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Marek Michalak
Nov-23-2005, 19:41
Hi people,

I was just wondering, those of you who play the organ, what's the smallest and the biggest organ you have played on? And do you have any memorable experience or funny story or whatever to tell about it?

I myself am not a schooled musician if you will, but I have had a bit of piano classes myself when I was younger and while studying in Helsinki during the last academic year I've got the opportunity to reherse on a small organ once a week. Left to myself I decided I wanted to learn playing Bach's d-minor Toccata (I have always secretely practiced that one allready during my piano times, much to the dislike of my teacher).
I succeeded eventually and managed to play it both with hands and pedals and even quite well synchronized so https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
A "real" organist or teacher could probably spot a long list of mistakes from technique over fingering all the way up to articulation, but for me it's more than I could wish for at the moment. A year ago I would not have even thought about that I would be able to play that piece anywhere within the next 10 or 15 years, so I'm happy.

My practice instrument was a two-manual organ made 1967 by Richard Jacoby, a swedish organ builder if I remeber correctly and supposedly there are only two of his instruments in Finland.

The following is the stop list:
Man. I:
1. Principal 8
2. Spetsflöjt 8
3. Octava 4
4. Svegel 2
5. Mixtur IV

Man II (Swell box):
6. Koppelflöjt 8
7. Kwintadena 4
8. Principal 2
9. Seskvialtera II-III
10. Scharff II
Tremulant

Pedal:
11. Subbas 16
12. Flagflöjt 8
13. Koralbas II

Couplers:
I-P
II-P
II-I

It was nice instrument, had its certain charm and some lovely sounding voices.
The thing I'll always remeber most from this instrument however will be the hard action. I found it incredibly hard to press the keys down and the first two or three weeks my fingers ached after an hour of rehersing. I very rarely used the manual couplers as this logically made the first manual even harder.
But it was my first ever organ to play on and I am glad I had this opportunity.

Shortly before leaving Finland in the end of May I arranged a visit to the organ at Turku Cathedral, which I think is the biggest organ in Finland, four manuals and 80 or 81 stops.
I was givn a brief description and presentation of the organ and was allowed to play myself too.

I messed up my playing there a bit as my nerves "let me down". Playing around noon with tourists flogging in and out and such as huge instrument under my hands I just felt too nervous and made a couple of bigger mistakes. The pedalboard, the feel of the action, different divisions on the manuals I was used to play....it was all just so different than on what I have practiced up till then.
But it was a fantastic experience at the same time to play the organ and enjoy the long echoing in the cathedral, enjoy the full pleno sound and generally just enjoy the feeling that's its me who controls the sound of all these pipes for these few minutes......

Well, these are my two cents for the openeing. I'm looking foreward to reading other peopel's experiences.

Kind regards,
Marek

Frederik Magle
Nov-24-2005, 19:45
Great Post, Marek! https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

It's interesting to see the disposition of your practice instrument. The stop list is neo-classical, but seems ok versatible. But it reminds me on how different two organs with the same stop list can sound - A very significant part of an organ is in the construction and not least intonation. I have no doubt that the "Jacoby" organ have a very beautiful tone, though from your description is sounds like the key-action and/or couplers has not been optimally constructed. The action on such a small and intimate instrument should not be that hard I think. But I guess it's also a matter of taste to an extend.

Back to your question, the smallest organ I have tried have just 2 voices: Gedackt 8' and Salicional 8' (and an octave coupler). It's a small danish "Bush" organ from the 19th century, placed in the main lodge of the Free Masons in Copenhagen (I believe they have about 4-5 organs of various sizes in that lodge. I have visited as guest and played three of them). That small organ is surprisingly versatile and has an absolutely beautiful tone.

The largest organ I have played on so far is the organ in the First Church Congregational, Los Angeles, California (USA). It has 5 manuals and 265 stops with more than 20,000 pipes. I tried playing on that instrument during a visit to Los Angeles in 1998. The complete stop-list can be found here (http://www.fccla.org/Music/FCCOrganStopList-5.pdf). It's listed as the third-largest pipe organ in the world, and the largest "church organ" of all (though there is some ongoing debate about the 3rd, 4th and 5th places on that list, given their closeness in size. (List of the World's Largest Pipe Organs (http://www.theatreorgans.com/laird/top.pipe.organs.html)))

I was actually just going to attend a concert that was held in the church, but got stuck in the Los Angeles traffic, and missed it. When I finally arrived, everybody had left, but I managed to get hold on someone that put me in contact with the organ curator who gave me permission and access to play on the organ for more than an hour. That was great fun, though I must admit the organ feels perhaps slightly too big for the relatively small and acoustically dry hall (compared to the vastness of the organ that is - it would fit perfectly in the St. Peter Basilica in Rome or some such place https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif). Still, the power and grandeur of that instrument is amazing. It also has a lot of beautiful and interesting individual voices. I simply improvised for that hour and had a great time. I also met some very nice people.

The largest organ on which I have held public concerts myself is still the organ the Riga Cathedral (http://www.magle.dk/music-forums/801-walcker-organ-riga-cathedral.html), Latvia, with 4 manuals and 124 stops (144 ranks). That is also one of my all-time favourite organs.

Marek Michalak
Nov-25-2005, 00:58
Thanks for your reply, Frederik.

I know both instruments, but sadly only from recordings (there is a very nice mp3 of a young danish guy playing Bach's BWV 565 at Riga Cathedral https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif)

In a way it is funny that you mention the organ in Los Angeles as I have just yesterday received my ordered copy of Michael Murray's Bach CD from that organ.
I really like the sound of the intrument. I thought too the organ would be a bit big for the church, but judging purely from a CD you never know, it might just be the recording setup. So thanks for your "witness" account of it https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

As far as the size of organs is concerned you can take a look at at this website (Click Here (http://www.die-orgelseite.de/index_e.html)) in case you don't know it yet.

