Monday, June 8, 2009

Saint Sulpice Paris France

The Grand Gallery Organ

In 1862, the current pipe organ, constructed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, was added to the church. It is Cavaillé-Coll's magnum opus, featuring 101 speaking stops, and is perhaps the most impressive instrument of the romantic French symphonic-organ era.

The church contains one of the world's finest and most famous organs, a pipe organ constructed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in 1862, using many materials from the church's earlier French Classical organ built by Clicquot in 1781.

The Grand-Orgue of Saint-Sulpice was at the time of its building one of only three "100 stop" organs in all of Europe. Its organists have also been renowned, starting with Nicolas Séjan in the 18th century, and continuing with Charles-Marie Widor (organist 1870-1933) and Marcel Dupré (organist 1934-1971), both great organists and composers of organ music. Thus for over a century (1870-1971), Saint-Sulpice employed only two organists, and much credit is due to these two individuals for preserving the instrument and protecting it from the ravages of changes in taste and fashion which resulted in the destruction of many of Cavaillé-Coll's other masterpieces. The current organists are titulaire Daniel Roth (since 1985) and Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin.[4]

This impressive instrument is perhaps the summit of Cavaillé-Coll's craftmanship and genius. The sound and musical effects achieved in this instrument are almost unparalleled. Widor's compositional efforts for the organ were intended to produce orchestral and symphonic timbres, reaching the limits of the instrument's range. With five manuals— keyboards— and boasting two 32-foot stops, organists at St. Sulpice have an incredibly rich palette of sounds at their disposal.

Aside from a re-arrangement of the manual keyboards c. 1900, the installation of an electric blower and the addition of two Pedal stops upon Widor's retirement in 1934, the organ is maintained today almost exactly as Cavaillé-Coll left it. [5]


    Archives report the name Nicolas Pescheur, as the first organist at St. Sulpice. He is, without doubt, the son of Pierre Le Pescheur who, in 1544, was organist at St. Esprit Hospital. Appointed by the church during the last third of the 16th century, he died at the end of October 1603. He was the last organist who played the antique instrument installed above the front door in the old church. This instrument, unplayable since the beginning of the 17th century, was on display until 1614 while an organ, installed in the chancel, was rented for an annual fee of 36 pounds.

    In 1614, it was decided to order a new organ to be built using elements of the old instrument. Vincent Coppeau and Pierre Pescheur were entrusted to prepare the plan. The restoration was carried out only in 1636 by Coppeau alone at the cost of 75 pounds. It was officially received on June 19th.

Saint Sulpice Paris

    As soon as the chancel of the new church was completed, the organ was installed on a gallery located on top of the high altar between the chancel and the Virgin Chapel. This old instrument will be replaced in 1725 by a larger organ that would be moved, four years later, above the vestibule in the north transept where it will stay until 1784. Useless when the main organ was completed, it was sold, for 900 pounds, to the parish of Passy.

    The large project of a new organ in St. Sulpice started in 1776. Two designs were submitted: the first one, from architect Laurent, showed a case where no pipes were on display - a new trend - and the second one, from Jean-François Chalgrin. The churchwardens accepted the second one because, according to them, it showed greater harmony with the large stone gallery designed by Servandoni. On January 1st, 1778, a contract was signed with master carpenter Jadot (20,000 pounds) and sculptor Duret (16,000 pounds) for the building of the organ case. The contract for the organ designed by François-Henri Clicquot and revised by Dom François Bédos, was signed on January 1st, 1780 at an estimated cost of 40,000 pounds.

    Assistant to the last Clérambault since 1771, appointed in 1772 as one of the four organists at Notre-Dame, named the following year as titular organist at St. Sulpice, Claude-Étienne Luce was to supervise the project.

    The organ was completed by Clicquot on April 30th, 1781. The appointed assessors were Notre-Dame’s three organists, Armand-Louis Couperin, Claude Balbastre and Nicolas Séjan, assisted by Jean-Jacques Charpentier. Dom Bédos, who was very involved in the design and in the building of this large instrument, had been dead for two years. The official acceptance took place on May 15th, 1781 and, due to major public interest, a second audition took place the next day.

    The large sculpted oak case, a real wood monument inside a stone monument, is imposing by its mass, it is 12 m (39ft) wide by 14 m (46 ft) high. In choosing a very pronounced concave form, unfavourable for sound emission, and locating large pillars and statues just in front the pipes, are real obstacles to sound propagation, Chalgrin demonstrated what not to do. Omit this reservation, Chalgrin’s organ case is to admired for the vigor of its concept, the strength of its construction and the richness of its ornamentation.

