PipeChat Digest #1413 - Tuesday, May 23, 2000
 
Re: theatre organ question
  by "Tim Bovard" <tmbovard@arkansas.net>
Re: theatre organ question
  by "Ray Thursby" <raythursby@earthlink.net>
Re: theatre organ question
  by "VEAGUE" <dutchorgan@svs.net>
Re: theatre organ question
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: theatre organ question
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: theatre organ question
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: Catholic Organist?????
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: ethics
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
 


(back) Subject: Re: theatre organ question From: "Tim Bovard" <tmbovard@arkansas.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 23:26:19 -0500   At 5/22/00 08:39 PM, Bud asked: > >Not being a theatre organ person, I'm curious ... has anyone ever built a >more-or-less straight theatre organ? <snip>   Hi, Bud!   I am also nowhere near being a TO "expert"..., but I have studied my Junchen...<g>   I recall that there were several companies that built TO's from their mostly 'church-organ' backgrounds -- Hinners (of Pekin IL) is one that comes to mind as having built a few mostly-straight TO's (and I think they even built a *tracker* TO or two!! Who'd have ever thunk *that*!!).   Perhaps someone else has a better background to ellaborate further...?   Cheers!   Tim (who loves a good tibia/trem from time to time...<g>)  
(back) Subject: Re: theatre organ question From: "Ray Thursby" <raythursby@earthlink.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 21:23:54 -0700   This is getting interesting...!   Regarding the question of "straight" theater organs--an oxymoron if ever there was one--I recommend a look at the Atlantic City Ballroom Kimball, designed by no less than Senator Emerson Richards his own self...   According to William Barnes' book, some 24 of its 55 ranks are unit. The rest are straight, and include two mixtures (totalling 12 ranks) and a reasonable Diapason chorus. To balance that (depending on your point of view) are the expected Tibia, Leathered Diapason on 15" pressure, Post = Horn, Kinura, etc. and the Kimball trademark strings -- 14 ranks of 'em. All = with a massive (the only kind Kimball could build!) 4M horseshoe console and = all manner of traps and percussions. I've never heard it in person, but Robert Elmore made a recording on it years and years ago that I'd love to have in my library.   My limited experience with Kimballs suggests that of all the T.O. builders they tried hardest to keep some semblance of traditional elements in their instruments. The late, lamented 4/37 Kimball in the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles was the despair of some theatre organists because it didn't sound = at all like a Wurlitzer. By comparison to the genre's standard, it had an afterthought of a Tibia, and a bevy of Vox Humanae that were--to my ears--pretty awful. But it did have lush strings, great orchestral reeds = and an impressive ensemble sound. It was most effective for orchestral transcriptions.   The comments about Farny Wurlitzer's shortcomings as a businessman = (relating to his misuse of Hope-Jones) are a novel take on the familiar story. To suggest the company might have fared better if it hadn't cast H-J aside is pretty far-out in my view. All the engineering expertise in the world couldn't have saved the company when the T.O. market went bust--the longest-living survivors (none of whom are around today) were companies = that built church and concert organs first and dipped their corporate toes into the theater market to grab a quick buck. Wurlitzer shipped plenty of = church organs, but not the kind most people on this list would be badgering their parishes to buy today.   Now if Wurlitzer had had Laurens Hammond on the payroll and let him go = early on, that would be another story altogether!   Ray    
(back) Subject: Re: theatre organ question From: "VEAGUE" <dutchorgan@svs.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 23:35:22 -0500   Re: WurliTzer church organs..........   It is said WurliTzer never made an adequite dent in the church organ biz = was because pastors said ANYTHING associated with the movie theatre was "the work of the devil!!!"   Rick      
(back) Subject: Re: theatre organ question From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 22:23:00   At 08:39 PM 5/22/2000 -0700, Bud-by-the-beach wrote: >I think that big travelling Moller wasn't >nearly as unified as its Wurlitzer cousins<snip>   Well, Bud, I don't have the spec handy right now, but Reggie Foort's M=F6lle= r was pretty well unified, also, with nothing in a "division", per se.   >...but I'm curious if anyone else has >ever experimented with making a straight one.<snip>   Ask John Ledwon. He's got a 50-something(?) rank collection of ranks in his home organ!! Most, I think, are of Wurlitzer heritage. http://www.organhouse.com   I suppose it would cost several >fortunes, if you wanted to have EVERY tab connected to an independent rank, but >there ARE organs like that out there ... West Point, Wanamaker's, Atlantic City, >etc.<snip>   Interesting, indeed, that in spite of its sheer size of number of ranks, there IS quite a bit of unification in the ACCH organ! ACCH, of course, takes the "everything including the kitchen sink" school of thought to its logical conclusion. Wanamaker's seems to have carried out the experiment of amassing enough string ranks to in actuality replace every member of the string section of a huge orchestra...and some!   DeserTBoB  
