Saturday, December 20, 2008

Serassi organ(1836) in Caldonzzo, Italy

Nice demonstration of this small organ

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Organ St. George Silbermann Rotha

The 1721 Gottfried Silbermann Organ
St. Georgenkirche - Rötha, Germany

Brief History:

On December 22, 1718 Christian August Freiherr von Friesen closed a contract with Silbermann which also was signed by his co-worker Zacharias Hildebrandt. The document text states that "...the afore mentioned Herr Gottfried Silbermann and Herr Zacharias Hildebrandt between now and Michaelmas (September 29) 1720 promise to make a proficient and well-proportioned organ work...". In 1716 or 1717 Zacharias Hildebrandt had accepted an order to build his own masterpiece, an organ for the village church in Langhennersdorf near Freiberg. Thus he was not able to support Silbermann and consequently was not mentioned in the approval protocol. The organ of the St. Georgen church was solemnly consecrated on November 9, 1721. Johann Kuhnau conducted the celebration music which he had composed on a text by Johann Christian Langbein.

By and large the instrument remained intact in essential parts over the decades. From a number of repairs and interventions, several changes related to the taste of the time with respect to musicians and organbuilders standards can be seen. In addition, both world wars left their scars behind on the organ. In 1796 the Leipzig university organ builder Johann Gottlob Ehregott Stephani installed a pedal coupler; an initially fixed connection between pedal and main manual - as usual with small and medium sized organs by Silbermann - was regarded as disadvantageous. At the occasion of cleaning and repair Ulrich Kreutzbach in 1842 tuned the organ to equal temperament because even a moderate inequality did not meet the taste of the time. Kreutzbach also changed the worn-out pedal keyboard with an entirely new one. Further cleaning actions took place in 1847 and 1897. All these works included minor corrections of the voicing, as can be seen from looking at the pipes.

13 dummy pipes of the facade had to be surrendered in 1917 for World War I; they were replaced in 1930. Already at the beginning of the 19th century some wood worm contamination had been found. In the following years it reached an extent that in 1935 the organ builders company Eule, Bautzen, was commisioned to impregnate all wooden parts - even peripheral ones - of the organ. Cantor Alfred Kirsten strongly pleaded for a restoration following a preservation tendency. A large number of parts nevertheless could not be preserved at all or only partially, so many of them were made completely new. 33 of the wooden flue pipes and 20 reed pipe components had to be replaced by copies. The three wedge-shaped bellows were neither repaired nor copied but exchanged against resevoire-type blowers. At the same time trackers as well as pedal and manual keyboards were refitted, including re-installation of the tremulant which supposedly was removed in 1832.

Comprehensive overhaul works followed 1979/80 by Eule, Bautzen. In WW II the church roof was damaged, leading to water leakage which caused defects of the pedal windchest. After a tentative repair in 1947 these could be fully mended. A large number of parts dating from former repair works were now replaced as close as possible to the original, including a new pedal keyboard and a new organist's music desk based on the model of other Silbermann organs. Again impregnation against wood worm attacks was done. The facade pipes in particular suffer from severe corrosion damages, extending deeply into the pipe material, the causes of which could not definitely be found yet. Since no countermeasures were available for sparing surface treatment it was decided to apply neutralizing wash fluid to prevent further progression.

Apart from the installation of a new blower motor, the wind supply system, wind pressure and reference tone remained unchanged. In the years after 1930, Guenther Ramin, organist of the Thomas church in Leipzig, managed to promote the instrument in a way that it was exposed to the interest of a broad public. Since then numerous distinguished organists, national and from abroad, have been performing in Rötha, which is also a place of pilgrimage for many tourists.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Das Orgelbüchlein Chorale Prelude "O Mensch, bewein' dein' Suende gross" BWV 622
Marie-Claire Alain at the Johann Gottfried Silbermann organ (1721) of the Georgenkirche in Rötha

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Das Orgelbüchlein Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639
Marie-Claire Alain at the Silbermann organ (1721) of the Georgenkirche in Rötha (Germany)

Marie-Claire Alain speaks about Johann Sebastian Bach chorales and plays an excepert of the Christmas chorale "Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich" BWV 605 at the Silbermann organ of the Georgenkirche in Rötha

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Fantasia (Pièce d'orgue à 5) in G major BWV 572

1. Très vitement
2. Gravement
3. Lentement

1. Marie-Claire Alain at the Johann Gottfried Silbermann organ of the Georgenkirche in Rötha
2. Marie-Claire Alain at the Johann Gottfried Silbermann organ of the Dresden Kathedrale
3. Marie-Claire Alain at the Johann Gottfried Silbermann organ of the Marienkirche in Rötha


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Organ Sydney Town Hall

William Hill & Son Grand Organ

This monumental organ is one of the grandest and greatest in the world today, boasting speaking stops with wind pressures ranging from 3 1/4" up to 10" for the Tuba Chorus.Its immense case looms 64' wide and 32' in height crowned with the low octave of the Pedal Open Diapason 32'. This was in 1888 the largest organ in the world. This is the only organ in existence that possesses a full length 64' reed!

Built in London by William Hill and Son, the Grand Organ was shipped to Australia and installed in 1890. It was then the largest organ in the world and is still the largest ever built with tubular-pneumatic action. Its 126 speaking stops and 14 couplers are spread over five manuals (Choir, Great, Swell, Solo, Echo) and pedals. There are approximately 8,700 pipes.

The first recital was held on Saturday 9 August, 1890 at which the City Organist from Liverpool, England W.T. Best performed for 4,000 guests.

The organ was restored between 1972 and 1982 by Sydney organbuilder Roger H. Pogson and is used regularly for performances, including many played by the City Organist, Robert Ampt.

