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Thread: Brindley and Foster Organ Restored in Edinburgh, Scotland

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Brindley and Foster Organ Restored in Edinburgh, Scotland

    Simon Nieminski organist of St. Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh plays an organ transcription of Mozart's Overture to The Magic Flute on the restored Brindley and Foster pipe organ at Freemasons Hall Edinburgh, Scotland. The organ as built in 1913 and restored in 2009. Also on the video two technicians with the Forth Pipe Organs firm of organ builders, who have maintained, and now restored this organ to its original 1913 condition, explain the technical aspects of the organ which make it unique. Nieminski played the rededication recital of the instrument in 2010
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hExvBZL9vVg
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Enjoyed the videos. Nice old wonderful instrument.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoneBaroque View Post
    Simon Nieminski organist of St. Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh plays an organ transcription of Mozart's Overture to The Magic Flute on the restored Brindley and Foster pipe organ at Freemasons Hall Edinburgh, Scotland. The organ as built in 1913 and restored in 2009. Also on the video two technicians with the Forth Pipe Organs firm of organ builders, who have maintained, and now restored this organ to its original 1913 condition, explain the technical aspects of the organ which make it unique. Nieminski played the rededication recital of the instrument in 2010
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hExvBZL9vVg

    ===============================


    Hello from the UK and my first post,

    I thought I would tell you a little bit about the Brindley & Foster company, who built some very unusual organs, some extremely fine organs and, (perhaps most importantly), assisted in the building of one unique, world-class instrument.

    Charles Brindley founded the firm in Sheffield, here in the UK, and like so many young tradesmen, he saw a good business opportunity during the great wave of church-building which swept across the country in the last half of the 19th century. I think I am right in saying that he was the ONLY British organ-builder to learn his skills in the workshop of a European rather than a British company; in this case a German organ-builder. He could not ahve chosen better, for the company was that of Edmund Schulze in Paulinsella, who were, (and still are), one of the most celebrated organ-builders of all time. Their work at Doncaster Parish Church, St Bart's, Armley (Leeds) and elsewhere, had a huge impact; not only in Britain, but in America also.

    Charles Brindley was a naturally gifted pipe-voicer, and it is significant that when Schulze came to build the organ at Doncaster Parish Church (5 manuals - approx 100 registers), he called upon his old friend Charles Brindley to assist him. Brindley not only supplied staff to help those of Schulze, he also undertook some of the voicing himself.

    Now Schulze was on a par with the Schintgers and Silbermanns of this world, and that tells us something about Charles Brindley's abilities.

    At first building only tracker-action instruments, (sometimes with pneumatic "keglade" type windchests for the pedal organs), they had a real Schulze character, with very bold diapasons, terraced dynamics (in the romantic German style) and beautiful softer registers. Indeed, a certain Karl Schulze, (a relative of the family Schulze), stayed on in England when Edmund Schulze returned to Germany, and became the head-voicer to Charles Brindley.

    Sadly, this magnificent German/English style fell out of favour, and over a period of time, the style evolved into something more romantic and more orchestral, but still not without a certain boldness and brightness. This latter style gained favour after Charles Brindley retired, and the (engineer) Foster set the company on a new path. Not only did the organs change tonally to a considerable extent, they also took pneumatic mechanisms to new heights of complexity, which proved troublesome.

    Sadly, not only did the early organs fall from grace and out of fashion, (in spite of their great worth), the later complexity after about 1890, meant that other organ-builders were reluctant to work on them or re-build them.

    Sadly, in spite of building many hundreds of instruments, only a relatively few Brindley & Foster organs survive unspoiled; the Edinburgh one a fine example of their late work.

    Historically very significant are the rare examples of organs built around 1870-80, when Karl Schulze and Charles Brindley did the voicing. These are absolute gems, with a bold clarity and nobility quite out of character with most others of the period.

    Incidentally, the Schulze influence travelled to America via G.Donald-Harrison, and was copied in England by one of the great Victorian builders, T C Lewis.

