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In the case you quote, you could be right. Hereford is one of my all-time favourites too.

 

I think once you have electric action, provided that you don't overstrain the wind-system, I can't see any harm in adding stops so long as they do not block the sound from the ones you already have. I have a case in point to offer you, for the purposes of discussion: At HTH we already have almost everything, but there is a huge gulf between the Great Tromba and Posaune - both forte reeds of good quality and the quite splendid Tuba which is fff and proud of it.

 

From the point of view of wishing to accompany the choir 'in proportion' and not overdoing it every week in a voluntary, I would really like a solo reed between the two volume levels I already have. Will this spoil the organ? No. Will it do harm? no - it will do good. I will be able to save the choir from having to shriek or miss a vital part of some wonderful accompaniments and the congregation will not get blasted quite so many times in final voluntaries. The Tuba can be kept for special occasions. The organ sounds pretty good without it - it was more than a year into my tenure when I first got to hear it in any case!

 

I respect the need to preserve an antique/irreplaceable console, but that apart, why not add a stop if you have room? What we would ideally like here is a new console and any slight additions to the scheme can go on that and the historic one stay undisturbed. The new one can also have all the 'new' / 'must-have' gadgets.

 

I realise that these comments will stir up a certain amount of worry amongst the purist wing. Here is a thought, however:

If in the past on any decent organ, stops that were missed by the current organist had simply been added on extra chests and the existing stuff left alone, we would (in fact) have been in a far better position to regain an original sound than if replacement or revoicing of ranks had happened. The classic case, I believe is Durham Cathedral where the late great Conrad Eden had a whole new division and several extra stops added by H&H in the 1970s.....but everything else remained in place (and available). Sensible man.

 

Actually, I think if you asked most organ-bulders whether they would prefer to stuff a new stop where an old one has been taken out, or to add an extra chest for the new stop, I think I know which they'd pick. One of the problems with the replacement idea is that so often things end up in the wrong place. A reed or a mixture (for instance) needs to stand more-or-less over the pallet. Not only will they speak better, but they are far easier to get to for tuning and maintainance. I have seen (and heard) too many Mixtures which have been placed on old 16' or 8' slides - never the same, trust me!

 

I’m probably showing my ignorance here (not that unusual), but is there such a thing as a listed organ? Listed buildings have strict guidelines over what can and can’t be altered. I guess the reason why people don’t add stops on new wind chests is down to two things, money and space.

 

:blink:

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I’m probably showing my ignorance here (not that unusual), but is there such a thing as a listed organ? Listed buildings have strict guidelines over what can and can’t be altered. I guess the reason why people don’t add stops on new wind chests is down to two things, money and space.

 

:blink:

 

 

A sensible question.

There ought to be such a thing as a 'listed' organ, but there isn't.

 

The nearest equivalent we have is BIOS's own listing scheme (administered by Paul Joslin) - but I'm afraid BIOS have no teeth whatsoever. I suppose the proud displaying of a BIOS Certificate in a reminder to vicars and wardens that they have something valuable already which may not need further 'improvement'. That's about as good as this scheme gets.

 

The worst cases, of course, are where through a surplus of funds, nobody bats an eyelid at anything and the organ automatically gets its next rebuild/enlargement/poking-around 'on the nod'.

 

BIOS do seem to have influence with some advisers, indeed some advisers belong (as do I). Unfortunately, BIOS has also gained a reputation for being firmly on the 'sandals/green wellington/home-knitted museli' wing of the organ fraternity. This is because of some fairly well-publicised occasions where musicians (and some church people) now consider that they were persuaded to turn back the clock to the extent that their instruments have ended up quite a bit less convenient to use. I could cite examples; indeed lots of us could! I even remember reading one BIOS editorial which maintained that the writer considered 'the needs of church music' to be a totally immaterial question.

 

It is worth noting that advisers don't hold much power either, the best chance of stopping proposed vandalism is their occasional ability to divert grant funding away from a project. The remaining safeguard in CofE churches (N.B. not other denominations) is that a Diocesan Organs Adviser (sitting on the Diocesan Advisory Committee) may well be asked to approve a scheme before a faculty is granted. Once again, there are gaps in this: I know of organs that have been molested without faculties, and I know more than one diocesan adviser that perpetrated vandalism on their own organ because there was no further check to their operations.

