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all-purpose or period specific?

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  • all-purpose or period specific?



    WhenI was introduced to the organ 50 years ago a youth being taken to church by his mother; something about the sound appealed to me even way back then. When I played my first pipe organI knew enough from personal reading to understand whatI was doing. ShortlyI began a serious study with the best-known teacher in the community on a sizeable organ with 4 enclosed sections and some unenclosed. I loved the sound of that mighty organ and the beautiful facade of all dummy pipes in flats and looming towers! I knew there were different organs world-wide by reason of recordings and printed specs. In the USA the only name mentioned at my lessons was E Power Biggs as far as old or early music is concerned.





    ConcurrentlyI became involved with tuning and later tonal work; albeit elementary level.My first rebuild burned one day after the rededication by none other than my own organ teacher. AsI arrived on scene a great big crane reached in to the former swell and in one shark-like gulp picked up the entire swell main chest and released it and so it fell several floors down to the ground with a humongous crash.All my work-gone. The beautiful trompette added in 1960 by the previous builder bent and deformed from the fire fight. My heart sank. The beautiful console of 1960 burned to ashes such was the intensity of the heat. The great with no shutters had totally melted with 2000 degress of intense heat.





    The only organ in the valley known to be ''baroque'' was in a church near the campus of the university. Got a good stab at it and was spell-bound by the tonal spread and brilliance.My first intro to period-specific came much later when I sampled a modest tracker with short keys like you would find on a toy organ. Wasnt my cup-o-tea but the voicing on the principals was exquisite. Later tracker encounters included a popular organ in NYC. Beautiful all around but my fingers couldnt get the hang of it asI found the action stiff. AsI was winding up a 32nd-note run in the Buxtehude in walked a professor from Finland to take his turn.




    In recent times the concept of purity of builders and the failure of all-purpose versus period-specific has come to the fore yet more. My only concern with period-specific is what venue is the appropriate one for such an organ? Those who are proponents seem to despise any other style like the unique American pipe organ that seems to fit a lot of ordinary church settings satisfactorily. The idea that more than one pipe organ is required in the same space is not very practical unless there are wealthy patrons who appreciate the need and will open wide their pockets to finance the Bach organ the Franck organ and so forth. OtherwiseIcan only see few institutions with more than one like a good university.A city will need several churches with all different organs to cover the broad spectrum.





    I say for normal use the American organ is the best bet. Now you say what you think.


  • #2
    Re: all-purpose or period specific?



    I agree.




    Our Schantz III/72leans toward the American Classic style. Concert-level professional organists have commented that it can sound so German and so French, etc. Works for me . . .




    [<:o)]

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    • #3
      Re: all-purpose or period specific?



      I think that generally speaking =, it would be better to have at least on American/American Cleassic/eclectic, but well thought out organ. While it may be more expensive than building a period specific tracker, in my mind it would be of more duse, as the American style organ/tonal design is generally set up to cover a wide swath of repertoire, and a broad range of styles.



      As for churches having more than one organ, I only know of one church with more than one organ. They are the chancel Holtkamp (1952) the 1986 Hradetzky in the gallery and a little portative organ. I have heard the choirmaster and principal organist (officially titled choirmaster and organist) mention that he kind of wished the Holtkamp had some more romantic style stops (well i actually sort of inferred it from listening to him practice a piece with a violist.)

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      • #4
        Re: all-purpose or period specific?

        I used to use a 3m Holtkamp designed by John Ferguson [an organ instructor whose classI attended in college]. It had one 8 on the Positiv; 2 on the Great; and 3 on the Swell.I found that by combining all; these worked well for the fonds and also the sw to sw 4' plus trem made a heavenly symphonic tone as the sw gamba was a soft geigen and the celeste a tapered hybrid.

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        • #5
          Re: all-purpose or period specific?



          I'm sure that Karel Paukert would know how to combine the stops to get what he wants out of the Holtkamp, as he's been the organist there since 1979, at least I would hope he would have learned to combine the stops for what he wants. I apologize if this seemed patronizing or condescending.



          I have not gotten to play the Holtkamp at St. Paul's nor the Hradetzky, I don't particularly care about the portative, but next time I'm there I'll talk to the organist, and see if I might be allowed to play, and if not I do have an ace in the hole, the Dean of students at school is married to one of the priests at the church.

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          • #6
            Re: all-purpose or period specific?

            Over here the trend is to put up whatever organ is wanted or restore what is there and adapt the music to suit the organ. Far more interesting. Maybe we are helped because there are hardly any churches with choirs or any services with organ played. But the "universal" organ is on the way out. Only where they want an organ more for concert work and then it mostly fails. So you may have to look around a bit to find an organ with a specific tonality but you can find almost anything you want.

            And yes, having more than one organ in a church is becoming more and more acceptable. Mostly there where there is already an organ of particular interest and they want to add other possibilities. The combination is mostly an exsisting romantic construction that is still worth to keep but unwieldy to use and they add a smaller baroque tracker.

            So I know of small churches that have put a new single manual tracker, spanish baroque voiced and tuned. Nobody complains about it not being equal tempered or not having 3 manuals and pedal, not having reeds etc. It probably cost them 10x as much as a toaster but that idea was even never raised. A very nice organ. A nice restored french baroque a few cities further, one of the flemish school (almost intact) in the next village and a german baroque waiting restoration (paperwork already 15 years going). Nobody complains about them, on the contrary most a proud to have something "special".

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            • #7
              Re: all-purpose or period specific?



              When I said 'portative" earlier I meant a "positive" organ something like this:





              Although I kind of like this one better, (I really just like the way it looks

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              • #8
                Re: all-purpose or period specific?



                But, you're right, that usually these churches with more than one organ have a "main" organ which usually has some kind of historical value, and is worth preserving, un-altered, or there is no room within the chambers or where ever the organ is installed, so these churches decide to build a baroque style organ, in the case of the church I keep mentioning, an Italian style Baroque tracker of two manuals.





                I double posted so that I could have a relatively clear space to really respond, without two pictures.

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