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Slightly peripheral to the general topic of the RAH organ, but relevant to its original builder and, after all, the case and front pipes (even if partially repaired) are wholly the work of ‘Father’ Willis, at the memorial recital for Angus Smart this week in Hereford Cathedral Peter Dyke mentioned that 2021 is the bicentenary of the great man’s birth.  I may have missed it, but I haven’t seen any reference to this.  Surely a subject for celebratory recitals.

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20 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Slightly peripheral to the general topic of the RAH organ, but relevant to its original builder and, after all, the case and front pipes (even if partially repaired) are wholly the work of ‘Father’ Willis, at the memorial recital for Angus Smart this week in Hereford Cathedral Peter Dyke mentioned that 2021 is the bicentenary of the great man’s birth.  I may have missed it, but I haven’t seen any reference to this.  Surely a subject for celebratory recitals.

Yes, good point about the bicentenary. One has to say though that amongst the organ fraternity Willis  1,2,3 have certainly inculcated the wrath of generations of organists; but that applies , I think. to a number of organ type people; even the " all bow down to the great god Cavaille-Coll " who have openly accused him of " organ heresy", to name but one.   Before the boiling oil and molten lead is put on the boiler for me I state here and now to be a staunch Willis/ Cavaille -Coll admirer ;warts and all.

Talking of molten lead reminds me of one of our posters here on this subject who must have been covertly referring to Willis , who stated that the composition of the pipe metal of the AH organ must have been down to  " the builder ".

Pretty obvious observation if ever there was one. Willis was a craftsmen, no doubt of that but he was first and foremost a businessman. If he saw an opportunity to cut his costs to increase his profits then like any good Victorian businessman he would do so.   I have heard that some of the " timber " used in the present day rebuild of the Alexandra Palace instrument is of  MDFB grade. 

Also I don`t think for a moment Willis, or any other organ builder for that matter would ever have envisaged that generations down the line would be bothering to even consider restoring their creations, which  are amongst other inventions very much products  of that highly creative epoch.

I am now firmly driving my own hand cart to hell but never mind, The present day upshot is that millions have, and are being been spent on renovating worthy instruments which, unfortunately, under the present situation, is highly likely to continue for a considerable period of time - will never function to their full intended purpose.    I will not bang on about recital attendances past, present, or even future.

I await the firing squad with my usual degree of stoicism!

 

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I haven’t heard any criticism of Willis II.  Aren’t St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and the original scheme for Liverpool Cathedral due to him?   The Liverpool Lady Chapel was certainly.   I believe his son HW III left his own indelible stamp on some of his grandfather’s masterpieces.  Henry 4 (he deliberately chose to abandon the Roman numeral) was certainly a controversial figure although, I understand, an outstanding voicer.

There’s no shortage of recitals or recitalists.  Already, post-Covid, organrecitals.com have listed performances at 135 separate venues by no less than 312 different organists!

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Yes, I was indeed referring to HW as "the builder", with all the certainty of the dilettante that I am, when apparently choosing a soft-ish and deformable metal to make such enormous pipes, which are regularly repaired on similar instruments as they collapse under their own weight. I still think its odd - but what I think may be unreasonable.

For comparison, I had in mind the similarly sized front pipes of Birmingham Town Hall, some 50 years older, which appear not to have suffered the same fate. I know they're made of zinc, confirmed in Thistlethwaite's "The Making of the Victorian Organ", but I can't find a reference to something I thought of as a fact, which is that Hill invented the 3-roller sheet metal roller to make these pipes, and which has now become a standard tool.

Happy to stand in the firing line, that's how you learn :-)

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9 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

I haven’t heard any criticism of Willis II.

He did, however, make the very odd decision to move the choir case at Christ Church to the back of the organ so it faced the doors!  It got moved to the front again after barely a decade.

Paul

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22 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

I haven’t heard any criticism of Willis II.  Aren’t St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and the original scheme for Liverpool Cathedral due to him?   The Liverpool Lady Chapel was certainly.   I believe his son HW III left his own indelible stamp on some of his grandfather’s masterpieces.  Henry 4 (he deliberately chose to abandon the Roman numeral) was certainly a controversial figure although, I understand, an outstanding voicer.

There’s no shortage of recitals or recitalists.  Already, post-Covid, organrecitals.com have listed performances at 135 separate venues by no less than 312 different organists!

Correct with regard to the number of recitals et.al. available, My essential point is that of the the inverse correlation between the massive capital cost of restoration/maintenance against the actual number of gluts on seats.

If more people supported these events in person, which because of the present situation has not helped the cause, it would give added strength to the argument to retain and more importantly ,maintain these worthy instruments.  Make no mistakes there are many incumbents who see this lack of interest/apathy as an ideal means of " getting rid of that wretched,noisy,expensive machine" and all that goes with it . Gives them more ammo to fire at their PCC meetings

No good banging on about  " our wonderful heritage " if the " supporters remain glued to their armchairs.

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Pre-Covid I was regularly attending recitals with good audiences: notably at Birmingham Town Hall, Leeds Town Hall, Hull City Hall, Chester Cathedral, not all at once, of course.  I went to a special one last week in Hereford Cathedral with an audience of 100.  It’s a case of “seek and ye will find”, but of course it does involve effort and travel unless you happen to live in a place with the good fortune of having regular recitals on your door step, like Oxford, Hereford, Chester and York, as just random examples.  There are plenty of others as well.  

