The Pipe Organ in China Project Website: Updates for June 2022.

30 June 2022

June 2022 marks the fourth anniversary of the opening of The Pipe Organ in China Project Website, and for once it has been a busy month at The Project.

The page for HKG1860 has been updated, with new information and an interesting news clipping from 1867.

A major discovery this month involves the installation previously numbered as SHA1883b. It turns out that this organ was installed much earlier than 1883, and we have located a report of the instrument dated 1865, which means that it was probably built by Henry W. Knauff, Sr. (and not by his son, Henry Jr.). Even this date is really too late: we know from the same report that it was installed somewhat earlier than this, and was only moved in 1865 from the organ gallery of the Church of Our Savior, Hongkou, Shanghai, to a place on the left side of the chancel during a renovation of the building after the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64). A much-later photo of the organ in this location has also surfaced, one that shows that it was a two-manual instrument with about 12 stops. In consequence, it has been renumbered SHA1865 in the Census (date of first report).

The Project is also working on confirming the installation of two hitherto unknown pipe organs in Hong Kong, one by William Hill & Son, of London, apparently ordered and sent to Hong Kong in 1872, and the other by the Italian firm of Bianchetti & Facchetti of Brescia in 1896. Further details will be forthcoming.

The page for HKG1980 has been updated, after an inspection of the dismantled organ by Prof. Urrows earlier this month in a warehouse facility in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The specs are finally known and reported, including the fact that it is (only) a one-manual instrument.

Pages for HKG1917, as well as HKG1979 and its successor, HKG2012, have also been updated, based on new information.

A blog post by Prof. Urrows was posted on 10 June, concerning an early report in English of SHA1857, written by the American Episcopal missionary, Edward W. Syle.

JL Weiler Inc. the Chicago-based firm specializing in organ rebuilding and restoration, has reported that their work on the rehab of PEK1920 has been completed, and now everything is being sent to Casavant for further work and re-erection. Visitors to this website may recall the announcement of the rebuilding of the 1920 Kimball organ at PUMC from the December 2021 Updates. Photos of the newly-provided console (the original one was destroyed, along with the reproducer, by 1966 at the latest) can be seen on Weiler’s Facebook page:

Photo of the Month: Aristide Cavaillé-Coll writes to Msgr. Alphonse Favier CM, Grand Vicar of Beijing, in February 1889, about an orgue du chœur for the Beitang (North Church):

“Paris, 22 February 1889.

P.S. to the letter of 19th February:

I’ve taken advantage of a few days left to us before the departure of the mails, to design a small organ for which I attach here the plan along with the specifications.

On one side [of the plan] we have shown half of a swell box, while on the other side the [alternative] decoration of the façade with the pipes. One can thus make a case with pipes decorating the front, or more simply enclose it all in a swell box. [To save money, Favier may have told Cavaillé-Coll that he planned to make the case in Beijing, as had been done with PEK1888].

At all events, it would be best [for you] to wait for the arrival of the organ before building the case.

The total cost of making this organ with a case would be 5,000 francs; without a case, 4,000.

A[ristide]. Cavaillé-Coll.”

In the end, Bishop Favier argued the price of PEK1890 down to 3,000 francs, but it is not known if the case (without the expression box) was made in Paris, or in Beijing. The latter seems more likely, given the bargain price.

The original letter, along with the plan, is at the Archives Lazaristes (Archives of the Congregation of the Mission) in Paris.

Organs in the Census: 195

Because of changes with WordPress and our domain host, we cannot get statistics for hits beyond the past 30 days any more. For the record, there were 824 hits in June. However, some other interesting data seems to be available now, and we will begin to present this in July updates. Thanks to all our visitors for understanding.