 

Mind you, nobody's perfect.

 

There have been one or two well-publicised cases of over-enthusiastic organists being compelled to pay to have organ put straight after their unofficial labours have been discovered. South Lambeth is an example I can think of.

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So, between the situation Paul described and the german one, where you may not change

a nail in an historic organ (or you make a new, same form, same material, etc), and where

the advisers all have their sector so you cannot choose among them, there should be

room for a "reasonnable" compromise.

But even then it is not perfect -indeed, this is what we have in Belgium- because the human

beings will ever remain human beings, with the need to leave some marks behind them,

the need to show they are "better" than Jones, etc.

 

Pierre

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Such debates rapidly turn into debates about political correctness - what is the "proper" way to deal with an organ? The answer is, of course, that there is no answer except to think about the issue and make an informes decision which may turn out to be wrong. Dangerous stuff.

 

Not all organs were good to start with. This requires a certain amount of value judgement; quite a lot of organs got into the state in which we now know them because preceeding generations detected shortcomings in them. Sometimes this was because they were simply no longer fashionable, sometimes however because they were tonally poor, badly balanced, or because they didn't work.

 

The authorities here love to shout loudly "back to the original condition", something which often requires a lot of speculation and which very often results in disappointment. This is only one way of dealing with an organ. It may be justified in some cases, such as the spectacular Scherer instrument in Tangermünde, which still contained the largest stock of late renaissance material in Europe - the reconstruction is nevertheless in many respects still highly speculative - in others, not at all, and, as I like to point out, if it were applied rigidly, would mean the loss of both St Jakobi Hamburg and St Sulpice. "Aha! But that's different", reply the men from Halle. "Why?", I then ask, with my consultant's hat on. "Because Schnitger was a great organ builder, CC too." "But Scherer, Fritsche, Cliquot were not?" "well...........perhaps not quite........" "Also, es geht doch you see, we can make these decisions after all!"

 

One can talk for a long time about "not damaging the substance" or "respecting the character", but in the end it's a one-off judgement every time, whether it's about adding or replacing stops, total rebuilds (when is a "sympathetic rebuild" a "new organ utilising material from the previous one"?), even revamped consoles. It's almost impossible to gain without loss. I recently promoted the decision to return a baroque instrument just outside the town (almost) to its relatively well documented original state, because the many alterations which had been made to it had not fitted well into the case or onto the chests. It no longer has a C#, and the manual compass is only to c''. That's the way Compenius (from whom the HW chest originated) and Hartmann built it; but there are plenty of people who find that a great disadvantage. And I know that Irene Greulich was also a little bit (but secretly, of course) disappointed when she couldn't play Widor at Naumburg any more. As regards making changes to consoles, take a look at

http://www.friedenskirche-duesseldorf.de/d...l_Baustelle.pdf

and compare pages 35 and 36.

 

There are no globally right answers. It is, however, worth remembering that our historical orientation is a relatively recent development - and is not necessarily for that reason wrong!

 

Cheers

Barry

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Guest Roffensis

Well!!!

 

For my penneths worth, so called "advisors" and "consultants" sometimes need to be certified.

 

One remembers with SUCH great affection the damage done to many a fine organ, with some crazy consultant at the head, damning an organ as fit for the skip, or pozziteefing the choir, lopping off Open 1, adding screechy mixtures (sorry..... Mixtur) that blend with nothing, tinkering with wind pressures, and generally standing about airing and gracing and saying "noo, noo noo, it wont doo) while ordering his latest Porche.

 

As one who is fiecely conservative, I deplore the modern idea of two or more consultants, advisors, or whatever one cares to call them. It needs one logical mind with a proven record of thoroughly good judgement to decide the fate of any organ. That of course is probably impossible, which makes one wish that the loony consultants out there either go home or take up designing loos.

 

R :P

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Should there be only one consultant, then it is "on or off"; either

he/she likes the instrument and understands it, and all will happens

correctly, or he/she does not...And the scrapyard will continue

to rise in the direction of the sky...

