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Thread: The development of the pedal organ in england

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    The development of the pedal organ in england

    THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PEDAL ORGAN IN ENGLAND

    In his “Life of Bach” the German writer Nicholas Forkel who lived from 1749 to 1818 wrote “The Pedal is an essential pert of the Organ; by this means alone it is exalted above all other instruments ; for its magnificence, grandeur and majesty depend upon it. Thus it is somewhat surprising that more than four hundred years after music for an organ with an independent pedal had been written and played in Germany there were still important churches and other locations in England where the pedal clavier had not been adopted or where its use was despised.

    Sir William Herschel, the distinguished Astronomer and Composer was in 1765 one of six candidates for the post of Organist at the parish church of Halifax. When it came his turn to audition he played with such a full volume of slow solemn harmony as to astonish the assembly. He later revealed his secret. When he sat at the console he removed from his pocket to pieces of lead. Placing one on the lowest key of the organ and the other one octave higher he produced the effect of four hands instead of two and thus accomplished the harmony he desired.

    In 1800 the music of Bach was unknown in England, as was that of his predecessors or the music of the French school of organ composers. Thus, little need was felt for an independent pedal part, and the concept of playing a sole chorale with the feet was unknown. The Bach pedal fugues were a source of wonder when they were first played by Samuel Wesley. Not until the second half of the nineteenth century was some progress made by the pedal organs of Willis, Schulze and Caville-Coll and the extraordinary pedal work of W. T. Best which was not equaled by any other organist of the time.
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

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    Rob

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    Captain of Water Music
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    Thanks for that GB. Hadn't known the history.

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    You are welcome. There will be more coming on this thread. Take due notice and govern yourself accordingly.
    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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    The earliest known account of the use of Pedals in an English organ is thought to be in the Wages Book, No.45 of St. Pauls’ Cathedral which records the 1721 addition of six Trumpet Pipes down to the 16 foot tone to be used with or without a pedal, as well as the Pedal and its movements. This work was done in addition to cleaning and repairing the Organ for a total cost of £100.

    In 1712 Renatus Harris tried unsuccessfully to persuade the authorities of St. Paul’s to commission him to build a six manual instrument with an independent pedal of the size in use on the Continent. In writing of Handel in 1784, Charles Burney mentioned that when Handel first arrived in England he went to St. Paul’s to play the organ for the “exercise it afforded him in the use of the pedals”.

    The introduction of pedals, however, made no great impact and for at least another century few organs were equipped with even one row of 12 pedal pipes. Even though it was regarded as one of the 6 most important churches in the country for organ music Temple Church had no pedal pipes until a rank of an octave and a half were added in 1843. It is thought, although not certain, that 13 unison pedal pipes were added at Westminster Abbey in 1778. This date is given based on the composition for the opening of the rebuilt instrument of the “Service in G” by Dr. Benjamin Cook which contains passages appropriate to a pedal rank.

    The insular attitude of those men who were at that time were regarded, perhaps chiefly by themselves, as the “Masters of English Music” and their jealousy towards continental ideas can be credited with the delay in the introduction of pedals to English Organ building. As late as the second decade of the Nineteenth Century only nine Cathedral or Abbey instruments of the thirty-three in use had Pedals. Even so, with the exception of two houses of worship, Westminster and Hereford, had a few separate pedal pipes; the remainder were pull-downs” which acted on the Great keys. As late as 1884 Canterbury Cathedral had only one octave of short pedal 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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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Earliest mention of pedal pipes on the Wimborne organ is 1856/7, 1 rank of 29 pipes, 16' wood open diapason, superceded at the 1867 rebuild by Walker with 5 ranks of 30 pipes, still in use.

    As you say Rob, we do appear to have dragged our heels a bit!
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    THanks.. very interesting reading
    ....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.

    Bill

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    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetmike View Post
    Earliest mention of pedal pipes on the Wimborne organ is 1856/7, 1 rank of 29 pipes, 16' wood open diapason, superceded at the 1867 rebuild by Walker with 5 ranks of 30 pipes, still in use.

    As you say Rob, we do appear to have dragged our heels a bit!
    I hope that other members do not object to the resurrection of an old thread - I found this reference to my 'own' church organ during a search.

    There is in fact an earlier reference: Robson added some pedal pipes in 1844-45, which were continued up to the G.O. by a Double Open Diapason of metal in the treble.

    Last edited by pcnd5584; Jun-09-2014 at 23:41.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

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