Author Archives: Goetze and Gwynn

  • Opus 1

    The first organ was finished as we celebrated Christmas in 1980, and my elder daughter Pip was born on Boxing Day.  Its design shows some naivety, with all our ideas packed into a small organ, but on those occasions when we have re-visited it over the years, I have been impressed.  It was commissioned by the viol-player, the late Trevor Jones, for use with the Consort of Musicke.  One of my high points with it was a concert in the Wigmore Hall in December 1982, which the BBC transmitted live, as a snowstorm prevented them from leaving London.  Martin and I took turns lifting the bellows by hand, in the middle of the stage, to tremendous applause.  It now belongs to David Lawson, Director of Music at Monmouth School.

  • Goetze and Gwynn forty years on

    I (Dominic) have always picked April 1st as the birthday of the firm, a thoroughly appropriate day.  It is actually about halfway between the date in 1980 when Martin and I started our first project, and the date when both of us started full time.  I think we have achieved a lot since then, but we will not celebrate until these eery and difficult times are over, or at least over the worst. 

    At least G&G will be back in business after the gap or gaps in production.  Our thoughts go out to all the self-employed organ builders and tuners, to self-employed organists and other musicians, especially our friends in the Early Music world, and around Europe and the world, and self-employed craftsmen everywhere.  Their sitework, concerts, shows, gallery outlets, etc. etc. have been closed overnight.  I trust that they will be able to receive assistance from the government (and governments worldwide), but I can imagine that not all of them will, and that there will be difficult times ahead.  Much of their work is badly paid, especially when you think of the wonderful skills involved, and some at least will not have the funds to keep them going. 

    In the meantime it is heart-warming to witness people’s ingenuity and skill displayed online…  One of my favourites is still the Rotterdam Philharmonic playing Schiller’s and Beethoven’s great hymn to human solidarity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eXT60rbBVk

  • Experiment with corroded Trumpet block

    The bottom octave blocks from the trumpet in the 1870 Lewis organ at St Peter’s Vauxhall had white powder, a common problem. Joe has been trying to reverse the process by electrolysis.

  • Culture Clash!

    The church’s organ is a fine 1931 Walker organ, it could hardly be more different than the Wethringsett organ

  • Wetheringsett organ at St James and St Basil, Fenham

    The Wethringsett organ has moved from Eton College to St James and St Basil, Fenham in Newcastle where Charles Wooler, the Director of Music and Magnus Williamson, Professor of Early Music at Newcastle University who has been associated with these organs from the beginning, are organising events.

  • View of the organ case from Musick’s monument

    At the centre of the Musick Room was an organ, as Mace recommends in his text, with music desks in the top leaf for eight players, including the organist.  The picture does not give much away for the organ builder trying to reconstruct the design, but his description gives a basic stoplist and a few clues.  His main concern is that the players should all be able to communicate with each other visually, and be guided by the organ evenly and distinctively (as he puts it), which accounts for the unusual shape.

  • A close up of the model

    This is a close-up of the model, which interprets Mace’s words.  The Room was never built, but his idea of placing the musicians at the centre, and the audience all around in galleries, was revolutionary in its day.  His chief concern was to preserve an environment in which the players could concentrate on their playing, and the members of the audience on the music, as much by sound as by sight, with the sound dispersed evenly to all parts of the building. 

  • Thomas Mace’s Musick room at Trinity College Cambridge

    Andreas Linos, viol player, and François Muracciole, architect, are demonstrating their model of Thomas Mace’s Musick Room to Dr Nicholas Bell librarian of Trinity College Cambridge and his predecessor as librarian Dr David McKitterick, and Benjamin Hebbert researcher and dealer in stringed instruments.  Thomas Mace, who might be described as an eccentric genius, as well as a singing man and musician at Trinity College, wrote his amazing Musick’s Monument in 1676 

  • Dismantling and removing pipework

    Chris and Nick removing pipes from the Great, taking care not to disturb the horizontal trackers under the Swell chest

  • Theatr Soar Conacher organ restoration

    Overlapping with the restoration at Vauxhall we have started dismantling pipes and actions for the restoration of the 1890 Peter Conacher organ at Theatr Soar in Merthyr Tydfil, which was once the Welsh-speaking chapel and is now the Welsh community theatre and language centre, http://www.theatrsoar.co.uk/.  Because of its position the organ is tall and shallow, with four storeys, the wind system in the basement, the console and mechanism on the ground floor, the Great on the first floor and the Swell on the second floor. 

