Royal Albert Hall Organ

Royal Albert Hall Organ

Royal Albert Hall Organ

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The Grand Organ situated in the Royal Albert Hall in London, is the second largest pipe organ in the United Kingdom. It was originally built by Henry "Father" Willis and most recently rebuilt by Mander Organs, having 147 stops and 9,997 speaking pipes.

The Willis organ

The original organ was built by Henry Willis & Sons in 1871. It had four manuals (keyboards) and 111 stops and was, at that time, the largest in the world.

Harrisons

The Durham firm of Harrison & Harrison rebuilt the organ in two stages in 1924 and 1933, during which it was increased to 146 stops (including three percussion stops) and converted to electro-pneumatic action. It was still the largest organ in Britain at that time.

In the 1970s, Harrisons refurbished the console and replaced the switchgear in the action, made minor changes to the voicing and added a roof to attempt to project the sound forward, which was not successful. One interesting note in this period is that composer Walter/Wendy Carlos featured the organ during the closing title sequence of the 1982 Disney science fiction production Tron.

By the end of the 20th century, the organ was again in a state of disrepair, with an ever-increasing number of stops unusable due to leaks in the wind system, cracks in the soundboards, and other problems. By 2002, it was maintained only through "heroic efforts" on the part of Harrisons and could not be used at all without their staff...
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