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Topics - Ian van Deurne

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1
Hiya everyone!

I've just heard that the Regal cinema in Godalming, built in 1935 was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ when it was first built. Does anyone know if this is true, or just wishful thinking?  I can remember this building when I was very young but I would never have thought this could be true, for at the time the town must have been far too small for such an expensive instrument to have beinancially viable.

With best been been s
Ian

2
Hiya everyone!

I've just heard that the Regal cinema in Godalming, built in 1935 was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ when it was first built. Does anyone know if this is true, or just wishful thinking?  I can remember this building when I was very young but I would never have thought this couldn't be true, for at the time the town must have been far too small for such an expensive instrument to have blended blended een financially viable.

With best wishes
Ian

3
Organ Builders / Petrus van Oecklen (1792-1878)
« 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) Samuël 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,

Ian

4
Organ History / Utrecht Cathedral
« on: August 14, 2017, 11:25:31 AM »
I promised earlier to say something about this wonderful instrument, so firstly, the tonal disposition as it stands today;

I. RUGWERK

Prestant 8
Holpyp 8
Quintadeen 8
Octaaf 4
Roerfluit 4
Quint 3
Octaaf 2
Fluit 2
Cornet 5.st (disk)
Mixtuur 3-6 sterk
Scherp 3-4 sterk
Trompet 8
Touzyn 8 (bas/disk)

II. HOOFDWERK

Prestant 16
Bourdon 16
Octaaf 8
Roerfluit 8
Octaaf 4
Gemshoorn 4
Quint 3
Octaaf 2
Woudfluit 2
Sexquialter 2 sterk  (disk)
Mixtuur 6-8 sterk  (bas/disk)
Fagot 16
Trompet 8

IIII.  BOVENWERK

Prestant 8
Baarpyp 8
Viola de Gamba 8
Holpyp 8
Fluit travers 8
Octaaf 4
Openfluit 4
Roerquint 3
Woudfluit 2
Flageolet 1
Carillion 3 sterk  (f)
Trompet 8
Vox Humana 8

PEDAAL

Prestant 16
Subbas 16
Octaafbas 8
Fluitbas 8
Roerquint 6
Octaaf 4
Mixtuur 4 sterk
Bazuin 16
Trombone 8
Trompet 4
Cinq 2

COPPELS

Hoofdwerk/Pedaal
Rugwerk/Pedaal
Bovenwerk/Hoofdwerk

OMVANG

C-f'''  (54-Man)
C-d'  (27-Ped)

SPEELHULPEN

Tremulant;
       Rugwerk
       Bovenwerk

Afsluiting;
       Rugwerk
       Hoofdwerk
       Bovenwerk
       Pedaal

Ventiel  (emptied organ of wind  - now redundan)
Kalkanteklok. (Bellows signal - now redundant)

50 Register


The present organ in the Domkerk  (St Martin) in Utrecht incorporates parts of an earlier organ, built by Pieter Janszoon de Swart between 1569-1571. From this famous and very capable builder, six stops on the Rugwerk, three on the Bovenwerk and two on the Pedaal still remain in the instrument virtually unaltered, most notably the plenum formed by the Octaaf 4, Quint 3, Octaaf 2, and the Mixtuur and Scherp, located in the Rugwerk are from De Swart. In manufacture as well as sound quality these pipes are the best in the organ. However, due to the usual short compass of instruments constructed in the 16th century, these very old pipes are in the compass of F, G, A  - a'', the remainder of each rank being extended and made new in either 1640  (Van Hagerbeer), 1709  (Duytschot), or in 1831.

The Batz organ company was active for four generations. In 1739, Johann Heinrich Hartmann Batz set himself up as an organ builder in Utrecht, having learnt the trade from Christiaan Muller. After his death in 1770 his younger brother looked after the firm until Johann's young 21 year old son, Gideon Thomas Bath  (1751-1820) was experienced enough to take over running the company in 1772. However, the organ builder we are dealing with here comes from the next, or third generation, Jonothan Batz  (1787-1849) who was Gideon's son. In 1833 he took on a partner, Christian Gottlieb FiFriederich Witte (1802-1873, who had been apprenticed to Baethmann in Germany, but on completion of his training moved to Utrecht and started to work for Jonothan Batz in 1824. After the death of Jonothan in 1849, Witte became the sole owner of the firm but he kept the name of Batz & Co. Once again, the company become very prosperous and was building many good organs throughout the country. Utrecht is of course, conveniently situated as it is right in the centre of the Netherlands. The Batz company survived for one more generation through Christian's son, Johann Frederick Witte  (1840-1902) who succeeded his father in 1873. However, as he had no son and heir to take over the business, the company was bought and taken over by another organ building company, De Koff in 1902 after he died.

