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Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune

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  • Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune

    Whilst browsing another forum on the web, I came across a discussion about experiences involving the most frightening or dangerous organs to play upon - either due to extremely high/cramped/decaying organ lofts, seemingly endless walks and climbs to reach them, either as an organist or a tuner.

    Toulouse Cathedral could be an example - one has a lengthy walk through the triforium, followed by a walk to the organ gallery across a wooden bridge. Certainly not my kind of journey.


  • #2
    Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune



    Any organ can be dangerous... I cracked my noggin on a façade bracket at my own church, just a few months ago. It is placed in such a way that it is not the first time I've done it. [:@]




    A few organs I tune require walking on 'catwalks' with a one or two storey drop on either side. One of these installations has an open hatchway at the top of the ladder; once you pass the hatchway you must leap across the open hatchway - not too fun, but you do get used to it.




    Some of the more memorable organs I've played: Chartres Cathedral - the organist has to walk along a narrow walkway high above the transept; as you round the bend into the nave, it is rather heart-stopping. You then have to traverse a small room before entering the "swallows nest" where the console is located. The access is very narrow there as well.




    The journey to the organ loft at St-Severin in Paris is frightening in a creepy kind of way, although it doesn't feel dangerous. The church is so very ancient, and doesn't seem to have been cleaned in recent history. Part of the walkway goes by a large rose window with clear glass - you get a dizzying view of the street below. If you chance to peek in some of the adjacent rooms you see some very spooky rooms that have an air of gothic mystery and ruin...




    St-Sulpice is very mysterious, with the pentagram windows, text carved into the walls, and a very Jules Verne/Nautilus feel in the organ loft.




    The high loft at La Madeleine seems tohave saggeddown towards the nave, with only a delicate filigree of wrought ironat the edge of the balcony!




    At many French churches I recall limits on how many people could enter certain lofts.




    St-Denis has a bench which tilts dangerously forward; that, plus a Récit that seems a mile away make for a very wobbly experience! I found myself leaning on my hands, trying to push my body back so that I wouldn't fall onto the pedalboard. [:O]




    The Cathedral of St. Michel& Gudule in Brussels mightbe one of the scariest for an organist: you have to ascend a long staircase, which lets you out onto the roof of the cathedral! You must walk along the narrow parapet exposed to the elements. You re-enter via a very tiny door and next encounter a steep staircase which descends directly towards the floor of the nave (which is visible many stories down)! At the last moment, you turn a corner and find yourself at the console. [:O] I seem to recall that the handrail is very tiny,probablyto be visually unobtrusive. Here is a pic of the console from the nave floor:




    http://picasaweb.google.com/rouholla...94673949553650

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    • #3
      Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune

      Thanks for your generous post, soubasse32 - thoroughly enjoyable!

      I agree with you about St.Sulpice. When there I also visited Widor's office, behind the right-hand side of the organ.

      I have also heard others mention the small balcony which the console is placed on at La Madeleine.

      We have a particular problem with space in the organ galleries here - if possible I will try and get some pictures.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune

        Oh dear! I'm not one for heights, so looks like I'll have to pass ON these particular instruments if I am ever offered the chance to have a little go.
        1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
        Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune



          [quote user="tumult_in_the_praetorium"]
          Toulouse Cathedral could be an example - one has a lengthy walk through the triforium, followed by a walk to the organ gallery across a wooden bridge. Certainly not my kind of journey.

          [/quote]



          Ely Cathedral could be another example... as I discovered when climbing up to the octagon a few years ago. I don't envy the organ tuners.



          BTW, some consider the H&H at Ely the finest in the UK. Hard to tell from recordings, though, and I'm not sure I agree.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune



            When I visited the organ in Romsey Abbey in Hampshire, we went up to the organ loft which was up a VERY long spiral staircase, which at one point had a door that went out onto the roof. When you're finally at the top, you have to cross a very thin gallery with only one metal bar to stop you falling down over 100ft! We also managed to climb out in front of the swell box onto a small platform on which the Tuba was sited. This was about 50ft from the floor with just another metal bar across, but it only just came up to eyes so I could still have easily fallen through!