    Senator Emerson Richards also set out to imitate the Schulze sound at Atlantic City, but I don't know whether Midmer-Losh made a success of it or not.

    MM

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    MM,Thank you for the most interesting history on the Brindley and Foster firm. I feel that the move to a more romantic, orchestral sound from the German/English style as not a step forward. I cannot speak to the Atlantic City "monster" as I do not have much interest in theatre organs. For the record my favorite organ Builders are Frobenius in Denmark and Fisk in America. That should tell you my preferred sound qualities.
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    What a lovely organ, and thanks to MM for the historical setting. You speak as if you know quite a bit about this instrument, why?

    As to GoneBaroque - I don't know the firm Frobenius, but if you mention some of the organs I might have heard them?

    thanks - David
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    What a lovely organ, and thanks to MM for the historical setting. You speak as if you know quite a bit about this instrument, why?

    As to GoneBaroque - I don't know the firm Frobenius, but if you mention some of the organs I might have heard them?

    thanks - David
    =====================


    I don't know a great deal about the Edinburgh organ, but Brindley & Foster, after the retirement of Charles Brindley, went very much the way of factory instruments: not that this was necessarily a bad thing, because they had a good working formula tonally, just as Henry Willis did.

    I suppose one late period B & F instrument,(post 1900 or so... I will check on the dates and tidy this up a little), is much the same as another, and they all sound surprisingly similar and not at all bad by any means.

    The fact that they moved away from the Schulze era, we can now see as a retrograde step, because the Schulze style had definite links going all the way back to Silbermann. The bold clarity of Charles Brindley was lost, (like that of so many others), in the pursuit of the orchestral organ, yet in spite of that, B & F still retained just enough of the German quality to render them musically interesting.

    The fact that Foster was more an engineer, meant that he had a great fascination with all things technological, and the complexity of his pneumatic actions was staggering. It included a patent system known as the "Brindgradus" system, which had combination "stops" drawing pre-selected combinations, as well as a crescendo pedal which had similarities with the rollschweller found on German instruments. You can see these on the video of the Edinburgh instrument.

    There was also a further interesting link apart from Schulze, in that Bridnley & Foster had on their staff a certain John Compton, and whether that inspired his incredible technical prowess and highly scientific aproach to tonal synthesis and unit organs, we shall never know, but like Foster, he wasn't afraid to "give it a go" if he felt it would work either tonally or mechanically.

    I am indeed fortunate in being located very close to an early (re-built but still recognisable 1870's B & F instrument from their best period, and also to TWO organs similar to that at Edinburgh which are in good playing condition. This is where my first hand knowledge comes from, for I was an organ building apprentice at one time, and I was organist at the church where the early Brindley (voiced by Karl Schulze) is situated.

    If I can find it, there is a YouTube clip of a small, early Brindley organ somewhere in Australia, and the clarity and boldness is absolutely startling.

    An associated link with America is of course G Donald Harrison, who admired the sound of T C Lewis; who in turn, was completely besotted with the Schulze sound. Ex-Willis he may have been, but he turned away from the Willis style of chorus-work when he got to America. Charles Brindley would have approved of his work, I feel sure.

    Anyway, to turn attention to all things Baroque, I play a small, but perfectly stupendous baroque-style organ in the UK, which has many admirers, and which has held me spellbound for over 35 years; speaking as it does into a musically perfect acoustic.

    As for Frobenius, perhaps one of the very finest instruments built by Thomas Frobenius, is the medium sized two-manual at Queens' College, Oxford University here in the UK, which is just ravishingly beautiful.

    As for Fisk, I have had the great privilege of playing the Harvard Memorial Church organ when I was slumming around there with a former American partner, and I DO like what Charlie Fisk did.....and also what Holtkamp did....and Skinner, and Harrison and so many of the modern builders. I have recently written about the American organ scene, (only really scratching at the surface) on the Mander Organs discussion board in the UK, after some members thought the msucial quality of American organs dubious. They needed to know the truth, and I hope I put them right by pointing out the fantastic quality of current organ-building in the US.