The Utrecht Domkerk organ, as seen today was newly built by Jonothan Batz in 1831, although several old ranks of pipes as mentioned above were reused in the new instrument. The organ precisely conforms to the type of instrument that was being built in the Netherlands throughout the 19th century. The church architect, Tieleman Franciscus Suys, who came from Brussels, designed the case and ornaments, as well as constructing a small building at the back of the church to house the nine wedge-shaped bellows. The case is in a kind of neo-classical style, although in size and proportion  (the length of many of the front pipes are far longer than what is required for the pitch needed ), not strictly functional. Nevertheless, this style became somewhat popular, because another organ which was built along the same lines by the same architect and builder was completed at the Amsterdam Ronde Lutherse Kerk in 1843, although somewhat smaller in size and propotion.

The organ in the Domkerk itself has been superbly designedinternally so that every pipe and each division, with all of its parts can be easily accessed for maintenance and tuning, which was very favourably commented on by probably the greatest organ builder of the 19th century, Aristide Cavaille'-Coll  (1811-1899),about the spacious internal layout during a visit he made here in November 1844.

In 1865, the Batz company, which by then had been fully taken over by Witte, removed the Sexquialter on the Hoofdwerk and replaced it with a mounted treble Cornet of 5 ranks. Then in 1895, after a further overhaul, the same company revoiced all the reeds, in line with the heavier sound preferred at that time.
During the years between 1911-1935, the Touzyn 8 and the Fluit 2 on the Rugwerk were removed in favour of more romantic-sounding stops. The Hoofdwerk Trompet 8 was completely replaced, as well as the Gemshoorn 4 and Woudfluit 2. Then finally, in 1935, a swell-box was fitted to enclose the entire Bovenwerk, with its Roerquint 3 and Vox Humana 8 also being replaced by other more "up-to-date* stops. This was also the time when the outside bellows chamber was demolished, as was considered to be out of keeping with the rest of the gothic building, and so instead, a rudimentary, improvised wind supply was incorporated into the relatively shallow organ case itself, which to say the least was hardly adequate.

The organ finally underwent an extensive restoration between 1972-73 by the firm of Van Vulpen, who are recognised as the most experienced in the maintenance and restoration of Batz organs. They replaced all the stops that had been removed over the last 107 years, and a new modern wind supply with internal regulators was built within the main case, because there was nowhere outside to house a bellows chamber based on a nine wedge-shaped bellows system as originally constructed. The only concession to later times that was retained was the swell-box, which had enclosed the Bovenwerk pipework since 1935 as it had proved to be a useful addition for accompaniment purposes on many occasions.

The organ today is widely acclaimed for its mild tone and expessive tremulants which makes the instrument far more suitable for the late romantic or modern periods of composition, rather than for the strict Baroque counterpoint or fugal music of Buxtehude and Bach.

The building itself is vast, really generous in space. However, it is only a fraction of its original size. The nave and side aisles were completely destroyed during a great storm in the late 17th century, so only the transepts, the choir and high altar remain, along with the great west-end tower, now separate and around 100 metres from the rest of the building.

With best wishes,
Ian.

5
House Organs / Baron Albert de L'Espee
« on: May 25, 2017, 02:26:26 PM »
Whle doing some further research into Aristide Cavaille'-Coll, I came across this man, who must have been the most prolific builder of house organs ever, and who must have also been Cavaille'-Coll's best customer.
He was born on 17th September 1852 at Metz. His father Edouard wast the regional governer of Metz, his mother was Marie-Josephine de Gargan, whose own mother was a member of the De Wendel family,, one of the most powerful in the province of Lorraine who controlled the greatest iron and steel empire of the mid-19th century.
He learned the piano, harmonium and organ as a child,, and with the Paris World  Exhibition in 1867, discovered more about the wider world without ever having to leave the banks of the Seine. He visited Paris regularly to see other members of his family on th Rue Las Cases,, very near to the church of Sainte-Clotilde where he may have heard Cesar Franck playing the organ. Anyway,, it seems that his desire to own a large organ himself dates fro this time.

From 1870 he made several journeys by train to Paris, exploring churches and listening to their organs, comparing the qualities of various instruments, as well as visiting the Paris Conservatoire where Cesar Franck taught. He also made several visits to Cavaille'-Coll's workshops on the Avenue du Maine. His family connections had made him extremely rich (according to his sparse Wikipedia entry). However, he was weak in health, protecting himself from any pollution and always searching for the ideal climate. He was an extremely intelligent man and a great builder, and so Albert de L'Espee came to own, among the estates he inherited and the acquisitions and the places he built for himself, some ten large properties throughout France, of which seven of them he furnished with organs.

