ponder on, which is how on earth did the old organ builders prior to the industrial revolution manage to achieve what they did?  Nothing other than horse power for transport beyond the church door, meaning that everything possible would have been done on site, either within the building or in huts outside in the church yard.  Many of the workforce probably lived there with their families as well until the job was done - commuting would have been unknown.  And only human muscle power for working winches - they might have used a man inside a wheel as when constructing the buildings themselves.  Many cathedrals still have those in the roof space today, so maybe they were pressed into service again for organ building purposes.  No steel scaffolding, just rickety wooden affairs.  And the difficulties of working during the short, dark, cold days of a north European winter with only candles for illumination.

Makes you think, and wonder at their achievements.

Must agree with everything you say. I would add that, not being good at heights, I found the precarious work so close to the tribune quite frightening. Standing in the nave and looking up the organ gallery is positioned at a great height, some would say too high for the organ to be at its most effective. But the way they were negotiating the pulley with all the heavy items - ugh!

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10 hours ago, S_L said:

I have to say that there is a lot of this post that I don't agree with! 

Where do you get that the French people are not interested? It might be a slightly romantic view but I would say that Notre Dame is at the heart of the French nation!  And M. Macron is incompetent? 

I think there is a good deal more interest, from the French people, in the rebuilding of Notre Dame than there was in the UK after the fire at York Minster - or Windsor! True that within the French population there is a sizeable anti-religion group. My next door neighbour's wife said "Let it burn!" But he was in tears! Sizeable audiences attend the organ recitals on a Sunday afternoon, and up and down the country, far more than ever would in the UK and, whilst the French don't go to church they pack the place on August 15th or at Toussaint

 

Sadly, I agree.  I have been to many organ recitals where I feel sad at the apparent lack of public interest, going by the size of the audience.  I may have mentioned before that I attended a recital in Cologne Cathedral several years ago when the place was literally packed, many having brought along camping chairs to sit in the aisles as the pews were full.  And, if I recall, that was a recital mainly of Messaien!

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These comments puzzle me, and this has been said before.  In normal circumstances (which don't exist at present) there can never have been so many organ recitals on offer around the country, and some do take place on Sunday afternoons, notably at St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral in London.  They also happen in some provincial and rural churches.  Paul Carr, for example, regularly plays on Sunday afternoons.  There are Sunday evenings at St Giles' Edinburgh, and one could go on.  The London Cathedrals and Abbey feature visiting organists, some from abroad, as well as the home team.  The provincial cathedrals mostly cannot compete as Evensong occurs in mid-afternoon on Sunday - usually the third choral service of the day with organ.  But there are regular weekday recitals in some, notably Chester, Coventry, Worcester, Hereford and Liverpool (the last two including Saturdays) just to name a few at random, and evening series at many others.  For those who can go, there are recitals every day in London.  Audiences at the regular recitals at Birmingham, Huddersfield and Leeds Town Halls, St George's Hall, Liverpool and Hull City Hall are usually respectably in the hundreds.  

The size of audiences and the success of the event will be governed by the attraction of the programmes - and the ability to attend which in turn depends on adequate publicity.  Some venues are, frankly, hopeless at doing this, and one sees recitals being announced shortly, sometimes only the day before they are to take place, and even sometimes on the day itself.

Anyone who looks at the excellent website of organrecitals.com run by Steve Smith should be in no doubt about what is available and, equally, everyone organising recitals should advertise them there - it's free! - as far in advance as possible. Audiences won't come unless they know.

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  • 3 months later...

A news report from French TV, TF1, about works to remove the organ from Notre Dame for restoration. The plan is to have it ready for re-inauguration of the cathedral on 7 April 2024. Even for non-French speakers, a nice, optimistic report:

https://www.facebook.com/TF1leJT/videos/210788290355722/

And more here from the local paper:

https://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/notre-dame-de-paris-cinq-mois-de-travaux-pour-demonter-l-orgue-03-08-2020-8362911.php

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Replying to Cantoris, are you referring to the UK situation during present times, i.e., while Covid-19 restrictions are in force?  

Apart from the destruction during WW II I can only think of one major cathedral organ in this country largely destroyed by fire - and that was a considerable time ago - at Norwich Cathedral.  Actually the fire started while Heathcote Statham was playing. But it was rebuilt, and on a grander scale, by HN&B (the magnificent case by Stephen Dykes-Bower added later) and, unlike Notre Dame, there was no State ownership or funding.  Presumably all cathedral organs are, or should be, insured.  

If a similar tragedy happened here, I can think of three major UK organbuilders equal to the task facing the French at Notre Dame, and would, of course, have included Mander's as a fourth.

