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Miscellaneous & Suggestions / John Marsh Book
« Last post by revtonynewnham on March 08, 2018, 09:05:39 AM »

I've just finished reading "John Marsh. A Most Elegant & Beautiful Instrument.  the Organ" by Martin Renshaw.

This deals with the life of John Marsh (1752-1828) majoring on his organ (and to an extent other musical interests).  It's a fascinating and worthwhile read - how different was the world that Marsh lived in!

The book is available from "At the Sign of the Pipe" (

Every Blessing

Organ Builders / Re: Petrus van Oecklen (1792-1878)
« Last post by revtonynewnham on March 08, 2018, 08:59:27 AM »
Interesting info Ian - thanks for posting it.
Organ Builders / Petrus van Oecklen (1792-1878)
« Last post by Ian van Deurne on March 08, 2018, 08:32:20 AM »
Petrus van Oecklen can with confidence be called an exceptional organ builder. During the course of his lifetime he was extremely successful, unafraid of pioneering commercial or musical adventure, and of a perseverant nature
    He was born in Breda on 15th August 1792. His father Cornelis worked principally as a clockmaker but who also dabbled with the maintenance of carillons and organs. His companion, or mentor in his organ activities was the now virtually unknown organ builder Christiaanen (sometimes referred to as Christianus), who is documented as being a "master organ maker". Although Cornelis worked mainly on the restoration and repair of organs, he did manage to construct several beautiful instruments of his own, such as the still extant organ at Oud-Beijerland.
    The success of this instrument earned him the contract to build an organ in the Dutch Reformed Church at Strijen  in 1837. However, he died on 29th August of that year, so the instrument was completed by his son Petrus. In fact, this was actually Petrus's second organ for he had delivered his first to the Dutch Reformed Church at Assen a few years before.
    Between his early years and the construction of these two organs lies the  important year of 1810 when he made one of the most important decisions of his life: he moved from Breda to Groningen, which was a big step for a young man who had just reached his eighteenth birthday. In addition Petrus, a Roman Catholic, found himself in the strangely Protestant north, where Catholic enclaves were only to be found in the largest cities. Doubtless Petrus made this move already with a certainty of gaining a sufficient means of employment in Groningen of which we have no record. It's more than likely, however, that he had already been appointed the Carilloneur of the Martinikerk tower in Groningen as there could be no doubt of his experience in this field, having been the Municipal Carilloneur of Breda since his sixteenth year. It is also probable that he had already secured a position as an organ builder's apprentice. There were two possible firms, that of Heinrich Hermann Freitag,  a former apprentice of Albertus Anthoni Hinsz, who with Frans Caspar Schnitger Jr had taken over his business upon his death, and which on Freitag's death in 1811 was continued by his son Eberhard Freitag and Johannes Wilhelmus Timpe, who died in 1837.
    Whatever the facts might be, it is certain that he quickly managed to win himself a place in the musical life of the city of Groningen. He made the transition from apprentice to independent organ builder in 1819 with the delivery of his first organ to the Dutch Reformed Church at Assen. It is also noteworthy that the term of "musical instrument maker" is often referred to regarding him, implying that he occupied himself with musical instruments other than with the organ alone. It is also known that as a musician he was competent on the piano, carillon, violoncello and contrabass as well as on the organ.
    His personal life was equally successful. On 30th June 1825 he married Joanna Maria Theresia Auwerda. They were to have six children, among them Cornelis Aldegundis and Antonius, who would continue their father's flourishing company after his death. The family's large house still stands in Harendermolen.
    In addition to his occupational activities, Petrus van Oecklen gathered various people around him who occupied important positions in the life of Groningen, and whose influence was most useful in gaining him further contracts...... and there were a lot of contracts, mainly because this was a moment in time when many churches in smaller villages were commissioning new organs, sometimes to replace a harmonium. The nobility often played an important role in arranging these commissions: they were not only wealthy, but they were also active as church trustees.
    In this connection it was Jonkheer (Squire) SamuŽl Wolther Trip who was particularly important. He was an influential Groninger nobleman who was also a proficient amateur organist. Over the course of time he would become a kind of "ambassador" for the work of Petrus van Oecklen, and was responsible for gaining him many contracts. It was often Trip as well who would inaugurate the new instruments at their dedication services. There is no doubt then that Petrus would have cherished the friendship that grew between them over the years.
    Petrus van Oecklen should also be remembered as one of the first organ builders who developed as certain degree of mass production methods into the craft. For many parts were absolutely uniform and were constructed according to a completely standardised procedures. Even the design of the casework became so uniform that they looked almost identical. Generally the whole organ would sit on the front of the gallery, usually in two tiers, Hoofdwerk with Bovenwerk above. The Pedaal would normally be placed behind, with the bellows positioned behind the upper manual. The console would be placed on one side. The two instruments at Saaxumhuizen and Usquert are good examples of this kind.
    It should be said that both in quantity and quality Petrus van Oecklen belongs amongst the best Dutch organ builders of the 19th century. Although his work, just like that of many of his contemporaries was either ignored or looked down upon during the 20th century, since all attention was focused on the Barock period of organ construction. Now, with the benefit of time, as we move further away from the period in which he lived, his work is finally receiving the attention and admiration it deserves. His instruments have now proven their quality and durability during the last 150 years, and the sound also offers much for the ear to appreciate. Special mention should be given to Van Oecklen's Viola di Gamba, one of the specialities of the house, which in its day was highly praised, and which is once more commanding considerable attention amongst players and lovers of the organ.
    If you're visiting the Netherlands, do go and check some of these instruments out, you won't be disappointed.

