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Organs That Should Have A "historical" Rebuild


Guest Roffensis
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Guest Roffensis

Here's a diversion....organs you would like to see restored back as they were, prior to their last rebuilds.

 

I'll kick off....predictably! <_<

 

Chester Cathedral-To it's pre Rushworth incarnation.

 

 

Canterbury Cathedral-1949/1969 specification. Nave organ as required.

 

 

Parr Hall,Warrington-Restored, with Barker lever and a big preservation order slapped on it...wherever it ends up.

 

 

Manchester Town Hall-Restored to the old Cavaille Coll spec, all else removed and a fitting console.

 

 

Selby Abbey-Back to the Hill specification.

 

 

Blackburn Cathedral- yes!! that's right!! Where is all the old crackle and spit that it had? Put back exactly as it was, and the electronic noises put in the nearest skip.

 

Carlisle Cathedral-Back to the old Willis.

 

 

These to me are the glaring examples, there are probably others.

 

 

R

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Here's a diversion....organs you would like to see restored back as they were, prior to their last rebuilds.

 

I'll kick off....predictably! <_<

 

Chester Cathedral-To it's pre Rushworth incarnation.

Canterbury Cathedral-1949/1969 specification. Nave organ as required.

Parr Hall,Warrington-Restored, with Barker lever and a big preservation order slapped on it...wherever it ends up.

Manchester Town Hall-Restored to the old Cavaille Coll spec, all else removed and a fitting console.

Selby Abbey-Back to the Hill specification.

Carlisle Cathedral-Back to the old Willis.

These to me are the glaring examples, there are probably others.

R

 

Yes - absolutely, Richard!

 

I agree wholeheartedly with your choices.

 

One to add - Nôtre-Dame-de-Paris: put back to its pre-1980 state (with the combination action repaired, too).

 

Incidentally - is the C-C at the Parr Hall under threat?

 

Um.... I think that you may have forgotten one.

 

 

 

You know.

 

Oh, come on -

 

a cathedral city that is a musical partner to two other cities, as Jeeves was similarly a partner to ...

 

...

 

...

 

no - I cannot bring myself to type the word again.

 

 

 

(Whisper it....)

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Guest Roffensis
Yes - absolutely, Richard!

 

I agree wholeheartedly with your choices.

 

One to add - Nôtre-Dame-de-Paris: put back to its pre-1980 state (with the combination action repaired, too).

 

Incidentally - is the C-C at the Parr Hall under threat?

 

 

Well I'm not one to talk, one hears so many rumours. No doubt it will find a suitable home, and one that will find it used, if it does ever leave Warrington. But who knows?

 

R

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Yes - absolutely, Richard!

 

I agree wholeheartedly with your choices.

 

One to add - Nôtre-Dame-de-Paris: put back to its pre-1980 state (with the combination action repaired, too).

 

Incidentally - is the C-C at the Parr Hall under threat?

 

 

Just to play devil's advocate, just how much use does Reading Town Hall get with a trigger swell and pitch that orchestras can't tune to?

 

I would disagree with Blackburn. I think it sounds really good now. I believe the electronics are only a couple of pedal stops, and the Solo work is done with pipes - is that right? Bearing in mind the budget-and-speed nature of the original, I think the changes are perfectly acceptable.

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Just to play devil's advocate, just how much use does Reading Town Hall get with a trigger swell and pitch that orchestras can't tune to?

 

I would disagree with Blackburn. I think it sounds really good now. I believe the electronics are only a couple of pedal stops, and the Solo work is done with pipes - is that right? Bearing in mind the budget-and-speed nature of the original, I think the changes are perfectly acceptable.

 

You are correct about the additions at Blackburn - the Solo stops are pipe-work.

 

Reading - I agree with your implication. I thought that the restoration was flawed in several respects - not least with regard to pitch and the almost neurotic rejection of a perfectly good balanced swell pedal. At least one aspect of this restorarion has effectively limited the use of this instrument.

 

I assume, incidentally, that FHW built it with electric console lights and blowing apparatus. Oh, and that all performers on this organ will wear a black skull cap and suitable Victorian clothing.