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That's fantastic news. Flentrop have a good track record for Cavaille-Coll reconstructions. The Philharmonie in Haarlem, just across the street from the Bavokerk has a similar sized A C-C which has a very similar history to the Manchester organ - additions, action and console changed. Flentrop restored this back to its original state in 2006.

 https://nl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgel_van_de_Philharmonie_Haarlem

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During this extended period of doom and gloom in which we are all encapsulated/imprisoned it is indeed good to be able to see a little light glowing at the end of a different tunnel.

Marvellous to peruse the " nomenclature francais"  and note the changes .

Very fortunate that this instrument has survived the ravages of time and lack of funds and still remain in a " playable condition " up to the present time.

Reading the article encouraged me to mine Nigel Ogdons wonderful recording  of `94 out of the archive . Despite the fact that one third of the stops out of action the depth and clarity are fantastic.   The solo stops sounded marvellous and was not conscious of any action or wind noise; tribute to C_C`s craftsmanship plus that of Jardines ( a local organ firm ) who kept the whole shebang going remarkably well for so long.

Just a pity, me muses, that the other Lancashire C-C just down the road is not able to receive the same treatment despite all the efforts of Warrington Council et. al.

Going to look for the youtube vid now.

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

The new specification for Manchester Town Hall is certainly trimmed down from its current form.

Perhaps no surprise given the later additions and the plan to restore the organ to the original Cavaille-Coll specification. A little surprised though that the 32' reed on the pedal is not being retained. The hall is quite a large space and I would have thought a 32' reed would be both useful and desirable. I'm sure Nicholson's could have fabricated an extended octave for the Pedal 16' Bombarde.

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IMO, the later wooden 32' extension to the CC Bombarde 16' is no great loss. I think it sat at the sides of the main case, which space is now to be opened up in the return to the original layout.

32' reeds on CC organs were pretty rare beasts, especially on mid-sized instruments such as MTH, so from a "faithful restoration" point of view it's hard to argue.

On the other hand, a CC chorus underpinned by a CC-style 32' is perhaps one of the most spectacular sounds achieved in organbuilding, and one which vanished from this country when the Sheffield organ burnt. There are a mere two possible opportunities to resurrect it, of which this would have seemed by far the more promising. So ultimately I feel that a "faithful but with the addition of a spectacular copy, which purists are free to avoid using" approach would have been best.

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2 hours ago, swalmsley said:

IMO, the later wooden 32' extension to the CC Bombarde 16' is no great loss. I think it sat at the sides of the main case, which space is now to be opened up in the return to the original layout.

32' reeds on CC organs were pretty rare beasts, especially on mid-sized instruments such as MTH, so from a "faithful restoration" point of view it's hard to argue.

On the other hand, a CC chorus underpinned by a CC-style 32' is perhaps one of the most spectacular sounds achieved in organbuilding, and one which vanished from this country when the Sheffield organ burnt. There are a mere two possible opportunities to resurrect it, of which this would have seemed by far the more promising. So ultimately I feel that a "faithful but with the addition of a spectacular copy, which purists are free to avoid using" approach would have been best.

I agree, an extension of the 16' Bombarde in the Cavaille Coll style would be the best way forward and I'm sure would be superb. I'm sure Nicholson's would have the expertise to do this. 

As it is, the proposed new specification looks very interesting and I'm sure the end result will be splendid.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was very interested to see the photo of the organ as originally built, on Nicholson's website with the staircases at either side, I was unaware of this.

It's well known that Alfred Waterhouse's design for the Great Hall left little room for a grand organ, the space is not really an organ chamber, more of an apse. In the original photo, the organ appears to be free standing, although I'm sure that the blower, reservoirs etc will be below stage level. 

If you have a look at some of the details on the specification you will see that there is actually only one full 16 foot flue stop, the pedale Contrebasse, the Grande Orgue Principal 16 has stopped pipes for the lowest 5 notes which make the longest case pipe about 12 foot. It's a very long time since I played this organ (back in my teens in the early 70's) but I seem to recall that the bottom end of the Soubasse 32 was acoustic, as swalmsley commented about A-CC 32ft reeds, true 32ft flues, open or stopped, are also quite rare beasts.

I'm certainly looking forward to this organ being restored, a 32ft reed would be magnificent, but I think the right decision has been made to return the organ to its 1893 state.

