Author Topic: Wond'rous Machine 2: the curious history of the organ in England ANGLO SAXON  (Read 5140 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Martin Renshaw

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Karma: +4/-0
    • View Profile
2. Several Anglo-Saxon monasteries and cathedrals in Britain are known to have possessed organs, probably mounted in their west facades.  Like the Roman organs they were there to amuse and perhaps frighten the faithful, but also to sound out with bells and Te Deums to welcome princes and prelates and to signal high feast days.  One at Winchester (c985) was celebrated in part of a long poem in praise of the bishop who had it enlarged :
'Considuntque duo concordi pectore fratres...
Here sit two brothers of harmonious spirit
Each a guide ruling his own alphabet.
There are hidden holes in four times ten tongues [sliders]
...And they strike the seven separate joyful tones
Mixed with the song of the lyric semitone
...And the melody of the muses is heard everywhere in the city...'
Which in a city in a hollow surrounded by hills is indeed perfectly possible…

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Hi!

Thanks for posting these wonderful glimpses into the past.

An instrument capable of being heard throughout the city is mind boggling! High wind pressure?

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

JBR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Karma: +22/-0
    • View Profile
High wind pressure?

 ;D

I doubt it!  Of course, the environment would have been much quieter in those days.  No motorised traffic, no aeroplanes, no ghetto blasters, etc, etc.
A missionary from Yorkshire to the primitive people of Lancashire

KB7DQH

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1377
  • Karma: +39/-0
    • View Profile
I have read a description of an organ in a "Winchester Cathedral", which was "Audible at 7 miles, offensive at 5, deafening at 2, and required the effort of 70 men to pump the bellows... ;)

Eric
KB7DQH

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

MusingMuso

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 201
  • Karma: +25/-2
    • View Profile
Unfortunately....well not unfortunately....fortunately in fact ....(it went to a worthy organist who was getting on a bit)....I gave away my LP of "The organ in sanity and madness", which was the fund-raising concert organised at the Albert Hall for the RCO funds. I think the main people involved were Messrs Jackson, Wicks and Wilcocks, but I forget the exact details.

I hope I can recall the line correctly, but I think it was Sir David Wilcocks who said of the Winchester Organ, "....few who drew near could bear the sound."  (I think that was followed by the bit about audible at 7 miles etc)

I suspect that the only organ in the world which comes close, has to the outdoor  "Heroes Organ" somewhere in the Tyrol, though I think the Spreckles organ must also come close in America.

The only organ I know which can be heard in the city, is that at Hull City Hall, which can be heard quite distinctly in the streets below in a quiet, pedestrianised area; though one local organist once said to me, "You can hear the bloody thing down at King George Dock."  (About 4 miles down river)

Best,

MM



David Drinkell

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 332
  • Karma: +26/-1
    • View Profile
You can hear the York Minster Tuba Mirabilis half a mile down the street.

I am told that the organ here can be heard on the harbour, which is several hundred yeards away.  Hope-Jones would be pleased.  Although he didn't supply a Diaphone here, the Canadian government used the patent to provide foghorns in lighthouses.

And wasn't the original Hill Tuba designed as a signalling device for railways, thence translated into church at the behest of the entrepreneur Hudson, the 'Railway King'?

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
And wasn't the original Hill Tuba designed as a signalling device for railways, thence translated into church at the behest of the entrepreneur Hudson, the 'Railway King'?

Aah!

Now I understand the familiarity of the sound of the 1920s Harrison Tubas too!

What an interesting nuance of the instrument. Is this the connexion that links many organists with trains?

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Pierre Lauwers

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Karma: +16/-0
    • View Profile
I feared it; it happened.
I think it is impossible to deal with the history of the organ in Britain
with britishmen nowadays.
Quite slippery a road it is ! Ten postings are enough for the various condemnations
and judgments to come.
How sad !

Best wishes,
Pierre

David Drinkell

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 332
  • Karma: +26/-1
    • View Profile
Eh?

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Hi!

I can guarantee Pierre's ears will be flaming, and a lot more, as a result of a chance encounter with a record sleeve today.

Vinyl LPs are being thrown out by the score and I'm putting together a collection of whatever records comes my way, and possibly indiscriminately. The reason for this is that in 50 or 100 years time what is common today and thrown out for the sins of being cheesy or whatever such excuse will be significantly rare in the future.

The other day I was offered some records reputed to be classical and organ. They turned out to be Readers Digest compilations.


It gets worse.


Record 1 of "Organ Magic" relates on the cover:
Quote
Long, long ago - say in the 10th century, when it was still a very primitive instrument - an organ might have had 400 pipes, as one in Winchester, England, did, and require 70 strong men to pump it. The resulting thunder of sound could be heard for miles; it battered its listeners and forced them to cover their "gaping ears"

Certainly "Organ Magic" of 1977 compiled by Readers Digest Association, Inc. "printed in the USA" might do the same, continuing:
Quote
Today, thanks to the miracle of the transistor, the electronic organ is capable of nearly that same power, but it can produce literally thousands of far sweeter, far more delicate sounds as well. Not a pipe is needed, not a single man to work the bellows. At fingers' touch are more combinations than one could probably think to play: combinations of of tonal color that can imitate birds, brooks, whole orchestras of instruments, voices, fountains, sounds of cities and their streets - curious, wonderful sounds that have never been heard before.

Is dealing with the history of the organ in Britain more difficult with "britishmen" or Americans of 35 years ago?

:-)

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Pierre Lauwers

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Karma: +16/-0
    • View Profile
Dear David, my ears won't "flame", as they do not have to facing historical material.
Charles Tournemire saw "an huge potential" within the electronic organ, and we do not have to "judge" this.

(Now if we go back to us, present-day, and have to deal with those things, it might be interesting to know they do not like beer quite much; a pint of Ale, or Pils, can do wonders if swiftly and precisely moved towards cooling fins. I do not make any suggestion of course, I simply state an accident can quickly happen).

The "englishmen" aren't different from "the others", actually. The problem is a cultural one; the very idea of a "Nadir"! This implies a judgment, and whenever we judge, we aren't historians any more.

The way Hope-Jones, namely, ROBERT HOPE-JONES, is deal with in Britain today is a problem. Judgments flow like horse meat in the lasagnes, that is, both are inacceptable.

Everyone knows about my concerns about a dedicate cathedral organ round 2006, concerns which failed to resolve anything.
Yes, we have a slight problem.

See you soon on "Organs that train our ears". There, I shall continue to link towards
beautiful things, and also awkward, off-tune ones, desesperately in need of repair ones,
old batches of rust which have something to tell.

Best wishes,
Pierre

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Dear Pierre

Sorry for my sense of humour. But I did think that 1970s record sleeve both hilarious and, in its description of Winchester, mind boggling. Certainly not at all an instrument that we would particularly recognised today . . .

Indeed, the coarseness of sound, and that too of the electronics referred to on the record sleeve, probably do have a degree of revulsion in common.

Perhaps it was historic information about instruments such as this that led to a Pope banning reed instruments and reed stops as they were considered to be the work of the devil. . . . It would be interesting to know which Pope so decreed . . .

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

 


Locations of visitors to this page

Organ Design


Latroba Holidays