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Mander Organs

Worcester Cathedral's Organ


Pierre Lauwers

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As for the "British romantic organ," my worry is not that it is under-valued, but that it is over-valued; especially when it concerns an area of extreme organ-building covering a period of a mere 40 years (1900-1940 or so). It's interesting that the glaring parochialism of this period co-incides with "fortress Britain," and with the best will in the world, that era is now dead and buried, in spite of renderings of "Land of Hope and Glory" at the Proms by those who don't even know what Blake was writing about with "Jerusalem!Or possibly even know the words, but is it fair to elide the sentiment in the two songs?

 

If we are prepared to wallow in the sentiments of an age long dead, don't we deserve to perish with it?

 

THAT'S the thing about Bach.....he mentally (and physically) travelled outside his parish boundary, whereas Herbert Howells and his generation did not.

 

MM

[

I do not think the last sentence is quite right. Howell's generation (b 1892) did travel quite a lot,even if he did not . The places they went include Picardy and Champagne in Northern France, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. The problem may be that a significant number of them did not return ! And those who did come back were not unchanged by the experiences of their travels!

 

But I do find myself somewhat in sympathy with MM's views on Howell's the composer. As Anglican Muzak it is fine, but I have never been able to grasp the point of,eg, Paean and it does nothing for me when heard in recitals. I had always assumed that this was a failure on my part which I should keep quiet about . However, as at least one other person suffers from the same condition perhaps we should form a support group in case there are others out there similarly ashamed of owning up .

 

Brian Childs

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Before anyone considers carting the Worcester Diaphones off to Cologne, when they rightfully belong in the Hope Jones Museum in Manchester, they might like to consider the problems of size and weight before hanging them off a wall:-

 

Didn't mean THEM as chamades ofcourse, but I remember the (oldKlais) organ loft being quite spacious. There could be room for it, and a Vox balenae 64' is already made there, so maybe they could beef things up even 'weiter' ...

 

BTW. Compton also says "None the less, I consider the diaphone a most valuable and desirable voice, comparable in importance with the tympani of the orchestra"

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I do not think the last sentence is quite right. Howell's generation (b 1892) did travel quite a lot,even if he did not . The places they went include Picardy and Champagne in Northern France, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. The problem may be that a significant number of them did not return ! And those who did come back were not unchanged by the experiences of their travels!

 

But I do find myself somewhat in sympathy with MM's views on Howell's the composer. As Anglican Muzak it is fine, but I have never been able to grasp the point of,eg, Paean and it does nothing for me when heard in recitals. I had always assumed that this was a failure on my part which I should keep quiet about . However, as at least one other person suffers from the same condition perhaps we should form a support group in case there are others out there similarly ashamed of owning up .

 

==================

 

There was I thinking I was just a lonely little petunia in an onion patch!

 

Actually, in my own defence, I think I was referring to spiritual travel rather than actual travel, even though Bach went hiking around Northern Europe.

 

As for a support group, I think Brian and myself must immediately form one.

 

I think it should be called H.O.W.E.L.L.S. (Howells of Worcester, enabling latent loathing support).

 

MM

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But I do find myself somewhat in sympathy with MM's views on Howell's the composer. As Anglican Muzak it is fine, but I have never been able to grasp the point of,eg, Paean and it does nothing for me when heard in recitals. I had always assumed that this was a failure on my part which I should keep quiet about . However, as at least one other person suffers from the same condition perhaps we should form a support group in case there are others out there similarly ashamed of owning up .

 

 

I can understand the views expressed above but they no more can be taken as authoritative than mine on symphonic Bruckner or the late John Thaw's on Gilbert & Sullivan! :)

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I can understand the views expressed above but they no more can be taken as authoritative than mine on symphonic Bruckner or the late John Thaw's on Gilbert & Sullivan! :)

 

Authoritative on what ? They are definitive as far as my opinion goes and presumably the same would hold true for MM. Speaking for myself I am not purporting to deny that Howells was a significant composer, nor that there are many who like his music (for all I know they may constitute 99.99% of all known music lovers) , and certainly not the right of others to hold a diametrically opposed opinion to my own. Perhaps "Anglican Muzak" sounded more pejorative than was intended, because I actually like his music in Church as an aid to creating an appropriate atmosphere . Not having the advantage of knowing what Innate's views are on Bruckner (one might deduce that he was less enthusiastic than conventional opinion would suggest he should be - in which case he and I agree on that) nor those of John Thaw, one cannot comment further at this stage.