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It might be helpful to clarify the pedal flue provision at Manchester Town Hall.  From 1877 to 1893 there was no 32' flue tone at all.  The 'real' Pédale stops were simply two 42-note ranks: a Contrebasse 16' extended to a Flûte basse 8', and a Bombarde 16' extended to a Trompette 8'.  These were augmented by no less than three of the Grand Orgue stops being duplexed onto the Pédale as well: the GO Bourdon 16' was available on the Pédale as a Soubasse 16', the GO Bourdon 8' (wholly independent from the Bourdon 16') was available on the Pédale as a Bourdon Doux 8', and the GO Violoncelle 8' was available on the Pédale as a Violoncelle 8'.  Thus the original Pédale division was

Contrebasse 16' A (open metal and wood)
Soubasse 16' (the GO Bourdon 16', stopped wood)
Flûte basse 8' A (open metal and wood)
Bourdon Doux 8' (the GO Bourdon 8', stopped wood)
Violoncelle 8 8' (the GO Violoncelle 8', open metal)
Bombarde 16' B (open metal)
Trompette 8' B (open metal)

In 1893, Cavaillé-Coll added a Solo division, but also added a third 42-note rank to the Pédale.  This was of stopped wood construction and was available as a Soubasse 32' and Bourdon 16', giving

Soubasse 32' C (stopped wood)
Contrebasse 16' A (open metal and wood)
Bourdon 16' C (stopped wood)
Soubasse 16' (the GO Bourdon 16', stopped wood)
Flûte basse 8' A (open metal and wood)
Bourdon Doux 8' (the GO Bourdon 8', stopped wood)
Violoncelle 8 8' (the GO Violoncelle 8', open metal)
Bombarde 16' B (open metal)
Trompette 8' B (open metal)

In 1913, Lewis & Co. made some further alterations:

- the GO Principal 16' was made available on the Pedal
- the stoppers were removed from the Cavaillé-Coll 1893 Soubasse 32' / Bourdon 16' rank, turning it into a Great Bass 16' and Octave 8'.
- to compensate for the loss of 32' flue tone, a resultant Soubasse 32' was created: from notes C1–B12 it played the Great Bass 16' at pitch with a quint from new dedicated stopped wood quint pipes, added by Lewis & Co., while from notes C13 upwards it simply played the Great Bass 16' -8ve. 
- the Bombarde 16' / Trompette 8' rank was revoiced on much higher pressure and extended downwards with 12 new pipes to form a Contra Bombarde 32'

This gave:

Sub Bass 32' C+D (C1–B12 played Great Bass at 16' with dedicated stopped wood quint; C13+ played Great Bass 16' -8ve)
Great Bass 16' C (the 1893 Cavaillé-Coll Soubasse 32' with stoppers removed, so now open wood)
Contre Bass 16' A (1877 CC, open wood and metal)
Principal 16' (newly available from the Gt Principal 16', stopped wood and open metal bottom 5, remainder open metal)
Bourdon 16' (the Gt Bourdon 16', stopped wood)
Octave 8' C (the 1893 CC Bourdon 16' with stoppers removed, so now open wood)
Flute Bass 8' A (1877 CC, open wood and metal)
Bourdon 8' (the Gt Bourdon 8', stopped wood)
Diapason 8' (the Gt Diapason II 8' which was the 1877 Violoncelle 8' revoiced, open metal)
Contre Bombarde 32' B (1913 L&Co extension, open wood)
Bombarde 16' B (1877 CC revoiced on higher pressure, open metal)
Trompette 8' B (1877 CC revoiced on higher pressure, open metal)

In 1970, Jardine & Co. added two top notes to each rank to extend the pedal compass to G32 rather than F30, but the Pedal spec remained otherwise as per Lewis & Co. of 1913.

In the forthcoming project, the division is to be returned to its 1893 form. 

Clavecin is quite right to highlight the modest space in the organ.  Within only a few months of the organ's opening in 1877, there were comments made in the press about the organ's many qualities being overshadowed by a perceived lack of bass tone.  The 1893 additions by Cavaillé-Coll were much praised by Alexandre Guilmant and by Kendrick Pyne, the then city organist, for the extra foundation that they gave the instrument.

Hope that this is of interest.

Andrew Caskie
Managing Director
Nicholson & Co. Ltd

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In the book "Cavaillé-Coll en Nederland", perhaps a bit off-target, the author discusses two C19th  CC concert hall organs, the Paleis van Volksvlijt in Amsterdam, and the Philharmonic Hall in Haarlem. Neither had 32' reeds, in sizeable buildings. There is an appendix with a number of similar instruments, only two of which had 32' reeds - Sheffield, as mentioned above, and the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris, in a hall which was a bit smaller than the Albert Hall. So, rare indeed.

This book deals with CC instruments of all sizes in the Netherlands, and the smaller instruments are very interesting. Most of them, on paper at least, have the minimum to make a CC chorus - montre, flûte, 16' bourdon, trompette, on manuals at least, with couplers and borrowed pedal.

I'm getting carried away. As I write, I'm in a cafe in The Hague, gazing dreamily through the windows of the French Protestant church (Eglise wallonne, Waalse kerk) at the 2 manual CC on the balcony in there. That's a treat to listen to.

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