    The organ case forms a large hemicycle, framed with high pillars, enriched with flutings and erected on top of a massive basement. The seven areas between the pillars are filled with statues, behind which are located the largest pipes concealed up to their mouths. The frieze is decorated with a series of boughs majestically wound up, and the cornice is decorated with medallions and roses.

    The organ case of the Positif division is made of a large flat simply framed between two posts decorated with a flower chute and with an architrave. It is topped by a large modern clock.

    The Clicquot organ had 64 stops, 5 manuals, a 36-note pedalboard, and 4,328 pipes winded by fourteen bellows.

    Organist Luce did not enjoy very long the honour and the pleasure of playing the nicest instrument in the Capital. He died on October 18th, 1783, aged 34. His friend, Nicolas Séjan, succeeded him.

    During the Revolution, Clicquot’s masterpiece was fortunately preserved, triumphantly playing during major civil occasions. When the church was returned to cult, Nicolas Séjean returned to his functions until his death on March 16th, 1819. His son, Louis (1786-1849), was called in to replace him and was followed by Georges Schmitt from 1849 to 1863.

    In 1834, Louis Callinet began restoration work. Facing serious financial difficulties, four years later, while restoration works were still going on, Callinet sold his business to Société Daublaine. This firm will not complete the restoration and, in 1844, it was itself sold to Société Girard that was taken over, one year later, by Ducroquet. The organ was cleaned and slightly transformed to conform to the new musical tastes: mutations ranks were removed some free reeds ranks were added and a Barker lever was installed in the action. The final acceptance took place in April 1846. It is now a 65-stop instrument.

    Following this restoration neither the churchwardens nor the organist were satisfied with the instrument. In 1855, they called in Aristide Cavaillé-Coll to undertake the tuning and maintenance of the instrument. Almost immediately, Cavaillé-Coll made a proposal for the complete reconstruction of the organ. His talents had been conclusively demontrated in instruments he just completed, among them the ones in St. Denis, in Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, in St. Roch, and in La Madeleine. His project was accepted in 1857 and within ten years following the restoration by Daublaine-Callinet-Ducroquet, Cavaillé-Coll began to work on the reconstruction.

    After five years of work, the renowned organ builder has built, inside Chalgrin’s organ case, a 100-stop instrument. It was, with Father Willis of Liverpool and the Walcker of the Ulm Cathedral, one of only three « 100-stop » organs in Europe. The 5-manual and pedal instrument has a magnificent terraced console and uses a Barker machine to control the stop action. This last innovation allows to memorize the registration on top of those prepared with the double pallet box system. From Clicquot’s organ, Cavaillé-Coll kept about 40 ranks of pipes, including mixtures and reeds. This represented almost two-thirds of Clicquot’s original instrument. He also kept 7 windchests but transformed them to provide a second set of pallets to optimize the wind supply to the pipes. From Callinet, he kept the Trumpet en chamade, some bassoons, and the free reed ranks. He also kept the general Barker lever which now serves the Récit division.

    The entire mechanical action was newly constructed, as were the wind supply and blowing system. These were equipped with separate wind pressures for the bass and treble of each rank, and higher pressures for the reeds than for the foundations. Each division was provided with a separate Barker lever. A general Barker lever was in charge of the couplers. Most revolutionary was the console and, as a result, the stop action. A traditional French keydesk with stopknobs displayed on straight steps would have been too large and made it difficult for the organist to reach the farthest stopknobs. Cavaillé-Coll designed a new console with curved tiers, making each knob face the organist. The new design negated the possibility of a traditional, purely mechanical stop action, where every knob is connected to its respective slider via a wooden rod. So Cavaillé-Coll had the idea of using a double-action Barker lever to move the sliders. The knobs were connected to the new machine by ordinary small wooden trackers, creating a more compact console. And by using Barker action for the stops, he also introduced one of the first examples of mechanical memory ever built.

    The organ is distributed among seven floors, from the gallery floor to the vault, for a total height of 18 meters (59 ft). Organ action occupies four floors while pipework occupies the other three.

    Cavaillé-Coll did not neglect to embellish the new instrument with his delightful harmonic flutes, impressive gambas, and massive reeds. The newly completed organ had 100 stops, 5 manuals and pedal, 20 windchests, 7 Barker levers, 8 double-rise reservoirs, and nearly 7,000 pipes, including two 32’ ranks, an open wood and bombarde.