  • Edward finishing restoration of Morecambe….

    Edward has been restoring an interesting chamber organ for St Barnabas Morecambe, rescued by Father Michael Childs.  It has had a puzzling history, but looks like an organ put together in about 1840, using 18th century parts, including the windchest and some of the pipes.  It was altered in about 1900 by Martin and Coates of Oxford, but its character remains, a delightful chamber organ in Georgian style.

  • Morecambe chamber organ before restoration

    This is a picture of the organ before restoration.  Its exterior finish has been restored by Nick Hagen, and will be shown in a future blog.

  • Christopher Kent’s Positive organ, almost finished

    Christopher Kent’s positive organ, almost finished.  Its model is the ca1700 South German organ which we restored for Alan Rubin, with a regal based on one in the Brussels Musical Instrument Museum and a colour scheme derived loosely from 17th century German positive organs.

  • Handel House organ becomes cake

    Simon Williams had his recent 60th birthday celebrated with a cake modelled on the Handel House organ, which lives in St George’s Hanover Square where he is organist and director of music.  I don’t know the name of the cake-maker, but admire the craftsmanship…

  • Eton college RCO masterclass day

    On February 8th Paddy Russill led a masterclass on the Wingfield organ, with pupils of David Goode at Eton College.  The organ is currently in the Verey Room at Eton, as part of an exhibition organized by Magnus Williamson and Dominic’s daughter Lucy (Deputy Librarian in the College Library at Eton) around the Eton Choirbook, which has recently been inscribed on the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register.  Paddy also gave a stimulating lecture about choral and organ music of the early 16th century, with Eton choral scholars and the audience contributing to the faburden, and finished with a concert.  The day was organised by Simon Williams and the Royal College of Organists.

  • Restoring Vauxhall flute

    The stoppers are beautifully made with turned wood and greased cork seals; no sign of the metal pipes being deformed at the stopper

  • Restoring Vauxhall pedal key action

    The original leather roller arm bushes were disintegrating, and have all been replaced in the traditional manner with hide soaked in polish and clamped into shape on the arm

  • Restoring Vauxhall…

    The Pedal key action in the 1870 Lewis organ at St Peter Vauxhall is basically a roller running diagonally from the pedalboard to the pedal windchest on the treble side.  The rollers are divided in the middle to give a support, though some had rusted solid into the studs…

  • Dismantling done!

    The dismantling done, apart from the Pedal key action

  • More dismantling…

    ….more dismantling with Nick, Edward, Joe (underneath), Rob and Chris

  • Dismantling on 17th December 2019

    The organ being dismantled in the week of December 16th 2019; Rob, Chris, Joe and Edward in the picture, with a Pilcher chamber organ behind Edward, now belonging to Justin Berg, who has lent it while St Peter’s is without an organ.  St Peter’s have a sung evensong once a month with the St Peter’s Singers https://www.stpetersvauxhall.org/whats-on

  • Before restoration….

    The organ before restoration, with leaning pipes, missing swell box, missing side panel and ornamental pipework, but most importantly the effects of dirt, age, wear and tear.  The organist is Will Fraser who is https://fuguestatefilms.co.uk/

  • The Lewis name label

    T.C.Lewis became one of the most important Victorian organ builders – see Christopher Gray’s article in volume 22 of the BIOS Journal.  Even this small church organ has a vibrant tone which fills Pearson’s brick-vaulted church.