In 1880 he installed a small Cavaille"-Coll instrument with ten stops, identical in specification to the one owned by Eugene Gigout, in the family chateau at Antibes. For the World Exhibition of 1878, Cavaille'-Coll installed a large organ in the Trocadero Concert Hall in Paris. This was exactly the kind of organ that Albert hoped one day to own himself. However, he quickly realised that the acoustic in the place was appalling. Therefore, he decided that after consulting with Cavaille'-Coll, he would have his own concert hall built that would provide a faultless acoustic for an organ. In 1890 Cavaille'-Coll was given the commission for an instrument around which the Baron would have a house built. For the location he settled on Biarritz in the far south-west of the country, and the house would be named "Chateau d' IIllbarritz". The mansion (still there) was completed in 1897 and the great organ installed, an instrument of four manuals and pedal, 72 speaking stops, complete with three swell boxes. In addition, a full chorus of Chamade Trompettes of 16, 8 and 4ft pitch was included, along with three full-length 32ft pedal stops. Very soon after completion, the quietness of the night was violently disturbed by the sounds of "Parsifal" and "Tannhauser" by the Baron's favourite composer.
After disappointment in love and divorcing his wife, Albert decided to sell the chateau but could find no buyer. He played the organ for the last time in 1902 and the following year, Charles Mutin (Cavaille'-Coll's successor) bought it back and installed it in the company's workshops. It stayed there until 1913, when a place for it was found at the church of Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre, Paris, with a new case but keeping the original console. After that Albert decided not to sell the chateau, and so he ordered from Charles Mutin, a new three manual and pedal organ of 62 stops. Part of this instrument was later re-used in the organ at Uzerbil, near Bilbao, Spain.

At the same time, the Baron had bought in 1892 an enormous private mansion: Nr.50, Avenue du Bois de Bolugne in Paris (now knwn as Avenue Foch, the same street where Claude Debussy lived from 1905 until his death). Once again Cavialle'-Coll was asked to build an organ with three manuals and pedal with 47 stops. This, however, was never going to work out well from the start. The late night noise that Albert was making, playing Wagner's music on the full organ, soon brought objections from his neighbours who were just trying to get a good night's sleep. The problem became so bad that they eventually joined together to make a formal complaint. Reluctantly, Albert realised he had no option to get rid of the organ rather than to lose favour with the whole district. It was then either bought, or was given as a gift, to Count Christian Berthier de Sauvigny in 1907, another good amateur organist who had in his own home on the Rue Legendre, a two manual and pedal, 20 speaking stop organ build by Joseph Merklin, another great Parisien organ builder.

Also around the same time, the new church of Saint Antoine des Quinze-Vingts (started in 1903) was nearing completion and it was suggested to the parishioners involved in the project that they slould perhaps donate an organ to the church. Therefore, the Count donated the organ to the church and it was moved from the Baron' mansion and installed in its new home by Merklin in 1909, with a new case but retaining the original console once again. Count Berthier was also installed as its first organist and he was followed by successors that included Jean Langlais and Gaston Litaize.

The organ is still there, virtually intact as Cavaille'-Coll had left it and is nowconsidered to be the best symphonic organ in Paris, and having played it several times myself I would completely agree.

Well now, you'd have thought that would have been it, but no....
In 1893 Albert started to build another chateau on a new site at Belle-Ile. Once again, Cavaille'-Coll installed a new organ there with three manuals, pedal and 46 stops, very similar to the one now in Saint Antoine. Unfortunately, this instrument, along with the chateau was completely destroyed by fire when the Germans left Paris in 1945.

Around 1897 the Baron succeeded in having yet another mansion built on the banks of Lake Montrion. Here he had Joseph Merklin install an Orchestrion, a curious entity, something like a cross between a piano and a barrel organ, operated by punched rolls as with a street organ.

For his other property at Saint Vallier de Thiery, near Cannes, we find the Baron's final instrument, built by Merklin for the Villa Henriette, which lies between Monaco and Menton. Having learned from his bitter experience in Paris and the legal action with which he had been threatened, Albert greatly modified his ambitions, commissioning an organ containing just tweny speaking stops. When the villa was sold in 1913, the greater part of this organ was incorporated into the rebuilt instrument in Monaco Cathedral.

Albert died on the 4th January 1918 athis house at Antibes aged 65 years.
I think you'll agree that he was quite a remarkable man, and there's probably no one in that period who could have been more in love with the organ!

Best wishes,
Ian.

6
Organ History / The Arp Schnitger Organ at Cappel
« on: April 15, 2017, 05:28:25 PM »
There has been quite a lot of misunderstanding about this organ in recent times, including here so I'm going to put the record straight.

The most common misconception is that this organ was built for this church. It was not.
It was in fact built by Arp Schnitger for the Johanniskirche in Hamburg and was his first instrument built in the city in 1680, that replaced but incorporated some of the pipework from the earlier organ built here in 1657  ( I don't know the builder ). The Johanniskirche occupied an internal space of approximately 32. 900 cubic meters. The volume of the church at Cappel is only approx 1. 800 cubic meters. In other words, the church is far too small for the organ!

