Organ

 

The photograph (above) of the present Organ Console is by former Minster Chorister Michael Denton, now of Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada.
 
One of the most famous instruments in Britain (and certainly one of those most broadcast and recorded), the organ at St Peter-at-Leeds was first installed in the medieval church in 1713. Extensive work on the instrument during the remainder of the 18th century culminated in substantial enlargement by Greenwood Brothers of Leeds in 1815. This instrument was transferred to the newly built Victorian Church in time for the consecration of the present St Peter’s on 2nd September 1841. The organ at that service was played by Dr Samuel Sebastian Wesley, the greatest church musician of the Victorian period, and Wesley was offered and accepted the post of organist at Leeds early in the year following. Further work on the instrument was undertaken in 1859, when Hill installed a new Swell Organ and the great German builder Edmund Schulze added a considerable number of stops – many of these ranks survive (perhaps surprisingly) comparatively little altered today.
 
Abbott & Smith rebuilt the organ twice – in 1883 and 1899, but, by 1912, substantial further work was essential, and major plans were laid during the closing months of the tenure of Edward Cuthbert Bairstow (Organist of Leeds from 1906 to 1913).
 
The instrument as we have it today is, in essence, a Harrison speaking with a Harrison voice – though with a pronounced and unique ambience of its own. The complete reconstruction under the direction of Arthur Harrison in 1914 was a triumph of the voicer’s art within a building relatively dry in acoustic terms. The firm did further work in 1927, undertaking a major restoration in 1949. The pitch was standardised at concert pitch a decade later. The Leeds firm of Wood, Wordsworth rebuilt the organ in 1965. The most substantial change concerned the famous “Echo” (properly the “Altar”) organ in its own case on the North Altar Flat. This was removed and the pipework incorporated within the main organ. This was, in part, a response to a need for more upperwork on the pedal and choir divisions, and in part a reaction against severe logistical difficulties with the Altar Organ (wind trunking running within heating ducts and a very unsightly back to the case among them). Dr Donald Hunt (organist of the Parish Churchfrom 1957 to 1975) and Peter Wood drew up the revised specification. Much of the voicing was in the skilled hands of long-serving Parish Church Lay Clerk and Principal Tenor Brian Wilson (1928-2010), whose skill in integrating the new pipework with the old has been universally admired.
 
Andrew Carter of Wakefield undertook a complete root and branch restoration over two years from 1995. The actions were renewed, with solid state transmission provided throughout and a vast amount of leatherwork replaced. The Great Reeds were re-cast and a new Vox Humana stop installed as a gift. Not least among the challenges was the complete reconstruction of the ailing blowing plant, entrusted to Allfab Engineering of Methley.  The consultants to the Rector and Churchwardens for the current Restoration were Dr Noel Rawsthorne, Ian Bell, Anthony J Cooke (Organs Adviser to the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds) and Simon Lindley (Organist of the Church since 1975).
 
In 2002, a Jubilee Trumpet stop was added to the Solo Organ in place of the original Tuba 8’, the pipes of which have been retained. This work was undertaken with funds provided by the Friends of the Music of Leeds Minster from a generous legacy received from the estate of a distinguished and much loved former organist Dr Melville Cook (here from 1937 to 1956).
 
There is no case, and the instrument fills the whole of the South Transept from floor to ceiling, being placed behind an elaborate wooden screen, once memorably (and not unreasonably) described by a great organ expert as “a weird mass of carving”. Wind reservoirs and regulators are in the Crypt, and the Blowing Plant feeds the instrument from a small self-contained Blowing House in the Southern Precinct, between the West Wall of the South Transept and the South-West Wall of the Nave.
 
From the South Transept location, the organist is placed between the Choir and the Congregation – a position which presents formidable challenges of vocal and instrumental balance but which is utterly invaluable in terms of congregational choral and accompaniment with the object of enhancing the liturgy – which is, after all, the main purpose of the instrument
 
Recitals are held regularly each Friday lunchtime from 12.30 pm and on August Sundays after Congregational Evensong. Regular recitalists are Minster Organists Dr Simon Lindley and Mr David Houlder, along with frequent monthly contributions from Dr Christopher Newton from Armley, St Bartholomew and guest appearances by invited artists arranged by Mr Houlder on a regular basis - most notably in the enjoyable and successful "David Houlder and Friends" events in July each year. Dr Lindley's Romantic Organ Masterworks held each August Sunday evening since the restoration of the organ in 1997 also attract widespread general support from local music-lovers.
 
