The UK National Pipe Organ Register is an important source of information about instruments within the UK. The British Institute of Organ Studies supports the work of the Register, but they do struggle to find adequate resources. Help if you can! The service is run at the University of Cambridge (in the Computing Service). It provides access to a growing database holding the details of instruments throughout the UK.
Piporg-L is the home page for the pipe organ e-mail list used by its members to “discuss musical, technical and historical aspects of organs of all kinds–classical, theatre, electronic, reed, tracker, electro-pneumatic, etc., etc. Organ specifications, recitals (past and future), recordings, jobs (wanted and available), restoration hints, news of progress in restoration projects are all” included in list postings.
The eorg-l list provides a focus for the electronic organ community.
The world’s largest pipe organs is a maintained list of the largest instruments in existence, most entries have links to sites that give more details about the particular organ.. (“Size” is every thing here…)
These are links to instruments that I think of as “special” in some ways.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Organ is well documented on this site and details of the St. George’s Hall and the Roman Catholic Cathedral organs are include on Great Pipe Organs of Liverpool. There are some fine photographs on these sites: Daniel Bishop has to be congratulated on doing a good job in building these sites.
The two Schulze organ sites at Armley and Harrogate are well worth a visit. I must find a page about the Doncaster organ!
I was brought up in the NE of England and I remember our regular outings to Durham and enjoyed visiting the Cathedral. I remember being taken up to see the console by Conrad Eden one Sunday afternoon (though I was not allowed to touch!). Richard Hird has built an excellent web-site that provides a comprehensive guide to Durham Cathedal’s is fine Willis / Harrison instrument.
City Hall Newcastle is a large Harrison & Harrison concert instrument from the late 1920s. Martin Charlton’s pages about the organ are excellent.
The Bridgewater Hall organ (Manchester) has had a mixed reception – perhaps it lacks the power we expect in a northern concert hall organ.
Kingston Parish Church boasts a Frobenius Organ – this attracted much attention when it was installed – this is a very interesting site.
The Alexandra Palace Organ is being rebuilt as resources can be found. This site records progress and announces events when the organ can be heard. There are some fine pictures of the old organ.
Pictures of the Atlantic City Convention Hall Grand Organ seemed to be in many of the organ books I read as a teenager and the site here gives a lot of information about this huge instrument.
The Wanmaker Organ web site is run by the Friends of the organ and includes a detailed specification and opportunities to buy books, CDs and other memorabilia to support the instrument in Lord & Taylor’s Department Store in Philadelphia.
L’orgue de Saint-Louis, St. Etienne is an excellent French site describing a new organ built in the style of G. Silbermann and J.G. Hildebrant. There are nice pictures and some sound samples.
Cube Concert Hall, Shiroishi City, Japan is an example of a modern concert hall organ – in Japan and built by a Japanese builder, Jubal. The site has some sound samples and pictures of the installation.
Famous Organ Builders
Gottfried Silbermann – Master Organ-Builder of the German Baroque. This site includes pictures, historical detail, locations of thirty-one original instruments, a visit to the Silbermann Museum, Silbermann organs on CD, plus all the info you need for a Grand Organ Tour!
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll had great influence on the development of the organ during the ninetieth century both within France and beyond. There are a number of other sites that are dedicated to his work but this one seems to be the best! (Others: Association Aristide Cavaillé-Coll; Laurent Plet’s page) There is also a section in James Hooks’ history site.
Lawrence Phelps had a significant influence on the development of the organ in the middle of the twentieth century and this web site includes some of the articles he wrote for publication and details of the organs some of the organs designed and built.
The Renascence of an Organ in Bordeaux describes the restoration of the organ in Sainte-Croix parts of which are attributed to Dom Bédos de Celles. This is a lovely site with excellent text (in English) and a full range of supporting pictures.
If you want to improve your pedaling you might try wearing a pair of Organmaster Shoes (for any skeptics out there ‘this is for real’ !).
Hector Parr’s web site contains many fascinating items including some interesting essays on the organ, its music and how to practice.
The Museum of Organs will show you fine instruments from Europe. Take some time to gaze at some of the beautiful organs featured in the Organ Art Museum.
The Göteborg Organ Art Center – GOArt, within Göteborg University and operating in close collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology, is a research and development centre for the organ that includes the study of instruments as well as music.
The Organ Focus site holds details of organic events (that are notified to them) and some contributed essays.
The Stinson Band Organ Company is a fun site with organs of a different type: our family is not connected to this company and neither are we related to the US company who made airplanes!
Got a question about that old American Organ then you might find the Reed Organ Man site worth a visit.
This Theatre Organ site in the USA includes details of instruments and how to use them. The American Theatre Organ Society site gives an interesting insight into some glorious cinema organs.
Ivor Buckingham’s’ Compton Organ site provides details of Compton (theatre) organs and lists of installations in the UK. I particularly like his section on the solo cello.
Perhaps the firm of H. & C.S. Odell who were established in New York in 1859 are not one of the great organ builders but this site is worth visiting to see the work of a typical regional company.
The following publications have web sites with details of their current (and in some cases past) issues. Note: some associations also publish journals – see their web sites for details.
