The Bracewell Cavaille-Coll organ.

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The Bracewell Cavaille-Coll organ.

Post by Stanley »

The Bracewell Cavaille-Coll organ.

…this was followed by two organs for John Turner Hopwood, the later of the two being built for the music room in his new country house, Bracewell Hall near Barnoldswick.

3.a. Bracewell Hall

Although Hopwood was a partner in the music publishing house of Hopwood Crew of London, the family wealth came originally from cotton manufacturing in Blackburn, where the family owned the Nova Scotia Mills, a large textile manufacturing complex. The precise origins of Hopwood's interest in the French organ, and the Cavail1e-Coll organ in particular, are rather obscure and there are no known archival sources. One can be reasonably certain that Hopwood visited the Exhibition and heard the Ducroquet organ, and this may have been the origin of his interest. It. is certain that Hopwood knew Henry Smart and could have been influenced by him. At the time when Smart was organist at St. Mary's, the Hopwood family was prominent in Blackburn, and it is known that he remained on intimate terms with the Coddington family, who were related by marriage. Hopwood was later involved in the attempt in 1879 to secure a Civil List pension for Smart, who was then terminally ill. However, it seems that the decisive influence was Cavaille-Coll himself. In 1866 Hopwood was introduced to Cavaille-Coll by the French-Spanish singer Don Manuel Garcia, who was then teaching in London. Garcia was the brother of Pauline Viardot, the famous singer, musician and composer, whose salons were a major feature of the Parisian musical scene in the years before and after the political upheavals of the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. It is clear that Hopwood rapidly became a close friend and advocate of Cavaille-Coll - to the extent that he attempted, through his connections with the Prince of Wales, to obtain for him the contract for the organ in the new Royal Albert Hall.

It is tempting to speculate that Hopwood, through his contact with Garcia, not only came to know Cavaille-Coll but also met Pauline Viardot and attended her salons. In 1851 Cavaill6Coll had built a small two-manual organ for her music room in Paris. In 1864, to escape the increasing political uncertainties in Paris, Pauline Viardot moved with her musically talented family to Baden-Baden, where the salon organ was re-installed by Cavaille-Coll. It is possible that the Viardot salon encouraged Hopwood to install a similar luxury at Bracewell. Whatever the precise circumstances, it appears that Hopwood quickly made up his mind and ordered from Cavaille-Coll a small two-manual organ of sixteen stops which, according to Huybens, was delivered in June 1867.

Virtually nothing is known of this organ and, assuming that it was actually built and installed, perhaps at his London house, its ultimate fate remains a mystery. It is possible that this organ was such a success that it stimulated Hopwood to enhance Bracewell Hall with a music room and organ on a truly grand scale. The smaller instrument may subsequently have been incorporated in the much larger three-manual organ of forty-four stops which Hopwood ordered from Cavaille-Coll, probably in 1869[No it wasn’t and the date was 1868] In April 1870, this organ, with a French Gothic case designed by the architect Simil, was delivered to Bracewell, where it was erected and tonally finished by Felix Reinberg, one of Cavaille-Coll's most trusted artists.

The Bracewell organ was inaugurated on 7 November 1870, the great occasion being described by Hopwood in a letter to Cavaille-Coll dated 10 February 1871. The organ was played by William Spark, who is said to have given a whole series of subsequent recitals, and his close association with Hopwood was probably the result of his long-standing friendship with Henry Smart. In 1874 Hopwood commissioned Cavaille-Coll to move the organ to his new residence , Ketton Hall, Rutland, and three more stops were added to the pedal. In 1926 the organ was dismantled and rebuilt in the Parr Hall, Warrington, where it remains, the only major example of the builder's work in recognisable condition, but unfortunately with the electro-pneumatic action that replaced the original pneumatic lever actions in 1972. It is interesting that, during recent work on the organ, it was discovered that at least one stop (the Positif Dulciana), which must have been a later substitution, was made by Lewis, possibly evidence for the rather obscure link between that firm and Cavaille-Coll which later resulted in Lewis becoming regarded as the leading expert on the Cavaille-Coll organ.

The success of the Bracewell organ directly resulted in the importing of three more organs from the firm. The installation work at Bracewell coincided with the Franco-Prussian war, a period of great hardship for the Parisian population. In the biography of their father, Cecile and Emmanuel Cavaille-Coll describe the hardships endured at the organ factory in the autumn of 1870, contrasting it with the life of luxury enjoyed by Felix Reinburg at Bracewell. It seems that, by the time the siege was ended, early in 1871 the financial state of the firm was very grave and, encouraged by Reinburg, Cavaille-Coll visited England in March 1871 with the aim of obtaining new commissions. At the suggestion of Hopwood, he owners of the new Music Hall in Sheffield, later known as the Albert Hall, entered into negotiations with Cavaille-Coll with the result that he subsequently secured the order for the four-manual, fifty-seven stop organ completed in 1873, which was the largest organ built by the firm in this country. The tour is said also to have resulted in the orders for the smaller organs built for Paisley Abbey and Bellahouston Church in Glasgow, both installed in 1874 [No, the decision was made before the tour]

[Extracted from THE FRENCH INFLUENCE IN HIGH VICTORIAN LANCASHIRE an address given by Gerald Sumner and reported in the BIOS journal. Vol 19. (1996)]

SCG/11 July 2003
Stanley Challenger Graham
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