Frederik Magle
Nov-25-2005, 11:53
In a way it is funny that you mention the organ in Los Angeles as I have just yesterday received my ordered copy of Michael Murray's Bach CD from that organ.
I really like the sound of the intrument. I thought too the organ would be a bit big for the church, but judging purely from a CD you never know, it might just be the recording setup. So thanks for your "witness" account of it



Well, in a way an organ can almost never be too big (as long as the acoustics and/or archithecture is not damaged by its presence, and there's still room for the audience https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif). Just because there are hundreds of voices available, doesn't mean they all need to be used together at the same time. The skilled organist will of course find the right blend to use at any given time.

Please don't take my comment regarding the size as too negative - it's primarily an aesthetic impression as I can be a bit of an aesthete when it comes to pipe organs (and many other things in life) which I to some extend consider works of art in themselfs. The organ in the First Congregational Church, Los Angeles is still great - in several senses of the word! https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif



As far as the size of organs is concerned you can take a look at at this website (Click Here (http://www.die-orgelseite.de/index_e.html)) in case you don't know it yet.



Thanks! I didn't know that site. It looks more extensive and more up-to-date than the other site.

Marek Michalak
Nov-27-2005, 13:41
Don't worry Frederik, I did not mean it in a negative way with the organ being "too big".

By European standards as to how big an organ in how big a church I think we might label the LA organ "too big", but it doesn't mean it's bad. Perhaps Americans would view many of our organs as too small.

It still sounds terrific though, it's still a great instrument, and I still would love to hear it live and play around on the console myself one day https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
So not taking things too negative here https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Thomas Dressler
Dec-06-2005, 04:51
In response to both of your comments regarding size of instruments, I would have to admit that yes, there is a large group of organists here in America who like very large instruments, but not all of us are part of that group. I myself prefer modest sized instruments as long as the room is not huge. The largest organ I have played and actually LIKED is the large, 4 manual Flentrop at Duke University. That's a big room, and the organ sounds wonderful in it, plus it's a tracker and what I would consider a nicely musical instrument. To me and my way of playing, trying to make music on some of the really huge instruments is a bit like trying to get an elephant to dance ballet, and yet some organists play them very well. When it comes to large instruments, though, I prefer instruments like the Duke Flentrop or big trackers like those built by Rosales--I think they are WONDERFUL sounding instruments!

As to small instruments, I am extremely fond of the little instruments built here in America during the 18th century by David Tannenberg. There are two of his instruments with only four ranks--8' flute, 8' string, 4' flute, and 2' principal. To me, they are beautifully voiced and because of the sensitivity of their speech, they can play quite a variety of music convincingly.

Thomas Dressler

Jarle
Dec-09-2005, 23:19
I recently returned home from a visit to England, during which I got to spend two hours at the Willis of Liverpool (Anglican) Cathedral, according to the website Fredrik mentioned the 20th biggest organ in the world. It used to be the biggest in the UK, but was surpassed when Mander rebuilt the Royal Albert Hall organ.

I can imagine my experience was similar to Marek's, in that the organ was SO big and very different from anything I had played before. Such instruments require an organist of extraordinary skills, which I'm not! Surely my playing that evening was the worst I've done in a long time. But don't get me wrong, it sure was a lot of fun having everything I could ever wish for (well, except the Atlantic City Ophichleide on 100 inches of wind) at my disposal! And the athmosphere of being in one of the largest churches in the world ...:O

Another big organ that I know better is the 1930 Steinmeyer of Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, here in Norway. Even though the main organ was reduced from more than 130 to some 85 stops (about 20 stops were used to build a choir organ which is playable from the main console) in 1962, the "feel" is still there, and overwhelmingly so. It's one of the most beautiful organs I know, matching its fellow "colleague", the 1741 II/30 Johann Joachim Wagner organ in the north transept. Both are absolutely stunning musical instruments. And at some point in the future, how far I don't know, the Steinmeyer will be restored to its 1930 glory, in which condition it was praised as one of the greatest Cathedral organs in the world.

As for the smallest organ -- I've played a number of 4-stop trackers, none of which were really interesting...

Cheers
Jarle Fagerheim

acc
Jan-07-2006, 21:07
My biggest is the organ of St-Servais church in Brussels (Klais 1954, IV/76).

My smallest had just... one stop (now try to beat that! https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif). It was a "book-organ", i.e. it had the looks, size, and format of, say, a 15th century Gutenberg bible. When you opened it, one half consisted of the manual and the pipes (an 8' Regal with extremely short resonators - the only stop that could possibly fit into such a small volume), and the other half of two weighted bellows that you had to lift (in alternation) with your hand.

OK, if that doesn't count, then I'll have to go up to five stops (8'4'2' manual plus 8'4' pedal) by Patrick Collon (a Belgian organ builder).

ludwig
Jul-09-2006, 06:26
The smallest I have ever played is a one manual with no pedals was an 1840 F.W. Jardine
of 3 divided ranks ---Dulciana, Stopped Diapason and Principal very interesting and this organ once belonged to US Vice President John C Calhoun's wife and is at an Episcopal Church in Pendleton, SC. Do not confuse this Instrument with other instruments of the Jardine family who lived in the United States. This one was built in Britain and shipped here to Charleston and thence to Western South Carolina via Ox Cart. It apparently suffered an accident in which some pipes were damaged. They were not replaced for some 150 years later but otherwise this Organ is still the same it was in 1840 other than having an electric blower added.

The largest I have ever played +80 ranks 4 manual and Pedals untouched voicing by G. Donald Harrison.

I am hoping to one day get to play a 165 rank Organ of 5-6 manuals now being built in Charlotte, NC. which will be listed on the list of worlds largest Organs.

Thomas Dressler
Jul-10-2006, 06:44
That sounds like an interesting instrument, Ludwig.