The Organist’s Review
Choir and Organ
Het Orgel (Dutch)
Organ Alternatives (a web based journal)
Martin Charlton’s Organ Tour of Britain
an excellent tour of many of the most significant instruments in Britain. (Presently this site has broken links…)
Simon Fitzgerald’s web pages contains information about organs in the North East of England. (Richard Hird now looks after these pages.)
Organs in Australia
offers a chance to see some of the fine organs “down-under”.
Irish pipe organs
brings together links about pipe organs in both Ulster and the Republic.
Organs in Germany
is a Canadian web site providing a series of links to some major organs in German. I need to find a more comprehensive source.
Wim Verburg’s web site contains details of more than 400 Dutch organs, 69 German organs and 16 Belgian organs. It is a great resource!
La Route Des Orgues de France
is a site provided by the French Ministry of Culture that identifies and describes some of the more important instruments in France. (The site is in French.)
Les Orgues en Haute Normandie
contains details of organs in Normandy. The site includes many links to other organs too and a section on Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Other fine organ web sites
Stephen Bicknell is the author of outstanding book “The History of the English Organ” and much respect consultant: his web site is full of useful articles and information about his work. It is presented in an elegant and pleasing way.
Julian Rhodes'” Dream Organs” web site was built to share information about organs and includes a wide range of information. Following his death, the site has been preserved as a memorial to this talented musician.
Mechanisms and history
The Young Persons Guide to the Organ is a beautifully crafted site introducing the organ (for people of any age!).
The Organ History site is another wonderful educational resource including a good introduction to how the organ works and a history of the development of the instrument. James H Cook is to be congratulated on building this site.
The Hydraulus (or Water Organ) is part of our ‘pre-history’ and is well described at this site: the site also includes some information about the inventor and “first organist” Ctesibius who lived about 200 BC. A modern reconstruction of a hydraulus is described here.
Not being a expert, I wanted to find out a little more about different temperaments: Stephen Bicknell’s article on temperaments is clear and helpful and I found this article’s diagrams useful.
Composers (for the organ)
The following pages provide information about some of my favorite composers for the organ.
The Classical Composers database and Robert Poliquin’s Music and Musicians provide a good starting points for finding details on a composer.
Electronics and the like
You might like to read the Hammond Organ Story and visit Hammond Castle the home of John Hammond whose many inventions included the Hammond Organ. If you like the Hammond sound take a look at the Native Instruments B4 program.
Organs Go Electronic is an interesting article from the New York Times about a large church’s decision to install an electronic instrument.
British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS)
is “unique society combining historical, musical and technical interests” of players, builders and other organ devotees. BIOS exists to encourage and promote the study of the pipe organ, its history and design, and to increase appreciation and understanding of its music by both organists and the general public.
Organ Historical Society
promotes a widespread musical and historical interest in American organ building through collection, preservation, and publication of historical information, and through recordings and public concerts. You can buy books, music, CDs and other organ related items on-line from their extensive catalogue.
Royal College of Organists
was established in 1864 to promote education about and appreciation of the organ. It has recently reinvented itself and is trying hard to be more inclusive both by introducing new examinations (CertRCO) and encouraging membership from a wider cohort.
American Guild of Organists
encourages all who are interested in the organ to join them; they offer an education programme with certification and their web site includes an on-line store.
The following associations for organ builders are also of general interest to organ buffs!
Incorporated Society of Organ Builders
Institute of British Organ Building
Association of Independent Organ Advisors
American Institute of Organ builders
Electronic / Computer-based Organ Sounds
Hautpwerk is a very interesting item of software that implements a classical organ using a PC or MAC and sound samples (one per note per stop) – it is played over a midi link. It is an excellent piece of work by Martin Dyde. This is available as a commercial product (from Milan Digital Audio), but there is a free version which may be used with smaller sample sets.
Sound Canvas Pipe Organ Project describes a project to bring realistic pipe organs sounds to the Roland Sound Canvas synthesizer. The MP3 files and pictures on the site are interesting.
The Atmel Corporation are the company who make the DREAM DSP used in computer sound cards and in some digital sample playback organs.
Building Blocks is a multi-purpose MIDI processor. With BB you can create all kinds of regular or unusual MIDI processing structures. Together with Jeux Soundfonts it has been used to create a computer based pipe organ simulation played over a midi link. (I can’t find the web site where Mick Berg’s instructions are – but I have a copy if anyone needs them.)
Bruce Miles’ web site could be put under any number of places but I’ve put it here because it has some really useful stuff for building electronic organs. The site also describes a two manual organ (St. John’s Methodist Church, Market Weighton) that I played (once) for a friend’s wedding: I remember transcribing a March by Lully from a tape of the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.
In San Francisco by you can see and possibly hear the Wave Organ.
Eat while you listen to the glorious sounds of the might Wurlitzer at the Organ Stop Pizza. ( I hope they are still in business – really want to go there one day.)
The StalacPipe organ in Virginia’s Luray Caverns is not really a wind blown organ but none-the-less interesting.
Lego Builders will be interested in this harpsichord site – who’s going to built the first working Lego organ