            Also, in a church in Croydon, South London I visited - St. Michael & All Angels, the console is about another 60-70ft off the floor. Apprently when Dame Gillian Weir came to play that organ, she was terrified - so I am told!




            Jezza

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            • #7
              Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune

              The Cathedral of St. Michel & Gudule in Brussels might be one of the scariest for an organist:
              Organists already have refused to play because of it. Did they change the "approach"? I seem to remember you had to climb a ladder in the triforum when it was just installed. But the staircase down into the console is the scariest, it just looks like you're going all the way down to the nave and they forgot a part of the stairs...

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune



                I recall noladder climbing at St. Michel & Gudule, so they must have changed the access.




                But that dizzyinglysteepstaircase is still there. It feels like you aredescending towards the edge of a precipice, suspended in mid-air.




                I'm reminded of two other organs.An organthat I've helped to tune has the entire Great division suspended from a rear gallery wall. I'm guessing that it may be about 20' above the floor. At that height, any ladder tends toshakerather unpleasantly! It is a very large division,the pipes arearrangedin major thirds; it always seems to take forever to tune.




                The other organ is a large new-ish installation in the USA by a European builder - I got to tour the interior of the instrument a number of years ago. When I got to the very top of the organ there was a very long, very steep stair/ladder. There were no handrails so I was obliged to hold on to the steps with my hands as I climbed up.




                The scary part came at the very top of the stair/ladder; there were no handrails, and there was absolutely nothing to hold on to! The stair/ladder was open-backed so it didn't seem very substantial. On either side you could see a long fall (onto pipes, of course)! When I finally reached the top I was not pleased to notice that the platform I was standing on swayed a bit. [:O]




                The worst part was coming down, which was much harder. [:S] There was that moment ofuncomfortableindecision: do I go forward down the stairs (with an increased risk of falling) or back myself blindly over the edge? [:O] Of course the only conclusion is that you have to descend backwards, hoping you can feel the next step with your foot as you go down.




                I suggested to the organ's representative that it would be a very simple, inexpensivething to add a handrail - or even just a simple post at the top of the stairs. It mightavoid a really big problem at some future point. I doubt they followed my suggestion...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Most Frightening/Dangerous Organs To Play/Tune

                  [quote user="soubasse32"]

                  I recall noladder climbing at St. Michel & Gudule, so they must have changed the access.




                  But that dizzyinglysteepstaircase is still there. It feels like you aredescending towards the edge of a precipice, suspended in mid-air.




                  I'm reminded of two other organs.An organthat I've helped to tune has the entire Great division suspended from a rear gallery wall. I'm guessing that it may be about 20' above the floor. At that height, any ladder tends toshakerather unpleasantly! It is a very large division,the pipes arearrangedin major thirds; it always seems to take forever to tune.




                  The other organ is a large new-ish installation in the USA by a European builder - I got to tour the interior of the instrument a number of years ago. When I got to the very top of the organ there was a very long, very steep stair/ladder. There were no handrails so I was obliged to hold on to the steps with my hands as I climbed up.




                  The scary part came at the very top of the stair/ladder; there were no handrails, and there was absolutely nothing to hold on to! The stair/ladder was open-backed so it didn't seem very substantial. On either side you could see a long fall (onto pipes, of course)! When I finally reached the top I was not pleased to notice that the platform I was standing on swayed a bit. [:O]




                  The worst part was coming down, which was much harder. [:S] There was that moment ofuncomfortableindecision: do I go forward down the stairs (with an increased risk of falling) or back myself blindly over the edge? [:O]




                  I suggested to the organ's representative that it would be a very simple, inexpensivething to add a handrail - or even just a simple post at the top of the stairs. It mightavoid a really big problem at some future point. I doubt they followed my suggestion...



                  [/quote]





                  Sorry, but just reading this made me scared! [:^)]

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