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How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

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  • How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

    We have an exceptionally good organ that is in need of some major restoration. The church is on the National Register so maybe we can get a grant to do it. I'm an experienced organist and know there are are different ways to classify and instrument by tonal quality, craftsmanship and such. However, I haven't played enough different ones to say, for example, which falls in the range of American Classic, Romantic, European etc. As you'll see by the stoplist and look of the organ it's not Baroque at all or strictly Classical. Maybe more American-Romantic but not completely sure. This is a three manual 32 rank organ with a remarkably rich pallette installed in a divided case by the A. Radziewicz Co. of Milburn, New Jersey at a cost of $23,000 in 1928. The original console was a horseshoe modelmounted on a rotating " Lazy Susan-type" platform that could swing in either direction to adjust the organist's view of the choir. However, that was replaced during a 1960's renovation by Po-Chedley & Son witha verymodern key-desk console. The casework is made of chestnut and the diapason facepipes arefunctional. Here is a photo of the half that contains the swell and choir organ. I would appreciate your comments. Thanks. Eric.

    I can't get the photo to load. Here's a link to the URL


    16' Principal
    16' Gamba
    8' First Principal
    8' Second Principal
    8' Doppel Flute
    8' Gamba
    8' Gemshorn
    8' Trumpet
    4' Octave
    4' Gamba
    4' Clarion
    Great Super 4'
    2' 2/3 Twelfth
    2' Fifteenth
    S-G 16'
    S-G 8'
    S-G 4'
    C-G 16'
    C-G 8'
    C-G 4'


    16' Concert Flute
    16' Fagatto T.C.
    8' Principal
    8' Concert Flute
    8' Flute Celeste T.C.
    8' Oboe Gamba
    8' Salicional
    8' Vox Celeste T.C.
    8' Cornopean
    8' Vox Humana
    4' Octave
    4' Flute Harmonic
    4' Salicional
    4' Fagotto
    2 2/3 Nasard
    2' Super Ocatve
    2' Concert Flute
    Sesquialtera II
    Sub Swell 16'
    Super Swell 4'
    Chimes and Zimblestern


    16' Dulciana
    Choir Sub 16'
    8' Geigen Principal
    8' Gedeckt
    8' Viole
    8' Dulciana
    8' Dulciana Celeste T.C.
    8' Clarinet
    4' Rohr Flute
    4' Dulciana
    Super 4'
    2' Flageolet
    1 1/3 Larigot
    S-C 16'
    S-C 8'
    S-G 4'


    16' Montre
    16' Gamba
    16' Bourdon
    16' Dulciana
    16' Trombone
    10 2/3 Quinte
    8' Trumpet
    8' Fagotto
    8' Octave
    8' Gamba
    8' Bourdon
    8' Concert Flute
    4' Choral Octave
    4' Clarion
    2' Fagot
    S-P 8'
    S-P 4'
    G-P 8'
    G-P 4'
    C-P 8'
    C-P 4'

  • #2
    Re: How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

    Picture did not display. Maybe if it did, someone would be able to respond.



    • #3
      Re: How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

      Some points of interest:

      No mixtures, yet there is a Sesquialtera.

      Nice complement of 16's and 8's!

      Tremulant on all 3 manual divisions.

      There are 4 quint mutations [1 @ 10 2/3'; 2 @ 22/3'; and 1 @ 1 1/3'] but no tierces other than in the Sesquialtera [I assume there is one there.]


      • #4
        Re: How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

        [quote user="davidecasteel"]Picture did not display. Maybe if it did, someone would be able to respond.[/quote]

        (image placeholder removed)

        [edit: sorry, I thought I'd post the image, but it only displays once you've visited the website.Please refer tothe link in the first post in order to display the image.]


        • #5
          Re: How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

          Looks like you were ableto capture the photo. I added a hyperlink to the original message in case it disappears again. I saw a demonstration of a Reuter's organ on the forum that had a very similar configuration that, I believe, compares to this one. This is a gallery organ facing alarge space with vaulted ceilings double-wide stained glass windows and marble wainscoated walls. There roofing surface of the center nave is 18,000 sq. ft, not counting the side chapels which are joined to the nave below the clerestory. With no sound absorbing elements in the church except for plaster and wood,the sound from the enclosed porton of the organ is very lush and cheery. Completely open, the soundto the listener in the pews, feels like it's coming through your entire body without being overly loud orpompous. It's very delightful to play and hear.


