St. Bartholomew's, Armley

The Schulze Organ Story



In assessing the merits of the Armley Schulze organ, there are several points which must be borne in mind.

The organ was never intended for a church, but was built for private ownership as a concert instrument, only two pedal stops being added when it was brought to Armley. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the organ acquits itself so well in what is, after all, its most important function to lead and to inspire the music of the Anglican service.

This organ was not originally envisaged as a whole, but grew piecemeal. After being enlarged from a small two-manual and pedal organ to a large three-manual and pedal instrument, the important Choir Organ was added at the last stage when, in Schulze's words, "room can be found for the same alongside the Echo, under the Swell."

The Schulze firm built organs in the Romantic style, making it a prime consideration "to obtain the richest possible selection of fine solo stops" - from their letter describing the first specification submitted to Kennedy. Both the relative scaling of the stops and the voicing of the pipes differ radically from those of a typical Baroque organ in which, for example, the flute pipes become wide "tubs" in the treble, whilst the diapason (or "principal") pipes of high pitch are very slender. This contrast in scale-progression gives individuality to the ranks, whereas at Armley they run in parallel, causing a certain similarity between the quiet stops noted by Gilbert Benham and Ralph Downes.

Although the pipes and soundboards (except certain of the Pedal soundboards) remain almost as Schulze left them, the whole instrument is now (1985) played through a type of action unknown to Schulze which, in its present state, disturbs the speech of the Principal chorus to a considerable extent.

Why is it that this organ is given a place amongst the finest in the land? It is because it has a wonderful clarity and purity of tone which allows the stops to be blended in seemingly endless combinations of great beauty, from the gentle tones of the Echo Organ to the brilliance and power of the Great Organ. Schulze achieved this cohesion through his genius as a voicer and finisher, giving his pipes as Dr. Pearson said "a clear, pleasant, open, forward tone on the pure ah vowel model."25 To this must be added first the favourable position of the organ on its noble gallery in the shallow but lofty north transept, where every pipe has adequate speaking room, with the exception of the Choir Organ, placed in front of the Echo Organ and at a lower level than that of Great or Swell Organs, from which position its tones are rather subdued. Secondly, the magnificent acoustics of the crossing and lofty nave, with a reverberation period of 3¼ seconds in the empty church, greatly enhance the effect of the instrument. As a whole, the organ is best heard from the nave rather than from the console, since there the tones of individual stops are more readily distinguished.

The Great Organ, with supporting Pedal, was truly described by that authority on English organs the late Gilbert Benham, as "a thrilling sound of indescribable grandeur and majesty." The Major Principal 8ft. with the bass octave of wooden pipes always preferred for their tone by J. F. Schulze & Sons, was described by Sir John Stainer as "a whole organ in itself" when he first heard the stop and Ralph Downes describes it as it was when he heard it in 1947 as having "a breadth and nobility combined with a warm string-like bloom." The Gemshorn 8ft. adds a little to the output of the Major Principal and the acoustics of the church amplify these two stops considerably, to take their fitting part in the rich, well-balanced chorus of 16, 8, 8, 4, 2⅔ and 2ft. The Sub Principal 16ft. has two bass octaves of wood and, although of large scale, its tone has a remarkable softness that enables it to take part in many combinations without upsetting the balance, whilst giving much richness to the full Great. With an octave of similar power, but slightly thinner in tone, and a bold Rausch Quinte, a rich, powerful chorus results.

In 1921, J. J. Binns wrote to the Rev. N. A. Bonavia-Hunt as follows:

I have just come across something in the Schulze organ at Armley that will
surprise you. We have just cleaned the job and put tuning slides on all metal pipes, and to my surprise I find all the great, that isopen 16ft, open 8ft, principal 4 ft, twelfth, fifteenth, and mixture five ranks, are all the same scale as the open 8ft . . . And all are voiced so as to get every bit of tone possible out of each pipe”.

Left: The C side of the Great Organ soundboard, showing from right to left the pipes of the Sub-Principal, Major Principal, Bordun, Gemshorn, Hohl Flõte 8ft, Gedact, Hohl Flõte 4ft, and Octave.