A couple weeks ago at the Organ Historical Society convention, I played a wonderful 9 rank Woodberry and Harris. Anyone who heard that instrument can attest to how gutsy it sounds and also how flexible it is.

I believe the largest instrument I have performed on is the Curtis organ at University of Pennsylvania http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/perelmanquad/facilities/irvine_auditorium/curtisorgan.html

FinnViking
Jul-16-2006, 14:37
Shortly before leaving Finland in the end of May I arranged a visit to the organ at Turku Cathedral, which I think is the biggest organ in Finland, four manuals and 80 or 81 stops. The organ in Turku Cathedral has 81 stops and it is not the largest in Finland, but the organ in Lapua Cathedral which has 85. So far my biggest has been the organ at St.Paul´s in London with 105 stops on 5 manuals.

pb05
Jul-22-2006, 21:07
My biggest is the organ of St-Servais church in Brussels (Klais 1954, IV/76).
Ubelievable! I was there too last year (may I risk a guess, are you from Brussels?), even though my time on the console lasted only a few minutes. But the organist made a quite detailed presentation of the organ for me which I really enjoyed. I still remember the tutti effect in a piece he played. What an earthquake!

So, long story short, the Klais organ of St. Servais is my biggest one too. The smallest is an old Schyven organ (2 manuals, pedalboard, 12 stops) of St. Paul, Uccle, where I do in part my practice (just finished my first year in organ). The console is the original one from 1873, but the pipes suffered several changes over the years and today the reeds need some more elaborate maintenance.

In passing, I would like to say that Pierre Schyven constructed some of the best organs in Belgium. As for Brussels, there is the really fine organ from him in the Notre-Dame de Laeken. And we are lucky to have every Sunday for two months (July-August) free concerts there. The organ composition can be seen here (http://orgue.free.fr/ob28.html). Despite the apparent lack of a Kontrabombarde 32', the organ is rather complete and, mostly, very very powerful and really high quality. There are times that I feel parts of my body shake while this organ plays.

robmcw
Jul-23-2006, 21:33
The largest organ I played is the Hazel Wright organ at the Crystal Cathedral
in Garden Grove California. This was during the time Fred Swann was organist there and he was so kind to let me play for about three hours
after they just tuned the instrument. It was about 8:00 pm. They left all the lights on and to view the stars above me while playing was quite an
experience. As for the smallest organ, I have yet to bump into it.

Rob

pb05
Jul-23-2006, 22:03
It was about 8:00 pm. They left all the lights on and to view the stars above me while playing was quite an
experience.
Rob W-O-W! This is one of the most unique organ playing one can dream about. Moreover, I find quite fascinating playing the organ at night.

acc
Aug-11-2006, 22:48
Hi pb05,

Indeed, Schyven was one of the foremost Belgian organ builders of the late 19th century. I'm not from Brussels, but I have attended a number of the summer recitals in Laeken you mention (I was there just last Sunday - and so was Queen Fabiola, believe it or not!).

Have you heard Schyven's biggest instrument in Antwerp Cathedral? It's less powerful than Laeken (despite being bigger "on paper") - too soft, really, when listened to from the nave - but also much more refined. So different from Laeken, in fact, that I wonder if Laeken's character wasn't completely changed by Van Bever's restauration (around 1910).

giovannimusica
Aug-12-2006, 02:10
Largest instrument: The Wanamaker.
Smallest: 3-rank portatif by Beckerath.

I have sat at the 7-manual console of the Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ but there was no *juice* available at the time I was there :banghead:


Cheers,

Giovanni :tiphat:

Thomas Dressler
Aug-12-2006, 06:15
I guess they don't get much bigger than Atlantic City, Giovanni! You've topped us all! LOL

giovannimusica
Aug-12-2006, 10:24
Hi Tom,

As you know, my *favorite* is at St. Sulpice. Not the biggest but the best :grin: I know, I'm starting to sound like Stephen Bicknell's gushing about St. Sulpice: http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~oneskull/3.6.65.htm

I have heard the blast of the Ophicleide on 100" W.P. at Atlantic City plus most of the other *party horns* and yes, they are truly novelties but my ears grow tired of such *Blare-eons.*


Cheers,

Giovanni :tiphat:

Thomas Dressler
Aug-12-2006, 13:55
I have never seen St. Sulpice in person, but from recordings I agree with you about that organ. I think it really is one of the finest ever made.

acc
Aug-14-2006, 16:28
The sound of the tutti of St-Sulpice is certainly more "unique" than, say, that of St-Ouen (Rouen) or of St-Sernin (Toulouse). Among all of CC's instruments still in original condition, it's the one you'd recognize most immediately.

Do you have Daniel Roth's recent Vierne recording (http://aeolus-music.com/deutsch/aeolus/orgel/AE10451.html)? As far as recording technique is concerned, it's probably the best among the ca. 20 St-Sulpice CDs I've got, being both of the highest technical quality and the most faithful to the real thing. If you're far from Paris and really want to know what that organ sounds like, this is the recording to get.

(My own preference goes to the more "idiomatic" sound of St-Ouen or St-Sernin, but that's just a matter of personal taste.)

Thomas Dressler
Aug-14-2006, 17:29
Hi acc, and thanks for the information! Yes, I REALLY want to know! so I think I'll be checking this one out!

Do you have any other suggestions of good Cavaille-Coll recordings, especially of the instruments you especially like?

(And besides that, do you know of some good recordings of French Classical instruments? Cliquots?)

giovannimusica
Aug-14-2006, 18:20
The recent Vierne recording by Maitre Roth is stunning. He does interpretive magic with the symphonies - adopts very musical tempi and performs with a seriousness of purpose. Insofar as idiomatic sound is concerned, there is a gem of a CC at St. Etienne in Caen - 3 manuals/pedal with 50 stops.

