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Trends in organbuilding?

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    Trends in organbuilding?

    Would be interested to begin a discussion about the general direction of organbuilding from an artistic/tonal standpoint. I follow the TAO and other sources very closely to keep up with new instruments, and apparently the movement away from the Orgelbewegung ideals has continued, to the point that large new organs are being constructed without Great mixtures, large-scale 8' ranks are in vogue, unification and duplexing are rampant, and less attention is paid to synthetic mixture/mutation tonebuilding than before. Then again, there are builders like Fritts who are neither symphonic nor pitifully thin and spitty Neobaroque.

    I am not sure whether this is a good trend or bad, or just a growing stage. Any one have insights or counterpoints?

    Hi Philip,

    Just my personal view here, but I believe these days the overall tonal schemes of organs built in the last 15 or so years is much better and varied than say what was done in the late 60s and 70s. Thankfully the neo-baroque era is over, even though there were some very interesting organs built at the time. Maybe it can be said that overall the standard of pipe organ building has never been higher.

    It seems that the boutique tracker builders are building better sounding baroque organs, sometimes with an eclectic twist (such as an enclosed division, celeste stops, etc.). Other builders are going the romantic/symphonic route, but without the thick muddy accent of earlier 20th century instruments. I don't see many builders getting into rampant unification, although some borrowing is done.

    The market for mediocre sounding (or average sounding) pipe organs is disappearing, and going more and more to digital organs with some pipe ranks added, or entirely high end digital.



      From what I see around me there is more restoring going on than building new organs. The few that get build are mostly large uninspiring "compromise" organs. Meaning neither baroque nor romantic, but at the same time nothing special that you would get out of your way for to play/listen to. A few build splendid baroque ones but those are rather small ones. And even those -while having character- don't have much of it. You cannot say they are "german" or "french". For me the current trend is "polite, no risk" leaning to "bland" in some instances.


        I believe that organ building is starting to return to the mainstream. My information comes mainly from reading the "Diapason" and the Internet and there seems to be interest in some quarters to build new organs for more general use rather than specialized instruments designed to play ony a specialized selection of music. The peak of organ popularity was reached in the 1920's prior to the development of the organ reform movement. At that time organs were built for use in concert halls, theatres, and churches. Lately there are some specialized instruments (especially trackers) which are made for academic purposes to play a narrow selection of music but organists are starting to request instruments that can be used for accompanying church services and a few organs are going into concert halls.

        Schoenstein organ co. is one of the leaders in this new reform movement to build organs which have the capability to play the "literature" as well as serve a wider variety of purposes. Some builders are returning to the ideal of the "symphonic" organ which can play Bach, accompany choirs, play with an orchestra, and be used for church music.

        I am encouraged by this trend which appears to be developing, it may be possible to reverse the decline in the public perception of organ music.

        My home organ
        Style D Wurlitzer pipe organ
        Five Newfoundland dogs
        Sixteen Tennessee walking horseshoes