 

Brian Childs

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[

I can understand the views expressed above but they no more can be taken as authoritative than mine on symphonic Bruckner or the late John Thaw's on Gilbert & Sullivan! :)

 

Authoritative on what ? They are definitive as far as my opinion goes and presumably the same would hold true for MM. Speaking for myself I am not purporting to deny that Howells was a significant composer, nor that there are many who like his music (for all I know they may constitute 99.99% of all known music lovers) ......etc

 

===================

 

 

I give many definitive answers; all of which define me.

 

The thought of 99.99% of all music-lovers liking the music of Howells brought on another small nose-bleed and mild seizure, but at least Brian quoted my favourite percent. ;)

 

MM

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[Actually, in my own defence, I think I was referring to spiritual travel rather than actual travel, even though Bach went hiking around Northern Europe.

 

 

 

HI MM,

 

 

Sorry that the post to which the above is a response was done in a bit of a rush. I did realise that you meant both, but with the emphasis on the questing mind rather than the wandering body. However, I think (and ought to have stated) that a number of them did make a spiritual journey : given the experiences to which they were subjected it would be incredible if they had not. But spiritual journeys are no more guaranteed than physical journeys to always terminate in sunlit uplands. In other words, we have not only to account for the physically lost (like Butterworth) but the mentally lost (like Ivor Gurney). For at least some of the Howells generation, I would argue, the spiritual journey they went on was a destructive rather than a productive one like JSBs, and thus unlikely to lead to a productive outcome. And whilst the myth of a lost generation has now been largely exploded, there has to have been some factual basis to allow the myth to grow up in the first place. So we have a certain possibility, indeed a probability, that a significant (but unquantifiable) amount of British (and French and German) talent was cut down before it could fully blossom. Whilst this must have been true throughout history, I would doubt it can have been on such a scale before, or at least not since the Black Death in the 14th Century. I think this goes some of the way to explaining the contrast between the spiritual journey of JSB and the apparent lack of one by the Howells generation.

 

All the best,

 

Brian Childs

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[Actually, in my own defence, I think I was referring to spiritual travel rather than actual travel, even though Bach went hiking around Northern Europe.

HI MM,

Sorry that the post to which the above  is a response was done in a bit of a rush. I did realise that you meant both, but with the emphasis on the questing mind rather than the wandering body. However, I think (and ought to have stated) that a number of them did make a spiritual journey : given the experiences to which they were subjected it would be incredible if they had not. But spiritual journeys are no more guaranteed than physical journeys to always terminate in sunlit uplands. In other words, we have not only to account for the physically lost (like Butterworth) but the mentally lost (like Ivor Gurney). For at least some of the Howells generation, I would argue, the spiritual journey they went on was a destructive rather than a productive one like JSBs, and thus unlikely to lead to a productive outcome. And whilst the myth of a lost generation has now been largely exploded, there has to have been some factual basis to allow the myth to grow up in the first place. So we have a certain possibility, indeed a probability, that a significant (but unquantifiable) amount of British (and French and German) talent was cut down before it could fully blossom. Whilst this must have been true throughout history, I would doubt it can have been on such a scale before, or at least not since the Black Death in the 14th Century. I think this goes some of the way to explaining the contrast between the spiritual journey of JSB and the apparent lack of one by the Howells generation.

 

All the best,

 

Brian Childs

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I think this goes some of the way to explaining the contrast between the spiritual journey of JSB and the apparent lack of one by the Howells generation.

 

 

=================

 

Well I think much (but by no means all) of the evidence points to the fact that British composers looked backwards rather than outwards....Vaughan-Williams, Ireland and perhaps even the brilliant Walton for example. Even someone as inventive as Percy Whitlock was greatly influenced by Delius, as were many of the Brit composers....there's nothing wrong with that. The unfortunate thing is that they perpetuated a sort of rambling aproach to harmony, born of extreme chromaticism, at a time when other countries were much bolder.

 

That said, some very good things were written, and Healey-Willan is one who springs to mind, whlst the inimitable Holst and the genius of Walton performed miracles.

 

On the plus side, we at least managed to avoid the worst aspects of 12-tone and experimental music, so wonderfully lampooned by Gerard Hoffnung:-

 

"No longer does ze self-respecting German composer use ze pen and paper and ze fork-in-tune. Instead he uses ze mazematical slippy-rule etc."