Read the full history here

Built between 1886 and 1889 by Hill & Son, of London, the instrument was instantly famous for then being the world’s largest organ and for the novelty of its full-length 64-foot Contra Trombone stop. It remains the world’s largest organ without any electric action components and is of international significance as representing the pinnacle of British achievement in the Victorian era, even though its conservative design was the subject of debate at the time. It is easily the best-known of all Australian organs and is the source of admiration around the world, not only for the immensity and opulence of its tone and for its magnificent case, but also for its high level of originality and the quality of the restoration work.

Although the organ is considered substantially original in condition, several changes have been made over the years. The most significant of these was the lowering of the pitch to concert standard by S.T. Noad in 1939, this change being most noticeable in the reed stops, which are coarser in tone colour as a result. A comprehensive restoration was undertaken over ten years from 1972 by Roger H. Pogson Pty Ltd and many of the minor changes (such as the swapping of ranks between Swell and Choir) were reversed. Other changes retained to the present are the balanced swell pedals (the provision of which necessitated the removal of four composition pedals for the Great), the concave/radiating pedalboard, the transposition of Swell Piccolo from 2’ to 1’, the addition of the high-pitched Carillon bells to the Solo, the enclosure of the Solo orchestral reeds and the enclosure of the entire Choir division (originally only the reeds were enclosed). During the work carried out by Roger Pogson some alterations were made to the pneumatic action operating the Choir division and the console timbers (originally in fumed oak) were lightened during repolishing.

Hill & Son 1886-89 (5/127 tubular-pneumatic/Barker lever)

Contra Bourdon
Double Open Diapason
Open Diapason I
Open Diapason II
Open Diapason III
Open Diapason IV
Harmonic Flute
Spitz Flöte
Hohl Flöte
Rohr Flöte
Harmonic Flute
Sharp Mixture
Contra Posaune

Double Open Diapason
Open Diapason
Hohl Flöte
Viola da Gamba
Vox Angelica
Rohr Flöte
Harmonic Flute

CHOIR (enclosed)
Contra Dulciana
Open Diapason
Hohl Flöte
Lieblich Gedackt
Flauto Traverso
Lieblich Flöte
Dulciana Mixture
Vox Humana
Octave Oboe

(small reeds enclosed)
Open Diapason
Violin Diapason
Doppel Flöte
Flauto Traverso
Stopped Diapason
Harmonic Flute
Flauto Traverso
Harmonic Piccolo
Contra Fagotto
Harmonic Trumpet
Corno di Bassetto
Orchestral Oboe
Cor Anglais
Octave Oboe
Contra Tuba
Tuba Clarion
Carillon Bells

(enclosed and non-expressive)
Lieblich Gedackt
Viol d'Amour
Unda Maris II
Viol d'Amour
Echo Dul. Cornet
Basset Horn

Double Open Diapason Metal
Double Open Diapason Wood
Contra Bourdon
Open Diapason Metal
Open Diapason Wood
Bass Flute
Contra Trombone
Contra Posaune

3 Rks
4 Rks
4 Rks
5 Rks

4 Rks
5 Rks

3 Rks


4 Rks
4 Rks

4 Rks
3 Rks
2 Rks














Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Choir to Pedal

Solo to Pedal

Swell to Great #

Swell Super Octave [to Great] #

Swell Sub Octave [to Great] #

Solo to Great #

Solo Octave

Choir to Great #

Swell to Choir

Solo to Choir

Echo to Swell

Pedal to Great Pistons

Tremulant to Swell (toe lever)

Tremulant to Choir and Solo (toe lever)

Tubular pneumatic key, stop and
combination action (vacuum for stops).

Mechanical action with pneumatic-lever
assistance for Great and couplers
marked #

Compass 61/30

Pistons (internally adjustable):

3 to Echo

7 to Solo

8 to Swell

8 to Great

7 to Choir

6 to Pedal (toe levers)

Balanced swell pedals for Choir, Solo

orchestral reeds and Swell

No. of pipes = 8,756

Pitch a1 = 440Hz

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Organ Notre Dam U

Professor Craig Cramer, Department of Music plays Buxtehude.

Organ Goteberg Sweden built by Munetaka Yakota

Hans Davidsson. Arp Schnitger identical copy organ, Göteborg. 1/4 comma pure Mean Tone plus Chorton high pitch

The scientific reconstruction of a large North German Baroque city organ from around 1700 was the aim of a unique organ research project which started in 1989 and ended with the inauguration of the organ in August 2000. Arp Schnitger (1648–1719), the most famous organ builder of his time, dominated the organ-building craft in North Germany during the latter part of the 17th century and at the beginning of the 18th century, making Schnitger’s instruments the logical models to be studied for the new organ. The new organ has 54 stops on four manuals and pedal, and was built in the organ research workshop at Göteborg University, where all organ research activities have merged into the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt). The project was carried out in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology, and financed by government research subsidies, funds from various research foundations, and first and foremost from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation as well as Svenska Handelsbanken.

Erland Hilden plays his own Toccata in Örgryte New Church, Gothenburg, Sweden, on the North German Baroque organ, "Schnitger" organ. This is movement 5 (of 5) from Hildens organ symphony. The symphony and other music is on CD: PROPRIUS,
PRCD2055, "Meditation and Euphoria".

The organ case is a reconstruction of Schnitger’s organ in the Lübeck Cathedral (1699), which was a true city organ, and with dimensions complementary to the Örgryte New Church. This type of organ was based on the typical North German “Werk” concept: Hauptwerk, Rückpositiv, Pedal towers on either side and a Brüstpositiv directly over the keyboards. The Oberpositiv, not visible in the façade, is placed behind and a little higher than the Hauptwerk.

Reconstruction of the organ façade was made possible with the help of old photographs of the Schnitger organ in the Lübeck Cathedral, drawings of the church, and dimensions of the organ from various archives. With the aid of photogrammetry and geometrical calculations, the original proportions of the façade could be defined. The Örgryte organ’s pipe shades are also modeled after the Schnitger organ in the Lübeck Cathedral. Archival research by Dr. Kerala Snyder, New Haven, USA, confirmed that Schnitger’s façade was made by the well-known wood-cutter, Joachim Budde, during a period of several years in the 1690s.

