Saturday, October 13, 2012

hurdy gurdy postcard from Germany • Lira Organizzata

a friend who was traveling sent this from Germany awhile back

2609. Orgelleier von César Pons
Grenoble, Ende 18. Jh.

"Gurdy organ" by César Pons
Grenoble, late 18th Century

i am still trying to figure out what the layers under the keys are all about. - looks like maybe sound resonators (?)

Neil Brook: "The instrument in your link is a " Vielle Organisée " which has an air pump operated by the crank to power a pipe organ linked to the keys. They never caught on !!"
^ Neil: thanks! - i wondered why it is so deep!
Neil Brook: "There is a lot going on inside. The bellows are a clever three chamber design to give a constant airflow when the crank turns. It's the same principle as cuckoo clocks use only more powerful."
thanks Neil! sounds like quite a contraption!

Staatliches Institut für Musikforshung, Berlin
thanks Dean!

update -
more info received from Robert Mandel - a whole article on this instrument!

The Lira Organizzata, by Robert Mandel
(From the Book by Robert Mandel: Classical and Romantic Instrument Marvels, Kossuth Publishing, 2008

Known in the French-speaking world as the vielle à roue, the hurdy-gurdy found itself once again in vogue in the eighteenth century. The viellistes of the Parisian streets and the vaudeville theaters were so popular that even wealthy aristocrats were known to take hurdy-gurdy lessons from some of the more capable musicians. During the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV, two hurdy-gurdy virtuosi, Janot and La Roze, even held positions in the orchestra of the popular composer Jean-Baptiste Lully.

The most famous of the aristocratic viellists were Marie Leszczynska, who only played for the enjoyment of it, and Madame Adelaïde, the third daughter of Louis XV, who played the vielle à roue masterfully.

The most renowned maker was Pierre Louvet, but Charles Baton was also of note. In 1757 Baton published “Mémoires sur la vielle” in the newspaper Mercure de France. In it he provided not only the secrets of making the instruments but also introduced his readers to some of the arcana of playing it. The unexpected popularity of the vielle elevated it to the level of a true status symbol to the extent that makers could scarcely keep up with the orders.

During the golden age of the hurdy-gurdy, Esprit Philippe Chedeville, Michel Corrette, Philibert Delavigne, Joseph Bodin de Boismormortier, Jacques-Christophe Naudot,  Jean and Jacques-Martin Hotteterre, and both Leopold and later Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed pieces for it. This golden age ended in 1789 with the French Revolution and the instrument, most beloved in the courts of Versailles, was even banished from Paris for a time. Beyond the borders of France in Naples, the lira organizzata, a version of the hurdy-gurdyfitted with organ pipes, survived the revolution that had devastated the instrument’s homeland.

Ferdinand IV (who later ruled over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies that unified Sicily and Naples as Ferdinand I) was a compulsive collector of musical oddities. At the recommendation of the Viennese Norbert Hadrava, the Austrian ambassador to his court who also served as his private secretary, he ordered two of these organ-vielle combinations. Again following the ambassador’s advice, he commissioned Joseph Haydn to compose simple yet moving duet performance pieces for them.

In 1786, Joseph Haydn wrote five concertos (Lirenkonzerte), and in 1790, eight nocturnes for the instrument, with which he was probably scarcely familiar. In these works the two lire organizzate were played along with two horns, two violins, two violas, a cello, and occasionally a string bass. It is likely that the king played one of the two liras while Hadrava played the second. They commissioned similar works from other well-known composers, and as a result Adalbert Gyrowetz, Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, and Johann Franz Xaver Sterkel all wrote works to be played on King Ferdinand’s vielles.

Robert Mandel
The lira organizzata was used for probably the last time 1810 in La famille savoyarde, a pastoral musical play by Henry Darondeau. Generally known to the French as the vielle organisée, the instrument adds a built-in row of organ pipes to a Baroque guitar-bodied vielle. The characteristic S-curved crank turned not only the rosined wheel that rubbed the instrument’s six strings, but also a hinged transmission that drove a bellows apparatus built into its interior. In order to keep the air pressure and quantity even, the assemble used a multi-chambered bellows that pumped the air to the row of pipes via a vertical airway carved into the instrument’s back, while a check valve kept the air from flowing backwards. This incredibly complex instrument had a very beautiful sound, as modern examples made based on currently non-functional examples preserved in museums bear witness. The most demanding task in playing it would have been getting the two melody strings into tune with each other and precisely adjusting the tangents. These flag-shaped pieces of wood could be turned in holes drilled into the stems of the keys so that they touched the strings in precisely the right place. When a key was pressed in, its end simultaneously opened a valve so that when the tangents reached the strings the organ pipes would sound in unison with them. In order to keep the sound even, the vielle was cranked evenly instead of in the rhythmic manner characteristic of the hurdy-gurdy. This complex instrument never did achieve great success. Instrument collections in Berlin, London, Paris, and Brussels have preserved original examples.

Kossuth Publishers Inc.
- special thanks to Robert Mandel for providing this!

see also
whats more: Hurdy Gurdy - what next blog | video playlist | newspaper
whats more: tag: hurdy gurdy

No comments:

Post a Comment