A link for those interested:

http://abbaye-aux-hommes.cef.fr/index2.htm Click on culture, scroll down left side of page to *musique*, click on *grand-orgue Cavaille Coll* and then *page suivante*.


Cheers,

Giovanni

acc
Aug-14-2006, 20:45
Do you have any other suggestions of good Cavaille-Coll recordings, especially of the instruments you especially like?

(And besides that, do you know of some good recordings of French Classical instruments? Cliquots?)
I'm currently ca. 70 miles away from my CD collection, but from the top of my head, I'd say Ben van Oosten playing Widor #5 & #6 at St-Ouen (MDG (http://www.mdg.de) L 316 0403-2) and Frédéric Blanc's 1989 improvisations at St-Sernin (Motette (http://www.motette-verlag.de) 11451). (Blanc also recorded a second impro CD for Motette in 1992, but the sound is not that great on that one.)

As for French classical CDs, the sound of Jean-Baptiste Robin playing Marchand at Poitiers Cathedral (Triton (http://www.disques-triton.com) TRI 331118) is particularly good, but I must confess I never heard this Cliquot organ in situ.

Aristide
Aug-22-2006, 15:17
Kind of a coincidence to surf in on this forum.
Smallest : I guess that was a newly built 3-stop I/P study organ at the Delmotte organbuilders workshop (Tournai, Belgium).
Biggest : not quite sure ; could have been the V/P at the Speyer Dom (Germany), Gedächtniskirche Speyer (V/P), St. Baafs Cathedral Gent (Belgium), all V/P but can't remember number of stops.

I see that the III/P Schyven organ at Notre-Dame de Laeken (Brussels, BE) was mentioned in several posts. I have played 5 recitals there on this organ over the last 5 years (in the recital series mostly), together with a second organist on the II/P Van Bever in front of the large church. The audience was in-between the two organs. Great experience every time. Possibly a repeat in 2007 depending on organisation there.

On the size of organs, I'd say this parameter is by far inferior to the quality of the instrument. Sometimes "the larger, the worst". Difficult to keep a large organ in good shape, and expensive too.

My usual organ is a 46/III/P Schyven organ (1886). As the church is 80m deep there and quite high, the size is very well measured. For most work, 46 (good) stops are an ideal orchestra.

Personally, I'd say anything above 100 stops is not much to my liking but let that be just a personal statement.

Jan - organist-recitalist

acc
Aug-22-2006, 18:22
Hi Jan,

I guess everybody, here and elsewhere, will agree to favour a beautiful small organ over an ugly big one. (But big can be beautiful - for what I've heard on CD, I like Wanamaker's in Philadelphia a lot.)

However, 46 stops can sometimes still be a bit small. I'm thinking of German romantic organs here - in particular, they need many stops (in particular many 8' foundations - the "standard four" per manual not being enough) to make nuances between ppp and mf work well, especially in works by Reger or Karg-Elert. Good examples are here (http://www.gewalcker.de/gewalcker.de/Wunderlich/Reger_Cresc.mp3) and here (http://www.gewalcker.de/gewalcker.de/Wunderlich/Reger_Decresc.mp3). The way the sound "builds up" is conceptually very different from French/Belgian romantic instruments (although Schyven has a somewhat mixed heritage - even his Antwerp organ may have French stop names, but really is somewhat half way between French and German. A few weeks ago, Michael Schönheit has given us a superb demonstration (http://www.akc-orgel.be/det_juli_3_2006.htm) of this).

(P.S. I've looked at this year's Laeken programme (http://concertlaeken.skyblog.com): when did you play?)

tribuletto
Aug-22-2006, 20:09
Good topic theme!
The smallest one which I played is in Halle Marktkirche, Germany, built by Georg Reichel in 1664. Very famous organ, because on it practised the young Handel under his tutor, Zachow, the later was the organist of the church. Unfortunately I don't remember the stoplist well. It has only 6 registers, no pedal.
The dispositions is something like this:
Bordun 8'
Floete 4'
Spitzfloete 2'
Sesquialtera
.......
.......
The old instrument is in original condition, with meantone temperament.
It's small but has a real penetrating sound. Very remarkable instrument for me.

Unfortunately I didn't find a good website of this organ... :-(

Cheers,
T

Aristide
Aug-24-2006, 09:29
Hi !
I agree with your point that 46 stops can sometimes be a bit small. Of course, one needs to make do with what one has. In this country (Belgium) organs with +/- 50 stops belong to the 'upper class', so to speak. We only have a very limited amount of instruments going beyond that (exceptions like Antwerp Cathedral are really exceptions). I have however experienced how nice it can be to have a substantial amount of extra stops on some foreign instruments. But that, also, is an exception to play. So over here we have come to define +/- 50 stops as 'big'. But it deals with most of the repertoire. In that way, I'm very much into French/Belgian sound idioms so these instruments would deal well with most of that.

I don't play in Laeken this year. Have played there in all programmes from 2001 to 2005. I was amazed (in a nice way) to be asked every time again (together with co-organist Paul De Maeyer who was then playing the choir organ). We may be in the programme again in 2007, but that of course depends on the organising committee.
Our programme was an improvisation recital for 2 organs (interactive and simultaneously). Perhaps it was the exceptional nature of this that brought us back to Laeken more than the usual number of invitations for the same organist(s).
Jan.

acc
Aug-24-2006, 14:54
In this country (Belgium) organs with +/- 50 stops belong to the 'upper class', so to speak. We only have a very limited amount of instruments going beyond that (exceptions like Antwerp Cathedral are really exceptions).


Let's see - from the top of my head, I can think of Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels Cathedral, Brussels Flagey (out of service), Brussels St-Servais, Brugge, Ghent, Mechelen, Namur, and Tongeren. That's already 10, and I've probably missed a few more.

So I'm not sure that the ratio (# of 50+ stop organs)/(total # of organs) would be that much higher in, say, France than in Belgium.