    The inauguration of this monumental organ took place on April 29th, 1863 with César Franck, Camille Saint-Saëns, Alexandre Guilmant, Auguste Bazille, and the titular organist, Georges Schmitt. At the same time, Louis-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wély replaced Georges Schmitt as organist. He then asked Cavaillé-Coll to install a thunder pedal, a hailstorm effect, and a nightingale.

    Xaver Varnus plays Cesar Franck's Prelude, fugue et variation in concert on the great Cavaille-Coll Organ in Saint Sulpice in Paris.I

    Xaver Varnus plays Cesar Franck's Prelude, fugue et variation in concert on the great Cavaille-Coll Organ in Saint Sulpice in Paris.II

    After the death of Lefébure-Wély on December 31st, 1869, Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) was proposed as his successor. He had the benediction of Cavaillé-Coll but faced parishioners’ protests that Widor was too young (26 years old) for such a prestigious position and moreover, his name sounded German (this was in 1870, a few months before the Franco-Prussian war). As a result, the parish priest hired him for a test period of one year. At the end of that term, neither Widor nor the priest broached the subject of Widor’s status, so it was as a temporary organist that Widor retired on December 31st, 1933, almost 64 years later!

    During Widor’s tenure, the organ was restored and cleaned several times. In 1883, Cavaillé-Coll himself did the first cleaning and made a few minor changes, mostly in order to provide a better wind supply for the lowest pipes of the Récit division.

    In 1903, Charles Mutin, successor to Cavaillé-Coll, did a major restoration and made some changes at Widor’s request. The Récit division, which was originally in the 5th position proved to be unplayable with a complicated pedal part, was lowered to the 4th position. As a consequence, the Positif descended from 4th to 3rd, and the Bombarde, with its loud reeds, originally in 3rd was elevated to 5th and renamed Solo. Tonal modifications were also carried out. The Clarinette on the Positif was replaced with a Baryton 8’ and the Euphone 8’ from the same division was replaced by a Basson 16’. Three new stops were introduced by trading: a Diapason 8’ on the Récit, a Septième 2 2/7’ and a Trompette en chamade 8’ on Solo. The rejuvenated organ inspired Widor for the rest of his life. His only complaint was that the Pedal division remained too weak with only 12 stops. For his retirement in 1933, the parish offered him 2 more Pedal stops: Principal 16’ and 8’ that were placed by Pleyel-Cavaillé-Coll on the outside of the case on pneumatic purse chests. The organ, now boasting 102 stops, was the largest in Paris until Notre-Dame’s instrument was enlarged in the 1960s. No other changes have been made on the instrument since Widor’s tenure.

Played by Widor himself: The Andante Sostenuto from
Widor's Symphonie Gothique recorded in 1932

    After Widor’s retirement, Marcel Dupré (1886-1971), his assistant, was awarded the position of organist in 1934 and would hold it until his death on May 30th, 1971, Pentecost Sunday. Thus, the organ knew only two organists over a hundred-year period (1871-1971), and this certainly played a role in its preservation through the stormy neo-classical period when many instruments were unrecognizably transformed.

    Jean-Jacques Grünenwald (1911-1982), who had been Dupré’s assistant during World War II, succeeded his master in 1971 and remained until his death in December 1982. The interim function of organist was assigned to Françoise Renet (1924-1995) from 1982 to 1985. The organ has been played since 1985 by Daniel Roth.

    Basse de Trompette' from 1er Livre by Marchand. Performed by organist Daniel Roth on the St. Sulpice Church pipe organ in Paris France

    One of Roth’s first duties was to start a new restoration of the instrument which had not been cleaned since the 1950s. This was accomplished by organbuilder Jean Renaud from 1988 to 1991 and consisted of a general cleaning and releathering of all parts of the instrument in the most authentic way possible.

    The organbuilder who enters the instrument for the first time is always amazed by the extreme logic of how all the parts and components are ordered and accessible. A large network of stairways, catwalks, and ladders make tuning and maintenance an easy and enjoyable task. Even though the 100-stop instrument is placed in a case designed for only 64, none of the almost 7,000 pipes is crowded, thereby allowing them to speak freely and naturally.

    We must be thankful to the four generations of organists who have lovingly played and preserved this exceptional instrument and it is hoped that it will receive, in the future, the same care and attention it has always garnered in pursuit of the greatest satisfaction for all.