 

God help us if toilet manufacturers ever follow a similar path....

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Guest Roffensis
Just to play devil's advocate, just how much use does Reading Town Hall get with a trigger swell and pitch that orchestras can't tune to?

 

I would disagree with Blackburn. I think it sounds really good now. I believe the electronics are only a couple of pedal stops, and the Solo work is done with pipes - is that right? Bearing in mind the budget-and-speed nature of the original, I think the changes are perfectly acceptable.

 

 

 

I think Blackburn was spoilt. It's too polite now.

 

As to Reading....a gem I think....and re the pitch..... my own job is still at the lower pitch of "French Diapason Normal" and it isn't going to change either. I'm FAR too conservative, and anyway, it's lovely. Any Orchestras can tune to that if they want to play with it. Pitch changes DO alter organs, but lets not get into that one again <_< .

 

R

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Guest Roffensis

Five little Ducks, sitting on a pond, and the first went "Quack". :D

 

R

 

Gloucester Cathedral?

 

 

I should think that would be impossible to do now.

 

R

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Guest Roffensis
Please tell me that this does not include building a (partly conjectural) replica console, Pierre....

 

Bath Abbey - preferably prior to 1972 - but I would be almost as happy with that.

 

 

Oh yes, Bath, although the old is still there somewhat, you can recognise bits of it!!! The 1971 work did it no favours.

 

R

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"Please tell me that this does not include building a (partly conjectural) replica console, Pierre...."

(Quote)

 

No problem, Sir.

As long as you rebuild a 1950 Triumph roadster with Cadillac seats, power steering

and electric windows, and drive it yourself to Beaulieu -without safeguards of course- :D:D:P

 

Pierre

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"Please tell me that this does not include building a (partly conjectural) replica console, Pierre...."

(Quote)

 

No problem, Sir.

As long as you rebuild a 1950 Triumph roadster with Cadillac seats, power steering

and electric windows, and drive it yourself to Beaulieu -without safeguards of course- :D:D:P

 

Pierre

 

So I presume that you would actually like to see a 'replica' console installed, Pierre? Despite the distinct possibility that:

 

1) Some parts will in all probablilty have to be conjectural. There are pieces of evidence missing, so a full and accurate reconstruction is unlikely.

 

2) It will almost certainly make the organ considerably more difficult to manage - not least in service accompaniment, which is now rather more demanding and elaborate than when this organ was originally built.

 

3) It may restrict the repertoire which can be played on it, due to unnecessary problems of managing changes of registration. Incidentally, employing registrants is not a consideration. The church is not particularly well supported, the town almost literally having turned its back on the building, which is now somewhat isolated. It is quite possible that there is little money for a Director of Music and an Assistant Organist - paying registrants is probably not in the budget.

 

It is all very well for organ historians to wax lyrical about the 'exciting possibility' of returning to an 'original style' console - whatever that may be. However, these people will not be the ones saddled with the wretched thing each Sunday, desperately struggling to manage complicated accompaniments - which often need frequent changes of registration - and wondering why they bother.

 

In any case, unless the church authorities also intend to return to candles and persuade two or three people to spend a fair amount of time on Sundays, choir-practice nights and special occasions treading up and down on 'replica' foot-pumps, then these efforts will be no more honest or accurate than your description of an imaginary re-creation of a 1950 Triumph Roadster.

 

As a practising organist of wide experience over a number of years, I simply cannot see any point in making an organist's job more difficult than it already is. The superb Cavaillé-Coll instrument at S. Etienne, Caen, although it is over one hundred years old, has a perfectly adequate system of stop control, which I found entirely convenient on the occasions when it has been my privilege to play this organ. However, what has been mooted at Doncaster is quite a different proposition. This organ is, in any case, used for choral accompaniment of a rather more demanding nature than currently obtains at Caen.

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.......I simply cannot see any point in making an organist's job more difficult than it already is.

 

 

You've just summed up the pros and cons perfectly!

