Author Topic: Miller Spinnetta  (Read 3231 times)

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revtonynewnham

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Miller Spinnetta
« on: June 23, 2012, 10:06:29 AM »
A query that's perhaps only marginally on topic.  In remastering some vintage recordings by EOCS members, I came across a recording of a "Miller Spinnetta".  Pretty well all the sounds are percussive - electronic-piano like (but of better quality than most EP's of the era).  A web search has thrown up VERY little, except that the instrument was used as a significant part of the Thunderbirds TV series music tracks, and that it had 2 manuals.

Does anyone have any info on this instrument - and some pictures?  Miller organs were based in Norwich, UK and built mainly church electronic organs several decades ago - I've played a few back in the '60's & '70's - not seen one lately.  The business is now Norwich Organs - I have e-mailed them, but not had any response as yet (unsurprising given that it was yesterday evening when I sent it - and it's the weekend!)

Every Blessing

Tony

Ian van Deurne

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Re: Miller Spinnetta
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2012, 01:10:44 PM »
I too played an organ by Miller many years ago, the early seventies to be precise and I can remember being very impressed with it, given the fact that it was electronic and remembering what the normal standard of reproduction of organ tone was back then. It was during an organ festival at Cranleigh in Surrey where three organs were featured, the church pipe organ and this Miller and another one by the American Conn company which featured so-called 'elecronic pipes' which were a set of brass tubes (with no mouths) and stood on a small stand by the side of the organ. The Miller was of standard British console dimesions with angled drawstop jambs for the manuals while the pedal registers were on tabs just below the music desk. The reason why I remember this organ so well was because I described it to the audience at the time that although being trained as a pipe organ builder, I regarded this organ as a serious musical instrument.
Althiugh I realise things have moved on from that time it made me realise that there one day maybe a serious contender to the pipe organ, especially for small installations. I cannot remember the price of it now but it was very reasonable, compared with the Conn organ there, which, to my mind still had a very long way to go to be a serious contender to pipes.
The Miller organ was being marketed by a company called Southern Organs at the time and if I remember correctly, was the subject of some serious business malpractice several years later but by that time I had moved back to the Netherlands and don't know the details of it.

Best wished from Ian

David Drinkell

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Re: Miller Spinnetta
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 05:21:12 PM »
Southern Organs mounted an organ extravaganza at the Royal Albert Hall - Marcel Dupre (his last public performance, I think), Reginald Foort, etc.  The Bishop of Guildford (Reindorp) said a few words, but i can't remember what they were....

It all gave an impression of a company with the best of intentions, but I guess things went wrong after that.

I, too, found the Miller to be one of the most satisfactory of that generation of electronics.  The fact that they were nice to play and had sensible specificationsa were  major factors which made one think more charitably about the sound - which itself was a better attempt than many larger firms managed.  The Conn electronic pipe gimmick was a waste of space.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:23:39 PM by David Drinkell »

rh1306

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Re: Miller Spinnetta
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 12:46:18 PM »
This event took place on Friday, 16th April 1971 and featured Nicholas Kynaston, Marcel Dupre and Reginald Foort at the RAH organ, George Blackmore at the Hammond X66, and Jackie Brown at the Conn Theatre 3 manual organ.

Marcel Dupre was, by this time, becoming extremely frail (he died aged 85 just six weeks later) and had to be assisted up the steps to the console.  He performed three pieces - Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor; his own Cortege and Litany and an Improvisation on two submitted themes, one of which, if my memory serves me correctly, was the English lullaby "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (I can't remember the other theme but it may have been something Patriotic such as "Rule Britannia").

I still have the printed booklet and programme for the RAH Grand Centenary Organ Festival (15p Admission!!!).

Richard H

David Drinkell

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Re: Miller Spinnetta
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 03:28:31 PM »
That's right! I had forgotten George Blackmore, a player for whom I had the highest regard.  And Nicholas Kynaston played the Carillon de Westminster, complete with chimes, causing a mild sensation among the assembled organ buffs.

Dupre's Bach was pretty terrible - full of fluffed notes - but the extemporisation was masterly.  I can remember it still.  I feel privileged to be able to say that I heard Marcel Dupre at his last public concert performance.

 


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