Aristide
Aug-24-2006, 17:37
In percentage that will be so, but in this case we need to consider absolute numbers. Then minus the inaccessible ones.
Then, importantly, need to consider some smaller organs which outperform some larger ones. But that's a long discussion. Sheer size is so often insignificant, because a number of stops are often insignificant. Adding to the size, but barely to the colour palette. Compare St Sulpice (Paris) to St Baafs (Ghent). More or less same number of stops. But look at the composition.
Haven't had the honour of playing St Sulpice yet, sorry to say. 'Perhaps later'.

davidbirchenough
Aug-27-2006, 21:44
hello one of the smallest organs i have played is in a villiage in leicestershire england at norton juxta twycross. A 1832 j c bishop will a nice gold leaf pipe front 6 stop up to 15th with a 4 octave and a bit manual from g-f with an octave pedal board from g to g. A complete pain at first but fun after a while. at the moment I play an old makin at beeston notingham with 48 stops. Not played much bigger but it's enough!

Krummhorn
Aug-30-2006, 09:12
The smallest pipe organ I have played was in Assisi, Italy - a one manual 3 rank organ with an electrified blower. The stops were labeled with paper clips attached to wooden dowels. The top and front opened completely allowing the maximum sound to be heard. The chapel was all stone and quite live acoustically, so this little organ really sounded quite well.

The largest pipe organ I played was the very famous Mormom Tabernacle Organ in Salt Lake City. A wonderful instrument in many ways - I had about 30 minutes at a seminar after John Longhurst played a private program.

The pipe instrument I play every week on at church is a 9 rk Moller (1979) operating on 3" wind. The Swell is enclosed, the Great exposed. The church has pews for 252 people, so this organ does a rather nice job in accompanying and solo performance. I had the reeds voiced so that they "bight" a little with the shades open - closed, the reed is very mellow.

musanim
Sep-02-2006, 23:11
The smallest organ I ever played was at the shop/studio of instrument-maker Gary Blaise in San Francisco. It was pedal-powered, with a single 8 foot stop (stopped wooden pipes). I found it surprisingly distracting to pump it, even though I'd played reed organs and pumped player pianos before without trouble. Lovely sound, though. He makes a smaller instrument now (which he sells; the one I played was more for his own amusement), but I haven't visited him since he completed the first of those.

The biggest organ was undoubtedly one I played in Lincoln, England. When I visited my first-cousin-once-removed there in 1981, her husband took me around to the organs in the area. I don't remember much about the instruments, but I took pictures of the stops and pedalboard of the one that was the biggest:

http://www.musanim.com/misc/LincolnOrganStops.jpg (http://www.musanim.com/misc/LincolnOrganStops.jpg)
http://www.musanim.com/misc/LincolnOrganPedals.jpg (http://www.musanim.com/misc/LincolnOrganPedals.jpg)

Maybe somebody here will recognize it. :)

Alexander smith
Sep-20-2006, 21:19
I'm Alexander. The smallest organ i've played is a reed organ, [ I'll try to remember all the stops, they were principal, dipasion, vox-humania, treble and bass couplers. I am going to play the Tannenberg at Old Salem.

Krummhorn
Sep-20-2006, 22:07
I was intrigued to find out more about the Tannenberg ... found this website:
Tannenberg Organ - Background (http://www.oldsalem.org/about/tannenberg_background.htm)

Great info and pictures of some pipes before and after restoration.

Danmakine
Oct-26-2006, 19:16
Except for the user who told about using a book-sized organ, I might take the price.

In 2003, I was visiting on the Faroe Islands with a group of scouts - far before my love affair with Organs, but back then I had already played the psalms in church for five years. On an island called "Fugloy", the Bird Island - way out in the Atlantic and with an population of ca. 20 - something went awry with the timing and the boat didnt show up on time - and, we were told, might first show up the next day. Which meant we needed something to do. A kind person let us into the charming and absolutely beautifull, little, old church. Up beside the altar was the tiniest pipe organ I have ever seen, with only one stop. Curiously, I asked if I might play it - which was of course allowed.

Sitting there, flipping through the Faroese Hymn Book and playing a few familiar hymns while looking out on the beautifull Atlantic Sea - oh man. Everyone was gripped by the feeling of the moment, and when I intonated a morning psalm, everyone burst out in song. (We were a group of about 10 grownups and a few children)

The biggest organ I have played was the organ in the Church of Saint Mary, in Sønderborg, Denmark. Seeing as I have only played organ (earnestly and willingly) for three months, it was a great thing when I was allowed to sit down at the Three-manual instrument built by Marcussen. My best guess is that it had 50+ stops - I did not count them, but there were two 16" trumpet stops - both of which resembled huge farts (Sorry if I am offending anyone)


Lene, in Denmark

Alexander smith
Oct-27-2006, 19:50
Hi it's me again. The largest organ I ever played was at Saint Lukes Methodist church, this organ had three manuels and a whole barrage of stops for me to choose from so it was wonderfull!!!

Diaphone Profundo 64
Oct-30-2006, 23:01
Hi everybody!!!!