The pipework was modeled after the Schnitger organ in the St. Jacobi Church, Hamburg, where most of the original pipes were saved from destruction during the Second World War. This instrument contains the highest number of preserved pipes of any Schnitger organ, including 14 reed stops.The windchests also use the organ in the St. Jacobi Church, Hamburg, as a prototype. The organs in the St. Cosmae Church, Stade, and the Aa-kerk, Groningen, were also important references. Even though the organ was changed in certain respects during renovations and reconstruction, it was an obvious choice as the prototype for our organ. It was possible to thoroughly study the pipework thanks to the kind hospitality of the St. Jacobi congregation, its organist, Rudolf Kelber, and particularly Jürgen Ahrend, who restored the instrument at the beginning of the 1990s.

The Hamburg instrument contains pipes built by more than three generations of organ builders: the Scherer family, Gottfried Fritzsche, and Arp Schnitger. Schnitger re-used some of the older organ’s best pipework for his new organ. The pipework of these organ builders differs from one another in several respects, which meant that their three different manufacturing methods had to be reconstructed for the creation of the new organ. The Scherers and their predecessors used nearly pure lead and possibly cast with a method different than that which both Fritzsche and Schnitger used for their alloys, which included tin. The metal sheets containing high levels of lead were hammered, while those alloyed with tin were planed and scraped. Through these investigations and further studies of existing old pipes, it became clear that the 17th-century organ-pipe metal in the northern part of Germany was cast on sand. Unfortunately, the sand casting technique was not described in any historical documents other than a few brief or vague descriptions, and within the frame of the project it was necessary to re-discover how this was done.

The twelve bellows were built according to the preserved bellows in the Grote Kerk, Zwolle (The Netherlands). Other parts were based on analyses of measurements from various Schnitger organs in Germany (Stade, St. Cosmae Church, Neuenfelde, and Pellworm).Because a complete Schnitger wind system has not been preserved, parts of wind systems preserved in various organs and related information on the dimensions of older systems taken from church congregation archives were used as a starting point for the reconstruction work. It was decided to build a flexible system with extra ducts and valves, making it possible to test three known wind systems of larger Schnitger organs: Hamburg, Magdeburg, and Zwolle.

Schnitger’s console from the organ in the Lübeck Cathedral is preserved at the St. Annen Museum in Lübeck. In order to facilitate the construction of our console, the museum loaned Schnitger’s model to Göteborg during a major part of 1997. All the details of the Lübeck console were meticulously documented in the workshop. The new North German organ console has four manuals, while the preserved Schnitger console has only three. To construct a four-manual console based on Lübeck, the organ built by Frans Caspar Schnitger (Arp Schnitger’s son) in Zwolle, The Netherlands, was used as another reference, and a picture of the old Hamburg console was also consulted. All of the details in the Lübeck design and materials were followed, with one exception: extra keys, so-called sub-semitones, were added.

In order to come closer to the sound of the Baroque era, it was necessary to reconstruct the methods of this ancient organ-building handcraft. This reconstruction was possible through the combination of extensive research on pipe material, acoustics, and airflow dynamics done at Chalmers, and through experimentation and development of handcraft techniques in the organ workshop, rediscovering forgotten methods, and making them available for future organ projects. All of the research results and their practical application are documented in an extensive publication.

Three organ builders were responsible for the building of the instrument: Henk van Eeken, The Netherlands (head draftsman), Mats Arvidsson, Sweden (construction of the organ [excluding the organ pipes]), and Munetaka Yokota, Japan/USA (research and production and voicing of the organ pipes). Near the end of the project, organ builder Reinalt Klein, Germany, coordinated the work in the organ research workshop and assisted with the pre-intonation of the organ. Christiane and Harald Sandler, Germany, designed the wood carvings, made drafts, and managed the wood carving group. Together with organ builders, wood carvers, apprentices, and journeymen, they made a team which included 12 nationalities. Bertil Estling was administrator during the later part of the project. Harald Vogel, Germany, was the external advisor, while Hans Davidsson, Sweden, directed the project and the research. The organ is built of oak that was donated, cut, and prepared by organ builder Oskar Metzler, Oetwil, Switzerland.

The Örgryte New Church, designed by architect Adrian Petersson and built in a neo-Gothic style in 1888–1890, was renovated in 1996–1997 to meet the requirements of the organ project, and its interior was also restored. On the northside balcony stands a three-manual organ built in 1871 by Father Henry Willis. Although the new Baroque organ’s architecture is markedly different from the rest of the church’s interior, the new balcony was built in the style of the 17th century. On both sides of the organ, side balconies extend along the walls of the nave— musicians’ balconies for instrumentalists and singers.

The organ is tuned in meantone with pure thirds, a tuning that Schnitger probably used in most of his instruments, and that was definitely used in the organ at St. Jacobi. In this tuning, which was normal throughout Europe during the 17th century, eight major and minor keys sound especially good because of the pure major thirds. Chromatic passages are especially effective, because there are two different half steps: the smaller, chromatic step (like f to f sharp) and the larger, diatonic one (like f sharp to g). Having pure thirds in the most-often-used keys comes with a price: the so-called “wolf” between g sharp and e flat is closer to a dissonant diminished sixth than a fifth. The circle of fifths is not closed, and the use of more distant keys is therefore limited.

In order to play in more distant keys during the 16th and 17th centuries, organs and stringed keyboard instruments had sub-semitones with split sharps. The Göteborg organ has two split sharps per octave on the upper three manuals (d sharp/e flat and g sharp/a flat). These often appear in the organ repertoire from that time, and in many cases make it possible to use the organ to accompany voices and other instruments in more distant keys. In the Rückpositiv there are three sub-semitones per octave (d sharp/e flat and g sharp/a flat and a sharp/b flat), using the St. Jacobi organ during Matthias Weckman’s time as a model. The Göteborg organ is the only organ on which the whole North European Renaissance and Baroque organ repertoire can be performed in quarter-comma meantone.