 

Most of our large and historic* instruments are the product of a process of evolution, and while I am - at heart - a preservationist when it comes to historic pipework (if it's any good, of course!), there HAS to be a measure of common sense in the treatment of the business end if the organ is to maintain its purpose in the accompaniment of worship, rather than be a highly valued but uncomfortable museum-piece.

 

I can, for instance, see a case for preserving a hitch-down swell during a re-build if it's original, but for the life of me I can't see the point in reversing an earlier change to a balanced pedal. The result may be a re-creation of what was there originally, but it ISN'T original, therefore ISN'T historic, and will probably be a pain in the a*** for the organist.

 

(*Historic in terms of their provenance and pedigree, rather than being in original condition)

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

The 'Reading Question'

I wouldn't call this generation of historic-obsessed, oh-so-purist advisers 'hypocrites', but they continue to pull their punches in one important area and we've all been too polite to point this out. If hand-blowing has to be restored (even provided on brand new organs) hitch-down pedals replaced instead of balanced swells etc. why have they allowed independent pedal divisions to remain? These are patently a total anacronism on every pre 1850 (or pre 1850-style) organ in this country - the equivalent of fitting a penny-farthing with satellite navigation.

 

If they've done this 'because one still has to be able to play the repertoire' I would suggest that the same argument extended should allow us to keep our electric lights*, blowers, composition pedals and other more modern conveniences. Providing/leaving a pedal division is saying... 'the player can choose to use it in music that requires it'. Absolutely fair enough - good decision!

 

Now, if they suggested that there should be two alternate swell-pedal control systems available at the player's discretion, I would have been all in favour. I'm sure it could have been done. The easiest method would have been to provide shutters at the back of the box for the balanced Swell. Those of you who have been to The Servite Priory, Fulham Road will have come across the late Alan Harverson's Oberwerk where Grant Degens and Bradbeer gave him hitch-down 'back shutters' and balanced-shuttered 'front' - so that the entire Swell could be opened right up.

 

I like, for instance, David Sanger's idea of having both traditional General pistons and Cavaille-Coll-style ventils available (at choice) on the J.W.Walker 'French' organ at Exeter College, Oxford. That's the way to get people to explore the literature and keep the organ convenient to use!

 

A final thought....

Reading Town Hall is a very suitable totem for this whole business. It may not be by total coincidence that some of our most rampant advisers have been connected with the Organ Historiography course at the university there.

 

*I know where some of these have been removed! .....in a restoration carried out at great expense, and the church people resent it.

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Reading Town Hall is a very suitable totem for this whole business.

I like Reading Town Hall - one of my very favourite instruments. It's in my home town, and I played it as a student in 1968 (I wanted to try it, with a friend, and found that the easiest way was to hire the Town Hall for an hour one Tuesday morning; I still have the receipt - it cost me 2/6d :D ).

 

I rather think that just as we would do best to keep a range of instruments, we should also be prepared to try a range of kinds of restoration, so I approve of the way that Reading Town Hall has been done.

 

While we're on Reading, does anyone else here know the big FHW/HWIII in St Mary's, Butts (now called the Minster Church)? It suffers from being squashed into a chamber (well, the vestry, really). I haven't heard it for ages; perhaps my fond memories of it are pure sentiment. Apart from the weedy HWIII mutations on the Choir (the Gt flutes and tierce Mixture make a somewhat better Cornet), the spec is rather similar to the FHW/H&H instrument removed from Christ Church.

 

Paul

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IWhile we're on Reading, does anyone else here know the big FHW/HWIII in St Mary's, Butts (now called the Minster Church)? It suffers from being squashed into a chamber (well, the vestry, really). I haven't heard it for ages; perhaps my fond memories of it are pure sentiment. Apart from the weedy HWIII mutations on the Choir (the Gt flutes and tierce Mixture make a somewhat better Cornet), the spec is rather similar to the FHW/H&H instrument removed from Christ Church.

 

Paul

 

No - but it sounds interesting.

 

Here is the former scheme:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...90#PhotoSection

 

... and the present stop-list:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...23#PhotoSection

 

I have a copy of The Organ with an article concerning this instrument. The case looks good, too.