The smallest organ I have played is a small positiv organ with 3 stops, and the biggest is the big organ of Westminster Cathedral, London. The Westminster Cathedral has a magnificinet organ!!! But no facade at all! :(. Its sound is unique. The Cathedral has a very good acoustic and provides at the organ a very nice feature!:):):)

Cornopean
Dec-04-2006, 13:33
The smallest organ I have played, not including things such as a single stop tuning bench instrument, would be a two and a half stop instrument in a Derbyshire church, whose maker I forget. Manual compass was F to f3, four octaves, possibly one octave of coupled pedals. Stops were an Open Diapason 8' and a Salicional 8'. Both shared a stopped lower octave. There was also a 16' Bourdon acting on the lowest octave alone. So the longest open pipes would have been about 3 feet long, and the longest Bourdon pipes would have been about 6 feet long. Remarkably effective in a tiny stone church seating all of 25 or so (not very reverberant either). With only a couple of stops, you have to find other ways to add musical expression. It even has a slight celebrity link - the organist is, or was, mother of a well-known Blue Peter presenter of a few years back. For the uninitiated, Blue Peter is a very long-running children's TV programme, presented live several times a week in a magazine format.

falcon1
Mar-30-2007, 20:09
The biggest organ I have played in is the organ in Hallgrimskirkja which is located in the capital of Iceland Reykjavik. That organ is a 72 stops tracker. See the specs. (http://hallgrimskirkja.is/?listir/orgel/raddskipan) :) See picture here. (http://nightskypictures.com/Iceland/Hallgrimskirkja_2.htm)

Krummhorn
Mar-30-2007, 23:31
Hi falcon1 ...

Wow - that's one impressive facade, case and pipe display. When was this organ built and/or installed? Hopefully this is in a good acoustic environment.

KH

falcon1
Mar-31-2007, 00:01
Hi falcon1 ...

Wow - that's one impressive facade, case and pipe display. When was this organ built and/or installed? Hopefully this is in a good acoustic environment.

KH
Hi Krummhorn,

it was installed 1992 and is build by Klais. The acoustic is very good for this big organ. Maybe I will try to record some performance by me on that organ this summer or fall and post it here. :)
Btw. it has also a moveable console on the floor. But the "attached" console is located under the Chamade's, so you really need some airplugs if you're gona use that stop there. hehehe... :D

We Icelanders are also going to get another big organ in next few years because we are finally building a big concert hall and that will include a big organ. But organ builder hasn't been choosed yet. :)

Krummhorn
Apr-01-2007, 06:28
Falcon1, being the curious person I am, I have done some reading about Reykjavic on the internet (wikipedia has some of the best info) and in particular it's weather. How on earth does one keep an organ of this magnitude in tune all year round? I would think the great temperature variations would certainly wreak havok with the reeds, especially.

Kh

falcon1
Apr-01-2007, 11:37
Falcon1, being the curious person I am, I have done some reading about Reykjavic on the internet (wikipedia has some of the best info) and in particular it's weather. How on earth does one keep an organ of this magnitude in tune all year round? I would think the great temperature variations would certainly wreak havok with the reeds, especially.

Kh
Krummhorn, our churches are warmed up with heating utility just like normal homes in Reykjavik. So we can keep the temperature stable. But certainly if that fails then the reeds are gone hehehe... :)

Soubasse
Apr-02-2007, 07:08
Good thread. I'm with giovanni in terms of favourites - I very much doubt anything will better St Sulpice. And it's also the largest I've played. The largest I've played publicly (ie, recital or mass) would most likely be Durham Cathedral.

The smallest would be a locally made continuo organ (chap named Roger Jones). 1-manual with 8, 8, 4, 2 (or it may have been 8, 8, 4, 1 1/3, can't quite remember).

Matt

AeroScore
Apr-06-2007, 02:47
My smallest: a 2 manual, 13 stop Williams & Sons in St James Episcopal, Oakland CA. I played there for a year in the late 80's. This organ is historic in that Williams & Sons built several well-regarded instruments in the San Francisco Bay Area, all of which were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake...except for this one; Shoenstein came and "modernised" it in the middle 50's, electrifying it, and removing the Trumpet (which Father Jim described as sounding like "a herd of angry Buicks").

Largest: the 4/38 (at the time I recorded it, now a 4/40) Wurlitzer at the Berkeley Community Theatre, belonging to the Nor-Cal Chapter of ATOS.

38 ranks may not seem like much, but the principle of unification (thank you, Robert Hope-Jones) provides a 4 manual console with over 350 stops. In a 3500 seat theatre, the sound just cascades down from heaven, thanks to a chamber layout that has all three chambers in a row far above the stage...glorious! Here's a pic...

Dean:cool:

Sylvie Pacey
Apr-16-2007, 19:50
7 years ago I toured the south of England playing 28 organs to raise funds to purchase an organ for the church I attended. The Largest I palyed was the Great Father Willis at Whippingham Curch on the I.O. Wight (Installed for Prince Albert who sadly died brfore he could hear it.)
A really enjoyable experience, and the smallest I played was at Godshill, also on the I.O. Wight, with only 8 stops but lovely to play. I raised enought to buy an organ, and here I know many of you will shudder, but due to the size of the church it had to be an electronic instrument. A two manual Electone. Sadly it is not played by either of the church organists who prefer a one manual keyboard. If there are any churches or chapels in the U.K who would be interested in acquiring this instrument please get in touch
with the Rev Bernard Joy at St. Francis Church, Bridgwater Somerset. I think it will not be expensive. I should so love to think of it being used once more. I am not a classically trained organist and arrange my own music as I have difficulty reading two staves at once due to astigmatism
in the left eye. So I write out treble stave and use Chord symbols which serves me very well for the church I play in now. Sylvie

giovannimusica
Apr-16-2007, 20:24
Hi Dean,

Wow - that reminds me of the console at Radio City Music Hall - the only difference being that the Radio City Console is high gloss ebony. Thanx for submitting the pic.

Regards!

Giovanni:tiphat:

Contratrombone64
Apr-30-2007, 00:56
Smallest and Largest ... kind of an interesting as, I think, most of us possibly have not made it a quest to play instruments falling into this category, so our experiences will be diverse.

Largest: Sydney Town Hall (a monster)

Smallest: St. John's Anglican church, Mudgee (central New South Wales, 4 hours due west from Sydney)

my two cents worth

Piggy
Apr-30-2007, 20:09
My biggest so far - can't remember whether Westminster Chapel (not Abbey, or Cathedral) , or Truro Cathedral. Both 4 manual, both Willis (no idea about the renovations and who by. Then there was Llandaff Cathedral, which , thankfully, was hit by lightning a few months back and will never be heard again.