(back) Subject: Re: theatre organ question From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 22:42:38   At 11:26 PM 5/22/2000 -0500, you wrote: >>Perhaps someone else has a better background to ellaborate= further...?<snip>   I'm no "eggspert", but do know that, after the realization hit the exhibitors that they could sack entire orchestras after installing a "unit orchestra" and keep the profit (after paying off the organ, of course), the organ bizz got "hot" right up until Vitaphone changed things forever. Austin, Estey, Kilgen, M=F6ller, Kimball and =C6olian, as well as well-known= TO builders Wurlitzer, Robert Morton and others, all fielded models to satisfy the demand. As with any new wrinkle in technology, there was an amount of "shaking out" of lesser marques as the '20s progressed, leaving Wurlitzer and Robert Morton as the top contenders. Warner Bros., Laurens Hammond, G. Donald Harrison and Walter Holtkamp were unintroduced co-conspirators that pretty much put the "unit orchestra" out to pasture after Wurlitzer folded in the '30s. The blue noses can say what they want, but it was indeed a fascinating period of the instrument's history in and of itself. After the retirement of the unit orchestra for movie accompaniment, the organ began its slow, steady decline in terms of numbers of organs produced, to where we are today, where the building of any totally "new" instrument is news, indeed!   DeserTBoB  
(back) Subject: Re: theatre organ question From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 22:48:46   At 09:23 PM 5/22/2000 -0700, you wrote: >Now if Wurlitzer had had Laurens Hammond on the payroll and let him go = early >on, that would be another story altogether!<snip>   Instead, they chose to compete with Laurens Hammond after World War II, = by buying the Everett Orgatron, which has already been covered in here before in some detail. It's interesting to draw a comparison to the collapse of the theater organ buildingn business to to the collapse of the home = e-organ business in the '70s. The prospective purchasers just went away, and one by one, the manufacturers limped off into merger and/or bankruptcy...even the vaunted Hammond Organ Co.!   DeserTBoB  
(back) Subject: Re: Catholic Organist????? From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 23:22:55   At 05:46 PM 5/22/2000 -0500, you wrote: >I had no >trouble getting approval to play my sister's wedding (she's not Catholic either, >but her husband is), and I've played one or two other big wedings in that same >church.<snip>   Pastors have complete leeway in making this decision. Generally, the more moderate the pastor, the better the chance of getting a decent organist = for various functions, regardless of denominational allegiance (or lack of same!). As Bud-by-the-Beach so correctly pointed out, use of non-believer organists was frowned upon by the conservatives, especially the FBI's, who would do without the organ rather than have a "heathen" play it. Some wouldn't even let a Catholic organist that wasn't a member of the parish touch the organ...usually something rather pathetic to begin with, with legions of Hammonds, the occassional Allen, and, every now and then, a smallish pipe job of questionable lineage. "Mission" parishes, run by various orders, always seem to have better organs, at least if it's a parish of some means. Blessed Sacrament of Hollywood, run for a century = by the Jesuits, has a fine Casavant, now reportedly in disrepair, once presided over by Richard Keyes Biggs..."that OTHER Biggs", as "Big Biggs" used to say.   >As for his asking you to be their organist/choir director while you were >employed by another church: I consider this extremely unethical, and I'm = sure >I'm not alone in that. He should have made inquiries to find out if you = were >available before he approached you.   I disagree. Job-hunting is the name of the game in any field these days; loyalty to an employer is a foreign concept now, and usually just gets you booted out eventually, whether it be a church or a typical corporation nowadays. Thus, the inquiry made, should the job have been good, would have been actively persued by me, should it have been better than the job = I had. 20 years ago, of course, this wasn't the case, as there was a fairly unwritten contract of loyalty between employers and employees. The nefarious RayGun era of the '80s took care of that forever. Thus, I would think that, in order to secure ever-better remuneration, one simply hops from job to job at will, thus depriving the employer of absolute control and power in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions, as he/she/it must be somewhat competitive. Unfortunately, this "new" concept of labor relations is lost on most organists and choir masters, most of whom slave away week by week, simply marking time until they're unceremoniously = sacked by a head-tripping pastor or snooty music committee.   I'm not saying that any of this is right. Loyalty is an enviable trait, but one that's now out of step with cold realities of the post-RayGun age. One must be pragmatic in order to survive.   DeserTBoB  
(back) Subject: Re: ethics From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 23:26:08   At 07:32 PM 5/22/2000 EDT, Justin sez:   >The AGO Code of Ethics says we as organists cannot seek another position >as long as > it's filled by a colleague (unless notice has been given and a future vacancy > announced), but I see nothing wrong with an EMPLOYER seeking to recruit = an >employee > who's currently employed elsewhere. Happens all the time, in every field =   >imaginable. >><snip>   Exactly, and better worded than what I wrote earlier! If the AGO chapters would function more like the local guilds they're supposed to be and prosecute members for cause when they try stuff contrary to the Code thus stated, the lot of organists would be a bit better for certain!   DeserTBoB