Today marks the birthday anniversary of two organ builders, one very famous, and the other, well probably more infamous than anything else!
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, born 4th February 1811, who was one of the geatest organ builders of the 19th century, if not THE greatest. His instruments alne stand as testimony to this fact.
Not only were they constructed to the highest standard possible at that time, their sound was, and still is, absolutely outstanding when sympathetically restored. I know of several smaller instruments standing in out of the way places in the French countryside that have never had a comprehensive renovation, other than a general cleaning and regulation, yet they still sound, although with a few wheezes and puffs, almost as good as the master left them.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to make a visit to France/Paris for his anniversary as I always try to do, because there is always something going on somewhere to celebrate this fact. I usually attend a Cavaillé-Coll organ concert, and perhaps also get the chance to have a spin on one of his instruments if I'm in the right place and time. Just to get my hands on some of those fabulous reeds is a truly rewarding experience.
"Father Willis, eat your heart out!" was the somewhat ingenerous thought that I had the very first time I encountered one of his organs, far too many years ago to think about now!
They do, however, represent a very important milestone in the history of organ building.
If you have never experienced a Cavaillé-Coll organ "in the flesh" yet, and you love the organ, then stick it on your life list as something you have to do before you're off.
What about the other organ builder mentioned at the beginning then?
Well, it's none other than yours truly!
I may never be so famous and successful as the great Aristide, but I have always tried to build organs that will stand the test of time, and who knows, someone, somewhere will be posting something about me here in 205 years time!