 

My objection to the pervading English organ style, is that it completely re-invents the organ by turning its' back on the essentially contrapuntal nature of the instrument.

 

Thank heavens for the music of Hindemith and Dupre.

 

Anyway, I jyst realised that Howells came from Gloucester rather than Worcester, so we have to think of a new title for the H.O.W.E.L.L.S support group. I recommend it should now stand for "Howell's organ works - enabling latent loathing support."

 

MM

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My objection to the pervading English organ style, is that it completely re-invents the organ by turning its' back on the essentially contrapuntal nature of the instrument

 

(Quote)

 

Completely neo-baroque statment, the kind I heard 20 years ago.

 

Maybe the backward-looking people aren't the ones we could be

suggested to believe...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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I

 

 

"No longer does ze self-respecting German composer use ze pen and paper and ze fork-in-tune. Instead he uses ze mazematical slippy-rule etc."

 

My objection to the pervading English organ style, is that it completely re-invents the organ by turning its' back on the essentially contrapuntal nature of the instrument.

 

Hi MM

 

But surely the guy who first had the idea of dividing up the blockwerk into individual ranks likewise "completely reinvented the organ" as known before his bright idea. Are n't all musical instruments subject to this process in some degree ? In my house I have a Piano , rather different to the clavichord Bach probably had in his. And how far do modern woodwind resemble the racketts, shawms and crumhorns which preceded them ? Now I have quite liked these ever since I first encountered David Munrow a good few years ago, but I would not want to be without the modern Clarinet whether in the hands of Gervase de Peyer or Artie Shaw. Likewise I would not want to be deprived of the sounds of Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young , and I doubt Dizzy Gillespie could have played as he did on the style of trumpet current in Bach's day.

 

Fortunately, we are not forced to choose since we can have all these things. Likewise with the organ. I grant you that the early 20th century English Organ does not lend itself naturally to the performance of contrapuntal music, but there are plenty of more recent examples which do, not to mention all those on the continent of Europe. I do not think the current "pervading English organ style" seeks to produce instruments that replicate those of the first half of the last century, and has not done so since Downs and the RFH - indeed there were straws in the wind pre-war. It would be an unusual builder to day who given a completely green field site chose to build a replica of an Arthur Harrison organ. So if the problem does not lie in what is being newly built today, wherein does it lie ? In view of what you have said in other posts I do not believe you would seriously advocate scrapping St Mary Redcliffe or Hull City Hall in favour of another Bridgewater Hall type instrument, which ideal as it may be for contrapuntal music has some difficulty being convincing in the Elgar or Whitlock Sonatas to mention just two organ compositions I would personally rather not be without.

 

Regards,,

 

BAC

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My objection to the pervading English organ style, is that it completely re-invents the organ by turning its' back on the essentially contrapuntal nature of the instrument.

 

 

MM

 

Style of organ, or style of composition? Did the instruments produce the music, or the music the instruments (unlikely)? Chicken or egg?

 

I personally rather agree with the Howells-sentiments - beautiful liturgical music with too little drama to be really successful where people "really listen", as I said a while back - while liking the Hymnus P. quite a lot, for example. Still, I think the question (too) whether the organs which already existed when Howells was working really encouraged anything else.

 

So why did organs (not just in England) lose their contrapuntal capacities? Because counterpoint generally went out of fashion?

 

Is Bridgewater really such a brilliant contrapuntal organ? I have never heard it, but from what I know of its builders' other recent work, this would surprize me.

 

Cheers

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So why did organs (not just in England) lose their contrapuntal capacities? Because counterpoint generally went out of fashion?

 

(Quote)

 

This is the right question I believe. Actually, the "Grundtönigkeit" way of disposition was invented in Germany, first by the baroque builders of southern Germany, and then

refined and systematized by Walcker.

But this early romantic organ still was a polyphonic one, because their builders took

great care to avoid any muddiness!

Restrained scales and wind-pressures and painstaking voicing were the means.

But of course the polyphonic music was going out of fashion so the followers did

care less; with Cavaillé-Coll and Willis reed voicing met with more interest.

 

The late-romantic organ is by far more diverse in this respect, from Hope-Jones to

Link, Goll, Oscar Walcker etc there is an incredibly wide difference, to the point the

possible repertoires have little in common.

