PipeChat Digest #5242 - Tuesday, March 29, 2005
RE: Unsympathetic Restorations
  by "TheShieling" <TheShieling@xtra.co.nz>
RE: Unsympathetic Restorations
  by "Colin Mitchell" <cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk>

(back) Subject: RE: Unsympathetic Restorations From: "TheShieling" <TheShieling@xtra.co.nz> Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2005 18:29:05 +1200     > Why is it that no one would ever think of modifying these other historic treasures, but in the same time give no thought to the prospect of chucking out pipework from say, Blenheim Palace?   My point was precisely that people not only DO think of modifying historic architectural treasures, but that they actually do so. Think of Bury St Edmunds new crossing and chancel as one example, grafted onto a 15thC church. Think of Escomb, the old Saxon church, which has been altered in = the last 20 years. I could make a huge list. And I'm willing to bet there are substantial changes to the great stately homes, just as there are to = castles and cathedrals, including great changes to kitchens, plumbing, lighting systems, and so on. Cathedrals and churches substantially modify = themselves when new stained glass windows are installed, or altars and their = frontals, or re-position the choir, or add a west gallery for an organ, and so on. Again, I could make a huge list.   > I question the winds of "changing musical demands", particularly as it applies to Church organs. Somehow I don't see it possible that some time in the 50's or 60's, Church members suddenly stood up in protest and said "Gee, our organ really isn't screechy and gutless enough, I couldn't possibly bear musical worship here without fixing our organ's decadence".   I wasn't meaning that kind of change. In cathedrals, for example, where = the organ was originally used just as an instrument in the choir of the building, there HAD to be far bigger organs, put somewhere or other, when naves began to be used for congregational purposes. This applies not only = to vast places like St Paul's London, but also to places as diverse and far apart as St David's Cathedral in Wales and St Magnus's Cathedral in = Kirkwall (Orkney) - in this latter place a 3m Willis has been installed in a very deep carved reredos so not one pipe is visible.   > Somehow I doubt that Symphonic organs suddenly made ugly and repulsive music that was so terrible that they had to be immediately put out of their misery.   I wasn't thinking of those as we don't have them here, and never have had them.   >to sing over a 1920's funhouse Austin, compared to the joyful singing forth of earth-lifting praises in song of another congregation having their ears bleed to a nice 7 rank squeaky mixture?   I think this is a reduction ad absurdum. I wouldn't want either ends of = that tonal spectrum you have invented.   > By the way, are there any G-compass organs in existence anymore?   Yes, I played one just last September: St Mary de Lode CofE in the heart = of Gloucester. There are certainly others as well.   > I would be curious to know if the author of the quote at the beginning of this response would be in favor of adding string or flute celestes to some of the organs in his area, as current musical demands would advocate the use of them.   Absolutely not. I'd have no use whatever for those stops. I think there's only one flute celeste in all the 600 organs here in New Zealand. There is no NZ demand for adding celestes of any kind as there is no musical demand here for them, at all.   As I say, you are postulating me imagining things I did not say and, like you, would not support. I specifically mentioned the addition, on a slider chest, of four straight stops to the Pedal organ of an 1871 organ here in Christchurch, New Zealand. The organ is not big enough, fewer than 30 = stops in a cathedral which can seat 1000 people, but no one is suggesting = altering the manual action or adding additional stops. All that was done in the restoration was to put the 8ft TenC string on the Choir back at its = original 4ft pitch, leaving the label "Celestina 4ft" in place. Too, they restored the 4th rank on both of the Mixtures as someone removed those two ranks = some 35 to 40 years ago.   What I was suggesting is adding a little support here and there. For example, I think of St Andrew's Presbyterian in Hamilton here, where there is a 2m Croft of 16 stops from 1916, with tubular-pneumatic action on = slider chests. As there is no stop at all above 4ft pitch, and the chests and = their pallets are plenty adequate, I would have added a 2ft Fifteenth on the = Great by clamp. The Pedal of that organ consists of a very large Open Wood 16ft, = a very large wooden 16 Bourdon, and the 16ft wooden Echo Bourdon borrowed = from the Swell. To me, it would not have hurt the organ in the slightest to = have extended the Pedal Bourdon up to 8, 4 and 2, by the addition of a = pneumatic addition to the chest, adding just 36 wee pipes from about 18 inches long = to much shorter ones.   When Hamilton Cathedral organ here was rebuilt, big changes were made to = the organ, which needed to be done as it was of pitiful design, modified from the 19thC Bishop that it was. The Great had become: 8 Open Diapason, 8 = Open Diapason, 8 Claribel, 8 Stopped Diapason, 8 Salicional, 8 Dulciana, 4 Principal, 4 Harmonic Flute, 2 Fifteenth, 8 Tromba. Now, that was = terrible, and sounded it, with its very wasteful FOUR open metal stops to 8ft CC on the one manual. This is a cathedral organ, remember, with a great choral tradition to maintain as well as well-attended Sunday services.   