The first mention of an organ at Cappel, a small village in the fen region of Lower Saxony, east of the river Weser, dates from 1582 but nothing is known concerning the size, disposition or the builder. Information from later periods is equally as scant, since most official documents concerning Cappel have perished by fire.
       In 1800, the organ builder Georg Wilhelmy of Stade received a commission to build a new organ for Cappel but again, no detailed information about this organ has survived.  It was inaugurated on 4th March 1801.  On 18th December 1810, this organ, together with all the valuable church furnishings was destroyed in a fire.  Once the church had been repaired, the search for a suitable replacement organ began.  In 1816 a favourable opportunity presented itself in Hamburg.  During Napoleon's French occupation  ( 1806 - 14 ), the monastic Johanniskirche had been turned into a depot and stables.  The organ was dismounted in 1813 by the organ builder, Joachim Willhelm Geycke and stored in another room in the monastery.  The church itself and adjoining buildings were demolished in 1829.  As mentioned, this organ had been built by Arp Schnitger in 1680 containing 30 speaking registers, two manuals and an independent pedal.  In a letter written by the organ builder Johann Georg Willhelm on 12th April 1816 to the Cappel organist Herr Gehilken said that this organ, which " is still a very fine organ " was for sale.
       Negotiations between the church authorities in Hamburg and Cappel were concluded with an agreed price of 600 Talers in Louis d ' or.  The name of Arp Schnitger, however, was never mentioned in any of these transactions.  The organ duly arrived in packing cases at Cappel on 29th June 1816, and by December of that year it had been reassembled by Johann Georg Willhelm, in time for the Christmas festivities.
       During the next few decades this builder continued to maintain the organ; major repairs were not to be found necessary.  Upon his death in 1848 other organ builders from Stade cared for the instrument.  The only significant alteration during this time was carried out in 1891 by Heinrich Roever, who replaced the original six bellows with three larger diagonal ones with associated alterations to the wind system.
       In 1928, as a result in the now great interest in organs from the Baroque period, the particular importance of the organ at Cappel was recognised and the church commissioned a full examination of the instrument.  In 1932, the firm of Fuertwangler & Hammer of Hannover replaced the original action with pneumatic and the instrument was tuned at regular two - year intervals after this.  Between 1937 - 39, Paul Ott of Goettingen carried out extensive reconditioning.  In addition to mechanical repairs, all the pipework was regulated and any recognisable deviations from the original disposition were corrected.  The Pedal was again provided with its 2ft Cornet, which had been changed to a Trompete 4' when the instrument was still in Hamburg.  In the Ruckpositiv the Sifflote, which had been changed to 1ft pitch was reconstructed to the original 1.1/ 3 pitch and the correct balance of the 2 - rank Terzian, which had had its third - sounding rank converted to a higher - pitched Rauschpfeife was restored.  Unfortunately, a large proportion of the leathering of the reed shallots was removed and in consequence, the size of the orifices were altered, in some cases considerably.  The Ott firm maintained the organ until 1963.  After the renovation of the church between 1963 - 65 it was apparent that the organ was in an alarming state.  Most windchests, particularly those of the Hauptwerk and Pedal were so severely damaged by cracks that many notes began to cease to function.  The church authorities in Hannover, who were officially responsible for the maintenance of the organ appointed a committee to examine it and offer suggestions for ways to repair these faults.  They concluded that the necessary reconditioning should be directed towards preservation of the original material, as well as just repair of the damage.  In other words, a return to the original state of the instrument as completed by Arp Schnitger, as far as this was practically possible.  Because the organ case had been reduced in size in 1816 in order for it to be able to fit into the church, alteration to the equal temperament, which was implemented in the late 19th century, could not be attempted as this would have meant lengthening and altering most of the original pipes which had been cut down at the time.  The Hamburg firm of Rudolph von Beckerath received the commission for this extensive restoration, which included reinstatement of mechanical action, was carried out between 1976 - 77 and financed through generous donations.

