E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings
As the United States expanded and matured in the nineteenth century, it joined European nations in its embrace of new technologies, making full use of mechanical and manufacturing advances which characterize the Industrial Revolution. As noted elsewhere in this tutorial,237 these changes in society affected the business of building organs, and we see the results of this change in the continued existence today of firms and factories devoted to the production of pipe organs. As part of the new Industrial society, organ-building firms were part of exhibitions devoted to displaying all that was new in their field, and as you might expect, they did their best to use these exhibitions to their distinct advantage.
One of the greatest of these exhibitions was held in 1876, celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the founding of the nation. E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings built several instruments for this event, a large four-maual organ as well as several smaller instruments. All of their organs, as well as those by other builders, were to be judged in a competition not unlike one you can still find in a State Fair today. The "Grand Organ" -- their four-manual instrument -- built by Hook & Hastings was awarded the highest rank in its class by the judges, to the great delight of the builders. The following year, they published a small brochure celebrating their triumph, a publication that provides us with a lot of information today.238
An even more important source of information is the organ itself. As the Centennial brochure indicates, the organ was purchased by St. Joseph's Cathedral, Buffalo, and installed there in 1877 -- just before the brochure was published. The organ has been modified significantly since its installation, most notably by introduction of electric action and subsequent tonal alterations from the 1920's through the 1970's. Even though it has recently been rebuilt and enlarged, the latest changes have been made with its significance to the history of the organ in the United States in mind. It remains a noble testament to the builder's art in 1876.239
There are many aspects of this instrument which you should notice from reading this stoplist, many of them going beyond the actual names of the stops involved. But, just thinking about the stops themselves is a good place to start. I have modified a few things in the list, but only by moving a few things around for consistency in the way stoplists are presented in this tutorial. You have surely noticed the unusual pitches associated with the Quinte stops -- 12', 6' and 3' -- and you must have realized that this was merely a "rounding up" of the fractional numbers you are accustomed to. I've left them this way as an example of what you might expect to see on an instrument of this period should you get to play one some day. Don't worry, the sounds will be familiar even though the numbers are unusual by today's standards.
There are some other details which I hope you have noticed as well:
Some of the other elements that you have probably noticed are related to mechanical matters, so they are discussed below.
As you might imagine, an instrument of this size, on high wind pressure and including enough couplers to play four divisions from the Great manual, could present the player with quite a physical challenge. Indeed, playing it would have been very difficult were it not for its inclusion of pneumatic assists -- Barker levers, in other words. According to the brochure, these pneumatic motors were applied to the Great, its couplers, part of the pedal, and to the stops. This last innovation was similar to developments being made by Henry Willis in England, and it allowed several new elements to be included on this instrument.
First of all, I hope you noticed the inclusion of a crescendo pedal. This was new feature on instruments in the nineteenth century, and its appearance on this organ is just one indication of the desire to make it as su-to-date as possible. Similarly, pneumatic motors made it practical to include the very high number of combination pedals found here. The brochure proudly points out that they were double-acting -- reversible, in other words.
Perhaps the most innovative use of pneumatics, however, is found in the list of pedal stops under the unusual heading "BY COUPLING." I've modified the way the brochure listed the number of pipes associated with each stop in the pedal, just so you will notice the way these stops are derived. The process of extending a single rank to provide multiple stops at different pitches was possible before the introduction of pneumatic actions, but it wasn't practical. Here, each rank of the pedal is extended so that it can be played at two pitches, the first one listed, and an octave extension -- described here as available "by coupling." At the keydesk, these extensions were simply available as additional stops, and the form used to describe them here is an indication of how technologically modern the instrument was.
As you might expect for such an important instrument, the case and pipe decoration for the Centennial Organ represent the best work that the firm could do at the time. Look at the phograph to the left, made by the Andover Organ Company after the recent rebuild of the instrument.242 You can see the elaborate stencilling, even though the new colors are more muted than the originals. I want you to notice the simple division ofthe "pipe fence" into three sections. Most extended pipe façades of this period used a similar division in order to give a sense of structure to the space. The central pipes are those of the Solo Stentorphon, and they are flanked by pipes of the 16' Open Diapasons. The larger pipes of the 32' Bourdon were originally visible behind the Stentorphon, at the very rear of the organ, but they have since been relocated.
© 2001 James H. Cook