Of course Reger's music is an excellent example; you could not play that on

an H-J -nor Howells by the way-.

 

Here is another very interesting comment:

 

"I personally rather agree with the Howells-sentiments - beautiful liturgical music with too little drama to be really successful..."

(Quote)

 

Maybe we are to the point here with Howells.

This is dramatic music, romantic music. But is any anglican Cathedral the right

place to display such feelings?

So I feel there is a lot of restrain, a sense of -british?- self-control in Howell's music.

Take the baroque french composer Nicolas de Grigny, it's about the same : dramatic music disguised in something gentler.

But we must be able to listen, not only hear...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Is Bridgewater really such a brilliant contrapuntal organ? I have never heard it, but from what I know of its builders' other recent work, this would surprize me.

 

 

 

Since I have never managed to hear it live I do not know either which is why I used "ideal as it may be" rather than "ideal as it is" to leave some room for doubt. Since my earliest Bach LPs were of Anton Heiler playing a Marcussen, which sounded fine to me, and since everyone whom I know to have expressed an opinion on the matter seems to agree that the thing is significantly underpowered, I am afraid I rather assumed it must be good for contrapuntal music . If it should prove not to be, then exactly what is it good at ? It would seem an awful lot of money to spend to get a lemon.

 

Brian Childs

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With so many replies, I'll refrain from addressing any particular one or we could be here all year.

 

Firstly, the "contrapuntal nature of the instrument" is as valid a statement for a good romantic organ as it is for a baroque instrument. Many romantic composers wrote fine fugues.....Guilmant, Liszt, Reger, Elgar, Dupre, Walton and all the rest. So counterpoint never went out of fashion, and the very best romantic organs were still quite capable of delivering a fair degree of the contrapuntal clarity required, and orchestras always could.

 

The suggestion that the Elgar Sonata could not be performed convincingly at Bridgewater Hall is very true. However, permit me to make what may sound like an outrageous statement.

 

'The Elgar Sonata could be played on the organ of the Bavokerk, Haarlem, albeit with a few compromises.'

 

On that particular instrument I've heard Bridge, Stamford and S S Wesley for example, but never Parry, Bairstow or Howells, whilst it is a perfect vehicle for the music of Reger despite paper evidence to the contrary.

 

I don't think I need to hesitate on our organ-building host's discussion board, when I state that Marcussen are one of the most respected organ-builders in the world, with quite a pedigree.

 

So why should an essentially baroque organ work for romantic repertoire, yet a modern concert-hall organ built by a builder who created one of the finest sounds in the world, be seen to fall short of complete satisfaction?

 

Let's blame someone! Is it the consultant, the organ-builder or the voicer(s)?

It's surely got to be one of them?

 

WRONG!!

 

The problem starts right at the beginning, when much of the instrument was but a pile of wood in the builder's yard, and the plans for the hall were on the drawing-board of the architect.

 

A modern concert-hall is a designer concept from the start....actually quite an unnatural one. The modern materials used have very different acoustic properties to anything used before about 1950. As time has gone on, newer materials have come onto the market, with special fire-retardent properties, special acoustic absorbency characteristics, special thermal properties, special load-bearing properties....and so on. Long gone are the days of wood, glass and stone, in spite of appearances and acres of veneer.

 

I spent quite some time investigating the acoustic-engineering of modern concert-halls, which almost universally, are geared towards a combination of spoken clarity and musical "bloom." The two are almost incompatible in large buildings, as a large, resonant cathedral demonstrates conclusively. To achieve the all-purpose concert hall, it is ncessary to direct and focus sound in particular ways, and to use acoustically absorbent and non-absorbent materials in combination.

 

By and large, these designs are adequate, but only once in a while is something like the Symphony Hall, Birmingham achieved. Nevertheless, even the Birmingham hall has to rely on "resonance chambers" distributed around the walls of the building.

 

It is a feature of many modern materials, that they reflect high frequencies successfully and often do not kill low frequencies, but they often kill mid-frequencies in a way that is completely alien to "natural" materials.

 

So the Bridgewater Hall instrument, whilst sounding magnificent close-up, actually starts to sound distant and lacking in body only a few metres away.

 

However, there IS a type of organ designed for this type of acoustic, and which sounds exactly right. It's called a Wurlitzer Theatre Organ!!

 

Hey ho! Back to the Diaphones!

 

Discuss!

