Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

William Hill


Guest Roffensis
 Share

Recommended Posts

Guest Roffensis

Does anyone know if there has ever been a book written about William Hill Organ Builders, following through with the merger with Norman and Beard and so on? of course we have the Sumner book on Willis, and there are books about Forster and and Andrews, Bishop (both Elvin and excellent IMHO) and a host of others. One would imagine that a book on Hill should surely have been written, or if not someone should write one. It is often argued that he was our finest builder, and he was certainly, at the least, on a par with Henry Willis.

 

Richard

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone know if there has ever been a book written about William Hill Organ Builders, following through with the merger with Norman and Beard and so on? of course we have the Sumner book on Willis, and there are books about Forster and and Andrews, Bishop (both Elvin and excellent IMHO) and a host of others. One would imagine that a book on Hill should surely have been written, or if not someone should write one. It is often argued that he was our finest builder, and he was certainly, at the least, on a par with Henry Willis.

 

Richard

 

Hi

 

I don't know of one - but as you say, it would be good to have one. A good part of the Hill records are housed in the BOA archive, so finding material should be possible. I hope someone does write one - unless it's ridiculously expensive, I'd certainly buy a copy.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always meant to look up Thomas Hill. A good deal of the St Martins Salisbury organ (Wm Hill 1869) was "prepared for" - doubles, pedal bourdon and reeds (except sw oboe) were added by Thomas Hill in 1875. DBOB seems to suggest that William Hill snr was succeeded by William Hill jnr, so I have often wondered where Thomas came into it - was this a job on the side?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Barry Oakley
Does anyone know if there has ever been a book written about William Hill Organ Builders, following through with the merger with Norman and Beard and so on? of course we have the Sumner book on Willis, and there are books about Forster and and Andrews, Bishop (both Elvin and excellent IMHO) and a host of others. One would imagine that a book on Hill should surely have been written, or if not someone should write one. It is often argued that he was our finest builder, and he was certainly, at the least, on a par with Henry Willis.

 

Richard

 

Like Tony Newnham I know of no book written about the firm of William Hill such as those written about Forster & Andrews and Bishop by Laurence Elvin, but there is something written by Nicholas Thistlethwaite on the subject of Victorian organs which may interest you

http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0027-4224...B2-W&size=LARGE

 

It is regretable that the detailed histories of so many of our great English organ builders has, in a literary sense, gone largely unrecorded.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Such a book is due, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Hill was amongst the very first, with Walcker,

to build genuine romantic organs. There are books

upon Cavaillé-Coll and Walcker, why not for Hill?

(Europe expects you....etc :ph34r: )

And then some others could follow: Arthur Harrison,

William Thynne, Lewis (I have their own book, though),

and even R.HJ and S.G.

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Such a book is due, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Hill was amongst the very first, with Walcker,

to build genuine romantic organs. There are books

upon Cavaillé-Coll and Walcker, why not for Hill?

(Europe expects you....etc :P )

And then some others could follow: Arthur Harrison,

William Thynne, Lewis (I have their own book, though),

and even R.HJ and S.G.

Pierre

 

Hi

 

There are 2 books dealing with Hope-Jones - "From Wirral to Wurlitzer" by Roger C. Fisher (another Roger Fisher - not the one who was organist at Chester!) and the American Theatre Organ Society's book on Wurlitzers has a fair amount of info about H-J's early years, as well as his involvement with Wurlitzer - I don't know that there's much about a number of other firms though. As I recall, Lewis' "Modern Organ Building" (I assume that's the one you mean) isn't really a history.

 

Laurence Elvin wrote a history of Harrison's (and I know of someone else researching the firm - there was an article in the BIOS Journal last year), and I also hear that there's a book about the Walker company under way.

 

There's still a lot of history out there waiting to be written.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Mr Newnham.

 

The Lewis book I have two editions of: the first (1911) and the third (1939). I found one in W.....(estern England), the other in London, in second-hand book shops.

 

This in not an history book, but even better than that, a treatise on organ-building, the third edition embracing many techniques you won't find in Dom Bédos of course.

This book is far more important than Audsley's and Rupp's, because it was written by people who knew actually the job -to say the least- and that they did not spent their time criticizing what the others did or not.

A GREAT british book.

 

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

There are 2 books dealing with Hope-Jones - "From Wirral to Wurlitzer" by Roger C. Fisher (another Roger Fisher - not the one who was organist at Chester!) and the American Theatre Organ Society's book on Wurlitzers has a fair amount of info about H-J's early years, as well as his involvement with Wurlitzer - I don't know that there's much about a number of other firms though.  As I recall, Lewis' "Modern Organ Building" (I assume that's the one you mean) isn't really a history.

 

 

There is actually a third book which deals with Hope-Jones in far greater depth and detail than either of the above, which is that written by David H. Fox. I recommended it highly to anyone with an interest in H-J as it includes not only a no-holds-barred biography, but also facsimilies of many of the RH-J designs and drawings.

 

Along with many other interesting books of this type, it's available by mail order from the Organ Historical Society - they operate a very quick delivery service across the Atlantic! Here's a link to the relevant page of their on-line catalogue.