I take your point entirely about ignorant and unmusical people looking on the organ as an unwanted burden, and for an excuse to get rid of it.  Sadly, I have experienced this in several places. 

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Gosh, so many different topics on this thread.  I’m pretty sure we have already discussed the subject of 32’ metal pipes collapsing under their own weight, and as well as the RAH, if my memory serves, they included St George’s Hall, Liverpool and Birmingham Town Hall, the latter, I think, commented on by John Mander.  I believe all of these have some internal support for the pipes.  The William Hill ones at Birmingham (the earliest for England?), as well as the point made above about the pipe material, have unusually tubby feet.  I have just thought of another outstanding example: the 32’ Contra Violone now at floor level in Exeter Cathedral.  Not sure of its date - someone will know - and whether it pre-dates Birmingham TH. 

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2 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Gosh, so many different topics on this thread.  I’m pretty sure we have already discussed the subject of 32’ metal pipes collapsing under their own weight, and as well as the RAH, if my memory serves, they included St George’s Hall, Liverpool and Birmingham Town Hall, the latter, I think, commented on by John Mander.  I believe all of these have some internal support for the pipes.  The William Hill ones at Birmingham (the earliest for England?), as well as the point made above about the pipe material, have unusually tubby feet.  I have just thought of another outstanding example: the 32’ Contra Violone now at floor level in Exeter Cathedral.  Not sure of its date - someone will know - and whether it pre-dates Birmingham TH. 

Yes, collapsing pipes are certainly the flavour of the moment!  My only addition to this advanced metallurgical discussion would be along the lines of total weight of pipe and the surface area of the foot of the aforesaid pipe.

There is a formulae by which this can be calculated and it results in the concentrated weight of the pipe at the foot which can be several tons.  Intervening factors would of course still include the composition of the aforesaid pipe and any available support, plus the age.

The same formulae can be applied believe to a ladies stiletto ( or mens :) )

Finally, with ref` to your other post re` organs and recital attendance and the getting rid of the wretched things here is a true story regarding the fate of a large four manual instrument which contained a couple of stops by Cavaille- Coll and Schulze no less.

This noble instrument was located in a very large church with a spire in Yorkshire and was known to me in my younger days since the organist there was a friend of my father and I was lucky enough to hear it on several occasions .Anyway ,to make a long story shorter  years later there was a break in and the pipework was stolen.  The local constabulary apprehended the thief and returned the pipework to the church.

Was it reinstated?   No way, the incumbent flogged it off to to a bona fide scrap dealer!     c`est la vie.  

                                                Nothing is sacred in life.

 

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Final word today - I don’t want to bore everyone.  There is protection in the C of E under the faculty jurisdiction.  I have known of instances where it has been blatantly ignored, but recent reports on the Law & Religion UK website quote several cases of Diocesan Chancellors coming down like a ton of bricks with stiff penalties for transgressors.  A C of E incumbent selling organ pipes without a faculty would be in very serious trouble.

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38 minutes ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Final word today - I don’t want to bore everyone.  There is protection in the C of E under the faculty jurisdiction.  I have known of instances where it has been blatantly ignored, but recent reports on the Law & Religion UK website quote several cases of Diocesan Chancellors coming down like a ton of bricks with stiff penalties for transgressors.  A C of E incumbent selling organ pipes without a faculty would be in very serious trouble.

Of course, if the top-heavy CofE has its way they will get rid of many of the "key limiting factors" like incumbents anyway:  the new C of E-endorsed scheme aims to create 10,000 new lay-led churches in the next ten years. "Lay-led churches release the Church from key limiting factors........ When you don’t need a building and a stipend and long, costly college-based training for every leader of church… then actually we can release new people to lead and new churches to form."

No buildings so no organs, unless the wealthy untrained people who will lead these 10,000 new churches fancy having an organ in their homes. 

See: Is this the last chance to save the Church of England? | The Spectator

Or you could try to stop it: Save The Parish

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1 hour ago, sbarber49 said:

Of course, if the top-heavy CofE has its way they will get rid of many of the "key limiting factors" like incumbents anyway:  the new C of E-endorsed scheme aims to create 10,000 new lay-led churches in the next ten years. "Lay-led churches release the Church from key limiting factors........ When you don’t need a building and a stipend and long, costly college-based training for every leader of church… then actually we can release new people to lead and new churches to form."

No buildings so no organs, unless the wealthy untrained people who will lead these 10,000 new churches fancy having an organ in their homes. 

See: Is this the last chance to save the Church of England? | The Spectator

Or you could try to stop it: Save The Parish

I find it quite distressing to watch the increasing desperation of the C of E thrashing about in its death throes. As a musician I cannot but deplore this latest strategy, which will not do organists and quality church music any favours at all. However, from the ever-diminishing clergy's point of view, tasked with promoting the Gospel and bringing people to Jesus, what are they to do in this increasingly secular and anti-religious world? There is plenty of evidence that professional quality church music is well regarded and valued, but that on its own will not sustain the church. Perhaps this isn't a suitable topic for discussion on this thread, or even on this forum, but it is something that will affect both the ability of organists and singers to function as church musicians and, as pointed out, the survival of the instruments we play.

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There has been a measure of apology and retraction from some of those comments.  As you say, probably not a matter for this site, but there is a full discussion, including a number of posts by one of the Campaign proponents, on the ‘Thinking Anglicans’ website.

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