 

MM

 

 

PS: Will this thread never end....can we make a thousand posts?

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The Elgar Sonata could be played on the organ of the Bavokerk, Haarlem, albeit with a few compromises.'

 

(Quote)

 

....As well as Bach at Armley.

 

Do we need St-Bavo everywhere?

(That was indeed on the way up to not so many time ago).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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The Elgar Sonata could be played on the organ of the Bavokerk, Haarlem, albeit with a few compromises.'

 

(Quote)

 

....As well as Bach at Armley.

 

Do we need St-Bavo everywhere?

(That was indeed on the way up to not so many time ago).

 

==================

 

Bavo is a unique combination of organ, building and the history of its' metamorphosis.

 

I can't think of any other organ in the world which comes close to it tonally, but St.Moritz, Olomouc, CZ has many of the same qualities.

 

Bach at Armley.....yes I've done that in recital....very LOUD.

 

MM

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The Elgar Sonata could be played on the organ of the Bavokerk, Haarlem, albeit with a few compromises.'

 

(Quote)

 

....As well as Bach at Armley.

 

Do we need St-Bavo everywhere?

(That was indeed on the way up to not so many time ago).

 

==================

 

Bavo is a unique combination of organ, building and the history of its' metamorphosis.

 

I can't think of any other organ in the world which comes close to it tonally, but St.Moritz, Olomouc, CZ has many of the same qualities.

 

Bach at Armley.....yes I've done that in recital....very LOUD.

 

MM

 

 

I can see how you might record the Elgar at St Bavo but could you do it live in recital ? Would n't the army of registrants get in one another's way ? But if anyone is game to record the CD I promise to buy a copy >

 

Brian Childs

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With so many replies, I'll refrain from addressing any particular one or we could be here all year.

 

Firstly, the "contrapuntal nature of the instrument" is as valid a statement for a good romantic organ as it is for a baroque instrument. Many romantic composers wrote fine fugues.....Guilmant, Liszt, Reger, Elgar, Dupre, Walton and all the rest. So counterpoint never went out of fashion, and the very best romantic organs were still quite capable of delivering a fair degree of the contrapuntal clarity required, and orchestras always could.

 

The suggestion that the Elgar Sonata could not be performed convincingly at Bridgewater Hall is very true. However, permit me to make what may sound like an outrageous statement.

 

'The Elgar Sonata could be played on the organ of the Bavokerk, Haarlem, albeit with a few compromises.'

 

On that particular instrument I've heard Bridge, Stamford and S S Wesley for example, but never Parry, Bairstow or Howells, whilst it is a perfect vehicle for the music of Reger despite paper evidence to the contrary.

 

I don't think I need to hesitate on our organ-building host's discussion board, when I state that Marcussen are one of the most respected organ-builders in the world, with quite a pedigree.

 

So why should an essentially baroque organ work for romantic repertoire, yet a modern concert-hall organ built by a builder who created one of the finest sounds in the world, be seen to fall short of complete satisfaction?

 

Let's blame someone!  Is it the consultant, the organ-builder or the voicer(s)?

It's surely got to be one of them?

 

WRONG!!

 

The problem starts right at the beginning, when much of the instrument was but a pile of wood in the builder's yard, and the plans for the hall were on the drawing-board of the architect.

 

A modern concert-hall is a designer concept from the start....actually quite an unnatural one. The modern materials used have very different acoustic properties to anything used before about 1950. As time has gone on, newer materials have come onto the market, with special fire-retardent properties, special acoustic absorbency characteristics, special thermal properties, special load-bearing properties....and so on.  Long gone are the days of wood, glass and stone, in spite of appearances and acres of veneer.

 

I spent quite some time investigating the acoustic-engineering of modern concert-halls, which almost universally, are geared towards a combination of spoken clarity and musical "bloom."  The two are almost incompatible in large buildings, as a large, resonant cathedral demonstrates conclusively. To achieve the all-purpose concert hall, it is ncessary to direct and focus sound in particular ways, and to use acoustically absorbent and non-absorbent materials in combination.

 

By and large, these designs are adequate, but only once in a while is something like the Symphony Hall, Birmingham achieved. Nevertheless, even the Birmingham hall has to rely on "resonance chambers" distributed around the walls of the building.

 

It is a feature of many modern materials, that they reflect high frequencies successfully and often do not kill low frequencies, but they often kill mid-frequencies in a way that is completely alien to "natural" materials.