With a commission the risks are theoretically not so high; but then

the problem is that Jones will want this while Smiths will want that,

the result being an ecclectic organ 99% of the time.

As Mr Jordan says there is no global, simple solution.

 

Pierre

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Well!!!

 

For my penneths worth, so called "advisors" and "consultants" sometimes need to be certified.

 

One remembers with SUCH great affection the damage done to many a fine organ, with some crazy consultant at the head, damning an organ as fit for the skip, or pozziteefing the choir, lopping off Open 1, adding screechy mixtures (sorry..... Mixtur) that blend with nothing, tinkering with wind pressures, and generally standing about airing and gracing and saying "noo, noo noo, it wont doo) while ordering his latest Porche.

 

As one who is fiecely conservative, I deplore the modern idea of two or more consultants, advisors, or whatever one cares to call them. It needs one logical mind with a proven record of thoroughly good judgement to decide the fate of any organ. That of course is probably impossible, which makes one wish that the loony consultants out there either go home or take up designing loos.

 

R :P

 

In fifty years' time, will our age be viewed as the one which stood in the way of progress?

 

How would we have got to this position of conservation and appreciation, without first making a journey?

 

I believe people have only ever done what they thought was right at the time. I cannot think of a single person in that field who would stand up and say they only did it for the money and couldn't give a toss about the results, just as I can't think of a single one who would say today that they were happy with what they were doing forty years ago.

 

However, the road was one which had to be travelled, and what was being done to historic pipework in the 60's is no worse than what was being done to it from 1890 to 1950, say (when, in fact, historic material was far more likely to end up in the skip than it was later).

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David,

 

Who wrote this, and when?

 

"REBUILDING IS QUESTIONABLE

Compromise in organ building at best produces inferior instruments for, after all, what is there to compromise except those principles which produce superior instruments? When all is said and done, the degree of compromise required in the rebuilding of an old instrument of doubtful original value seldom does much else but preserve the questionable taste of a by-gone era and produce an obsolete instrument. Quite apart from the harm this causes to the musical life of the community by the loss of the opportunity to have a much better instrument, it causes harm in various ways to the organ builder himself, in that although this sort of activity provides work, it also deprives those who engage in it of the opportunity to develop their art and their abilities through practice at the highest level. One cannot be all things to all people. The techniques that produce a fine modern organ are subtle and elusive. One needs all the practice one can get. To be forced to relapse into obsolete practices is to retard progress. In North America those builders who have not allowed themselves to be distracted by the obvious financial advantages of the rebuilding trade and the comparative ease with which this work is obtainable, but instead have concentrated on developing their technique in the production of better modern musical instruments, have naturally become the leaders in their field. It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise for practice makes perfect in organ building as well as in organ playing. One does not become a great Bach player by practising only Liszt. Fortunately, most of the major builders in America have begun to recognize this and some of them are now taking a firmer stand, so the rebuilding work may eventually become the exclusive province of small local builders and repair establishments working entirely out... "

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David,

 

Who wrote this, and when?

 

"REBUILDING IS QUESTIONABLE

Compromise in organ building at best produces inferior instruments for, after all, what is there to compromise except those principles which produce superior instruments? When all is said and done, the degree of compromise required in the rebuilding of an old instrument of doubtful original value seldom does much else but preserve the questionable taste of a by-gone era and produce an obsolete instrument. Quite apart from the harm this causes to the musical life of the community by the loss of the opportunity to have a much better instrument, it causes harm in various ways to the organ builder himself, in that although this sort of activity provides work, it also deprives those who engage in it of the opportunity to develop their art and their abilities through practice at the highest level. One cannot be all things to all people. The techniques that produce a fine modern organ are subtle and elusive. One needs all the practice one can get. To be forced to relapse into obsolete practices is to retard progress. In North America those builders who have not allowed themselves to be distracted by the obvious financial advantages of the rebuilding trade and the comparative ease with which this work is obtainable, but instead have concentrated on developing their technique in the production of better modern musical instruments, have naturally become the leaders in their field. It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise for practice makes perfect in organ building as well as in organ playing. One does not become a great Bach player by practising only Liszt. Fortunately, most of the major builders in America have begun to recognize this and some of them are now taking a firmer stand, so the rebuilding work may eventually become the exclusive province of small local builders and repair establishments working entirely out... "

 

Lawrence Phelps article, can't remember where or when. Why?