But the BIGGEST , if I am spared and well, will be The Grand Organ of Sydney Town Hall (not opera house ;) ) in 2010, and that, I think will qualify for a whole new thread all of its own.

The smallest - my lovely little c. 1860 french harmonium - Alexandre Pere et Fils, now in the care of the BBC Welsh orchestra ( I think! - detail never was a forte of mine)

It has 4 ranks, and I could make it sing above the loudest of Welsh congregational singing (and that IS loud) in the little chapel at Miskin, Pontyclun, but reduce it to a whisper to accompany the Lord's Prayer, or 'Abide with me' ,on Troyte's Chant, at the close of evening worship.

That was 30 years back now. I am getting old.................

Sylvie Pacey
May-16-2007, 21:30
Contratrombones 64 I hope to be in Sydney in October so will try to look in the town hall if possuble to see the Giant organ. Sylvie

Contratrombone64
May-17-2007, 00:49
Sylvie ... where are you visiting from? You can actually play the beast, (the City of Sydney charge a fee for the priviledge). If you look at the City of Sydney's website it also shows times for the monthly recitals given on the monster. www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au (http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au)

ok?

Sylvie Pacey
May-17-2007, 22:16
Contratrombone64 Thanks for the info. re Sydney Organ. I shall be visiting from England (Bridgwater in Somerset)
Have relatives in Canberra and hope to spend a couple of nights in Sydney, see the Floriade in Canberra and then on to visit in Queensland on the Gold Coast. Should be a wonderful time. I've never been to Australia before so I am looking forward to it with great anticipation.Sylvie Pacey

Piggy
May-21-2007, 07:58
Hi Dean,

Wow - that reminds me of the console at Radio City Music Hall - the only difference being that the Radio City Console is high gloss ebony. Thanx for submitting the pic.

Regards!

Giovanni:tiphat:

Um - where do I click to see the pic pls?

Krummhorn
May-22-2007, 05:45
Um - where do I click to see the pic pls?

Message #45 on previous page ... a posting by Aero Score :cool:

methodistgirl
Sep-11-2007, 20:55
I will have to say a child's toy organ and the largest ever is the wicks
pipe organ at church. It has 24 ranks to it. I will have to say that's
pretty impressive for a small pipe organ. It sounds great!
judy tooley

Arvin B
Sep-13-2007, 08:41
I've never really made it a point so far to play the biggest organs around. But it is an interesting question.

I think the biggest would be the 133 rank instrument in the Olive Drive Church in Bakersfield. The core of the instrument is the old Harvard Aeolian Skinner.
The smallest would be a Flentrop practice organ of I think two ranks.

Violinschlüssel
Sep-13-2007, 10:03
The largest organ I have played on so far is the organ in the First Church Congregational, Los Angeles, California (USA).


OMG! I'm lost in admiration, really! Right at this moment, I'm listening to a Prologue and Fugue by J.S. Bach performed by Michael Murray at the Organs at First Congregational Church in Los Angeles.
Gosh, please, forgive my very off-topic post, but I just wanted to say that I can hardly believe I have had the chance to meet, even virtually, someone able to accomplish such a thing! :)

Udyret
Oct-13-2007, 19:35
Great thread this one.

The smallest i've ever played a 3-stop Fredrik Nielsen (19-century) organ, and the largest was Vestervig Church, a 4-manual 58-stop organ. The Vestervig-organ is superb, and the acoustics of the church are simply marvellous

methodistgirl
Oct-14-2007, 21:39
I will have to say a child's toy organ and the largest ever is the wicks
pipe organ at church. It has 24 ranks to it. I will have to say that's
pretty impressive for a small pipe organ. It sounds great!
judy tooley

Listen to this!:rolleyes: Really the smallest instrument anyone has ever played
is a whistle. I've had one of those like the police and football coaches
blow. Mine was a toy. The smallest one that played music was the
harmonica.
judy tooley

Corno Dolce
Oct-15-2007, 02:33
Lets see now: The largest I've played is the five manual at St. Sulpice - the smallest one being the one I own of 64 non-unified or borrowed stops spread over 4 manuals.

Argoth
Oct-15-2007, 19:59
Lets see now: The largest I've played is the five manual at St. Sulpice - the smallest one being the one I own of 64 non-unified or borrowed stops spread over 4 manuals.

Wow, you've played the organ at St. Sulpice! And you own a 4 manual organ??? Post some details! ps- what does non-unified stops mean? :confused:

Corno Dolce
Oct-16-2007, 08:53
Hi Argoth,

I use the term unified very freely - A rank of pipes consisting of 85 pipes so that one can play at 16' to 4' pitches. Non-unified for me means independent ranks of 61 pipes. Now, since my organ is a digital organ, I have 61 sounding notes per rank It's a four manual organ made by Walker which I custom specified the stop list. I'll send you a spec list by P.M.

Btw - I hope to visit the Wanamaker organ soon - 6 manuals and almost 29,000 pipes.

Cheers,

Corno Dolce

Soubasse
Oct-22-2007, 07:30
Hi Corno,

Quick question re playing at St. Sulpice: Was it good for you too?:)
I found it a rather religious experience (to say nothing of sitting at the same console as Messrs Dupre, Widor, Roth et al ... sigh!)

I didn't know Walker made digitals as well (are you talking J W and Sons?)

Matt

Corno Dolce
Oct-22-2007, 09:43
Hello Soubasse,

Walker Technical Company in Pennsylvania made the *guts* of the instrument - R.A. Colby made the french terassed console. Yes, the experience at St. Sulpice left me in a state of exaltation which is still with me seven years hence. It served as the main inspiration for my own machine.

