Saturday, 17 September 2011

Through a local lens No. 10

Esteemed Organ

Every year about this time my friend Jean-Claude and I give a public explanation and demonstration of the organ in the village church. Jean-Claude's part in the demonstration is to read from the altar steps the explanatory text that I wrote some years ago, while I, hidden up there in the organ loft, chip in timeously with odds and ends of tunes showing the difference between an 8' flute and a 4' flute, the American-type wobble that the Vox Humana gives, the ear-shattering Bass Trumpet reeds, and so on. Finally I play a piece (a fugue in F minor by Charles Burney, a one-time acquaintance of Mozart) which gradually introduces all the stops and ends in a blaze of noisy glory after which everyone can go and have lunch.

It's rather a remarkable organ, because there are only six others like it in all France. It's not all that old, dating from 1845. At that time harmoniums (harmonia?) were coming in, to the chagrin of many a curé. A certain Abbé Clergeau designed a modest, wardrobe-sized organ to compete favourably with the dreaded harmonium in cost, size, specification and - a clear winner, this - purity of sound. One of the few that were ever manufactured eventually found its way to our village. It's so special that it has been listed as an Historical Monument.

We do this as part of an annual Europe-wide promotion of Historical Monuments, generally on the third weekend in September. Great houses, public buildings, whatever forms part of the national heritage, are open for the public. Even organs. Free. I think this is quite a good idea. I don't know what the National Trust would think about it.

(I wrote something else yesterday along these lines. Reading it again this morning I found it so patronising and, worse, so boring that I've rewritten it. Anonymous' capitalised comment said it all.)

13 comments:

Dave said...

I am not going to be the first to thank you for showing us your organ.

Christopher said...

Next, please.

Christopher said...

PS: Thank you.

Z said...

I wish we had an organ loft. I was deeply envious when the organist at St Peter Mancroft showed me his, complete with kettle, coffee pot and tin of chocolate hobnobs. I said to our last Rector, I'd support his bid to do away with the choir stalls if he re-sited the organ in the gallery where no one could see me. Sadly, the Bishop moved him to Oulton Broad before it could happen.

I think it's harmoniums, because it's not an actual Latin word but one derived later from a Latin root.

Anonymous said...

Ever-so sorry...

YAWN!!!

and B4 I'm able to post this 'post' I'm required to recognise a google 'word verification' "saccus"

So here goes...

Mike and Ann said...

The organ in our church is a father Smith organ ('Father' Bernard Smith, 1630 -1708). I've been told, though, that the only original parts probably are the case, much restored, and the larger pipes.

letouttoplay said...

It looks as though it's ascending heavenwards.

Christopher said...

Z: Chocolate hobnobs! My last one ran out - that's to say I ate it - about three weeks ago. No more until our next UK trip. Will I survive? This sounds like a very well organised organist!

Anon: Oh dear. Quite right. Very sorry.

M and A: That is old - tho', as you say, possibly only the case and maybe the visible pipes, which are very often for decoration and produce no sound, are original.

Mig: I expect my playing will keep it earthbound. Nothing heavenly about it!

Anonymous said...

On returning...

a scroll up at this particular organ photo presents the delicate feature of unmistakeable fine cabinet making. How an organist is able to ascend that filigree stairway without a tumble through the tracery; is then; confident to seat themselves at the lofty piped organ aware they are supported by the slimmest of wooden bowed brackets as if the organ player were a lightweight ornament arranged upon a mantelpiece - defies levitation.

Organists hitting the keys in this particular French church must be weighted against their proficient playing so long as other 'weighty organs' (obesity) doesn't risk a tumble into an orchestra pit or pews full of celebrants.

(in order to post the above I'm required to recognise yet another 'word verification' this time easy readable "actuar")

Christopher said...

Well, Anon, I raised this very point some years ago with one of the municipal employees, a very small man weighing some 7 stone, who assured me there was no danger. 'Assured' is maybe the wrong word.

The organ platform also leans slightly - and alarmingly - forward as well. People climbing up there have been known to feel slightly seasick.

Vicus Scurra said...

I don't have anything to add to this thread (no change there, then: Ed.) but the word verification is shlzbyrn.

Christopher said...

I don't actually get to see my own word verifications, of course, but where others invent them for 'humorous' purposes I trust you implicitly, Vicus, and am only surprised that the w v wasn't 'mgffllbt'

Spadoman said...

I played the Hammond B3 with a blues band some years ago, but not very good. (certainly not like Gregg Allman) And I didn't have to sit in a loft pit that wouldn't hold my massive bady. (I am wondering how many stone I am as I weigh in at 225 pounds?)
Anyway, is it blasphemous sit higher than the crucifix? Just wondering if there is protocol like no other flag can fly higher than the Stars and Stripes here in the USA, really, it's a law, or maybe for sure a guideline)
Anyway, HERE is an interesting organ. I have sen it and heard it in person na few times. It's in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.
Take care and be well.

peace

word ver: frialung

Really, fry a lung! Like smoking too much weed I guess!