The Secret of the PIPES|
Found in churches, concert halls, and theaters, pipe organs can be quite a sight and sound to behold. They have multiple keyboards (manuals), numerous stops (drawbars that set the timbre), bass pedals, and huge arrays of pipes (the length of which determines pitch).
The world of music has many mediums blends to satisfy a multitude of musical tastes. While music in any form is centuries old the means by which it is executed is extensively filled with an unending history. As the old cliché says "Music soothes the wild beast." In this respect we search for that one medium that soothes the wild beast in each of us. Music is so seated into human culture that it is inevitable that most of us eventually come around to wondering about its origins. Most instruments it seems have a tradition of seeking out one certain form of music. The organ is no exception to this rule. To see how the instrument has developed into many forms and uses it acquires a search into its beginnings. The pipe organ presents a different picture. The instrument itself is a composite machine, and to be considered an "organ" it must have four basic components:
The concept of the organ appears to have been created in 246 BCE by Ctesibius of Alexandria. He invented a mechanical flute-playing instrument with wind pressure regulated by means of water pressure, called a hydraulis.
The first reference to hydraulis-playing, in the form of a "delphic inscription" was in 90 BCE. The instrument was introduced to Rome where Cicero, Lucretius, and Petronius wrote of its powers.
The hydraulis appears to have been at first a curiosity, but it became an instrument used in the competitions that characterized both Greek and Roman cultural life. Its use as an instrument for solo performance, as well as for providing accompaniments to other games and even combat is well documented. As the largest, most highly developed - - even the most complicated musical instrument in use, the hydraulis held a position in the ancient world that the organ would maintain in modern times even to the end of the twentieth century. The hydraulis spread throughout the Mediterranean region and is recorded as having been played at banquets, games and circuses. This is a very different vision of the organ than most Americans have today, who often link organs to more serious occasions
The hydraulis, as indicated above, was very much a part of the musical life of ancient Rome. It is well known that the culture of the Roman Empire was the start of many of todayís appreciation of the arts. . One particular development in the organ did take place during the Roman period: replacement of the pumps and water regulator of the hydraulis with a bellows. By the second century AD descriptions of the bellows organ begin to appear. The bellows replaced two parts of the hydraulis:
In the 1950's, the remains of an organ of the third century AD were uncovered at Aquincum, Hungary, buried under the rubble when a disaster struck the Roman community there centuries ago. Perishable parts of the organ (including leather and wood) were of course lost, but metal parts had survived and were complete enough to permit some reliable surmises as to the form of the instrument. It appears to have been a hydraulis, not a bellows organ, even though the bellows organ is described in earlier sources. Apparently, the bellows organ did not replace the hydraulis entirely in the Roman Empire, at least not immediately.
The bellows organ, then, is a later development in the history of the instrument, appearing first in the Roman Empire some four centuries after the invention of the hydraulis. Although there is evidence that the bellows organ did not replace the hydraulis, this technical change actually defined the instrument, as it was to exist from that time forward. From the late Roman Empire until the late twentieth century, the history of the organ is the history of the bellows organ and its descendants.
Coming out of the Circus into the Churches
"PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS"
THE FIRST "MODERN" ORGAN
PAUL'S REVERED ORGAN
In 1759 Thomas Johnston, a native of Boston, built an organ for Old North Church where Paul Revere was the sexton. The church was soon to become famous as a result of Revere's ride. The organ was enlarged many times and recently a new organ was build by David Moore, of Vermont, and the beautiful Johnston case restored.
THEY ALL PLAYED THE ORGAN
ORGANS AND THE MODERN AGE
HEARINGS ON THE ORGAN
ORGANS IN UTAH AND BOSTON
Joseph Ridges built the first organ in the Mormon Tabernacle, in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1869. The same year witnessed the first Peace Jubilee held in Boston with an orchestra
of 800, a chorus of 10,000, and a large organ made by the Hook & Hastings Organ Co. While 17th-century audiences consisted mostly of the aristocracy, music lovers from various economic and social strata began attending concerts during the 19th- and 20th-centuries which witnessed an increase in the size of performing ensembles, concert halls and organs.
BEFORE THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
PIPES WERE BIG BUSINESS
MUSIC TO SHOP BY
John Wanamaker, the owner of the largest department in the United States, and a patron of the arts and lover of music, built an organ in the center of his Philadelphia store. According to internationally known organist Louis Vierne, who journeyed from France to perform in America in 1927, the organ was the largest in the world at the time. Vierne recounts his experiences with the instrument: "In the evening the center of the store is transformed into an immense concert hall capable of holding more than ten thousand persons. I played before the audience with an emotion which I shall remember all my life."
ORGANS ON THE AIR
Famed organist Edwin Lemare was appointed city organist in Chattanooga, TN in 1925.
ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL
ROCKEFELLER CENTER HAS ONE, TOO
WAR PUTS THE STOPS ON ORGANS
BACK TO THE FUTURE
ORGAN IN CHATTANOOGA
With todayís technology the organ has become an electronic computerized wonder that even the average homeowner can easily learn to play. As you can see by the photos the first model has all the bells and whistles. Even those who are not musically inclined can learn to play a song on these models the first day. From the least to the largest there is noting these instruments canít simulate. But even though they are so wonderfully appointed with so many great possibilities there will never be any organs that can stand up to the beautiful and ornate art work of the pipe organ. The sounds it produces can never be reproduced digitally.