It is a special experience in Örgryte to hear the blending of the large plenum sound and the many reed voices with so many pure intervals. The reconstructed North German organ in Göteborg is the largest existing meantone-tuned organ, and presents a unique opportunity to perform the music of the 17th century, the golden age of North European organ music.

Paul Peeters & Harald Vogel

Organ St Petri in Erfurt

Stertzing organ (1702) of St Petri in Erfurt


Oberwerk (Hauptwerk)

1.Principal 8'
2. Quintaden 16'
3. Rohrflöth 8'
4. Quinta 6'

5. Octav 4'
6. Rauschpfeif 2f.
7. Sesqaltera 2f.
8. Octav 2'
9. Mixtur 6f.
10. Cymbel 3f.
11. Trombetta 8'


1. Principal 4'
2. Gedackt 8'
3. Quintaden 8'
4. Traversa 8'
5. Nachthorn 4'

6. Octave 2'
7. Waldflöte 2'
8. Quinta 1½'
9. Mixtur 3f.
10. Vox Humana 8'


1. Principal 16'
2. Sub Bass 16'
3. Violon 16'
4. Octav 8'
5. Mixtur 4f.
6. Posaun 16'
7. Cornet 2'

Manual: C, D bis c’’’
Pedal: C, D bis e’
Stimmtonhöhe: a’ 3 Halbtöne über 440 Hz

Pasi Organ Redmond Washington

The Scherzo No. 4, by Organist/Composer Mark Andersen, is performed on the Martin Pasi Opus 2 tracker pipe organ in Faith Lutheran Church, Redmond, Washington. This Scherzo, composed in 1980, is a lively dance upon the organ foundations, culminating in a brilliant full-organ registration at the apex of the piece. It shows off the wonderful tonal voicing of this lovely Martin Pasi instrument.

Organ Dom Koln GERMANY

Photo: Martin Doering /

The Organ in the nave

With the inauguration of the organ in the nave on the 29th of June 1998 finally ended the unsatisfactory sound situation in Cologne Cathedral, which had lasted from the end of the second world war until then. The organ is placed at the beginning of the nave (seen from the east), a favourable spot for organs in the interior of a Gothic cathedral. Put on the northern wall of the nave it resembles a swallow's nest.

Cologne Cathedral architect Arnold Wolff planned and built the organ in cooperation with Klais, a famous organ builder firm from Bonn. It consists of a "Rückpositiv", a "Hauptwerk",a "Schwellwerk" and a pedal. 3963 pipes can be played on 53 stops.

The majestic Te Deum of Jeanne Demessieux,recorded in 1980 by the cathedral organist, Josef Zimmermann. The instrument is the IV/86 Transept Organ, built in 1948 by Klais & updated & expanded intermittently over the following 12 years. In the late 1990's the organ was "re-organized" (no pun intended) & raised about 2 meters to project more sound into this immense room. And in 1998, a III/53 "swallow's nest" organ was installed in the nave -- turning a superb instrument into an amazing one that can generate a virtual avalanche of sound.


I. Positiv 17 (13)
Gedacktpommer 16
Metallflöte 8
Rohrflöte 8
Salicet 8
Principal 4
Spitzflöte 4
Nasard 2 2/3
Waldflöte 2
Terz 1 3/5
Sifflöte 1 1/3
Mixtur IV-V 1 1/3
Dulcian 16
Trompete 8
+ Tremulant (incl. Solo)
Photo: Martin Doering /

II. Hauptwerk
32 (20)
Principal 16
Bordun 16
Principal 8
Octave 8
Offenflöte 8
Gedackt 8
Gemshorn 8
Rohrquinte 5 1/3
Octave 4
Rohrflöte 4
Terz 3 1/5
Septime 2 2/7
Superoctave 2
Weitflöte 2
Großmixtur IV 4
Rauschpfeife III 2 2/3
Mixtur VI-VIII 2
Trompete 16 volle Länge
Trompete 8
Kopftrompete 4

III. Schwellwerk 21 (17)
Großgedackt 16
Principal 8
Holzflöte 8
Gamba 8
Vox coelestis I-II 8
Octave 4
Querflöte 4
Nasard 2 2/3
Schwegel 2
Terz 1 3/5
Nachthorn 1
Mixtur IV 2 2/3
Fagott 16
Trompete 8
Oboe 8
Vox humana 8
Trompete 4
+ Schweller
+ Tremulant

IV. Solowerk 15 (7)
Metallflöte 8 Tr. Pos.
Rohrflöte 8 Tr. Pos.
Quintade 8
Principal 4 Tr. Pos.
Koppelflöte 4
Nasard 2 2/3 Tr. Pos.
Waldflöte 2 Tr. Pos.
Sifflöte 1 1/3 Tr. Pos.
Septime 1 1/7
None 8/9
Nonenkornett IV 1 3/5
Mixtur IV-V Tr. Pos.
Aliquot II-III 1
Terzcymbel III-IV 1/3
Dulcian 16 Tr. Pos.
Trompete 8 Tr. Pos.
+ Röhrenglocken
+ Cymbelstern
+ Tremulant (incl. Pos.)

Pedal 24 (16)
Vox Balanae 64 akust. *
Principalbass 32
Untersatz 32
Principalbass 16 Ext.
Contrabass 16
Subbass 16
Zartbass 16 Tr. Schw.
Octavbass 8
Flötenbass 8
Gedacktbass 8
Choralbass 4
Bassflöte 4
Principal 2
Hintersatz VI 2 2/3
Mixtur IV 1 1/3
Contraposaune 32 volle Länge
Posaune 16
Fagott 16 Tr. Schw.
Basstrompete 8
Clarine 4

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Organ Royal Albert Hall

The Grand Organ in the Royal Albert Hall in London

J.S. Bach BWV 565 by Martin Neary

Widor's 5th Organ Symphony Opus 42 No1 -- Toccata.
John Birch and Stephen Disley played the organ, the London Philharmonic Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra also performed.