I can think of the organ in Lower Hutt Methodist here, a church with west gallery, seating perhaps 350 people. The Great organ was just 4 stops - 8 Open Diapason, 8 Claribel, 8 Dulciana (grooved bass) and 4 Gemshorn. A Principal and Fifteenth from about the same age as the rest of the organ, 1903 or so, were added to the Great and the Gemshorn transferred to the Swell. Those two "new" Great stops were added just a few years ago by separately-winded additions to the Great chest, so all plays through the original tracker action with no robbing whatever, nor any alteration to = the original tracker action. The great organ consultant John Norman (of Hill Norman & Beard fame) said, when listening to and inspecting this organ, "These additions are absolutely first-class and do not harm anything or anyone, but rather greatly enhance the scope of this fine little = instrument. Too, the work has been so well done I thought, listening from just 20ft away, that all the stops were original."   That is the sort of thing I was thinking of, not the straw men you have = set up to knock down.   In exactly the same way, if someone has a vintage car, say a Model T Ford, and intends to drive that car on the road in public, I can see no possible objection to turning blinkers being added to the car. Too, I see no reason why the old shatterable glass windscreen shouldn't be changed to safety glass if the old one breaks.   My house here was built in 1906, so is 99 years old. It has enhanced the house enormously, not diminished it, by now having a flush toilet and a modern kitchen, even though neither is original. There was no kitchen, and the house when built had a coal-burning stove on the back porch, ONLY. Am = I hurting the house by now having a kitchen? With that, there has been a hot-water system added, a shower, new wiring throughout the house for more lights, lots of sockets for modern needs, telephone and TV sockets, and so on. I do not believe these things are bad, and it would be plain silly to restore the house to its original 1906 state. At the same time as other things have been done, I have removed the 1990s carpet and polished the magnificent timber flooring (boards about 8 inches wide) throughout the house, wallpapered over the horrid pastel paint on the walls, replaced a modern window with one of the same vintage as the house, painted the = outside in colours in use at the time the house was built, and so on.   Sorry this has been rambling and long, but I needed to answer you and make clearer what I was thinking of.   Ross      
(back) Subject: RE: Unsympathetic Restorations From: "Colin Mitchell" <cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk> Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2005 01:25:01 -0800 (PST)   Hello,   I'm not a great organ historian; especially when it comes to theatre organs. However, I'm fairly certain that the Tower Ballroom Wurlitzer has not been added to, and remains as it was built with the exception of the ghastly tierce couplers I mentioned previously.   This organ was a replacement for an earlier organ, which had been destroyed by fire.   I think the unit tally is 14 ranks rather than 13, but there are conflicting claims.   Now, regarding Alkmaar, I have tried to check to details in my dutch-speak book, which very comprehensively gives all the pipe sources and subesquent modifications to the instrument of the Grote Kerk.   Being based originally on the Hagabeer organ (1646?), Frans Casper Schnitger inherited a 24ft pedal organ...presumably F compass. Thus, the 16ft Prestant was actually a 24ft F-Prestant.   I'm not quite sure what Schnitger did, but it looks as if the bottom note was discarded, and the 22ft G used as the starting point for a pedal 21.2/3ft quint. This is unusual, but certainly not a mistake, because F.C.Schnitger was already experimenting with unusual tonalities in the Mixture schemes.(One Mixture includes a 4th sounding rank) Scholars will know that the F C Schnitger tonal scheme at Alkmaar included, on the pedal organ, the 10.2/3ft and 5.1/3ft pitches also.   When I first played this instrument back in 1981, I seem to recall that there were wooden pipes propped up against the rear wall of the organ chamber unused. Presumably, these were the bottom notes of the 32ft register of 1782 which had subsenquently been removed by Flentrop.   It looks likely, that in the most recent restoration (and we mean RESTORATION), the original 22ft pedal has been re-instated by Flentrop.   As for the 8 rank Pedal Mixture, it looks as if this is almost entirely F C Schnitger in origin rather than Flentrop; though it looks as if Flentrop may have done some sort of work to a couple of ranks.   All the other Mixtures but one are original; either dating from the van Hagabeer organ or that of F C Schnitger.   The biggest change, and the one to which Ross may have been referring, was the entirely new 6 rks Mixture of the Groot-manual (Great), which replaced the much butchered original, which had been reduced to a 4 rk Cornet (?); possibly by the organ builder Witte.   So it looks as if, on the whole, this organ is almost entirely Schnitger/Hagabeer, and over the centuries, no really drastic changes seem to have been made.   Not a very loud organ, (only 78mm pressure) it is nevertheless wonderfully sonorous; in part due to the extraordinary use of the quint mutations in the Pedal organ and the rather dull toned Mixtures of the manuals; some of which break back rather quickly, and include the 5.1/3ft pitch at the top end!   Of all the organs in Holland, this is certainly one of the best half-dozen, and an experience not to be missed or forgotten.   Regards,   Colin Mitchell UK         --- TheShieling <TheShieling@xtra.co.nz> wrote: > Referring to the Tower Ballroom Wurlitzer organ at > Blackpool, Ross states:-   It was NOT thirteen ranks > to begin with.   Concerning the organ st St.Laurent's Alkmaar, Ross wrote:- > > It was Flentrop who added a large Mixture to the > Pedal. I'm certain of this, > and that he also suppressed the 21 1/3 Pedal Quint. > Both actions sensible, > in my view. >   __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around http://mail.yahoo.com