Bonavia-Hunt, writing in 1933, said:

There has existed in the past a school of tonal design that works on the principle that no portion of the spectrum should be particularly emphasized. In this case, the effectiveness of the scheme would depend on a vast dimension of tone. Perhaps the most signal instance of the working out of this principle in England is that which occurs in the organ at St. Bartholomew’s, Armley. Here, every rank of pipes comprising the diapason chorus is scaled on the basis of 21/8 in. Diameter for the 2 ft. pipe, the mouth areas are constant throughout the series, and the bores of the pipe feet are also maximum size. The voicing of the various ranks, however, varies in t hose finer details which the expert can detect”.

The measurement of 21/8 in. diameter for the 2ft. pipes is, however, misleading.
The scale of a pipe should strictly refer to the internal diameter, and this is 115/16 in. (49 mm.) for middle C (2ft.) pipe of the Great Organ Major Principal shown here, which, as observed by Boseley, is “of great thickness and weight.” The external circumference of this pipe and of the corresponding pipes of the Sub Principal, Octave and the twelfth rank of the Rausch Quinte are all 6.5 in. (165 mm.), equivalent to an external diameter of 2.07 in. (52.5 mm.) or approximately 21/16 in, which is probably the explanation of Bonavia-Hunt’s statement. Since Binns had just fitted tuning slides to the pipes in question, he probably supplied the external diameters (with which he would be concerned at the time) to Bonavia-Hunt. The scale of the 2ft. pipe of the mixture is slightly less, the external circumference being 6.0 in. (152 mm.), the external diameter 1.91 in. (48.5 mm.) and the internal diameter 113/16 in. (46 mm.)
In this Principal chorus, the pipes reach half measure at the sixteenth pipe above that selected for measurement, as recommended by Töpfer, and as generally used by Schulze.

Left: Mouth of Middle C pipe, showing nicking of the languid, and great width of mouth

External circumference: 165 mm
Internal diameter: 49 mm
Width of mouth: 43 mm
Height of mouth: 11 mm
Diameter of foot hole: 9. 5 mm

The twelfth and fifteenth ranks are drawn as a single stop "Rausch Quinte II fach" as shown on the original stop knob and as appeared in both the early specifications by Schulze for Meanwood. As explained in chapter III, (page 4), there is no reason to doubt that the ranks were always drawn together. This curious feature, which also occurs in the larger Schulze organ at Doncaster Parish Church and in the smaller Schulze organ at St. Mary's Church, Tyne Dock, South Shields,* means that there is no separate 2ft. diapason rank throughout the organ, and indeed the only separate 2ft. rank in the instrument is the Flautino of the Echo Organ.

The two reed stops are both on the same wind pressure of 3¼ in. as the flue stops and not on 4 in. wind as has been stated elsewhere. They are free-toned stops which to some ears suggest roughness when heard at the console, but heard from the nave, they blend admirably with the Principal chorus, adding power and colour, but without in any way dominating the chorus. The 16ft. reed, in spite of its name, is not of Tuba tone!

* [Pending the closure of St. Mary’s Church in 1980 the church authorities, mindful of the importance of the organ, generously donated it to Ellesmere College, Shropshire, where it was installed in 1981.]

The Five-rank Mixtur

This stop has caused much controversy and even adverse criticism because of the great increase in power which results when it is added to Great to Fifteenth. It should be emphasized, however, that this is more evident at the console than when heard from the nave, partly because the Mixtur is at the front of the soundboard.

The 5-rank Mixtur of the Great Organ (C sharp side) with the Tuba and Trompete in the background. The top six notes of the muxtur have 4 ranks only.

In the first specification from Schulze (13th September, 1866) the Great Organ diapason chorus extends only to the Twelfth and Fifteenth, drawn together, with a Bourdon 16ft. as manual double. In the second specification (6th October, 1866) the Great Organ is enlarged by the addition of a Mixtur 3 fach (i.e. 3 ranks) of 183 pipes. Significantly however, in another hand as already described "4 ranks" is written above the Mixtur entry, and this together with the letter of the 23rd November, 1866, from Paulinzelle:

We are likewise in agreement with you with regard to the Mixtur.
The tone becomes fresher, especially with the low notes.”

strongly suggests that the insertion "4 ranks" was by Kennedy, who probably suggested a fourth rank for the mixture at this stage.