The last time I was in Cappel to visit this organ was in 2005 and I thought then that it would soon need some loving attention, but the instrument was basically sound.
The tonal disposition is as follows;

HAUPTWERK

Quintadena 16
Prinzipal 8
Hohlflote 8
Oktave 4
Spitzflote 4
Nasat 3
Gemshorn 2
Rauschpfeife 2 fach
Mixtur 5 - 6 fach
Zimbel 3 fach
Trompete 8

RUCKPOSITIV

Gedackt 8
Quintadena 8
Prinzipal 4
Rohrflote 4
Oktave 2
Sifflote 1.1 / 2
Sesquialtera 2 fach
Terzian 2 fach
Scharf 4 - 6 fach
Dulzian 16

PEDAL

Untersatz 16
Oktave 8
Oktave 4
Nachthorn 2
Rauschpfeife 2 fach
Posaune 16
Trompete 8
Cornet 2


Tremulant  ( whole organ )
Zimbelstern
Calcant  ( bellows signal )
3 Sperrventile  ( saving valves )

Manual shove coupler  (no Pedal coupler )

Compass :  C D Es E F G As A -c'''  (47 - Man )    C D - d'  ( 26 -Ped )

With best wishes
Ian.

7
Organ Builders / The Hinsz -Schnitger - Freytag family
« on: March 02, 2017, 07:28:13 AM »
I hadn't intended to visit these organ builders again, but in my last offering about Arp Schnitger, I managed to get Anthoni Hinsz's natal and fatal dates slightly wrong. This is because I was writing from memory which has been known to go slightly askew at times, so I feel I need to put the record straight while I can.

Albertus Anthoni Hinsz was born in Hamburg in 1704 and it appears that he served an apprenticeship with the local firm of organ builders Richborn. Later, he went to live in the Netherlands, and settled down in the city of Groningen. This must have been around 1721.
       It is therefore unclear when he first met Frans Caspar Schnitger, although this conjectural date suggests that it was at the time when Schnitger was working on, or had just completed the large organ for the Michaeliskerk at Zwolle. So when he moved to Groningen we don't know if he was a fully qualified organ builder by then or was still an apprentice. However, by the time of Schnitger's early death in 1729,  Hinsz was undoubtedly the foreman of his workshop.
       Schnitger, when he first moved to the Netherlands adopted an itinerant lifestyle, moving from town to town where his work took him. This was common at this point in time. It wasn't until he married and had a son, Frans Caspar Schnitger Jr who was born in 1724, did he too set up a permanent home, first at Alkmaar and then in Groningen.
       Around 1730,  Hinsz married Schnitger's widow and thus her six year old son because his stepson and was subsequently trained as an organ builder by him. During the next few years the work poured in, the reason for this was that Hinsz had adopted the now highly sought after Schnitger style of building and voicing organs. One of his most important contracts came in 1741,  when he was asked to build a virtually new instrument for the St Nicolaaskerk in Kampen  (also known as the " Bovenkerk " or Upper Church ).  The organ is still there and in fine voice, thanks to the recent renovation by the firm of Gebr.Reil  (Reil Brothers ) of Heerde.

Some specific details about this interesting organ deserve mentioning.
Hinsz, like Schnitger, knew the value of retaining old pipework and the earliest pipes still in use are those in the Bovenwerk  (Manual III ) Woudfluit 4 and 2 which date from an earlier organ built here by Jan Morlet in 1629.
       During the second half of the 17th century, repairs to the west end tower became necessary due to storm damage, but as a new larger organ was being planned at the time it was decided to have it built in the north transept instead of it the west end occupied by the previous instrument.  The contract was awarded to the Dutch organ builder Jan Slegel  (1637 - 1715 )  from Zwolle, who was allowed to use as much material from the old organ as he saw fit. The contract was signed in 1670 but due to a break during the war years  (1672 - 74 ), the organ was not completed until 1676.  Another Dutch organ builder,  Johannes Duytschot  (1645 - 1725 ) overhauled and enlarged the instrument between 1694 -96.
       Then in 1741 Anthoni Hinsz appears on the scene, which involved him dismantling the entire instrument and build what was a completely new organ within a new case he had designed himself, and place this instrument back in the west end in front of the tower.  Like Duytschot before him and as with Schnitger, Hinsz reused much of the old pipework and the organ was completed in 1743, containing three manuals and 34 speaking stops but with only an attached pedal as was customary for many Dutch organs at the time.
       In 1790 Frans Caspar Schnitger Jr, 1724 - 1799, and another of Hinsz's former apprentices Heinrich Hermann Freytag 1759 - 1811 who, after the death of Hinsz in 1785, (correct this time! I ) had taken over the business between them, were commissioned to build an independent pedal organ of eight voices as the lack of one had by now become a serious drawback.  At no extra cost they enriched the instrument with the so called Borstwerk of four voices  (I say so called because this small department is not in the traditional Borstwerk position ), and transferring the former Rugwerk Dulciaan 8' to this department, replacing it with a stronger - toned Fagot 16'.
       During the 19th century various organ builders kept the organ in good repair.  The most radical alteration occurred in 1866 when Petrus van Oecklen  ( 1792 - 1878 ) from Groningen added a second Bovenwerk of eight gentle - toned ranks within a swell box, more in keeping with the style of the times in which he lived although with complete respect for the older work, so that the characteristic sound of the organ was not in any way compromised, since this was the age when many organs from the 18th century were either modernised or completely destroyed.
       In 1954 the organ was dismantled because of restoration work on the church and rebuilt without alteration again in 1968 by Bakker & Timmenga of Leeuwarden, under the advisory supervision of organists Feike Asma, Dr. Maartin A.Vente and Willem Hendrik Zwart.  Further restoration of the historic pipework was carried out by the same firm in 1975, who replaced some of the original registers that had been lost over the organ's long history. 
       The instrument now possesses 56 registers, spread over four manuals and pedal with an almost fully independent pedal division, with just one stop being transmitted from the Hoofdwerk.