The Grand Organ situated in the Royal Albert Hall in London, is the largest pipe organ in the UK. It was originally built by Henry "Father" Willis. The Royal Albert Hall organ was inaugurated by W.T.Best, the most famous performer of his day, in the presence of Queen Victoria on the 29th March 1871. It has been recently enlarged and rebuilt by Mander Organs, now having 150 stops and 10,268 speaking pipes.

The Durham firm of Harrison & Harrison rebuilt the organ in two stages in 1924 and 1933, during which it was increased to 146 stops (including three percussion stops) and converted to electro-pneumatic action. It was the largest organ in Britain at that time.

In the 1970s, Harrisons refurbished the console and replaced the switchgear in the action, made minor changes to the voicing and added a roof to attempt to project the sound forward, which was not successful.

By the end of the 20th century, the organ was again in a state of disrepair, with an ever-increasing number of stops unusable due to leaks in the wind system, cracks in the soundboards, and other problems. By 2002, it was maintained only through "heroic efforts" on the part of Harrisons and could not be used at all without their staff present, in case of mishap. The wind chests and pipes were leaking noisily and wind pressure was insufficient to support full use. The leatherwork in the actions was also failing.

The Mander rebuild

In 2002, the Royal Albert Hall Organ was taken out of commission for an extensive rebuild by Mander Organs. Some consideration was given to restoring the organ to its original Father-Willis specification, but the subsequent alterations and enlargements had made this impractical. The organ was by now, in truth, a Harrison, not a Willis, instrument, and it was felt that it should remain essentially as-is.

above: a look inside this huge organ, after the renovation

The dryness of the Hall had damaged the soundboards, so these were replaced and new and larger wind trunks provided. The roof was removed, and the reed stops in the Great division were restored to their 1924 wind pressures. The 1970s split of the Great Organ (allowing two independent Great Organs to be registered and played simultaneously on different manuals) was rationalised, effectively offering separate Willis and Harrison choruses and a Fourniture IV was added, with 147 stops and 9997 speaking pipes. In December 2007, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral regained the title of largest pipe organ in the UK with the addition of several stops creating a 'central organ' (now with 10,268 pipes).

the organ at the center of the room

The organ was re-opened at a gala concert on the evening of 26 June 2004 with David Briggs, John Scott and Thomas Trotter playing, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Richard Hickox. The organ featured prominently in the 2004 BBC Proms series. The first recordings on the newly rebuilt instrument were by Dame Gillian Weir.

Stoplist since 2004
I Choir and Orchestral Organ C–c4
First Division (Choir)
37 Open Diapason 8′
38 Lieblich Gedeckt 8′
39 Dulciana 8′
40 Gemshorn 4′
41 Lieblich Flute 4′
42 Nazard 22/5′[Ann. 1]
43 Flageolet 2′
44 Tierce 13/5′[Ann. 1]
45 Mixture III
46 Trumpet 8′
47 Clarion 4′
Second Division
(Orchestral) enclosed:
48 Contra Viole 16′
49 Violoncello 8′
50 Viole d’Orchestre I 8′
51 Viole d’Orchestre II 8′
52 Viole Sourdine 8′
53 Violes Celestes II 8′
54 Viole Octaviante 4′
55 Cornet de Violes V
56 Quintaton 16′
57 Harmonic Flute 8′
58 Concert Flute 4′
59 Harmonic Piccolo 2′
60 Double Clarinet 16′
61 Clarinet 8′
62 Orchestral Hautboy 8′
63 Cor Anglais 8′
VI Tremulant

II Great Organ C–c4
64 Contra Violone 32′
65 Contra Gamba 16′[Ann. 2]
66 Double Open Diapason 16′
67 Double Claribel Flute 16′
68 Bourdon 16′[Ann. 2]
69 Open Diapason 1 8′
70 Open Diapason 2 8′
71 Open Diapason 3 8′[Ann. 2]
72 Open Diapason 4 8′
73 Open Diapason 5 8′[Ann. 2]
74 Geigen 8′
75 Hohl Flute 8′
76 Viola da Gamba 8′[Ann. 2]
77 Rohr Flute 8′[Ann. 2]
78 Quint 51/3′
79 Octave 4′
80 Principal 4′[Ann. 2]
81 Viola 4′[Ann. 2]
82 Harmonic Flute 4′
83 Octave Quint 22/3′[Ann. 2]
84 Super Octave 2′
85 Fifteenth 2′[Ann. 2]
86 Mixture V
87 Harmonics VI
88 Fourniture IV [Ann. 2]
89 Cymbale VII
90 Contra Tromba 16′
91 Tromba 8′
92 Octave Tromba 4′
93 Posaune 8′
94 Harmonic Trumpet 8′
95 Harmonic Clarion 4′

III Swell Organ C–c4
96 Double Open Diapason 16′
97 Bourdon 16′
98 Open Diapason 8′
99 Viola da Gamba 8′
100 Salicional 8′
101 Vox Angelica 8′
102 Flûte à Cheminée 8′
103 Claribel Flute 8′
104 Principal 4′
105 Viola 4′
106 Harmonic Flute 4′
107 Octave Quint 22/3′
108 Super Octave 2′
109 Harmonic Piccolo 2′
110 Mixture V
111 Furniture V
112 Contra Oboe 16′
113 Oboe 8′
114 Baryton 16′
115 Vox Humana 8′
XVII Tremulant