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Because that was written in 1969.

Better than before 1950?

 

Pierre

 

By an American, working to an entirely different time line in terms of the development of the organ reform movement. Not being so international as you, Pierre, I can only speak from my own limited experience of what I have seen in the UK! One could glibly argue that a lot of our 60's instruments kept a good bit of old pipework, because (musically) that was the (sometimes unfocussed) aim behind a lot of what was going on. I could be quite wrong but I have formed the view that a more drastic approach was often taken by builders at the beginning of the century (and in some cases, later)

 

My point was - that we were never going to go STRAIGHT from building giant octopods on pneumatic action spread about all over a building upon which we could play transcriptions and Bairstow and nothing else, directly into a period of understanding of history, techniques and careful preservation, which is hopefully the position most people are reaching today.

 

There was always going to be experimentation, fanaticism, call it what you will.

 

It is easy to pontificate about how it all could have been much better in the old days - makes a nice change - and no generation has ever got it right. Ours is no exception and we should remember that our thoughts and actions will be judged with the same open-mouthed horror that we might now express at some of the comments of Phelps and people of that generation and their curious horror at what has gone before (which actually translates quite neatly to what some people say now about 60's instruments).

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This american influenced heavily his epoch, also in continental Europe

where he had many followers; they simply *forgot* to quote their source...

 

Pierre

 

Pierre, I wasn't trying to have a fight over precise dates, merely making a crude generalisation.

 

There are lots of important rebuilds or new instruments of the 60's incorporating old material, whereas prior to the organ reform movement the whole lot would often have been skipped in favour of big diapasons and orchestral strings. Our generation criticises the one before because it scrapped the big diapasons and orchestral strings; the one before criticised the one before that for scrapping all the older material. If neither had done what they'd done, we wouldn't have stopped to think twice about it now and reached this position where a G P England, Renatus Harris, Compton, Father Willis, Walker, Willis III and Arthur Harrison all command equal respect and regard and careful preservation. I have a 1950's report on the Romsey organ by Henry Willis in 1955, proposing its demolition and re-casting as a Willis orchestral organ, as well as other firms advocating their own style of fantastic new organ. Ten years later, the same firm was proposing its careful preservation, along with a raft of other firms (including excellent reports by John Norman and Mark Venning, both insisting that nothing drastic should be done).

 

It's crude, it's general, and you can nitpick over dates all you like. Ralph Downes, Ian Bell et al didn't think they were committing acts of vandalism at the time, however we view it now; mortality notwithstanding, none would do the same work in the same way today. And who can say how our thoughts and actions will be regarded in the future.

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Guest Roffensis
In fifty years' time, will our age be viewed as the one which stood in the way of progress?

 

 

RA-Depends what we mean by progress David?

 

 

How would we have got to this position of conservation and appreciation, without first making a journey?

 

RA-True and if that journey includes all the botched up and lost organs, well some journey!! Try and find an original Green and you'd be hard pushed, there are very few. So many organs have been got at rather than respected. Once the tinkering starts, the organ becomes very "eclectic", doesn't know what it is, and the local council get a lot of rubbish to cart off!

 

I believe people have only ever done what they thought was right at the time. I cannot think of a single person in that field who would stand up and say they only did it for the money and couldn't give a toss about the results, just as I can't think of a single one who would say today that they were happy with what they were doing forty years ago.

 

RA-People were saying exactly the same 40 years ago, and even 80. A glance at old mags will state X organ as fine, only to be tweaked later, in another "elilightened" era. Fashion and whim constantly dictate.

 

However, the road was one which had to be travelled, and what was being done to historic pipework in the 60's is no worse than what was being done to it from 1890 to 1950, say (when, in fact, historic material was far more likely to end up in the skip than it was later).

 

RA-Yes I agree, I also think we are rather more careful now than say 20/30 years ago.

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RA-Yes I agree, I also think we are rather more careful now than say 20/30 years ago.

 

Maybe !

