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Organs As Visual Works Of Art


MusingMuso
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Only rarely do we consider the organ as an item of furniture within a particular architectural setting, and yet, the instrument can be absolutely stunning as a visual work of art.

 

I recall with great personal relish, the time I nipped over to Holland in large truck, and (to quote Jimmy Saville OBE) "as it just so 'appened" I took a break at Haarlem. With me was a very pleasant but tough, young warehouse lad. We had something to eat, and then I took him inside St.Bavo; making quite sure that his attention was diverted to the right rather than the left, as we entered by the side-door.

 

Swinging him around to face West, I waited for the reaction.

 

I didn't quite expect to hear what he said; the first word being unprintable, and the second being "me."

 

I guess we don't have too many organs in the UK which have that stun-gun ability visually, but we DO have some very beautiful organ-cases.

 

I personally think that Exeter is "the fayrest in all ye lande," with Norwich a firm contender for the runner-up position, but others will possibly quote King's College or some other.

 

By the same token, there was a fascinating thread on another forum about "ugly organs," to which I contributed a link to an organ in Poland made to look like a silver-goose (I kid you not!)

 

So, it's best case or worst case scenario we're talking about.....any suggestions?

 

Of course, if there's something that could really astonish us, we could go international on this subject.

 

MM

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For the laugh, I thought I would give details about the "Mother Goose" organ case in Poland, which can be found as follows:-

 

http://staff.elka.pw.edu.pl/~wkaminsk/

 

Click on "Choose a city"

 

Look for a place by the name of Domaniewice and click on the thumb-nail.

 

 

Actually, on the same Polish-organ web-site, you can browse to discover some of the most beautiful organ-cases anywhere in Europe, just to keep things in perspective.

 

MM

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

MM's tale of leading someone into The Bavo and then turning them to face the organ reminds me of the day I was first taken into Winchester College Chapel. I had firmly decided that I didn't want to go to school there (not being an academically-inclined kid and realising the fact better than anyone else) so my parents tried talking me into it by the one and only route - the musical possibilities.

 

As I went into what is frankly quite a small chapel all I could see was a Stephen Dykes-Bower case above the choirstalls on the North side of the East End which (at most) could only hold about 15 stops to my (by then) pretty well-trained thirteen-year-old eye (it actually held less than 10). I had been used to playing the four-manual Greene/Willis/R&D at New College Oxford during the college's lunch period every day for two years by that point so I was far from impressed.

 

However, upon reaching the choirstalls I was finally invited to look behind me. WOWW!

The Caroe main case at Winchester College is as impressive a 'wall of organ' as I've seen outside Europe*. Pity it's only in zinc pipes, but you can't have everything.

 

You can say that I was considerably more impressed with the prospects.

 

 

*I hereby aplogise for not including photographic illustration to this posting, but I'm middle-aged and techno-phobic/illiterate. I haven't even half the know-how that could link you up with a site.

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Only rarely do we consider the organ as an item of furniture within a particular architectural setting, and yet, the instrument can be absolutely stunning as  a visual work of art.

 

I recall with great personal relish, the time I nipped over to Holland in large truck, and (to quote Jimmy Saville OBE) "as it just so 'appened" I took a break at Haarlem. With me was a very pleasant but tough, young warehouse lad. We had something to eat, and then I took him inside St.Bavo; making quite sure that his attention was diverted to the right rather than the left, as we entered by the side-door.

 

Swinging him around to face West, I waited for the reaction.

 

I didn't quite expect to hear what he said; the first word being unprintable, and the second being "me."

 

I guess we don't have too many organs in the UK which have that stun-gun ability visually, but we DO have some very beautiful organ-cases.

 

I personally think that Exeter is "the fayrest in all ye lande," with Norwich a firm contender for the runner-up position, but others will possibly quote King's College or some other.

 

By the same token, there was a fascinating thread on another forum about "ugly organs," to which I contributed a link to an organ in Poland made to look like a silver-goose (I kid you not!)

 

So, it's best case or worst case scenario we're talking about.....any suggestions?

 

Of course, if there's something that could really astonish us, we could go international on this subject.

 

MM

 

 

I agree with your assessment of the Exeter case.

 

I was also amused to read of your story concerning St. Bavo. Having only seen it 'in the flesh' for the first time earlier this year, I suspect that I said something similar myself - and I already had some idea what to expect.

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Personally, and I know lots of people will be horrified at this and strike me dead, but I could gaze at New College Oxford all day. It's not only redolent of its era, calling to mind a million Habitat coffee tables and lava lamps, it just hangs together so well; it's functional, simple and wonderful. If you had to explain werkprinzip to a five year old, I imagine you would draw something very similar. I guess the triangular case shape must do something useful for projection. I've never spent enough time looking at the sculpture/mouldings/whatever on the back of the case but they struck me as being a good thing.