 

So the Bridgewater Hall instrument, whilst sounding magnificent close-up, actually starts to sound distant and lacking in body only a few metres away.

 

However, there IS a type of organ designed for this type of acoustic, and which sounds exactly right. It's called a Wurlitzer Theatre Organ!!

 

Hey ho! Back to the Diaphones!

 

Discuss!

 

MM

PS: Will this thread never end....can we make a thousand posts?

 

 

I like the above explanation for the apparent failure of the Bridgewater Hall Organ to be entirely satisfying as it has the advantage of freeing almost everyone from blame EXCEPT the individual who decided to bring together a square peg and a round hole, without ensuring that one or the other could change its configuration so as to fit with the other!

 

It is somewhat jaw dropping to find MM apparently advocating the merits of a Wurlitzer when he has gone on record with his dislike of the "pervading English Organ style" and (by implication) his preference for a more contrapuntal style of instrument. However, Emerson said that a "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" and MM never actually expressly stated he liked wurlitzers, only that they were the only type of organ capable of performing to advantage in such an environment. Also, whilst your average 10-15 rank Wurlitzer is even less able to perform contrapuntal music than a bog standard early 20th century English organ, some of the bigger American installations like Organ Stop Pizza and San Filippo seem to me to do it as least as well, with the added advantage that they can also do The Dam Buster's march or In a Clock Store or the Policeman's Holiday infinitely better.

 

Since today is the day for outrageous suggestions, here is one even more far fetched. Remove the Marcussen to Sheffield Cathedral, thus solving their need for a new instrument, and replace it with the Christie from the Odeon, Marble Arch (which is still languishing in store somewhere). Being a Christie there should be family compatibility with HNB pipework from the same era of which there must be some knocking around somewhere from redundant churches which could be used to augment the specification. Now that would be thinking outside the box!

 

Brian Childs

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I like the above explanation for the apparent failure of the Bridgewater Hall Organ to be entirely satisfying as it has the advantage of freeing almost everyone from blame EXCEPT the individual who decided to bring together a square peg and a round hole, without ensuring that one or the other could change its configuration so as to fit with the other!

 

It is somewhat jaw dropping to find MM apparently advocating the merits of a Wurlitzer when he has gone on record with his dislike of the "pervading English Organ style" and (by implication) his preference for a more contrapuntal style of instrument. However, Emerson said that a "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" and MM never actually expressly stated he liked wurlitzers, only that they were the only type of organ capable of performing to advantage in such an environment. Also, whilst your average 10-15 rank Wurlitzer is even less able to perform contrapuntal music than a bog standard early 20th century English organ, some of the bigger American installations like Organ Stop Pizza and San Filippo seem to me to do it as least as well, with the added advantage that they can also do The Dam Buster's march or In a Clock Store or the Policeman's Holiday infinitely better.

 

Since today is the day for outrageous suggestions, here is one even more far fetched. Remove the Marcussen to Sheffield Cathedral, thus solving their need for a new instrument, and replace it with the Christie from the Odeon, Marble Arch (which is still languishing in store somewhere). Being a Christie there should be family compatibility with HNB pipework from the same era of which there must be some knocking around somewhere from redundant churches which could be used to augment the specification. Now that would be thinking outside the box!

 

==================

 

For the record :rolleyes: I absolutely adore theatre organs, to the point that I have :o actually played one in concert a few times and given talks about them.

 

As for contrapuntal music, how about a Bach Trio Sonata, using Kinura 8ft and Flute 4ft for the left hand, Chrysoglot and Viole 8ft for the RH and Pedal Cello 8ft?

 

Clear as .....would you believe...a bell? :P

 

For the record again, a Wurlitzer organ was just about the only thing on which it was possible to play baroque French music with a fair degree of success...all those derived mutations and splashy trumpets. Also, they have lots of higher-pitched derivations, unlike the H-J organs on which the concept was based.

 

Further for the record, the chances of resuing the remains of the Mable Arch Christie, are almost zilch. The thing was stored in a barn, and the owner has never allowed anyone to rescue it and restore it.

 

Now to the serious point of what I was writing about.

 

Anyone who has heard or played (as I have) the Marcussen (Flentrop?) organ of "De Doelen" concert hall in Rotterdam, would know that it sounds very thin. It was installed not long after the RFH; the latter being a far better sounding instrument. (It's so long ago, I can't recall who made it!)