It is unfortunate that the final specification, as agreed between Kennedy and Edmund Schulze, has not been preserved, but since the organ was to grow from a two-manual and pedal instrument to one of four manuals and pedal, it is very probable that the Great Mixtur was increased to five ranks at that time, possibly during one of Kennedy's visit to Paulinzelle. Edmund Schulze's father had been familiar with five and six rank mixtures at Bremen and Lübeck, whilst the organ of Halberstadt Cathedral, rebuilt by the firm in 1837-8 had, as new stops, a Mixtur 6 ranks, Scharf 4 ranks and a Cornet 4 ranks in the Hauptwerk. The organ built by Edmund Schulze in 1866 for the Tonhalle at Düsseldorf, which was much admired by Kennedy and Broughton, had a Rausch Quint 2 ranks, a Mixtur 5 ranks and a Cymbel 3 ranks on the Great soundboard. Finally, the original stop knob, which has been preserved, reads "Mixtur V fach", i.e. five-fold mixture - not "Mixtur 5 fachs" as engraved on the Binns ivory stop knob.

There is no reason to suppose that there was any change in the specification of the organ on its removal to Harrogate, where the Press Reports clearly defined the Mixtur as having five ranks, and it must therefore be assumed that the stop was so constituted when at Meanwood. There is no evidence that it was modified later, as has been suggested. Since the organ-chamber of the Meanwood "chalet" was evidently rather cramped for the large four-manual instrument, causing Edmund Schulze considerable trouble to re-arrange the soundboards owing to the misunderstanding about the width of space available, it is reasonable to suppose that the Great Mixtur was given five ranks to provide added power and brilliance for special effects. The Rev. J. H. Burn suggested that there were in fact three "Full Greats" (1) fluework and reeds without mixture; (2) flue-work, including mixture, without mixture; (2) flue-work, including mixture, without reeds; (3) flue-work with mixture and reeds.

Dr. T. E. Pearson, when organist of the church, confirmed J.J. Binns' observations by his discovery that treble G, or any higher note, played on the Mixtur with the quint rank silenced, is identical with the same note played on the parent chorus of 8ft., 4ft., 2⅔ft. and 2ft. stops. He considered that there is too great an hiatus between Full Great and Full Great without the mixture, and suggested that the latter should be reduced to 3 ranks from CC to tenor G, 4 ranks from tenor G to treble G, remaining as 5 ranks from treble G upwards, thus removing the higher harmonics over the range of the pedal-board where he found them too prominent, but leaving the full five ranks in the treble where "The effect is magnificent in its gorgeous brilliance."

Fortunately this and other changes suggested, such as the addition of a second Principal chorus to build up to the Mixtur on the lines of Binns' experiment with the added 8ft. rank, were never carried out and the chorus remains as Schulze left it. As at Soest, where the organ was so much admired by Allbutt and Kennedy, Schulze provided a thrilling and powerful Great and Pedal at Meanwood, the other departments of the organ being subsidiary in tonal output. Mr. Arnold Mahon, the present organist, considers that there is too great a difference in power between the major chorus of the Great Organ and the softer ranks of that division.

The Swell Organ is the only "enclosed" division of the instrument and has an effective swell box, giving a good crescendo. The Geigen Principal 8ft. and Octave 4ft. are beautiful stops of cantabile tone, but the jump to the silvery Cymbel is too great, again due to the absence of a separate 2ft. rank. The delicate stops are of excellent quality, including two gentle string-toned ranks and two flutes, together with the substituted Celeste. The reeds lack the all-important 16ft. member, the absence of which probably accounts both for the lack of "body" in the Full Swell to English ears and for the lack of blend with the 4-rank Cymbel noted by Pearson.