          • #6
            Re: How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

            Hi. I don't know how a Sesquialtera is composed. I would just assume it's a kind of harmonic mixture which may be a bit unusual. Good call on the tremulants. Well, I think in the time period people, and perhaps the organiststhat played there were fond of tremed updevotional-style music,hence the overemphasis on them.


            • #7
              Re: How would you classify the tonal expression of this organ?

              [quote user="rodenstock01"]Hi. I don't know how a Sesquialtera is composed. I would just assume it's a kind of harmonic mixture which may be a bit unusual.[/quote]The Sesquialtera isnot uncommon - you find them in a lot ofbaroque and neo-baroqueinstruments. There are usually two ranks, at 2 2/3' and 1 3/5' pitch (playing a quint and a tierce). Classically these are scaledas principals, not as flutes; this means youmay use it in the plenum in addition to using it for solo lines.

              Someinstruments have a Sesquialtera with more than two ranks. These are usually normal mixtures with a tierce added.

              As for tremulants... I really don't think of tremulants in every division as an 'over-emphasis'.Of coursean organist couldturn all of them onand playchords - but an alternate use would be to use one tremulant at a time and use it only fora solo melody. That useage istasteful in just aboutevery style of organ repertoire. [8-|]


              • #8
                Very interesting that someone posted about this organ on this forum! I have recently been practicing on this organ. It really is quite an instrument. There is literally 5 seconds of reverberation in this Church and it's amazing.

                An organist friend of mine and I have been exploring this organ lately. The organist is open and willing to let us play it. It does need ALOT of work but is still quite exceptional. He feels that this organ was modeled after those of E.M. Skinner, and you can definitely hear it in the sound.

                There are no mixtures, but a considerable spread of blank tabs in which it looks like it was planned to add mixtures. The organ is very interesting. I have many photos of the organ and the sanctuary, located in Buffalo New York on my Facebook page if anyone is interested in seeing them.

                Album: Click Here.

                I recently played and won a scholarship competition on this instrument. My very favorite stop on the organ is the 8' Doppelflöte. It's very hollow and innocent, with lots of body to the sound. Sounds great with or without the tremulant. The pedal 16' Montre is a wooden Double Open Diapason, very large scale, and very present in the church! The Facade is made up of the 8' Diapason, and 16' Dulciana, and possibly something else.

                It would be fantastic if this organ received the work it needed. Unfortunately, it needs to be releathered and there is a considerable amount of dead notes. However, even in this condition, it is still a joy to play.


                • #9
                  Thick and Creamy! American Symphonic! It is nice that there are mutations and 2' stops. Many organs of this vintage do not.


                  • #10
                    It really is a very special instrument. The acoustics make it difficult to play fast repertoire, such as Bach. But still very interesting. I hope that someday it gets the rebuilding it deserves.

                    Recently, when speaking with an Organ technician who served this organ, he mentioned it was very different when first installed in 1928 with different reeds and even Tibias to make it more similar to a Pipe Organ. There was a significant rebuilding done in 1970 by Po-Chedley which changed much of this.


                    • #11
                      You can't even play Bach on it yet you call it an organ?


                      • #12
                        It's not that you can't play Bach, it's just that by the time it reaches the Sanctuary it sounds mushy. You have to take the tempi much slower than you otherwise would. The Church is huge, immense use of marble. There's more than five seconds of reverberation in this Church.


                        • #13
                          Long reverberation time

                          They seem to be able to handle long reverberation times in Europe OK.



                          • #14
                            It isn't the reverbation time that's the problem, you can't even build a plenum.