Friday Recitals take place at lunchtime, with delicious home-made food in the Minster Refectory available for a donation. Our Friday hostesses, Mesdames Eden and Dawson, also host a Wine and Cheese Party after the final August Sunday recital each season - an event greatly appreciated by our loyal supporters.
 
The maintenance of this fine instrument is sustained by the Friends of the Music of Leeds Minster: new members are always most welcome! Details from The Honorary Treasurer, Friends of the Music of Leeds Minster, 5 St Peter’s House, Kirkgate, LeedsLS2 7DJ.
 
Schulze Stops are marked ~ on the specification below
 
(and designated with S on the stop heads at the console)

 

 

PEDAL ORGAN

1. Double Open Wood    32
2. Major Bass  (Open Wood No 1, re-instated 1997) 16
3. Open Wood (Ex Double Open Wood) 16
4. Open Diapason   16
5. Geigen*  (Ex Great) 16
6. Violone   16
7. Sub Bass   16
8. Dulciana * (Ex Choir) 16
9. Principal (Ex Geigen) 8
10. Octave Wood (Ex Major Bass) 8
11. Violoncello (Ex Violone) 8
12. Bass Flute (Ex Sub Bass) 8
13. Fifteenth (Ex Violoncello) 4
14. Flute~   4
15. Octave Flute~   2
16. Mixture 9, 22, 26  III
17. Double Ophicleide   32
18. Ophicleide (Ex Double Ophicleide) 16
19. Tuba (*) (+) (Ex SoloContra Tuba) 16
20. Clarinet (*) (+)   16
21. Posaune   8
22. Schalmei   4

     * = Pedal stops derived from manual ranks of the same name

     + = Enclosed (Solo)

 

 CHOIR ORGAN             

23. Contra Dulciana  (Ex Dulciana)    16
24. Diapason~   8
25. Quintadena   8
26. Gedackt~   8
27. Dulciana   8
28. Principal~   4
29. Lieblich Flute~   4
30. Dulcet   (Ex Dulciana) 4
31. Nazard~     2 2/3
32. Gemshorn   2
33. Tierce   1 3/5
34. Larigot   1 1/3
35. Sifflote   1
36. Dulciana Mixture 12, 15, 17, 19, 22 V
37. Scharf 22. 26, 29 III
38. Cromorne    8

GREAT ORGAN

39. Bourdon   16
40. Gross Geigen   16
41. Open Diapason I   8
42. Open Diapason II~   8
43. Open Diapason III~   8
44. Geigen    8
45. Flauto Traverso   8
46. Gedeckt   8
47. Dulciana (Ex Choir) 8
48. Octave   4
49. Geigen Principal   4
50. Harmonic Flute~   4
51. Octave Quint   2 2/3
52. Super Octave~   2
53. Cornet 17, 19, 22 III
54. Furniture 19, 22, 26, 29 IV
55. Contra Tromba (re-voiced, 1997) 16
56. Posaune (Tromba, re-voiced & re-made, 1997) 8
57. Clarion (Octave Tromba, re-voiced & re-made, 1997) 4

                                                                     

SWELL ORGAN

58. Bourdon   16
59. Open Diapason   8
60. Doppel Flöte   8
61. Echo Gamba   8
62. Voix Celestes   8
63. Principal   4
64. Wald Flute   4
65. Twelfth   2 2/3
66. Fifteenth   2
67. Mixture 19, 22, 26,29 IV
68. Vox Humana (new, 1997) 8
69. Oboe   8
70. Double Trumpet   16
71. Trumpet   8
72. Horn   8
73. Clarion      4

 

SOLO ORGAN

74. Viole d’Orchestre   8
75. Harmonic Flute   8
76. Concert Flute   4
77. Piccolo   2
78. Sesquialtera 12, 17 II
79. Mixture 19, 22, 26 III
80.Double Clarinet   16
81. Contra Tuba   16
82. Jubilee Trumpet (new, 2002) 8

COMPASS CC-C (61 notes) manuals

CCC-G (32 notes) pedals 

COUPLERS&c

 

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Choir to Pedal

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Great to Pedal

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Swell to Pedal

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Solo to Pedal

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Swell to Choir

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Solo to Choir

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Reeds on Choir

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Choir Octave

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Choir Sub Octave

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Choir Unison Off

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Choir to Great

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Swell to Great

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Solo to Great

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Solo to Swell

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Swell Sub Octave

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Solo Unison Off

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Choir to Pedal Pistons

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Great & Pedal Combinations Coupled

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Tremulant to Swell

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Tremulant to Solo