Summary of the pipework with the dates of construction.

I. RUGWERK

Prestant 8    1743
Holpijp 8    1676
Octaaf 4    1743
Fluit 4    1676/ 1743
Gedakt quint 3    1743 / 1975
Octaaf 2    1676
Fluit 2    1743 / 1975
Sifflet 1    1975
Mixtuur 3 - 4 sterk    1676 /1743
Sexquialter disc 3 sterk    1975
Fagot 16    1975

Tremulant


II. HOOFDWERK

Prestant 16    1743
Bourdon 16    1676
Prestant 8    1676 / 1743
Holpijp 8    1676
Octaaf 4    1676
Fluit 4    1676
Quint 3    1676
Super-octaaf 2    1676
Tertiaan 2 sterk    1975
Mixtuur bas 3 - 4 sterk    1676
Mixtuur disc 4 - 5 sterk    1676
Scherp 3 sterk    1975
Trompet bas 16    1743
Trompet disc 16    1743
Trompet 8    1743


III. BOVENWERK I

Prestant 8    1676 / 1743
Roerfluit 8    1743
Quintadeen 8    1676
Octaaf 4   1975
Woudfluit 4    1629
Speelfluit 4    1743
Woudfluit 2    1629
Nassat 3    1975
Scherp 3 sterk    1975
Vox Humana 8    1676 / 1743

Tremulant


IV. BOVENWERK II

Holpijp 8    1866
Salicionaal 8    1866
Fluit travers 8    1866
Principaal 4    1866
Spitsfluit 2    1866
Flageolet 1    1866
Carillon disc 3 sterk    1866
Trompet 8    1866


IV. BORSTWERK

Gedakt bas 8    1790
Gedakt disc 8    1790
Fluit bas 4    1790
Fluit disc 4    1790
Woudfluit 2    1790
Dulciaan 8    1743

Tremulant
Afsluiter   ( When closed no wind is admitted to the Borstwerk windchest ).


PEDAAL

Prestant 16    1743   ( transmission Hw ).
Subbas 16    1790
Octaaf 8    1790
Gedakt 8    1790
Roerquint 6    1790
Octaaf 4    1790
Open Fluit 2    1975
Bazuin 16    1790
Trompet 8    1790
Cornet 4    1790


COPPLING

Pedaal / Hoofdwerk
Hoofdwerk / Rugwerk
Hoofdwerk / Bovenwerk
Bovenwerk / Bovenwerk II
Bovenwerk / Borstwerk   ( shove coupler )

Pitch :   a =  449 Hz
This is the old " Choir Pitch " which is a whole tone higher than the 18th century chamber pitch.


First generation  -  Freytag;

Heinrich Hermann Freytag was born in Hamburg in 1759 and became an apprentice of Anthoni Hinsz. Together with his stepson, Freytag took over the business upon Hinsz's death in 1785.  When Schnitger died in 1799, he took the lead.  When Freytag subsequently died in 1811, his widow managed the firm for the next five years because their children were too young at the time.

Second generation;

Herman Eberhard Freytag  1796 - 1869
Together with his brother Barthold Joachim Freytag 1799 - 1829,  he took control of the firm from his mother in 1816 and after his brother's death he went on by himself.  The firm grew weaker, slowly but surely on account of the competition fight with the Lohman family.

Third generation;

Herman's son, Willem Frederik Freytag  1825 - 1861 died before his father, which meant that there was no successor to take over the firm.  Then in 1862 his only daughter died as well, so he had no option but to give in and sell what remained of the firm to the Lohman brothers, before retiring from the business in 1863.


I do hope that you find this story interesting, and if so I will do some more at a later date, including some pieces on the Silbermann and the Stumm dynasties  (no less than six generations of the Stumm family built organs ).
However, to do this I'm going to need biographical notes,  which seem to have been permanently "borrowed " by my eldest daughter. She does this kind of thing at times so the next time I'm in Germany I'll search her house from top to bottom until I find them.  (This used to be our main family home when we lived in Germany so I still have a perfectly legitimate right to do so! )

With very best wishes,
Ian.

