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Thread: Les cloches de Hinckley

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhnbrbr View Post
    Presumably the automatic carillon would have played hymn tunes or popular songs, so it ought to be possible to detect a recognisable melody in there somewhere too. Anyone?
    More specifically, the site mentioned by eameece gives the titles of the seven tunes, so the question is to see whether one of them is close enough to Vierne's main theme: B---E---A-F#-B---E---AGF#-B---c#---d#ec#-g# (first heard in the pedal at bar 11).

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thierry59 View Post
    In the leaflet attached to the recording made by Labric, it is clearly indicated that the carillon sounded every 15 minutes whereas the site says 3 hours. I think the first version is more likely since Vierne was complaining about being waken up very often...But all the witnesses have passed away...
    My source for the three-hour period was not the site mentioned by eameece, but the Vierne monography by Rollin Smith, p.561, with an acknowledgment on page xvi to Phillip J. Herbert from Hinckley, who may not have witnessed Vierne's visit, but who definitely knows the Hinckley chimes.

    Since there are two "chime" works in the Pièces de Fantaisie, there might be a confusion with the other one, "Carillon de Westminster", since Big Ben indeed sounds every 15 minutes.

    Of course we can't know the truth, but I'd rather trust information coming from people in Hinckley directly than third- or fourth-hand accounts (especially if they already contain other information that is clearly false, viz. the descending scales).

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by acc View Post
    My source for the three-hour period was not the site mentioned by eameece, but the Vierne monography by Rollin Smith, p.561, with an acknowledgment on page xvi to Phillip J. Herbert from Hinckley, who may not have witnessed Vierne's visit, but who definitely knows the Hinckley chimes.

    Since there are two "chime" works in the Pièces de Fantaisie, there might be a confusion with the other one, "Carillon de Westminster", since Big Ben indeed sounds every 15 minutes.

    Of course we can't know the truth, but I'd rather trust information coming from people in Hinckley directly than third- or fourth-hand accounts (especially if they already contain other information that is clearly false, viz. the descending scales).
    You may be right!
    In fact before reading this thread, I was pretty sure that this story was about Westminster and not Hinckley. Perhaps there is a confusion in the explanations provided by the (unknown) author of the leaflet. I will consult the book on Vierne by Bernard Gavoty to cross the sources...

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thierry59 View Post
    I will consult the book on Vierne by Bernard Gavoty to cross the sources...
    I have already done that. I haven't found any mention of Hinckley at all, and only a single sentence about Big Ben, at the bottom of p.149:

    Et, en passant, il note le thème du célèbre carillon qui servira de prétexte, quelques années plus tard, à l'une de ses compositions les plus populaires.
    (Translation: “And, on this occasion, he writes down the tune of the famous chimes [of Big Ben] that would become the basis for one of his most popular works a few years later.”)

    Assuming I haven't overlooked any other passages — the lack of an index doesn't make life easy when one tries to use Gavoty's book to look up for anything specific. (Of course, Gavoty never intended his book to be a scholarly work in the first place.)

  5. #20
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    I seem to remember hearing once (probably on BBC Radio 3) that it was not Big Ben he heard, but the chimes of Westminster Cathedral. I can't be sure as it was a long time ago. Has anyone else heard this? Not terribly important if the notes were the same anyway! I also heard (possibly in the same programme) that the first time he played C. de W. as a postlude at Notre Dame the worshippers were so entranced by it that they refused to leave their seats until it was over (and who can blame them?)

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhnbrbr View Post
    I seem to remember hearing once (probably on BBC Radio 3) that it was not Big Ben he heard, but the chimes of Westminster Cathedral.
    I don't know the tune of Westminster Cathedral's chimes. Vierne did play there on January 3rd, 1924, so that may have something to do with it.

    Another point, though, is that Vierne actually misquotes the Big Ben tune. Here is what one hears from the clock tower itself (transposed into D major, and where F stands for F#):

    • 1st quarter: F E D A
    • 2nd quarter: D F E A — D E F D
    • 3rd quarter: F D E A — A E F D — F E D A
    • 4th quarter: D F E A — D E F D — F D E A — A E F D

    Vierne replaces the 2nd quarter with D E F A — A E F D.

    Rollin Smith tells a second-hand story about Vierne actually calling Henry Willis across the Channel, asking him to whistle the tune over the phone, suggesting a poor communication line and/or Willis's poor whistling capabilities to be responsible for the error.

    Quote Originally Posted by jhnbrbr View Post
    I also heard (possibly in the same programme) that the first time he played C. de W. as a postlude at Notre Dame the worshippers were so entranced by it that they refused to leave their seats until it was over (and who can blame them?)
    Indeed, this is confirmed by Rollin Smith on p.555 of his book, where he quotes an excerpt from Henri Doyen's Mes leçons d'orgue, p.80–81:
    ...one of the rare times when I saw the clergy and faithful not sortie... Everyone, to the desperation of the verger and sacristans “who had never seen anything like it,” waited quietly until the end, and a number of people improvised a little ovation for the maître when he came down from the tribune.

  7. #22
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by acc View Post
    I have already done that. I haven't found any mention of Hinckley at all, and only a single sentence about Big Ben, at the bottom of p.149:

    (Translation: “And, on this occasion, he writes down the tune of the famous chimes [of Big Ben] that would become the basis for one of his most popular works a few years later.”)

    Assuming I haven't overlooked any other passages — the lack of an index doesn't make life easy when one tries to use Gavoty's book to look up for anything specific. (Of course, Gavoty never intended his book to be a scholarly work in the first place.)
    As I am in vacation I cant' find out some other sources I could have or talk to people I know who might tell me more about this mystery! When I'm back in Paris I will investigate and share with you what I will have picked up

  8. #23
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    chimes of Hinckley

    Thierry wrote, "In the leaflet attached to the recording made by Labric, it is clearly indicated that the carillon sounded every 15 minutes whereas the site says 3 hours. I think the first version is more likely since Vierne was complaining about being waken up very often...But all the witnesses have passed away..."

    It may be that both are true; the bells rang the hour and quarter hour, and played a tune every 3 hours.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by acc View Post
    More specifically, the site mentioned by eameece gives the titles of the seven tunes, so the question is to see whether one of them is close enough to Vierne's main theme: B---E---A-F#-B---E---AGF#-B---c#---d#ec#-g# (first heard in the pedal at bar 11).
    Almost certainly the Sicilian Mariners hymn (also used for the German carol 'O du fröhliche').

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