 

http://www.ohscatalog.com/robhop.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

I endorse the comments above referring anyone interested to Nicholas Thislethwaite's book

The Making of the Victorian Organ Cambridge University Press 1990 (reprinted 1999 in paperback form)

it's excellent and covers the Hill dynasty in more detail than you'll find anywhere else.

If there was ever to be a book completely dedicated to Hill, Messrs Thistlethwaite and Plumley would be the people to write it, but maybe Canon T. thinks his contribution is already made to this task.

 

A history that went up to and included HN&B and all their works would be fascinating. Frank Fowler (familiar to readers of this site) would 'know where the bones are buried' as, indeed would the great John Norman. Mind you, perhaps a little dust needs to settle on the achievements of the firm before they can get a thoroughly balanced assessment.

 

One might well ask, where are the big writers, the big books going into detail upon any aspect of our subject? Stephen Bicknell got cracking in superb form but seems to have retired from this now. Of course, it doesn't help when the periodicals seem to produce much more like coffee table reading. I'm not against photographs, and these always look sumptuous by comparison with the great years of The Organ, but where are the critical, balanced articles? What we mostly seem to get are reports of wonderful tours abroad and proud announcements of new organs, mostly assessed by the people that designed or built them. As a consequence, we read a steady stream of 'the finest' 'the most balanced' a 'noble achievement' etc. instead of what would be significantly more interesting, i.e. the comparisons between jobs and builders by people who speak from experience but without fear or favour!

 

Clutton had his favourites (both prior and contemporary), but always treated each organ seriously and gave interesting detail. One of the other 'greats' who could always be relied upon was Gilbert Benham. I never tire of re-reading about the organs of the 30/40/50s from these pens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The great problem with this is finding a publisher who would publish a book on a builder and finding the financial backing to support the writer while writing and researching it. I believe that Stephen Bicknell had some form of bursary to write his book on the History of the English organ - unfortunately, prior and subsequent applications have not been so successful. There was a plan to write a book about Henry Willis but that is currently unlikely to see the light of day and Stephen Bicknell and Nicholas Plumley wrote a history of J.W.Walker & Sons while working there in the early 1990s. Unfortuantely, a publisher could not be found. I'm rather lucky to have a draft of the Walker history somewhere on my computer at home, which Stephen kindly sent me. It would have made a fine book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The great problem with this is finding a publisher"

(Quote)

 

Even more for a belgian author! imagine you write in a country barely greater

than the Kent plus some acres, with 10,000,000 People and three languages

(I mean the official ones only!), so that no local publisher has any significance

at all.

So you must sell your stuff either to Paris (very difficult), or to Frankfurt (more difficult) or Rotterdam (even more difficult).

An then your subject would be the organ??? They do not even know what

such a thing is.

You may have an answer which resembles to something like this:

We apologize for having nobody able to assess your work, so we send

it back to you. With our very best wishes.

Even a publication contract is not the end of the game. I have one foor a book that was to be on sale 2005, December...

 

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I endorse the comments above referring anyone interested to Nicholas Thislethwaite's book

The Making of the Victorian Organ  Cambridge University Press 1990 (reprinted 1999 in paperback form)

it's excellent and covers the Hill dynasty in more detail than you'll find anywhere else.

If there was ever to be a book completely dedicated to Hill, Messrs Thistlethwaite and Plumley would be the people to write it, but maybe Canon T. thinks his contribution is already made to this task.

 

A history that went up to and included HN&B and all their works would be fascinating. Frank Fowler (familiar to readers of this site) would 'know where the bones are buried' as, indeed would the great John Norman.  Mind you, perhaps a little dust needs to settle on the achievements of the firm before they can get a thoroughly balanced assessment.

 

One might well ask, where are the big writers, the big books going into detail upon any aspect of our subject? Stephen Bicknell got cracking in superb form but seems to have retired from this now.  Of course, it doesn't help when the periodicals seem to produce much more like coffee table reading.  I'm not against photographs, and these always look sumptuous by comparison with the great years of The Organ, but where are the critical, balanced articles?  What we mostly seem to get are reports of wonderful tours abroad and proud announcements of new organs, mostly assessed by the people that designed or built them. As a consequence, we read a steady stream of 'the finest' 'the most balanced' a 'noble achievement' etc. instead of what would be significantly more interesting, i.e. the comparisons between jobs and builders by people who speak from experience but without fear or favour!

 

Clutton had his favourites (both prior and contemporary), but always treated each organ seriously and gave interesting detail. One of the other 'greats' who could always be relied upon was Gilbert Benham.  I never tire of re-reading about the organs of the 30/40/50s from these pens.

 

 

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

 

An interesting post; perhaps working at two levels: that of commerical considerations and that of historical writing.

 

Commercially, I suspect that books about organs, organ-builders and organ-history are not commercially viable as paper editions; especially since most of the information can now be found on-line if one knows where to look. The computer revolution has sidelined many a venture, but also opened up windows of opportunity. There is also the simple fact that the organ, as an instrument, has lost much of its "consumer base" as compared to the glory days between, say, 1920 and 1960.