With best wishes,

Miscellaneous & Suggestions / Re: Is this forum dead? Is the organ dead?
« Last post by David Pinnegar on February 12, 2018, 10:35:27 PM »
Ian - thanks for your wonderful contributions and although the path might seem lonely, contributing from the wealth of knowledge you, and others, have is the only way of encouragement forward into the future generations.

Best wishes

David P
Miscellaneous & Suggestions / Re: Is this forum dead? Is the organ dead?
« Last post by Ian van Deurne on January 30, 2018, 11:20:12 PM »
Hi everyone!
Sorry I haven't been around for a while but like David Wyld has said, there is often times when organ builders have to get on and make a living. My time lately, before Christmas has been totally taken up with tuning. After that, I've been away in the Netherlands for Christmas and the new year, spending time with my family and friends over there. Consequently, I've not had any time to visit this forum but I'm hoping that over the next few months I will be able to rectify the situation.
       As to the question posed here........ No, the organ is not dead, it will never be dead. It is a musical instrument, it assumes its own purpose, through the hearts and minds of it's performers and listeners. You must remember that the organ, in the beginning was only installed in a church because it was the only building large enough to accommodate it.. As time moved on this incredible instrument was found a place in the liturgy, but only after a long and complicated argument about whether it was deemed suitable to be in a building dedicated to the gospels and the teaching of the Christian church. Eventually, after it was realised that the organ was indispensable to lead the singing of the congregation, starting from around 1640 onwards on the continent and I'm sorry to say, very much later in England, it's existence was assured..
       Now, during this present age in many churches are replacing guitars for gedackts and mixtures for mouth organs,  it might seem that the King of Instruments might well have had its day, but it really doesn't matter in the long run. This age of "happy clapper" nonsense will one day soon outlive it's sell by date. The reason for this, in my mind is that the average person, whether they be old or young, , rich or poor is searching for a reason as to why they exist, spinning around on this reletively small planet out in the middle of God only knows where. Not any amount of this kind of superficial claptrap will ever give any answer to their questions. Therefore, they must at sometime realise this, if they have any brain at all and start once again to research the higher aspects of existence......oh,but now I'm getting sidetracked.

The organ, whatever happens to religion in the next 1000 years or whenever, will survive simply because it is. It is the greatest musical instrument ever conceived by human beings, not only because of its incredible voice, but also because of its technical innovations that were started long before anything else. Organ builders in the 17th century were held in the same esteem as rocket scientists might be today. As long as there are people who love music on this earth, the organ will always be there, whatever happens with religion.

Sorry, I'm thinking all this as I write so once again I'm getting of topic!

As promised, I'll do some more writing on some of the great organ builders of history, including the family Stumm, as I've now retrieved my notes from my daughter. I also hope to provide some insight into some fascinating instruments that have been built over the last 400 years that I've been privileged to study and play.

Until then, best wishes from

The Silk Road from China to the west has received a lot of attention recently with the publication of Peter Francopan's book on the subject linking the dots of the routes in the rise of production of and export of silk in the second half of the first millennium BC.

For some time I've been saying that the Gospel of Thomas is Buddhist in its spirit with a sprinkling of Confucius, and others say that John shows origins in Zoroastrianism.

The reason why the Church isn't mainstream any more is that people are seeing that its singular approach to the Divine isn't the whole picture, not relevant to the real world and for many I believe the Cross and the figure of Jesus is an idol.

Only when the Church moves in a more holistic approach to the Divine will it find relevance, and the future of the Organ survive.

We don't give credit to the ancients, their facility for transcontinental trade, communication of goods and communication of thought in any way as different brands of a common currency. It was with this, perhaps that Jesus gave in a reform to Judaism.

"Sacred by thy Name"

In other words - it should not be pronounced. In the Name of Jesus, we replace a name that should not be pronounced by another Name, and it should not be pronounced, uttered.

It's worth contemplating perhaps the similarity with

The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.
The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.

"I am the Light. I am the Way" says Jesus. Was he usurping competing religions? Or was he bringing them together? Not to replace but be part?

Those "pagan" religions oh so to be derided . . . In the wisdom of Apollo, again representative of light, the Name was never to be uttered. Light not of the world but of the mind. Holman Hunt's painting is misleading in so far as depicting a light of material form.

Ideas of the ancient world were much more universal perhaps than we give credit for, and now to be shown up as such in the universalism inherent in a World Wide Web. We think that modern technology is so much more effective than that of the ancients but perhaps in the days of old our ideas were bound by the communication spawned by a web of silk.

Best wishes

David P
Miscellaneous & Suggestions / Re: Is this forum dead? Is the organ dead?
« Last post by David Pinnegar on January 30, 2018, 01:48:08 AM »
It's good to see you back. 

The Organ needs INSPIRATION from such proponents as you!

Best wishes

David P
Miscellaneous & Suggestions / Re: Is this forum dead? Is the organ dead?
« Last post by pcnd5584 on January 13, 2018, 09:53:06 PM »
I have had no problems logging-in this evening. Later (or, perhaps tomorrow), I hope to have a good read through as many new posts as possible.

Best wishes to all our readers, posters and lurkers....
Perhaps, as religions (most, if not all anyway) are fading away, churches could become 'Temples of Reason'.

Although I admit to being an atheist, nevertheless I am interested all aspects of the pipe organ and would hate to see them disappear.  I'm sure that their music could exist quite happily in a temple of reason!
The reason why I try to push the boundaries of what the Christian religion can mean is that without churches the organ is dead.

Meanwhile churches are dying because people don't see them as being capable of being relevant to or in their lives.

It's only by the explorations of meaning that people might not perhaps throw the baby out with the bathwater in the rejection of the wisdom of Jesus with which their lives can be enhanced, and the resulting death of the church . . . and of organs.

The two go hand in hand and unless the church finds understandings which make its texts relevant to every day people, both organ and church will die.

Best wishes

David P
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