The Choir Organ is a beautiful miniature of the Great, with a Minor Principal 8 ft. as a softer version of the Great Gemshorn and an Octave 4ft., but again no separate 2ft. rank. During the 1956 renovation, the pipes of the Piccolo 4ft. were transposed down an octave to form a 2ft. stop, a new top octave being provided and the bottom octave stored within the organ. This experiment was not as successful as expected and was carried out without due regard to the function of the Cornett 2-5 ranks. This contains a tierce rank from tenor C upwards based on the 16ft. pitch and it is now thought that it was intended to serve not as a chorus mixture, but for solo use with the Lieblich Bordun 16ft. and Piccolo 4ft., played an octave higher. Hence the Piccolo has been reinstated at 4ft. pitch and it is probable that Schulze intended that this stop should be played an octave higher when a 2ft. rank was required, as he suggested when Kennedy requested the insertion of a Flageolet 2ft. in the Oberwerk of the second specification of October, 1866.


General view of the Choir Organ, with the Clarinette in the foreground. Pipes are planted semitonally.

Mouth of middle C pipe of Choir Organ, Cello und Violine

External circumference 22 mm
Internal diameter 31 mm
Width of mouth 22
Height of mouth (max) 6.4

The Cello und Violine 8ft. (left) is an especially beautiful stop, although rather slow in speech, showing Schulze's genius in voicing wooden pipes to give string tone. It is matched in quality by the Gedact 8ft., the Lieblich Flöte 4ft. and the lovely Orchester Flöte 8ft. (right).
Like the Echo Organ, the pipes of the Choir division are arranged semitonally on the soundboard and the action was originally mechanical (or tracker) to both Echo and Choir.
This semitonal arrangement also existed in the Schulze Echo Organ at Leeds Parish Church which was inserted in 1859 as the solo Organ. As already explained, the Choir Organ appears rather subdued owing to its position.

Mouth of A sharp of
Choir Organ,

Internal width of pipe 140 mm
Internal depth of pipe 41
Width of mouth 25
Height of mouth 14

The Echo Organ on only 1⅞ in. wind pressure, remains unenclosed as Schulze left it and contains a wealth of delicate and beautiful tones, some of which are barely audible in the nave and make it possible to fade out almost to silence. The Tibia Major 16ft., in spite of its curious name, is the softest bourdon in the organ - "a mere breath of sound" as described by Gilbert Benham, and very useful as a pedal bass through the Echo to Pedal coupler added by Binns.

Left: General view of the Echo Organ, placed against the north wall of the transept. Pipes planted semitonally.

Left - mouth of middle C pipe of
Echo Oboe, from Echo Organ.

Note the very narrow flue. The pipe foot is tipped with brass to facilitate exact regulation of the flow of wind.
Foot hole diameter 3.2 mm.

Internal width of pipe 19 mm Internal depth of pipe 39 mm
Width of mouth 19 mm
Height of mouth 5.6 mm

The Echo Oboe 8ft. was invented by Edmund Schulze when the Meanwood organ was under discussion, and is a flue stop of wood which Henry Willis I would not believe to be other than a reed stop until he was shown the pipes!

Its construction is fully illustrated by G. A. Audsley in "The Art of Organ-building" and the tone is described as "somewhat plaintive in character and exquisitely sweet." The Nasard 2⅔ft. and Flautino 2ft. are fortunately independent stops, both of tapered open metal pipes.

The early specifications and Binns' record for the rebuild of 1905 all state that the Echo Organ was on only 1½ in. wind. This pressure corresponds with those of the Echo divisions at Doncaster Parish Church (1⅝ in.) and Leeds Parish Church in 1899 (1½ in.), both by Schulze. Mr. J. T. Jackson found the present value of 1⅞ in. inscribed behind the music desk of the present console at Armley and considers that this pressure has existed for at least 25 years. He suggests that the Echo Organ pressure was raised by Binns during the 1905 rebuild because the power motors of his tubular-pneumatic action would not function adequately on 1½ in. wind. Similarly, at Leeds Parish Church, when the Echo Organ was removed to the north-east corner of the chancel during the 1913 rebuild by Harrison & Harrison (to become the Altar Organ), the pressure had reached 3 in., the action then necessarily being electro-pneumatic. If the action of the Armley Echo Organ is restored to tracker operation, an opportunity will arise to restore the original wind pressure.