Organ builders/ Renovations
1781 Cliquot
1862 Cavaillé-Coll
1903 Mutin
1991 Renaud


5 manuals and pedal
102 Stops
135 ranks
7,000 pipes
Key action by pneumatic machines
Stop action by pneumatic machines

I Grand-Chœur C–g3
Jeux de combinaison:
Salicional 8′
Octave 4′
Cornet V (ab d1)
Fourniture IV
Cymbale VI
Plein jeu IV
Bombarde 16′
Basson 16′
Première trompette 8′
Deuxième trompette 8′
Basson 8′
Clairon 4′
Clairon doublette 2′

II Grand-Orgue C–g3
Principal Harmonique 16′
Montre 16′
Bourdon 16′
Flûte conique 16′
Montre 8′
Diapason 8′
Bourdon 8′
Flûte harmonique 8′
Flûte traversière 8′
Flûte a pavillon 8′
Quinte 51/3′
Prestant 4′
Doublette 2

III Positif C–g3
Jeux de fond:
Violon basse 16′
Quintadon 16′
Salicional 8′
Viole de Gambe 8′
Unda maris 8′
Quintaton 8′
Flûte traversière 8′
Flûte douce 4′
Flûte octaviante 4′
Dulciane 4′
Jeux de combinaison:
Quinte 21/3′
Doublette 2′
Tierce 13/5′
Larigot 11/3′
Piccolo 1′
Plein jeu harm. III–VI
Basson 16′
Trompette 8′
Baryton 8′
Clairon 4'

IV Récit expressif C–g3
Jeux de fond:
Quintaton 16′
Diapason 8′
Bourdon 8′
Violoncelle 8′
Voix céleste 8′
Prestant 4′
Doublette 2′
Fourniture V
Cymbale IV
Basson-Hautbois 8′
Cromorne 8′
Voix humaine 8′
Jeux de combinaison:
Flûte harmonique 8′
Flûte octaviante 4′
Dulciana 4′
Nazard 21/3′
Octavin 2′
Cornet V
Bombarde 16′
Trompette 8′
Clairon 4′
Machine à grêle

V Solo C–g3
Jeux de fond:
Bourdon 16′
Flûte conique 16′
Principal 8′
Bourdon 8′
Flûte harmonique 8′
Violoncelle 8′
Gambe 8′
Keraulophone 8′
Prestant 4′
Flûte octaviante 4′
Jeux de combinaison:
Quinte 51/3′
Octave 4′
Tierce 31/5′
Quinte 21/3′
Septième 21/7′
Octavin 2′
Cornet V
Bombarde 16′
Trompette 8′
Clairon 4′
Trompette en chamade 8′

Pédale C–f1
Jeux de fond:
Principal 32′
Principal 16′
Contrebasse 16′
Soubbasse 16′
Principal 8′
Flûte 8′
Violoncelle 8′
Flûte 4′
Jeux de combinaison:
Bombarde 32′
Bombarde 16′
Basson 16′
Trompette 8′
Ophicléide 8′
Clairon 4′


Xaver Varnus plays Bach in Saint Sulpice in Paris
Xaver Varnus improvise in concert at Saint Sulpice in Paris
Xaver Varnus plays Franck at Saint Sulpice in Paris Part 2
Xaver Varnus plays Franck at Saint Sulpice in Paris Part 1
Dupré Improvising at St Sulpice, Paris
YouTube - Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin - Bach organ Fugue Cm
YouTube - Carol Williams & Daniel Roth in Saint Sulpice
YouTube - Daniel Roth Playing the Widor 6th St. Sulpice
YouTube - Daniel Roth plays in St Sulpice
YouTube - Vincent Dubois plays the Cavaillé-Coll Organ at St. Sulpice
St. Sulpice in Paris Widor Plays Widor Pipe Organ
YouTube - Toccata in B minor Performed by Marie-Claire Alain
Daniel Roth - St. Sulpice pipe organ - Marchand
Daniel Roth at St. Sulpice, Paris - Schumann Fugue
YouTube - Daniel Roth at Saint Sulpice

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vollenhove Bosch - Schnitger Organ


Prelude in G Major, BWV 541 - Johann Sebastian Bach

Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten - Max Reger, Opus 135a


The organ was built in 1686 by A. Bosch. In 1720 major changes were carried out by F.C. Schnitger. In 1860 the instrument was expanded to include a free pedal and pedal towers were added left and right of the Main organ by organbuilder Van Loo. Van Vulpen restored the organ in 1977, based on the situation of 1720. The independent Pedal of 1860 was maintained.

The instrument is the back of the church organ on its own gallery. The organ has 25 registers, divided over Hoofdwerk, Rugwerk and Pedaal.