                            • #15
                              It's great that one of my practice organs has appeared on the forum! As Joel said, it is an amazing instrument but is in DESPERATE need of repair, and sadly the church just doesn't have money. The organist of the church does say that it will happen, but I'll believe it when I see it. The organ does appear to be a "budget" Skinner but it is different. I only say "budget" because the instrument is a lot smaller than one would assume (32 ranks plus chimes and zymblestern). For instance on the stop list you'll find that the organ has a "Second Principal." It's really the 2 2/3' played at 8' so therefor the F# below middle C and down are the same pipes as the "First Principal." Also the pedal only has a couple ranks to call it's own. There's the 16' Montre (1-12 LARGE scale open wood, 13-32 metal and in facade), there's the 16' Bourdon rank which is extended to 8', and then there is the bottom octave of the 16' Trombone which are full length with wooden boots. The only other pipes the pedal has to itself is the bottom octave of the 8' Fagot. Interestingly the 8' Fagot is a really nice almost a neo baroque oboe, but is available at 8' in the pedal, and in the swell at 16' (t.c. only) and 4'. It would have been nice if you had it at 8' in the manuals. You have to use the 16' sub coupler and unison off to play it at 8' in the manuals. The rest of the pedal pipes are unified and borrowed from the manuals which unfortunately (Sorry Bach!) includes the 8' Principal and 4' Chorale Bass. But there are some useful pedal stops taken from the manual - especially the two 16' strings. The louder 16' Gamba (big 16' facade pipes) and the barely audible 16' Dulciana (1-12 are the skinniest Facade pipes, the rest of the 8' and 4' pipes of the unit rank are enclosed in the choir box).

                              One cool thing about the organ is that the Great could also be considered a small Solo division. Almost any of the 8' stops are beautiful color solo voices with or with out the tremolo. The Doppelflote probably being the most favored, the 8' Gamba with the tremolo sounds very theater like, and for a really rich 8' solo I like the 1st Principal, 2nd, Doppel, Gamba, and Gemshorn - again w or w/o trem. sounds awesome.

                              Currently in 2010 with all the dead notes/ranks were at about 25 playable ranks and the acoustics of the church make it sound about 50 ranks. The swell is the most damaged division. Most of the pipes suffered from water damage. The 4' Octave in the swell is the only 4' stop that works and even that stop has a large number of dead notes. Its a shame because there is supposed to be a second principal chorus on the swell but the 2 2/3' and 2' barely plays at all due to dead notes and damaged pipes. The Sesquialtera is missing the 1 3/5. I'm sure the pipes are there, they just don't play due to wiring. One absolute miracle and gift of God is that the 3 sets of celestes work perfectly and sound beautiful! I don't think there is a single dead or damaged pipe in any of the 6 independent ranks. The Salicional and Vox Celeste is thin but present and the Concert Flute and Flute Celeste is my favorite stop on the organ! Couple the two celestes down to the choir at 8' and 4', add the Dulciana and Dulciana Celeste and you have the most beautiful accompaniment to any of the beautiful solo stops on the great.

                              Unfortunately in the late 1960's, Po-Chedley (Tellers) completely screwed this organ up! (As if the swell water damage wasn't enough!) They re-voiced all but one rank of reeds (Fagot/Oboe rank) and now barely any of them play. Funny because almost every note of the Fagot plays. The Clarinet is 100% silent, the Vox Humana sounds like a dying goose, and about 3/4 of the Cornopean is dead and damaged and of course the 1/4 of the rank that does play sounds awful. Fortunately you do have the Fagot/Oboe (soft reed) from the swell and the great/pedal unit 16', 8', and 4' Trumpet (louder reed) rank which is very rich and brassy. There are only a few dead notes on that rank so its very useful. Maybe some day the organ will have those wonderful color reeds back. =( The great/pedal trumpet rank is the rank that me and forum member "jskumro", as well as forum member "onedayeremains" are working on most.

                              So there you have it, the only Radziewicz organ in Buffalo NY. These are just a few of the many joys, and problems (unfortunately) that one finds while playing this very unique and American instrument. I'll leave everyone with the fact that this organ is one of the most American organs I've ever played!

                              -Peter Gonciarz
                              Organist - Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament RC Church
                              Depew, NY
                              Last edited by pgonciarz; 08-26-2010, 08:34 PM.