Tremulants were added to the Choir, Swell and Echo Organs by Binns in 1905, and these three divisions (as also the Great Organ for one stop only) have "grooving" on the soundboards, by which a rather doubtful economy in pipes was effected, the stops in question sharing a common bass octave. In the large Schulze Pedal Organ at Doncaster Parish Church, many of the higher-pitched stops are derived in part from parent stops by the use of this method.

Mouth of middle C pipe of Pedal Organ, Violincello.

Internal width of pipe 30 mm
Internal depth of pipe 30 mm
Width of mouth 30 mm
Height of mouth 6.4 mm

The Pedal Organ of twelve stops contains no instance of borrowing or extension and is complete, except for the lack of a mixture, from the 32ft. open Sub Bass to the Octave 4ft., with reed stops of 16ft. and 8ft. pitch, the whole being greatly independent of the manual-to-pedal couplers and showing the same clarity of tone and capability of blend so noteworthy in the manual departments. The very effective Sub Bass 32ft. and Metal Principal 1 Bass (now named "Open Metal") of 16ft. pitch were added by Schulze & Sons, as already described, when the organ was presented to the church. The former stop, owing to the mistake on its insertion, is now one pipe too large in scale and the latter stop, being of large scale, of great richness and "in prospect", adds much to the majesty of the Pedal section. The Principal Bass 16ft. was the original major pedal stop at Meanwood and at Harrogate. It is of wood, definite in tone, but only of moderate power, which is increased when the Quinte 10⅔ ft. is added, rather than creating a marked 32ft. resultant pitch. The Octaves 8ft. and 4ft., the latter only of metal, are bold stops defining the pedal line in forte passages.

The Violon 16ft. and Violoncello 8ft. are fine examples of Schulze's genius in voicing string-toned pipes. Both are of wood, the former giving fine pizzicato effects, the latter being of exquisite quality and considerable power (Left). The two reed stops are free in tone, being similar to those of the Great Organ, but of greater power and add much to the effect of Full Pedal Organ.

The question may be asked "Why is the Armley Schulze organ unique in England, since Edmund Schulze built several complete organs for churches in this country and inserted stops in organs by other builders, in addition to smaller instruments for private owners and the large Meanwood organ?

A reply to this question, which is fundamental to the perceived importance of the St. Bartholomew’s organ, must first recall the history of the other surviving Schulze organs in the U.K. In two of these instruments, at St. Peter's Church, Hindley, Lancashire, and at Leeds Parish Church, (now Leeds Minster), the Schulze pipes were revoiced by subsequent organ-builders, who were themselves artists, in order to adjust for increased wind pressure required by added pneumatic actions, or to accommodate the stops in an entirely different tonal scheme. Thus the original Schulze tone was lost forever in the case of the fine Open Diapason at Leeds and in the metal pipes of the Diapasons at Hindley.

In the largest Schulze organ in England, at Doncaster Parish Church, the diapasons are of an earlier type, additional stops have been added, the Echo Organ has been enclosed in a swell box and the instrument is in an unfavourable position behind an indifferent "case." The acoustics of the church being unsympathetic to organ tone.

That life-long student and admirer of Schulze's work, the Rev. Noel A. Bonavia-Hunt, considered that at Meanwood (now transferred to Armley) and at St. Mary's Church, Tyne Dock, South Shields, Schulze brought to fruition his ideal of diapason tone, as suited to a building of cathedral proportions, and that at St. Bartholomew's Church, Armley, the most perfect combination of ideal acoustics and beauty of voicing has been realised in an instrument almost untouched by the hands of later voicers - a unique situation which has arisen by a strange series of events.

Thus the St. Bartholomew’s Schulze Organ tone has, uniquely, survived and must be preserved for future generations to hear and enjoy.

This is the end of Kenneth Johnstone’s book -
first published in 1978 and revised by Kenneth for a second edition in 1985.


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