ORGAN OF THE MONTH 69: March 2008

Birmingham Town Hall
(Hill, 1834, 1876, 1890; Willis 1933; Mander 1984, 2007 )

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In an advertisement of 1836, this William Hill organ was described as "the grandest instrument in the world".  Although its specification was then much different to that of today, almost thirty of the original Hill ranks survive, including the heavy-pressure Grand Ophicleide (added in 1840 and later renamed Tuba Mirabilis): an innovation that was to have a profound effect on the development of so many large English organs of the 19th century.

The most beneficial change since the last (1984) rebuild is probably the removal of the Upper Gallery and consequent improvement in the building's acoustic!  Tonal changes during the 2007 work have been minimal, but the Bombarde division has been made a "floating" department (playable from Solo, Great or Choir) allowing the fifth manual to be removed.  A new Violoncello has been added to the Pedal Organ, and the Great Harmonic Flute has new pipes.  Also new are 312 octaves of bells from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry with electrically operated hammers playable from the Solo keyboard.

The association is most grateful to City Organist Thomas Trotter and the Town Hall authorities for making the instrument available to BOA members after his lunch-time recital on 11th February (see also Reviews of BOA meetings).

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Last modified: December 29, 2008