    Love a good Wurlitzer too, and used to practice on one in London when I lived there.

    Enough of droning on. I hope the information is of interest.

    MM
    Last edited by MusingMuso; Aug-15-2011 at 20:28. Reason: spelling largely

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoneBaroque View Post
    MM,Thank you for the most interesting history on the Brindley and Foster firm. I feel that the move to a more romantic, orchestral sound from the German/English style as not a step forward. I cannot speak to the Atlantic City "monster" as I do not have much interest in theatre organs. For the record my favorite organ Builders are Frobenius in Denmark and Fisk in America. That should tell you my preferred sound qualities.
    =======================

    I spent time in New England. I just have this image of you with candles at the console, wearing a wig; quill pen in an ink pot. I blame E Power Biggs and the Busch Hall for all this.

    MM

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    E. Power Biggs may have been born a few hundred years too late, but he certainly had a great deal to do with the resurgence of Tracker Action in the US. If you have a picture of me in wig, sitting with candles at the console I would probably e dusting it. Unfortunately playing the organ is not one of my accomplishments. I am strictly a listener, but it is my favorite instrument. And the wig would only serve to cover my receding hair line.
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MusingMuso View Post
    =====================



    I suppose one late period B & F instrument,(post 1900 or so... I will check on the dates and tidy this up a little), is much the same as another, and they all sound surprisingly similar and not at all bad by any means.



    There was also a further interesting link apart from Schulze, in that Bridnley & Foster had on their staff a certain John Compton, and whether that inspired his incredible technical prowess and highly scientific aproach to tonal synthesis and unit organs, we shall never know, but like Foster, he wasn't afraid to "give it a go" if he felt it would work either tonally or mechanically.





    As for Fisk, I have had the great privilege of playing the Harvard Memorial Church organ when I was slumming around there with a former American partner, and I DO like what Charlie Fisk did.....and also what Holtkamp did....and Skinner, and Harrison and so many of the modern builders. I have recently written about the American organ scene, (only really scratching at the surface) on the Mander Organs discussion board in the UK, after some members thought the msucial quality of American organs dubious. They needed to know the truth, and I hope I put them right by pointing out the fantastic quality of current organ-building in the US.



    MM
    There is a Fisk instrument in one of the churches where I live which I go to hear often. It is one built while Charles was still alive. The firm is, of course, still continuing on and doing excellent work. As you there are quite a fine builders in America; Fisk, Holtkamp, Rosales come to mind plus more I cannot recall at the moment. And in Canada there is the Swiss born Helmut Wolf.
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    What a lovely organ, and thanks to MM for the historical setting. You speak as if you know quite a bit about this instrument, why?

    As to GoneBaroque - I don't know the firm Frobenius, but if you mention some of the organs I might have heard them?

    thanks - David
    Thos. Frobenius and Son is a Danish firm which has been in business for 100 years. Their Opus numbers have now reached over 1,000. One of their most recent is at the In Jørlunde Church inaugurated in 2009 by Frederick Magle who had a hand in the design and has recorded on the organ.

    http://www.magle.dk/pipe-organ-jorlu...rch.html#music

    Here is a link to the Frobenius site.

    http://www.frobenius.nu/

    It is in Danish but if you play around you can find your way.

    Regards
    Last edited by Krummhorn; Aug-16-2011 at 02:58. Reason: fixed first link
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

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    Just picked up this thread; extremely interesting. Had the good fortune to have the opportunity to play the Brindley & Foster organ in Edinburgh for a short while last year. Due to the sound delay, it was essential to play but not listen! Have also played the Frobenius in Canongate Church in Edinburgh, which is the 1000th instrument built by them.

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Nikam you are most fortunate to have had the opportunity to play those two great instruments. I especially love the sound qualities of the Frobenius organs. There is one about 100 miles from where ai live, in the First Church of Cambridge, Massachusetts. When the late Calvin Hampton played it it was said that you could hear the icicles hanging from the pipes.
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

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