116 Double Trumpet 16′
117 Trumpet 8′
118 Clarion 4′
119 Tuba 8′
120 Tuba Clarion 4′

IV Solo and Bombard Organ C–c4
First Division
(Solo) enclosed:
121 Contra Bass 16′
122 Flûte à Pavillon 8′
123 Viole d’Amour 8′
124 Doppel Flute 8′
125 Harmonic Claribel Flute 8′
126 Unda Maris II 8′
127 Wald Flute 4′
128 Flauto Traverso 4′
129 Piccolo Traverso 2′
130 Double Bassoon 16′
131 Corno di Bassetto 8′
132 Hautboy 8′
133 Bassoon 8′
XX Tremulant
134 Double Horn 16′
135 French Horn 8′
136 Carillons
137 Tubular Bells
Second Division (Bombard)
138-144 enclosed in Solo box
138 Bombardon 16′
139 Tuba 8′
140 Orchestral Trumpet 8′
141 Cornopean 8′
142 Quint Trumpet 51/3′
143 Orchestral Clarion 4′
144 Sesquialtera V
145 Contra Tuba 16′
146 Tuba Mirabilis 8′
147 Tuba Clarion 4′

Pedal C–
1 Acoustic Bass (from 7) 64′
2 Double Open Wood (from 7) 32′
3 Double Open Diapason (from 9) 32′
4 Contra Violone (from 64) 32′
5 Double Quint (from 9) 211/3′
6 Open Wood I 16′
7 Open Wood II 16′
8 Open Diapason I 16′
9 Open Diapason II 16′
10 Violone 16′
11 Sub Bass 16′
12′ Salicional 16′
13 Viole (from 48) in Orch 16′
14′ Quint 102/3′
15 Octave Wood (from 6) 8′
16 Principal (from 8) 8′
17 Violoncello 8′
18 Flute 8′
19 Octave Quint 51/3′
20 Super Octave 4′
21 Harmonics VII
22 Mixture V
23 Double Ophicleide (from 25) 32′
24 Double Trombone (from 27, in Swell) 32′
25 Ophicleide 16′
26 Bombard 16′
27 Trombone (in Swell) 16′
28 Fagotto 16′
29 Trumpet (from 116 in Swell) 16′
30 Clarinet (from 60 in Choir) 16′
31 Bassoon (from 130 in Solo) 16′
32 Quint Trombone 10 2/3′
33 Posaune (from 25) 8′
34 Clarion 8′
35 Octave Posaune (from 25) 4′
36 Bass Drum

Couplers: I Choir to Pedal, II Great to Pedal, III Swell to Pedal, IV Solo to Pedal, V Choir (unenclosed) on Solo, VII Octave Orchestral, VIII Sub Octave Second Division (Orchestral), IX Unison off, X Swell to Choir, XI Solo to Choir, XII Reeds on Choir, XIII Great Second Division on Choir[Ann. 2], XIV Choir to Great, XV Swell to Great, XVI Solo to Great, XVIII Octave (16′, 8′, 4′ stops only), XIX Solo to Swell, XXI Octave, XXII Sub Octave, XXIII Unison off, XXIV Octave Bombard (16′, 8′, 4′ stops only), XXV Bombard on Choir, XXVI Tubas on Choir.

pipes of the Great manual


“The fabled Royal Albert Hall organ, the largest in the British Isles, has happily undergone a very successful restoration following many years of decline from old age. And who better to perform the first recording on the restored giant the the Grand Dame of organists—Gillian Weir? She has known the instrument intimately since the beginning of her career, and demonstrates it in all its glory. Her rendering of Liszt's Ad nos is worth the price of the disc itself. Registrations highlight the instruments' bountiful tonal resources; the many chorus reeds are particularly stunning in the power, smoothness, and contrast. In this, as well as Liszt's St. Francis of Paola and works of Howells, Parry, Cook, Elgar (Nimrod, Pomp and Circumstance No. 1), and Lanquetuit, Weir combines breathless virtuosity with exquisite poetry in her inimitable way. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect marriage of player, repertoire, and instrument. This is a superlative musical experience of heroic proportions.”
The American Organist, July 2006

“My 2005 Chirstmas offering will definitely be Gillian Weir's stunning disc from the Royal Albert Hall. Her virtuosity and imaginative use of all the resources of the mighty Willis organ form a perfect partnership with this colourful and charismatic instrument.”
Christopher Nickol, Gramophone, December 2005

“This is a sort of ‘Last Night of the Proms’ rolled into 78 minutes: first the serious stuff, then the fun. Actually, it's all fun in the sense that any muscian would take utter delight in Dame Gillian's playing. She has the ability to endow any work with a stature which elevates it to the great or near-great, and to bind together those multi-sectional organ works which so often fragment in the hands of lesser players. These qualities are manifestly evident in her new CD - the first recorded on the restored organ in the Royal Albert Hall - ‘The Iron Voice’ as its publicists christened it.

Another quality equally manifest is her evident delight in avidly seeking out as many varied registrations as the music can reasonably take. So vast are the instrument's resources that one feels one scarcely hears the same combination twice. Nowhere is this more evident than in the seemingly endless varieties of forte or fortissimo combinations - some magnificent with Mixtures, some resonant with reeds, some breathtakingly with great clusters of both, all underpinned by the 35-stop Pedal Organ with its ability to provide a bass or chorus for any manual combination - from delicate Saliconal 16ft to earth-shaking Ophicleides 32/16/8ft. The other remarkable variety is in both the soft solo reed colours and, particularly, in the range of choice of loud solo reeds: three sets on the Great, one set on the Swell, and no fewer than nine big reeds to employ on the Bombarde. Dame Gillian clearly takes unfettered joy in choosing just the right Tuba for every occasion - from John Cook's effervescent Fanfare (a great favourite of Sir George Thalben-Ball, once curator of this organ, who I seem to remember made somewhat more of the final Molto Largando) to various handfuls of 8/4 reeds (just a little strident) in Pomp & Circumstance No 1.