The above Vollenhove Bosch - Schnitger Organ, and many other organs have been recorded pipe by pipe in its own acoustics in the church by Hauptwerk. The result is an extremely natural and lively recording comparable to playing a good CD recording of the live pipe organ.

Maybe hard to believe, but you have been listening (above) to a digital organ, and not a pipe organ. I am a tracker purist, and certainly do not recommend virtual instruments in cathedrals, churches and concert halls. But at home, to have the actual and realistic sounds of a 45 stop tracker to practice on, is a delight for every organist.

The Hauptwerk virtual organ gives the organist the availability of an increasing number of monumental organs available for his playing pleasure and practice in his own living room. Hauptwerk endeavors to create digital records of each pipe in the historical instruments it records.

As you listen, you will hear that this is not an "electronic" organ, but the sound of actual recorded pipes, including tracker, blower and manual sounds as they occur on the pipe organ when you play it. Of course the acoustics of the cathedral or church are captured on each recording.

The King of All Virtual Instruments
Hauptwerk is a state-of-the-art virtual instrument software application for Apple Macs and PCs bringing the world's best pipe organs within reach of musicians everywhere. Used for study and practice by professional and amateur organists, organ enthusiasts, and organ students, Hauptwerk is the world’s leading virtual pipe organ software providing high resolution audio and unparalleled flexibility in MIDI interfacing with digital organ consoles and pro-audio applications.

Digital Organ Compatible
There is no need to replace your current digital organ to get the most realistic digital pipe organ technology. Transform your existing console into the latest in virtual instrument technology by connecting it to Hauptwerk with a single MIDI cable. Hauptwerk's advanced MIDI settings support nearly all digital organ manufacturers MIDI output messages allowing you to easily control the virtual organs from your existing console. If your console has MIDI output then you can use it with Hauptwerk.

Read the advice of Randall Mullin:

Last summer, a world-renown concert organist, who has made many recordings of Cavaille-Coll organs and others, visited me and after I guided him to my Hauptwerk setup, and gave him my headphones to put on, I left him alone. A few minutes later, he appeared “wide-eyed” and said, “that is incredible!” He was playing major organ works and improvising organ symphony movements for the next five hours.


Their website gives the following information:


Hauptwerk is a complete virtual instrument with advanced pipe organ modeling features capable of creating the most authentic and detailed simulation of a real pipe organ. By combining state-of-the-art software along with world class sampled instruments Hauptwerk has raised the bar for the digital organ world. Have a listen to our demos and hear what you could previously only dream about. Listen >


Developers around the world are constantly creating new instruments for Hauptwerk. Hauptwerk unites world heritage and musical culture bringing them together for a single product. A large variety of instruments ranging from baroque to modern and even fully modeled theatre organs are available. View all instruments >


Nothing is as versatile as software. Hauptwerk may be used with your existing digital organ console with MIDI output, or with your favorite MIDI sequencing software. Transform your computer into the latest virtual instrument technology using the world's greatest organs without having to purchase a new organ console. Since Hauptwerk is software you can upgrade your instrument easily without needing to buy expensive new organ hardware or expansion modules. Learn more >


Compare Hauptwerk to other digital organs on the market and you will find it both excels in sound impressions and authenticity and is also much more affordable. Hauptwerk can be used on your existing computer and audio system and can move over to a completely new system for future upgrades to your hardware or software. You simply won't find a more professional product, variety of instrument libraries, or price point that Hauptwerk offers. Buy now >

Any links to products which take you to a reseller are not an endorsement for that reseller, just a link to a description of the product. In case it has crossed your mind, I do not have any connection with any of the vendors associated with Hauptwerk, or with Hauptwerk itself.


Hoofdwerk C-c3:
Prestant 8
Bourdon 8 b/d
Octaaf 4
Fluit 4.
Octaaf 2
Fluit 2
Mixtuur 2-4 sterk
Cymbel 4-6 sterk
Cornet 4 sterk
Trompet 8 b/d

Rugwerk C-c3:
Holpijp 8
Prestant 4
Fluit 4
Octaaf 2
Woudfluit 2
Nasard 3
Sexquialter 2 sterk
Mixtuur 4 sterk
Dulciaan 8

Pedaal C-d1:
Bourdon 16
Prestant 8
Holpijp 8
Octaaf 4
Bazuin 16
Trombone 8

Koppel Ped-HW
Koppel Ped-RW
Tremulant HW
Tremulant RW

Werckmeister I

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