Cheers,

Corno Dolce

Soubasse
Oct-23-2007, 02:46
I had completely the wrong continent! God what a twonk :o. (It was probably from just having played our own J W Walker the previous day. Besides with your location being 3.08568025 x 10^103 meters away from earth it was difficult to tell!). So, you have a custom-made digital with a terraced console? I hate you - in the nicest possible way of course!:) Any pics and specs? I'd be fascinated to hear more about it - obviously you'd never be wanting for a decent practice instrument ... I'd love to have even a mediocre digital at home for practice.

Cheers,
Matt

Corno Dolce
Oct-23-2007, 03:57
Hi Soubasse,

On another thread you shared what you had for instrumentation. It seems that you've got quite the array of instruments and appurtenances. By the looks of it, you've got even more sound combinations possible than I do. Do you have a midi-pedal keyboard hooked up to any of your synths? Below is a website for some ideas:


http://www.laukhuff.de/english/midipedal_e.html


Cheers,

Corno Dolce

Soubasse
Oct-24-2007, 08:19
Just checked out that link. What novel idea! I've had my eye (on and off) on the Roland AGO pedalboards for a while with the thought that with a specially made bench and stand for at least three synths, I could do some decent practice. As yet though, the finances haven't been kind and are unlikely to be for a very long time. I do have a friend who has actually made a trigger-to-MIDI converter for a house organ so that he can control various electronic devices from the pedalboard. I may explore that avenue.

Have you seen the page that Wendy Carlos has documenting the building of her own behemoth? A combination of several Kurweill keyboards, a custom made pedalboard and stand for one heel of a formidable hybrid synth/organ console.

Corno Dolce
Oct-24-2007, 09:32
Hello Soubasse,

Unfortunately, I have not seen the documentation of Wendy Carlos *behemoth organ/synthesizer* console but I'd bet it's a doozy. Where can I go to get a gander of that *contraption*?

Below is a three manual organ/synthesizer by Wersi of Germany:

http://www.hammond.de/images/wersi-atlantis-sn-3-mit-livestyle.jpg


Cheers,

Corno Dolce

Soubasse
Oct-24-2007, 11:34
I wrote:
"One heel of a formidable hybrid synth/organ console" which naturally implies that you can't use your toes. What a pillock - that's what I get for not proofing before I send.

http://www.wendycarlos.com/wurlynew/index.html

It's fairly long but it's a fun read for gear nerds like me.

Interesting animal, that Atlantis - it's looks as though it's trying to be a modern, digital answer to the famous Yamaha GX1 (which was also a rather dreamy instrument to sit at and play). Sorry, I'm hijacking this thread somewhat.

Corno Dolce
Oct-24-2007, 12:21
Hi Soubasse,

Thanx for the link. Hijacking this thread? I certainly don't detect it - maybe I'm too stupid - a bunny with a pancake on it's head. :grin::grin::grin:

Cheers,

Corno Dolce

p.s. Sheesh - I'd go bananas at that console belonging to Clark Ferguson - man am I salivating - imagine the possibilities!!!

AeroScore
Oct-29-2007, 03:27
I wrote:
Interesting animal, that Atlantis - it's looks as though it's trying to be a modern, digital answer to the famous Yamaha GX1 (which was also a rather dreamy instrument to sit at and play). Sorry, I'm hijacking this thread somewhat.

Interesting you mention the GX-1...I knew the primary tonal designer for that instrument all too well for many years, a fellow by the name of John Seng (whom I've mentioned in this forum before for his studio work on organ and synth in the 70's and 80's in Hollywood). He did a LOT of consutling work for Yamaha at that time, after spending several years as a tonal consultant and product specialist for Hammond in the 60's. He passed away at the age of 64 a few years ago, alas.

Speaking of custom-built, digital organ/synth setups, check out my music teacher, Chester Smith's website at www.feetnfingers.com, and the impressive 3 manual, 32 AGO pedal instrument he calles the "Fox 2000 Special." Manual keys and pedal board were specially built for him in England, and the case work was built by Ken Chrome. The instrument uses MIDI to access a bank of tone modules, and thumb pistons for all registration changes...no "stops" on the console at all.


Dean

Soubasse
Oct-29-2007, 04:13
Just now looked at that link and damn, that is one hell of a nice piece of kit!:eek: I believe that if I ever had the money (which sadly is supremely unlikely) I would go down the same road of a custom made job. What I loved about the GX1 though was its immediacy - it was a very comfortable instrument to sit at and not just play, but program as well. To be able to grab any number of programming/performance controls and have it all work immediately gave it the "living" quality that many pipe organs have (and yes, I am aware of the irony of that statement:)). It's been my impression that the designing team were thinking (amongst other things) of the players' emotional response when this instrument got off the drawing board.

You knew John Seng?! I'll bet there were some fascinating conversations there. Looks like we may have to start a new thread on this.:)

Matt

Corno Dolce
Oct-29-2007, 08:10
Hi Dean,

Thanx for sharing the feetnfingers link. That is WAY cool :cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool:

Cheers,

Corno Dolce

AeroScore
Oct-29-2007, 09:13
You knew John Seng?! I'll bet there were some fascinating conversations there. Looks like we may have to start a new thread on this.:)

Matt

To quote Sir Ian McKellan in the movie "Gods And Monsters," playing James Whale: "Take off your shirt, and I'll tell you all about it!"

Dean :o

Mat
Oct-20-2012, 15:34
The smallest I've played was a one-manual organ from 1765. It had five stops. Years ago, when I was on vacation in northern Poland, I was visiting a heritage park when I found out there was going to be an organ recital in a small, historical church there. I attended the concert and afterwards I asked the organist if I could possibly have a quick go at the instrument. To my big surprise he agreed and that's how I got play an approximately 240-years-old pipe organ. Oh, did I mention it didn't have a pedalboard?

The biggest was a three-decker made by the Sauer company. It had 48 stops.