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Topics - Contrabombarde

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Organs on eBay or for urgent sale / 1 manual Renn seeks new home
« on: July 01, 2020, 06:34:34 PM »
I've been asked if I can draw attention to this one manual and pedal Renn circa 1840 and featured in the Organ Magazine May 2018:

In a private home now and the owner is seeking its relocation.

Sadly this spectacular theatre organ has been scrapped after the (understandable) failure to raise £2 million to restore it. As it was not removed prior to the commencement of building work in the hall the pipework became irredeemably contaminated with asbestos and it has just been announced that it has been removed and scrapped as contaminated waste.

As subject line.

GREAT: Open Diapason (8'), Claribel Flute (8'), Dulciana (8'), Harmonic Flute (4')
SWELL: (enclosed): Violin Diapason (8'), Lieblich Gedackt (8'), Gemshorn (4'), Piccolo (2'), Oboe (8'), Tremulant
PEDAL: Bourdon (16')
Swell to Great, Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal; 'hitch down' swell pedal; two combination pedals each to Great & Swell

Birmingham's Central Methodist Hall is home to a large three manual Walcker which was originally built for a church in Germany, and was brought to eh UK in 1903. I played it about 30 years ago and thought it was a very grand, if somewhat tired, creature. Sadly the hall has been disused for many years, having ceased to be a nightclub venue some time after its ecclesiastical function stopped. Today's local paper says that it is to be converted into a new hotel and leisure centre. What particularly struck me in the report was a claim that as part of the refurbishment the organ is to restored. Can anyone shed light on this potentially very welcome news?

The house is for sale, that is....and presumably the three manual Christie organ in the cinema in the attic (yes seriously!) would come with it. £350,000 for a semirural mansion this size looks like a bargain, though I can imagine you would need to spend several times that much to bring the house back to first class condition. And the organ has long been unplayable.

The Christie was installed by the present owner's father when he converted the attic into a paying cinema early in the 20th century. Amazingly I have actually managed to track down a recording of Firmstone senior playing at (scroll down to Eldon Firmstone). It was used to make radio broadcasts in World War II and is one of only two Christie organs to have been installed in private residences apparently.

Any millionaires interested in building a French gothic cathedral in which to house this? How many kidneys does one have to sell to buy it?

Organs on eBay or for urgent sale / Interesting find on Ebay
« on: August 09, 2013, 08:36:59 PM »
Just spotted in Aberdare near Newport:

Lots of different bits from different organ builders, with the intriguing message to watch this space for more to be added in the coming days due to retirement forcing clearance of stock. There might be some interesting finds for some here (I have no connection to the sale so am only promoting for interest's sake). I wonder who is retiring?

First off, a three manual and pedal Crane:

And then a self-playing Aeolian:

No connection with either seller other than curiousity!


Dr David Pitches plays a recital of organ music with a public health twist
on the grand Nicholson and Lord organ of Walsall Town Hall
Thursday 20 June 1pm, admission £2

Dr David Pitches trained as a consultant in public health. He worked for several years in central Africa before returning to the UK to work for Walsall Primary Care Trust. Until the 1970s, public health delivery was the responsibility of local government, and in April 2013 following recent NHS reforms public health has returned “home” again to local councils. It is to celebrate this arrival that he performs today a recital that calls to mind the contribution that advances in public health have made to life expectancy and health over the centuries, since many of the composers featured died prematurely from conditions that we would aspire to prevent nowadays. Even today in Walsall we face huge challenges and there is enormous potential for improving health – children born on the west of the borough face on average eight years’ shorter life expectancy than those born on the east.

Details of this and many other organ recitals can be found online at
David maintains a Youtube channel at
Johann Ludwic Krebs (1713-1780) Toccata, from the Toccata and Fugue in E major
Getting people to do more exercise is a high priority – only one in six adults in Walsall meets the recommended minimum level of moderate exercise per week. This exuberant baroque work was composed by Bach’s greatest pupil and is enough to get any organist’s legs into good shape!

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers wake, the watch cry pealeth)
This well-known tune, often used in television commercials, comes from a Lutheran hymn written at the start of the 16th century by a pastor who buried thousands of people during a particularly bad plague outbreak and is a reminder that none of us knows when our life may end. Bach was no stranger to tragedy: of his twenty children, ten died in childhood and his first wife died, possibly as a result of complications of pregnancy.

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) Mein junges Leben hat ein End (My young life hath an end)
Sweelinck was a noted Dutch organist, teacher and composer, spending his entire life in Amsterdam. This set of variations on a popular tune of the day highlights something public health professionals would rather not think about and would hope to delay!

Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726) Elevazione in F
Zipoli was an Italian Jesuit who went to Argentina as a missionary and wrote music for the local indigenous population. His beautiful, dreamy music formed the inspiration for Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack (most famous for including “Gabriel’s oboe”) to the film “The Mission”. Orchestral arrangements of his two Elevaziones are frequently played on Classic FM. He died from a tropical infection, possibly tuberculosis, before he could be ordained as a priest.

Edward Macdowell (1860-1908) To a wild rose (arranged for organ by Charles Scott)
Macdowell was an influential American composer and music professor and a founder member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His best-known short piece is “To a wild rose”, written originally for voice and piano and here arranged for organ. He died from dementia resulting from tertiary syphilis. Thanks to early diagnosis and effective treatment this is very rare nowadays.

Jeremiah Clarke (1674-1707) Prince of Denmark's March (arranged by Jürgen Knuth)
Often incorrectly attributed to Henry Purcell, this is Clarke’s best-known piece and was performed at the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. He was organist at the Chapel Royal but fell in love with a woman he could not marry and eventually completed suicide with a shotgun.

Max Reger (1873-1916) Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir (From depths of woe I cry to Thee)
Reger was a prolific composer whose life was cut short from a heart attack aged 43. He battled with profound depression and alcoholism for most of his creative years.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) O welt, ich muss lich lassen (O world, I must now leave thee)
This is the last piece Brahms ever wrote, as he was dying from liver cancer, one of a set of eleven chorale preludes based on hymn tunes.
Felix Mendlessohn (1809-1847) Variations on “Vater unser im Himmelreich” (Our Father who art in Heaven”) from Sonata no. 6
This set of variations is based on the Lutheran hymn tune for the Lord’s Prayer and forms the first part of Mendelssohn’s final organ sonata. Mendelssohn died aged only 38 from a stroke.
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) Veni sponsa Christi, from Vepres, opus 31.
Chausson entered music relatively late, having first studied to become a barrister. At the height of his musical career he crashed into a wall going downhill on his bicycle and was killed instantly.

Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897) Finale - Marche from Deuxième Suite
Boëllmann was organist at St Vincent-de-Paul in central Paris and composed many works, though he is chiefly noted for his “Gothic Suite”. He married the niece of his teacher and had three children, but died aged only 35 from tuberculosis. His wife died shortly afterwards, leaving his professor to adopt their three children. He composed this exuberant piece shortly before he died.

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