 

However, in many respects, the Colston Hall organ is actually a better success story than either of the above two examples, but why?

 

The simple fact is, with modern acoustic-engineering favouring speech, AND musical "bloom," it is the mid-frequencies which get gobbled up quickly, and because the auditoriums contain absorbent soft-furnishings, the interior surfaces tend to be reflective hard-wood panelled or reflective fibre. Thus, you end up with a type of resonance which really is unnatural, but which nevertheless is a good compromise.

 

The Wurlitzer organ, with its' enormous mid-range punch and restrained trebles, was actually designed for a similar type of acoustic.

 

The lesson probably is, that the MODERN concert hall requires a different approach to that of a modern church-organ; perhaps favouring proper English Diapason and reed-tone as at Colston Hall, but without the ponderous qualities of an Arthur Harrison instrument. In other words, as baroque as you like, but essentially English in character, with the sort of mid-range punch we once knew so well.

 

I hesitate to get into detail, not being an organ builder, but I wonder if a new type of mixed-scaling isn't appropriate, where the scale-progressions favour mid-frequencies, but tail off above and below more rapidly than they would with an instrument installed in a traditional church.

 

I suppose the question which we need to ask, is whether that is possible without recourse to heavy pressures and deep nicking. The Klais at Birmingham is better than most, and I suspect that the acoustic problem has been addressed. Whether that has been entirely successful remains subjective.

 

Of one thing I am sure....ALL organ-builders need to read about acoustic-engineering and the characteristics of modern building materials, which have a nunmber of very specific characteristics.

 

MM

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Remove the Marcussen to Sheffield Cathedral, thus solving their need for a new instrument, and replace it with the Christie from the Odeon, Marble Arch (which is still languishing in store somewhere). Being a Christie there should be family compatibility with HNB pipework from the same era of which there must be some knocking around somewhere from redundant churches which could be used to augment the specification. Now that would be thinking outside the box!

 

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Ah Brian!

 

Your thoughts have been comfortably preceded by the Lancaster Theatre Organ Trust (LTOT), who "just happen to have" a large Wurlitzer in need of a good home, formerly installed at the Granada Studios, Manchester.

 

Of course, anyone with any sense, would have re-sited the Cavaille-Coll in the Town Hall in the Bridgewater Hall, and restored it to its' former glory; not least by getting rid of the Jardine pipework.

 

So where does that leave us?

 

Let's see....Town Hall to Bridgewater Hall, Bridgewater Hall to Sheffield, Wurlitzer to Town Hall....leaving...crumbs :rolleyes: a spare Willis/Mander for free! :P

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
Remove the Marcussen to Sheffield Cathedral, thus solving their need for a new instrument, and replace it with the Christie from the Odeon, Marble Arch (which is still languishing in store somewhere). Being a Christie there should be family compatibility with HNB pipework from the same era of which there must be some knocking around somewhere from redundant churches which could be used to augment the specification.  Now that would be thinking outside the box!

 

=================

Ah Brian!

 

Your thoughts have been comfortably preceded by the Lancaster Theatre Organ Trust (LTOT), who "just happen to have" a large Wurlitzer in need of a good home, formerly installed at the Granada Studios, Manchester.

 

Of course, anyone with any sense, would have re-sited the Cavaille-Coll in the Town Hall in the Bridgewater Hall, and restored it to its' former glory; not least by getting rid of the Jardine pipework.

 

So where does that leave us?

 

Let's see....Town Hall to Bridgewater Hall, Bridgewater Hall to Sheffield, Wurlitzer to Town Hall....leaving...crumbs  :rolleyes:  a spare Willis/Mander for free!  :P

 

MM

 

 

Yes most deffo. All the Jardine attrocities have to be thrown in the bin, together with that horrible cheap wheelie console. Then it needs a thorough restoration back to its original state .....as far as it can go. That would be something. Interestingly, Parr Hall in Warrinigton boasts it has its C.C. still, but I was informed by one source that there is a fair bit of Conacher on it. I have played both these organs, Manchester is far from a lost cause for reversal. In both cases, reversal of all changes, in with the Barker levers needlessly thrown out, and then we'd have two good French jobs here at least, along with the gem at Farnborough, and not forgetting the Gern in London, Knightsbrige is it??? Priory recorded it anyhow.

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