Mutsaerts - October 31, 2008
I do not
know about You, dear Music Lover, but every time I attend
the Thursday evening KZNPO Concert in the Durban City Hall,
I often glance over the heads of the enthusiastic and competent
Musicians and see 'Our Organ' staring at me, as if it is pleading:
"when at last will I be enabled to be heard"?
specially significant for those who appreciate the sound of
an Organ and the wide range of available Organ Music. The
Organ not only plays Sacred Music, as in many Churches, but
furthermore also Secular Music as played in concert halls
and auditoriums. The Organ is described by Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart as "the King of all the Instruments". It
holds a unique place in world music with a tradition stretching
back over two thousand years.
Organ", was built by 'Brindley and Foster' of Sheffield
(UK), the same builder as the Organ in the Pietermaritzburg
City Hall, and was installed by December 1894, in what today
is the Central Post Office. In the opinion of an eminent Organist
of the time, it was "the finest instrument so far erected
by the builders". To celebrate the installation of the
Organ, a music festival was held on 19th, 20th and 22nd December
1894. The large and appreciative audience at each performance
provided ample testimony to the popularity of the Council's
action in bringing about "so unique an incident as the
acquisition of the grandest of all musical instruments"
(Natal Mercury, 19th December 1894).
early 1900s a new, much larger City Hall (the present one)
was built to a design by Stanley Hudson with internal dimensions
of 157 ft long, (±48 m), 95 ft wide (±29 m)
and a ceiling height of 60 ft (±18 m). It was three
times larger than the then existing Town Hall, the present
Post Office. In 1910 the Organ was moved, in its entirety,
from the old Town Hall to the present City Hall. One change
was made. A new organ case, specially designed in teak housing
30 new 32ft Open Diapason pipes, was added. The organ became
an integral part of the City Hall and therefore of the Community
the years, as a result of inadequate and irregular maintenance,
the condition of the organ deteriorated and it became in need
of repair and renovation. Mr Ronald Charles, appointed consultant
in 1972, reported that the console was completely obsolete
after nearly 80 years of use and that the organ, inadequate
for a hall three times larger than the original Town Hall,
fell far short of a comprehensive, versatile instrument suitable
for its civic surroundings.
a contract was awarded to Henry Willis and Sons Limited of
Hampshire, England, to rebuild and tonally redesign the organ.
The following year the organ was dismantled for major remodelling
and revoicing of the pipes in England. Most of the existing
pipes were retained. The organ was enlarged, from 51 stops
controlling 2.522 pipes to 66 stops controlling 3.465 pipes,
and its range was widened to encompass both classical, from
Baroque to Modern, and light music. The old tubular-pneumatic
action and console was scrapped and a new four-manual detached
console and an electronic action was provided. The renovated
instrument was opened at a recital by the celebrated British
recitalist Dame Gillian Weir on 26th May 1977.
the discovery of extensive damage by borer beetle to much
of the lower timber structures of the organ, all the reservoirs
and the floor of the Organ Chamber, led to the decision by
the Durban Municipality to restore the Organ.
a contract was awarded in order to restore the organ. The
restoration project's aims and objectives were not only to
restore the instrument to its former glory, but to enlarge
the instrument to cater for the demands of being in a much
larger hall than the one for which it was originally intended,
the demands as an instrument accompanying an orchestra and
the demands and high standards set by international soloists
of our time. It was intended that on completion of the project
the organ would have nearly 5.500 pipes. Due partly to lack
of funding the contract was aborted during 2003.
has not just been repaired, but substantially re-built, using
imported components of the highest quality. It is estimated
that it is about 80% complete.
were my findings so far!
understood that the Ethekwini Municipal Council is aware of
the condition of the organ and has the sincere intention to
bring it back to its former glory. However, after the highly
expensive and unfinished restoration work done, it is understandably
concerned about spending any further taxpayers' money without
any guarantee of the final success of such an undertaking.
of this letter? To drum up as much support as possible for
a friendly but an urgent "Motivation" to The Ethekwini
Municipal Council, listing many names of people in the Province
of KwaZulu-Natal, who would be interested and maybe also supportive
to get "Our Organ" to perform the Music for which
it was originally designed and installed.
will MUSIC MAP do? Through Music Map, I intend to collect
the names of people and organisations reacting positively
to this e-mail and present them in listed form. Although MUSIC
MAP has already many helpful Members, the "Motivation"
needs to have many more names. So if you have contact with
other Music Lovers, in Organisations or Enterprises or Institutions,
please send a link to this page to these friends and ask them
urgently to email me with their expression of support.
will our Motivation state? "We are Music Lovers. We would
love to hear the Pipe Organ in the Durban City Hall. Most
of us have never heard it. We accordingly support and encourage
the eThekwini Municipality Council to continue the final restoration
of the Pipe Organ in the Durban City Hall. We actively support
such repairs to be undertaken, by committing ourselves either
with a voluntary, financial contribution and/or, by actively
attending any music played on this Organ".
believe that the completion of the project will enable a part
of our City's Musical Heritage to be preserved for future
generations and indeed open a insight into the King of Instruments
for a whole new generation of all Music Lovers in our wonderful