 

For the individual historian or commentator, there is an unprecedented opportunity to publish, or simply to add to the pool of knowledge in various discussion groups and fora, so the situation is not quite so bleak as one may suspect. I have certainly learned a very great deal about things since the advent of the internet, (and continue to do so), which has padded out previousluy gained paper knowledge.

 

Should anyone feel that they are compelled to write about organs seriously, then self-publication is now very easy, but one shouldn't really be expect to be rewarded financially, to be honest.

 

If there is one thing I do regret, it is the virtual passing of both eleoquent and elegant descriptive writing, which now seems to belong to a previous age.

 

One thing I believe to be lacking, is a forum for organ-historians specifically, where there could so easily be an opportunity to post articles or completed e-books. I have been personally disappointed in this respect, because a fairly general set of articles about Central and Eastern European organs and organ-music, have never yielded the slightest debate, a single challenge to the contents therein or anything which could further expand into something more meaningful.

 

It is disappointing when, in writing about Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary; not a single response has fed back to me from two of the countries concerned; even though I got four interested responses from Poland.

 

Doesn't this latter experience tell us (me) something about the nature of those who would read about organs and organ-music?

 

I may be missing something however, like the time I showed a Czech an old steam-railway in the UK, and with a look of disdain, he suggested that it was all rather primitive.

 

So I looked up Czech steam-engines..........OMG!

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear MM,

 

There is one thing you forget about the Internet: all you put there

is for free !

Do we really deserve to write at night while serving Big Macs

during the day?

That is the reason why you'll find summarizes on the Net, never

a complete book; the authors still dream to be published for *some*

money, at least enough for some Big Macs.

(More were a dream since our "Civilisation" has choosen to pay speculators

and shareholders 1500% more than the educated people).

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear MM,

 

There is one thing you forget about the Internet: all you put there

is for free !

Do we really deserve to write at night while serving Big Macs

during the day?

That is the reason why you'll find summarizes on the Net, never

a complete book; the authors still dream to be published for *some*

money, at least enough for some Big Macs.

(More were a dream since our "Civilisation" has choosen to pay speculators

and shareholders 1500% more than the educated people).

Pierre

 

 

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

 

I couldn't disagree more!

 

You can get any number of things on the internet which cost money to download, and that applies to e-books.

 

I wrote a very big novel in my spare-time, which is why it took over 3 years to write and required an extraordinary dedication to the task. I have also, just for fun, written the various accounts of organs and organ-music in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic; each quite separate and quite lengthy.

 

In one thing we can agree, "civilisation" is now about international speculation, with the nett result that globalisation is probably going to achieve what communism never could!

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

A history that went up to and included HN&B and all their works would be fascinating. Frank Fowler (familiar to readers of this site) would 'know where the bones are buried' as, indeed would the great John Norman. Mind you, perhaps a little dust needs to settle on the achievements of the firm before they can get a thoroughly balanced assessment.

 

There are two parallel histories for organ builders. One is about their work and instruments which can eventually be compiled from works ledgers, shop books and information on existing and past instruments stored in the BIOS archives.

 

The other history is what really happened within the company and while I have compiled a considerable amount of information in this direction it will not be possible to release any of this until after my demise.

 

I trust this will not encourage the curious to take a `contract' out on me.

 

FF

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is actually a third book which deals with Hope-Jones in far greater depth and detail than either of the above, which is that written by David H. Fox. I recommended it highly to anyone with an interest in H-J as it includes not only a no-holds-barred biography, but also facsimilies of many of the RH-J designs and drawings.

 

Along with many other interesting books of this type, it's available by mail order from the Organ Historical Society - they operate a very quick delivery service across the Atlantic! Here's a link to the relevant page of their on-line catalogue.

 

http://www.ohscatalog.com/robhop.html

 

Hi

 

Thanks for this - a book for my Christmas list I think!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed - I could already have spent the equivalent of the national debt on books. I just wish someone would translate the Lade book on the organ of Nôtre-Dame into English....

 

Believe me: it is easier to learn another language than to find

a publisher for a translated organ book!

(I'm busy with the Lewis, though, in french).

Just a thought -my teacher said if I wanted to do any serious

work I had to be able to read in german and english as well

as french and dutch, as long as the organ is concerned.

German+ english must represent about 80% of what's available

in organ litterature. There is not many in french BUT the Dom Bédos

of course, which compensates for this relative scarsity.

 

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Believe me: it is easier to learn another language than to find

a publisher for a translated organ book!

(I'm busy with the Lewis, though, in french).

Just a thought -my teacher said if I wanted to do any serious

work I had to be able to read in german and english as well

as french and dutch, as long as the organ is concerned.

German+ english must represent about 80% of what's available

in organ litterature. There is not many in french BUT the Dom Bédos

of course, which compensates for this relative scarsity.

 

Pierre

 

You may be correct, Pierre - but I am having enough trouble learning Russian for the present....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may be correct, Pierre - but I am having enough trouble learning Russian for the present....

 

If you can learn the russian, the german could be easier afterwards.

And there are *a fair amount* of interesting books in that language

(about two thirds of mines here are in german!)

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...