Much of the greatest work on the CD, receiving surely a seminal performance, is Liszt's ‘Ad nos’, here finding a Beethovian stature of compelling beauty as well as power. Dame Gillian seeks out (as she does in the Parry Wanderer) a rich orchestral palette, exploring colour after colour, and each just right for the passage it is illuminating. When the power is turned on the contrast is Wagerian - one gasps. I can think of no other piece which so well suits this organ - perhaps the Reubke and the big Healey Willan come close, though even they with their fabulous richness of invention cannot match the fertility of Liszt in making a 30-minute set of variations of infinite variety out of one short melody. The St Francis of Paola work is receiving a rare recording here, certainly benefiting from the stature which a performance such as this brings to it; rather like Liszt's Orpheus it has a distinctly more diverse, improvisatory feel to it than the rigorously worked-out Ad nos.

The Howells third Rhapsody fits as if made for this sort of organ. Indeed just as one would expect, for Howells was essentailly a Gloucester man, where the early Willis in the cathedral, rebuilt by Harrison (like the RFH) was his life-long inspiration for organ tone (albeit on a smaller scale and in the most glorious acoustic).

The Elgars are given classy performances - glorious cascades of strings in Nimrod and an ensemble like the massed bands of the entire British Army, Navy and Air Force in Land of..... And to finish with, that currently popular Toccata by Marcel Lanquetuit (1894-1985), who, through a friend and pupil of Dupré, harks back firmly to Boëllmann and Widor for this foot-tappingly tuneful romp.

It would be frankly impossible to imagine a more appropriate re-lauch of the titanic instrument in Kensington Gore. Long may its iron voice resound; long may Dame Gillian fans enjoy this classic in the making. What a final Editor's Choice for me! A great Honour.”
Paul Hale, Organists' Review, May 2005

“A landmark recording with Weir and instrument a perfect partnership... Liszt's Ad Nos- Weir's account of this is one of the most spectacular you'll ever hear. This is an exceptionally fine CD that I'm sure will become a landmark recording.”
Christopher Nickol. Gramophone, July 2005 Editor's Choice

“Magesterial playing... exceptionally good recording quality... excellent choice of repertoire. Ad nos is simply riveting... unequivocally the most entertaining organ CD I've experienced for some time.”
Peter Jewkes, The Sydney Organ Journal

“This is more than just an organ enthusiast's disc. Following the recent restoration of the Royal Albert Hall organ, Gillian Weir and the Priory team spent three all-night sessions recording this CD, the first to be made on the newly overhauled instrument. Returning to the scene of the triumphant Proma début which launched her glittering career, Weir has selected a programme of substantial romantic works together with a number of cleverly chosen arrangements. As ever, the playing is first-class. Listening to her performance of Liszt's Ad nos, it is impossible not to be swept along by the drama of the piece. Of all works she might have chosen, this surely is a marvellously appropriate choice since the orchestrally inspired writing coincides perfectly with the tonal concept of the Albert Hall organ. The range of colours suits Liszt excellently. But the timbres that vibrate in the memory are certainly the trumpet fanfares: again, not easily forgotten. At the other end of the spectrum, the lucious string sounds used in the opening of ‘Nimrod’ are simply beautiful, and the seamless crescendo later in the piece is truly impressive. Complementing the quality of the playing is the production. The recording readily captures a sense of the instrument in its acoustic, while the booklet notes are fulsome. For those who revel in the seemingly endless variety of colour that instruments like this provide, this disc is a must-have.”

Monday, December 1, 2008

Organ West Point, Military Academy Cadet Chapel

West Point Military Academy Cadet Chapel's 4/874 stops Möller Church Pipe Organ

The Cadet Chapel organ was originally built by M. P. Möller in 1911. Frederick C. Mayer, organist from 1911 to 1954, oversaw a series of enlargements which, by 1951, left the organ with 213 ranks and 14,195 pipes.

Mayer was influenced by George A. Audsley in his distinctive tonal design, which includes an unusual 72-rank Harmonic division, with its choruses of loud and soft mutations. Enlarged further by memorial gifts, it is now the largest church organ in the world.

The current West Point stoplist with a total of 874 speaking stops controlling 23,236 pipes, is awesome in both its scale and its unique character. The impressive four-manual keydesk is arguably the world's largest "horseshoe" console.

L. Boellmann: Toccata (from Suite Gothique)Organist: Daniel Chorzempa:


Development of the Organ E. Power Biggs

"The Organ". An aural guide by E. Power Biggs. 1958. Picture of the 1720 Arp Schnitger Organ at Zwolle-Holland

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Organ Harvard U

In this Midnight Pipes video, Murray Forbes Somerville plays the complete Toccata and Fugue in D minor, S.565, on the Flentrop organ in Harvard University's Adolphus Busch Hall (formerly Busch-Reisinger Museum).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Organ U of Texas Visser Rowland builders

Organ Building by Schantz

Liverpool Cathedral

picture from:

The Organ in the Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool

The Grand Organ is the largest organ in the UK and one of the largest operational organs in the world. The famous Tuba Magna (on 50" pressure) is one of the loudest organ stops in the world. It has recently been joined by a Trompette Militaire.

The construction of the organ was begun in 1923 by Henry Willis and part of the organ was used at the consecration of the cathedral in the following year. The organ was not completed until 1926.

Most of the organ sits in two cases on opposite sides of the choir.
There are eight manual divisions: the Great, Solo, and Bombarde organs occupy the South case; the Swell, Choir, and Positif occupy the North case; the Corona organ is installed in a special gallery high up under the tower; the Central organ, to support large congregations, is in a gallery above the Rankin porch. The Pedal organ is distributed between both North and South cases in the choir.

There are two five-manual consoles: one up in a gallery under the North case and a mobile recital console. The Choir and Positif organs are played from the same keyboard, the Corona organ can be played from either the Choir or Bombarde keyboard, the Central organ can be played from either the Great or Bombarde keyboard.

Other milestones in the history of the instrument:

* 1958-60: complete overhaul and modernisation including major changes to the Choir organ, and the installation of humidifiers.

* 1965: a donation from Lady Harvey provided a two-manual mobile console to be used in the choir for accompanying small services.

* 1977: general overhaul by Harrison and Harrison.

