Category Archives: Historic Organs

Music for Additional Listening – Grand Solemn March by Henry Smart

The Grand Solemn March in Eb was one of the most popular of Henry Smart‘s organ compositions in his day and was frequently performed at recitals through the end of the 19th century.  This masterfully-performed version is actually played on a fully digital organ using the software Hauptwerk.  The sample sounds employed are from the 1892 Willis organ of Hereford Cathedral in Great Britain.

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Historic Organs – The Cliquot Organ of the Church of St. Gervais, Paris

Although the beauty of François Couperin‘s compositions comes through, even when played on an organ like the St. Mary’s Whalley which is distinctly different from the French Classical Organ, there is a definite excitement and thrill to hear the original.  This brief You-tube video, while a little difficult to watch due to the videography, allows a brief listen to the restored Cliquot organ of the Church of St. Gervais in Paris where François Couperin served as organist and where he was actively playing when he wrote the Masses for the Parishes and the convents.  The segment present in the video gives a flavor of the powerful reeds of the organ in a piece played on a registration known as the “Grand Jeu” a chorus of principal and reed stops without the use of high-pitched mixtures.

For “real” organ aficionados, the current disposition of the St. Gervais Organ is as follows:

Grand Orgue

  • Montre 16″
  • Bourdon 16′
  • Montre 8′
  • Bourdon 8′
  • Prestant 4′
  • Flute 4′
  • Grosse Tierce 3 1/5′
  • Nasard 2 2/3′
  • Doublette 2′
  • Tierce 1 3/5′
  • Fourniture III
  • Cymbale III
  • Cornet V
  • Trompete 8′
  • Voix humaine 8′
  • Clairon 4′

 Positif

  • Bourdon 8′
  • Prestant 4′
  • Flute 4′
  • Nasard 2 2/3′
  • Doublette 2′
  • Tierce 1 3/5′
  • Larigot 1 1/3′
  • Cymbale III
  • Cromorne 8′

 Recit

  • Cornet V

Echo

  • Bourdon 8′
  • Flute 4′
  • Cymbale III
  • Cornet V

Pédale

  • Flute 8′
  • Flute 4′
  • Trompette 8′

Historic Organs – The Early English Organ Project

It is one of the tragedies of the English reformation, that the violence and intolerance of the time led to the ultimate destruction of all organs from the Tudor period.  Although the choral music of this time continues to be performed today, the organ sounds of that time have been largely unknown.  Following two remarkable discoveries of fragments of  Tudor period organs (one in a farmhouse door in Wetheringsett in Suffolk and another at Wingfield Church in Suffolk amongst assorted pieces of lumber in the coffin house of the church yard), the Royal College of Organists in England began The Early English Organ Project.  Working with contemporary organ builders, Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn, they have created reconstructions of these organs using the recovered fragments and other documentary materials as models.  A third Tudor-style organ was later created under the direction and sponsorship of Bangor University.  For the first time since the destruction of the organs in the chaos of the English reformation, we can again hear what these organs probably sounded like.


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