 

Execute me if you wish, but I just love it :)

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I'm not sure whether MM will think this one stunning or ugly, but I like it. It's certainly striking:

 

Notre-Dame des Neiges, Alpe d'Huez, France

 

Maybe the back of the case has a two-fingered design. Fans of Detlef Kleuker may tell us.

 

H

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I'm not sure whether MM will think this one stunning or ugly, but I like it. It's certainly striking:

 

Notre-Dame des Neiges, Alpe d'Huez, France

 

Maybe the back of the case has a two-fingered design. Fans of Detlef Kleuker may tell us.

 

H

 

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

 

I think much would depend on whether the fingernails were visible or not, as to what sort of statement was being made.

 

If the organ front with the outstretched hand faced East, and the two fingers faced West, it could almost be a post-war poltical statement, couldn't it?

 

:)

 

MM

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Personally, and I know lots of people will be horrified at this and strike me dead, but I could gaze at New College Oxford all day.  It's not only redolent of its era, calling to mind a million Habitat coffee tables and lava lamps, it just hangs together so well; it's functional, simple and wonderful.  If you had to explain werkprinzip to a five year old, I imagine you would draw something very similar.  I guess the triangular case shape must do something useful for projection.  I've never spent enough time looking at the sculpture/mouldings/whatever on the back of the case but they struck me as being a good thing.

 

Execute me if you wish, but I just love it :)

 

 

Each to his own. Personally, I thought that it utterly spoiled the chapel - I found it butt-ugly!

 

I could think of several werk-prinzip cases, all of them considerably more beautiful and just as easy to visualise. Having said that, I am not sure that I would attempt to explain werk-prinzip organ gase design to a five-year-old....

 

:)

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...*I hereby aplogise for not including photographic illustration to this posting, but I'm middle-aged and techno-phobic/illiterate.  I haven't even half the know-how that could link you up with a site.

 

 

Paul, to achieve this, all you have to do is find a site with pictures which you wish to share, select a picture then highlight all the characters in the address bar at the top of your web browser page. Then right-click with your mouse, whilst holding the cursor over the highlighted address; then select 'copy'. Next, return to this board right-click and select 'paste' at the point in your post where you wish to quote the link. This should provide the URL as a direct (clickable) hyperlink for anyone who desires to see the picture(s).

 

For example, try this site (chosen at random):

 

http://www.saintjosephcathedral.org/sitema...gan_images1.htm

 

The picture:

 

http://www.saintjosephcathedral.org/sitema...%20(Medium).jpg

 

 

Even photographs of French organs can be highlighted in this way....

 

Voilà!

 

I hope that this helps.

 

:)

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Guest Barry Oakley

This is clearly a very subjective topic, but I would offer the cases at Beverley and York minsters and the facade of the north case at Holy Trinity, Hull.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Paul, to achieve this, all you have to do is find a site with pictures which you wish to share, select a picture then highlight all the characters in the address bar at the top of your web browser page. Then right-click with your mouse, whilst holding the cursor over the highlighted address; then select 'copy'. Next, return to this board right-click and select 'paste' at the point in your post where you wish to quote the link. This should provide the URL as a direct (clickable) hyperlink for anyone who desires to see the picture(s).

 

For example, try this site (chosen at random):

 

http://www.saintjosephcathedral.org/sitema...gan_images1.htm

 

The picture:

 

http://www.saintjosephcathedral.org/sitema...%20(Medium).jpg

Even photographs of French organs can be highlighted in this way....

 

Voilà!

 

I hope that this helps.

 

B)

 

 

You are very kind to try and help me.

Suddenly I feel very old indeed!

 

I hope your message will remain on this site and when I get more than a spare hour I may give it a try, but I hold out no hopes whatsoever.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
So, it's best case or worst case scenario we're talking about.....any suggestions?

 

 

 

MM

 

Without a doubt for the worse (at the moment!) The Abbey Church of the BVM, Nuneaton.

 

NJA

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You are very kind to try and help me.

Suddenly I feel very old indeed!

 

I hope your message will remain on this site and when I get more than a spare hour I may give it a try, but I hold out no hopes whatsoever.

 

Well, if I had the choice, I'd prefer to be able to build a 50+ stops organ!

 

Pierre

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

 

Indeed, they are wonderful cases, and I played the one on the South side some years ago. Lovely organs and lovelys organ cases, cathedral and reredos, all glitsening in pristine gold-leaf.

 

All I could think about as I admired it all, were the dead Incas the Spanish slaughtered.

 

B)

 

 

MM

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Would agree with the general opinion that Exeter is visually stunning, and also that Norwich is very fine too. Surprised that no-one's suggested Bath Abbey, although its not in the main line of sight down the nave it is nonetheless a wonderfully imposing site.

 

In foreign parts organs I have found to be visually memorable include Albi Cathedral and Auerbach Abbey.

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