* 1989: a donation from Victor Hutson allowed the two-manual console to be replaced by a full five-manual console suitable for recitals.

* 1998: a donation from Alan Dronsfield provided the high powered Trompette Militaire.

* 2007: a donation from the McKinley family in memory of Eleanor Wright provided the Central Space organ.

The cathedral has its own homepage.

stops pipes
great 29 2257
swell 31 2375
choir 23 1764
solo 22 1459
bombarde 5 854
corona 1 61
central 6 502
pedal 35 996
total 152 10268

With 44 couplers the total number of registers comes to 196.



Contra Violone 32
Double Open Diapason 16
Contra Tibia 16
Bourdon 16
Double Quint 10 2/3
Open Diapason no 1 8
Open Diapason no 2 8
Open Diapason no 3 8picture from:
Open Diapason no 4 8
Open Diapason no 5 8
Tibia 8
Doppel Flöte 8
Stopped Diapason 8
Quint 5 1/3
Octave no 1 4
Octave no 2 4
Principal 4
Gemshorn 4
Flûte Couverte 4
Tenth 3
Twelfth 2 2/3
Super Octave 2
Fifteenth 2
Mixture (
Fourniture (
Double Trumpet 16 (harmonic trebles)
Trompette Harmonique 8
Trumpet 8 (harmonic trebles)
Clarion 4 (harmonic trebles)

Grand Chorus on Great

Swell (enclosed)

Contra Geigen 16 5"
Contra Salicional 16 5"
Lieblich Bourdon 16 5"
Open Diapason 8 5"
Geigen 8 5"
Tibia 8 7"
Wald Flöte 8 5"
Lieblich Gedact 8 5"
Echo Viola 8 5"
Salicional 8 5"
Vox Angelica 8 (down to FF) 5"
Octave 4 5"
Octave Geigen 4 5"
Salicet 4 5"
Lieblich Flöte 4 5"
Nazard 2 2/3 5"
Fifteenth 2 5"
Lieblich Piccolo 2 5"
Seventeenth 1 3/5 5"
Sesquialtera ( 5"
Mixture ( 5"
Contra Hautboy 16 7"
Hautboy 8 7"
Krummhorn 8 7"
Waldhorn 16 (harmonic)
Cornopean 8 (harmonic)
Clarion 4 (harmonic)
Double Trumpet 16 (harmonic)
Trompette Harmonique 8
Trumpet 8 (harmonic trebles)
Octave Trumpet 4 (harmonic trebles)

Tremulant 5" wind
Tremulant 7" wind

Choir - Positive

Gedact 8
Spitz principal 4
Nasât 2 2/3
Coppel 2
Terz 1 3/5
Spitzflöte 1
Cimbel (29.33.36)

Choir (enclosed)

Contra Viola 16
Violin Diapason 8
Viola 8
Claribel Flute 8
Unda Maris 8 (down to FF)
Octave Viola 4
Suabe Flöte 4
Octavin 2
Dulciana Mixture (
Bass Clarinet 16
Baryton 16
Corno di Bassetto 8
Cor Anglais 8
Vox Humana 8
Trumpette 8 (harmonic)
Clarion 4 (harmonic)


Solo (partially enclosed)

Contra Hohl Flöte 16 (unenclosed)
Hohl Flöte 8 (unenclosed)
Octave Hohl Flöte 4 (unenclosed)

Contra Viole 16
Viole d'Orchestre 8
Viole de Gambe 8
Violes Célèstes 8 (down to FF)
Flûte Harmonique 8
Octave Viole 4
Concert Flute 4 (harmonic)
Violette 2
Piccolo Harmonique 2
Cornet des Violes (10.12.15)
Cor Anglais 16
Orchestral Clarinet 8
Orchestral Oboe 8
Orchestral Bassoon 8
French Horn 8
Contra Tromba 16
Tromba Real 8 (harmonic)
Tromba 8 (harmonic)
Tromba Clarion 4 (harmonic)

Solo Trombas on Great


Grand Chorus (subunison.unison.5.8.12.
Contra Tuba 16 (harmonic)
Tuba 8 (harmonic)
Tuba Clarion 4 (harmonic)
Tuba Magna 8 (harmonic, pressure 50")


Trompette Militaire 8 (pressure 50")

Corona on Bombarde
Corona on Choir

Central Space Manual

Bourdon 16
Open Diapason 8
Principal 4
Super Octave 2
Mixture (6 ranks)


Bourdon 16

Pedal (partially enclosed)

Resultant Bass 64
Double Open Bass 32
Double Open Diapason 32
Contra Violone 32
Open Bass 16
Tibia 16
Open Diapason 16
Contra Basso 16
Geigen 16 (enclosed)
Violon 16 (enclosed)
Dolce 16
Bourdon 16
Sub Bass 16
Principal 8
Violoncello 8 (enclosed)
Violone 8
Stopped Flute 8
Open Flute 8 (enclosed)
Bass Flute 8
Fifteenth 4
Gedact 4
Flûte Triangulaire 4 (enclosed)
Octave Flute 4
Mixture (15.19.22)
Fourniture (
Fagotto 16 (enclosed)
Octave Bassoon 8 (enclosed)
Contra Trombone 32 (enclosed)
Trombone 16 (enclosed)
Ophicleide 16
Clarion 8
Contra Bombarde 32
Bombarde 16
Bombarde 8
Bombarde 4

There are Octave, Sub-Octave and Unison-Off couplers on the Bombarde, Solo, Swell and Choir organs. The Corona and Central organs have Octave and Sub-Octave couplers.

Bombarde to Choir
Solo to Choir
Swell to Choir
Great to Choir

Bombarde to Great
Solo to Great
Swell to Great
Choir to Great

Solo to Swell
Great to Bombarde

Bombarde to Pedal
Solo Tenor Solo to Pedal
Solo to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal

Overture to the occasional Oratorio' by G.F. Handel (arr. W.H. Goss-Custard).

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