8
Organ Builders / Arp Schnitger
« on: February 24, 2017, 11:13:31 AM »
Arp Schnitger was born on 2nd July 1648 at Schmalenfleth, in the district of Golzwarden ,  near the city of Oldenburg. In this small village his father ran an important carpentry workshop, and after school his son would be taught the carpentry trade. His initiation into the art of organ building was due to his uncle Berendt Huss  (?-1676 ) who had just moved his workshop to Gluckstadt on the river Elbe and was in need of a young apprentice / carpenter to assist him.

So in 1666 the young eighteen year old Arp Schnitger left home to work for his uncle. At the time that Schnitger joined the company, Huss was completing the organ in the local parish church and was also beginning to extend his workshop to deal with much larger contracts. It would appear that Schnitger excelled in his uncle's firm, because when Huss secured the contract for the building of the organ at St. Cosmae et Damiani at Stade in 1675 after the previous instrument had been destroyed by fire in 1659, Schnitger began to take on far more responsibility for the technical planning and voicing of his uncle's organs.In particular, this organ at St Cosmae, still extant, gives us a valuable insight into Arp Schnitger's early development as an organ builder. The principal manual for example, (Oberwerk ) employs a Springchest  (Springlade ), the kind of windchest typical for Huss's day. Schnitger, however, always employed the more modern type of slider windchest  (Schlieflade ), which is the kind of mechanical windchest still in use today.
       When Huss died, leaving the organ at St Wilhaldi at Stade unfinished, Schnitger was able to complete it himself in 1678, after which he set up in business on his own.
       In the beginning he took over his uncle's workshop at Gluckstadt, but by 1679 he had already made a name for himself as far away as Hamburg where he was commissioned to rebuild the organ at the St Johannis Monestery in the city in 1680. (This organ is now in the village church at Cappel, of which more will be said at a later date.

Three years later he secured the valuable contact to rebuild the organ of the St Nicholaikirche in Hamburg, and on the strength of this he decided to move his entire workshop to Hamburg where he took up the oath of citizenship in 1682. He worked on this great organ for five years between 1682-87,and with four manuals and a fully independent pedal with 67 speaking stops, it was not only the largest organ in Germany, but also in the rest of the world as well! (Unfortunately this organ was completely destroyed by fire in 1842

Although there is some evidence that he was previously married for a short time, the information we have proof of was that he married Gertrude Ott in 1684, from whom he inherited a farm at Neuenfelde  (once a separate village but now a suburb of southern Hamburg ). She bore him six children;  Arp II ( 1686- 1712), Hans  (1688-1708),  Johann Jurgen  (1690-1739), and Frans Caspar  (1693-1729).
All his sons became organ builders but only the two youngest outlived him. Of his two daughters nothing unfortunately is known, not even their names, because records at that time apparently never considered girls to be of any real importance! Of all his sons, it was the youngest, Frans Caspar, who was to perpetuate the name of Schnitger well into the 18th and early 19th century, and it was Frans Caspar who was to found the Schnitger workshops in the Netherlands, which through his foreman, Albertus Anthoni Hinsz, (1704 -1795), after Frans Caspar's early death aged 36, adopted his son Frans Caspar Schnitger Jr. (1724-1799), married his widow, and through this carried the Schnitger tradition on until well into the early 19th century.

The rebuilding of the organ in the Nicholaikirche in Hamburg was to spread Arp Schnitger's fame far beyond the German frontiers and opened up a large field of activity for him. From Flensburg in the north, to the Dutch provinces of West Friesland and Groningen in the West. East to Stettin on the river Oder, South to Zellerfeld in the Hartz mountain area of Germany - he even deliverd one -manual or small positive organs to Russia, England, Spain and Portugal.

Arp Schnitger is known to have worked on over 160 different organs, of which at least 99 were completely new instruments. Even ignoring the enormous technical and artistic elements involved, this represented a quite remarkable talent for organisation. Although he was involved in the planning of the great organ at the Michaeliskerk at Zwolle in the Netherlands., it was his son Frans Caspar who was given complete freedom in the completion of that instrument in 1721.
       Arp Schnitger had originally specified a three - manual organ of 46 speaking stops, but after his death his son added a fourth manual at no extra cost, increasing the number of speaking stops to 64, and so making it the largest organ by far in the United Provinces. This would suggest that this was done to further his ambition to supply many new organs in the Netherlands, and in this he proved to be completely successful. In fact, the arrival of Schnitger and other German organ - builders in the Netherlands was soon to dominate and virtually eradicate most of the indigenous Dutch organ - builders completely.

