The Keyboard in London

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We (Mike Lurie, Greg Dunbar, Lauren Buono, Shawn Riley & Bryn Coveney) are a group of students studying abroad in London for the semester from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. This blog is to document our class experiences in "The Keyboard and it's Role in London Society" course, which is being taught by Diane Birr at the Ithaca College London Center, in South Kensington. Our studies focus on keyboard instruments (the Virginal, Harpsichord, Pianoforte, Piano, Organ, Electronic keyboard) and explore how these instruments are historically interwoven with the personal and social fabric of London society.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Evolution of the Organ at St. Paul's Cathedral

There has always been an organ in St. Paul's Cathedral. Since 1666, this organ has undergone many transformations and improvements by various organ makers, outlined below.
• 1694; first organ was constructed by Bernard Schmid. It was quite small, with only 27 stops and three manuals. He was paid £2,000 for his labour, roughly £2,000,000 by today's standards.
• J.C. Bishop increased the volume of the organ and moved it to the north side of the Quire in 1830.
• 1872; Henry Willis installed new pneumatic action in the keys, increased the number of manuals to four, and reconstructed most of the instrument, leaving roughly 200 of the original pipes.
• 1897; the organ was moved again to the northeast quarter dome. Two open diapsons were added, as well as a group of Solo Tubas.
• 1925; the organ was dismantled due to the potential of the dome collapsing. It was reinstated in 1930 with a larger chancel pedal section, a third 32-foot stop and a “Willis” Trompette Militaire. By this time, the organ is completely electrically run.
• 1940s; part of the organ is destroyed due to a bomb that fell through the ceiling of St. Paul's. It is rebuilt using pipes of other organs that were also destroyed in the bombings.

Currently, the organ is being cleaned and maintained by Mander Organs Ltd., and is unfortunately not being performed on again until August of this year.
List of Pipes
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