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Here's a diversion....organs you would like to see restored back as they were, prior to their last rebuilds.

 

I'll kick off....predictably! :D

 

Chester Cathedral-To it's pre Rushworth incarnation.

Canterbury Cathedral-1949/1969 specification. Nave organ as required.

Parr Hall,Warrington-Restored, with Barker lever and a big preservation order slapped on it...wherever it ends up.

Manchester Town Hall-Restored to the old Cavaille Coll spec, all else removed and a fitting console.

Selby Abbey-Back to the Hill specification.

Blackburn Cathedral- yes!! that's right!! Where is all the old crackle and spit that it had? Put back exactly as it was, and the electronic noises put in the nearest skip.

 

Carlisle Cathedral-Back to the old Willis.

These to me are the glaring examples, there are probably others.

R

 

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

 

I quite like the organ at Chester Cathedral, which is sufficiently "William Hill" to retain its character, and sufficently flexible to actually be an improvement on what was. I have recordings of both old and new.

 

I have never heard Canterbury, so cannot comment.

 

Parr Hall is certainly a VERY special case, for it retains much of the original character; albeit in a much larger surrounding. THIS IS THE ONE TO RESTORE EXACTLY.

 

There would be a problem at Manchester with the Town Hall organ. Not only was the organ quite badly re-built by what remained of Jardine, but even the original was "modernised" by T C Lewis with blessed approval from France. I'm sure that it could be Frenchified, but it could never be original. As it is, it is a fine organ, but one which does not compare well with other Cavaille-Coll instruments. The hall, and the acoustic, do not exactly flatter the current instrument.

 

As for Selby, this organ was always a problem, even as built originally. Due to the VERY narrow Norman aisles and the low opening of the same into the transept, the chancel position virtually guaranteed that the sound of the organ would fail to hit the nave with the full impact of the organ was capable. In the chancel, (apart from the distant rumbling of 32ft's somewhere in the triforium), the effect was magnificent, but just a few yards into the crossing, the sound just fizzled away, and the Tuba was barely worthy of the name. Even though not enriely enamoured with the organ as is, I feel that it is a more useable and a more effective instrument for the changes made by John Jackson et al. This was a organ which would have been better sited in the North/South transepts (or just one), along with the choir, but that wasn't what the ultra-protestant, clock-making millionaire, Grimshaw, wanted when he paid for the re-build of the abbey after the terrible fire. (No wonder it burned down, because they had to send word to Leeds for help, and they dispatched fire-engines drawn by "fast horses" to cover the 25 mile distance).

 

 

Having very carefully listened to Blackburn since David Wood enlarged it, I personally do not feel that it has suffered at all, and I was very anxious when I went to hear the finished result. It is still one of my favourite instruments, and as for the digital additions, there are good reasons for that and they work. They could be removed in a matter of minutes, or just not used, if one is of a puritan disposition.

 

I tend to agree about Carlisle, which isn't a very big building.......or rather, it is PART of what WOULD have been a large building if they hadn't knocked it down.

 

My own personal regret would be Bridlington, and although young at the time, I hold my hand up as one of the guilty party who changed the character of the Compton/Anneseens completely. I'm sure it sounds better now than it did after the Laycock & Bannister rebuild, but even so, it was all that was left of Anneseens work of any substance, after other important organs were destroyed or seriously changed.

 

As for smaller places, there is a vitally important Hill organ at Bentham PC in the Yorkshire Dales, with a beautiful Hill case and a big specification, which sits there silently, in the shadow of a digital toaster.

 

MM

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Certianly Kings College, Cambridge and Gloucester Cathedral need to be restored/rebuilt/newly created in proper style matching their cases and in the proper perspective and height. Gruesome at the moment. Good topic btw.

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Tewkesbury Milton organ?

 

(OK, I'm playing devil's advocate a bit, but wouldn't it be fascinating! Imagine the case restored to its original colouring, and a replica of the chair case based on Stanford-on-Avon...)

 

(And then the Grove organ in a new west tribune, with a new case and a new 32' reed...)

 

(And a third organ for choir accompaniment, presumably!)

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