Like his former master, Arp Schnitger died leaving an organ unfinished, the organ of St Laurens at Itzehoe which he began in 1715. (Case still there but nothing much else. ) He was buried in the north transept of the St Pankratiuskirche in his home village of Neuenfelde on the 28th July 1719.
(People who like to remark on strange coincidences point out that the death of Johann Sebastian Bach occurred on the exact same day 31 years later. )
       Apart from the organ in the church at Neuenfelde, built by Arp Schnitger in 1688  (still there and lovingly restored ), the church also bears other souvenirs of the great master. After he renounced the final payment of 800 marks that the church owed him on completion of the organ, he was granted the right to build a private family pew next to the altar. It is inscribed "To the Glory of God and for the ornament of the church " and it bears the Arp Schnitger trade mark; a compass intercrossed with two organ pipes.

With best wishes.
Ian.

9
Organ Builders / Birthday Greetings
« on: February 04, 2016, 02:46:08 PM »
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!

Best wishes

Ian
   

10
Miscellaneous & Suggestions / Birthday Bach - Happy 329th!
« on: March 21, 2014, 02:54:05 PM »
Specifically, we comemmorate the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the twenty-first of March and perhaps within the confines of the art of the organ we might allow ourselves the luxury of hyperbole in saluting Bach as representing the zenith of this great art's long history.

That we can confidently state such a thing is at once to give honour where it is more than just due, but it is also, in some other ways, a very sad thing. I doubt if I could, or even should, find the words to delineate Bach's place in the annels of the greatest musicians in history. No organist who has ears to hear can fail to comprehend the monumental scale of his achievement. On the other hand, it can also be said that the history of our art since the great Leipzig cantor has seldom revealed a quality of achievement to compare with him, or to approach somewhere near to it even.

Great composers and musicians there have been (and they are evident throughout music as a whole), who have not contributed to the world of the organ in any way comparable to Johann Sebastian Bach. Inspired bursts of creative genius there has been, music to enliven the soul by the hour too, but never the sustained and fundamental elevation of an art form which indeed is Bach's final consummate achievement.

This curious paradox is an enigma that might not be unravelled for another thousand years, or indeed ever, although for many within our own lifetime the wonderful compositions of Olivier Messiaen may one day come to be seen as burning with the same fire of sublime genius. Perhaps it is also significant that the music of Bach and Messiaen are both suffused with a strong religius motivational force, unparalleled in the organ repertoire.

In honouring Johann Sebastian Bach we rightly honour the unique.
It is an awesome accolade.

11
Organs in danger / Christian Science Church Godalming
« on: July 18, 2013, 03:17:03 PM »
I have just heard that there are plans being drawn uo to demolish this church and replace it with an apartment complex, although incorporating a much smaller church. Of course when this kind of thing happens, the last thing that anyone ever gives any thought to is the organ, in this case a small three manual Rushworth & Dreaper (III/25) installed new when the church was completed in 1949. I believe it has an entry on the NPOR but I cannot find it at the moment. The organ received quite major attention by the Willis firm in the early 1990's when the pneumatic action was replaced with electric and some of the pipework revoiced.
I have actually played it but not for a very long time but it was in quite satisfactory condition back then. In fact, I was told by the organist there that it wasn't really used that much, most of the time it spent just playing quietly in the background but as I have never been to a Christian Science church for a service, I cannot say. The organ has no case, it is wholly contained in a chamber behind the "stage" at the front, behind a grille. The console is also in a very strange position, being in a room below this platform, with a rectangular hole at the front so you can look down into it and see the organist, but perhaps this is normal for this kind of building!
As far as I can tell, this idea has only just passed the planning stage but I am trying to stay informed over what's happening and if, or when the building is torn down, what is going to happen to the organ, because usually in these kind of situations, the pipe organ is removed and replaced with.......well you know exactly what.....!   

12
Organs in danger / Emmanuel Church, Farnham, Surrey
« on: March 11, 2013, 02:33:26 PM »
It has just come to my attention that the organ in this church has recently been put up for sale on Ebay and has now been sold, but to where and to whom isn't exactly known.
       This organ was built by William Hill and is of an early date, possibly as early as 1840-50. I believe it is a one-manual and pedal with approx eight ranks of pipes but am not certain. There is a picture of it on the NPOR (DO 4249) but no other details are there. The organ was acquired by this small church c.1902  and has been standing there in original condition ever since, until a few weeks ago when the church decided it was taking up too much room and so replaced it with a digital pipeless monstrosity.
       This is more than a little worrying because of it's age and pedigree, being built by an English organ builder that has an international reputation, so any early instrument by him that is in original condition deserves to be jealously preserved. After several phone calls I have not been able to find out if the organ has been properly dismantled and relocated by a competent organ builder or whether, as I suspect, has been pulled apart by enthusiastic amateurs.
I anyone knows, therefore, of it's whereabouts and what exactly has happened to it I hope they will be able to put my mind at rest. I have heard a rumor that has gone to a church in Winchester, but to which I don't know

       

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