But frankly, what will be said about us in 50 years we do not know...

Better not to take it for granted, and continue our efforts; there are

still destructions happening today.

When shall we reconstitute a Samuel Green ?

Now that would be a great thing (among others).

 

Pierre

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Maybe !

But frankly, what will be said about us in 50 years we do not know...

Better not to take it for granted, and continue our efforts; there are

still destructions happening today.

When shall we reconstitute a Samuel Green ?

Now that would be a great thing (among others).

 

Pierre

 

As a cheeky and provocative question (but with some degree of seriousness!) - any thoughts on the destructions done by Cavaillé-Coll on Clicquots? Essays in by the 4th in Advent.

 

Best wishes,

N

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As a cheeky and provocative question (but with some degree of seriousness!) - any thoughts on the destructions done by Cavaillé-Coll on Clicquots? Essays in by the 4th in Advent.

 

Best wishes,

N

 

We just have a discussion about Pithiviers on the french forum, wondering

at the conservatism Cavaillé-Coll showed with the ancient material there

-by 19th century standards of course, and partly because of a lack of money-.

As mr Coram pointed out, all generations before us shared their part in the

destructions. We could -should?- aim at destroying less than the average generation.

 

Pierre

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We could -should?- aim at destroying less than the average generation.

I'm not even sure about that! We have so many styles to enjoy, and maybe preserve, because they got built in the first place - in many cases by vandalising old organs, or simply replacing them. The men who made those organs had the confidence to create something of their time, which we now respect.

 

In a time when churches are closing, and there is less and less interest in serious music, where are the new organs and styles to be created, if not by continuing the destruction? Or are we to say that we have so little confidence in our new builders that it is preferable to preserve old organs instead? What will future generations think of us then?

 

Paul

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I'm not even sure about that! We have so many styles to enjoy, and maybe preserve, because they got built in the first place - in many cases by vandalising old organs, or simply replacing them. The men who made those organs had the confidence to create something of their time, which we now respect.

 

In a time when churches are closing, and there is less and less interest in serious music, where are the new organs and styles to be created, if not by continuing the destruction? Or are we to say that we have so little confidence in our new builders that it is preferable to preserve old organs instead? What will future generations think of us then?

 

Paul

 

Interesting comment!

Indeed, we *should* preserve, and experiment, at the same time.

But in a period when churches are being closed, it is not going

to be easy at all.

Pierre

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Interesting comment!

Indeed, we *should* preserve, and experiment, at the same time.

But in a period when churches are being closed, it is not going

to be easy at all.

Pierre

 

Perhaps I'm just lucky: I play an 1850's Walker in (almost) original condition (action modifications only). It has a BIOS certificate. Within a short drive I can play an 1869 Wm Hill/1875 Thomas Hill, a 190? Gray & Davidson carefully restored by our hosts, a splendid 1956 Willis, good examples of Arthur Harrison, Lewis, Willis, Walker and a raft of small-but-interesting instruments, all jealously guarded and preserved, dating from early 1800's onwards. I can hear a 1910 Tuba, an 1840's Trumpet and a 1965 party horn without spending more than about 20 minutes in the car.

 

I can also play new organs of considerable merit, not least Christchurch Priory, which after a further raft of improvements and revoicing (by David Frostick) has gone from my "bottom 10" to my "top 10" - really, really enojoyable now.

 

As Nigel points out succinctly, and I was trying to earlier in a roundabout fashion, each of these historic and carefully preserved organs represents one that has been replaced... and therefore vandalised.

 

So all in all I don't feel the threat of the steamroller particularly often. Which of course all makes the little desecrations (such as the fantastic little Walker I'm storing, referred to elsewhere) all the harder to bear.

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I can hear a 1910 Tuba, an 1840's Trumpet and a 1965 party horn without spending more than about 20 minutes in the car.

 

Surely you can hear the party horn without getting into your car?

 

:)

I can also play new organs of considerable merit, not least Christchurch Priory, which after a further raft of improvements and revoicing (by David Frostick) has gone from my "bottom 10" to my "top 10" - really, really enojoyable now.

 

Interesting - perhaps I should renew my acquaintance with this instrument.

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