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The Grand Organ
situated in the Royal Albert Hall
, 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.
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... Read More