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The Instrument

The parish could have turned to Jean Blési, a Swiss organ-builder who had just settled in Nancy, but had not yet undertaken any significant work in the region, or possibly remained loyal to Jospeh Merklin who in 1864 had provided a six-stop chancel organ for Saint-Sébastien and submitted a project for a west organ with thirty stops, three manuals and pedals.  However, the parish council preferred Cavaillé-Coll, whose rebuilding of the organ of Nancy Cathedral (1857-1861), just five hundred metres from St Sébastien, was an acknowledged masterpiece.  The details of Cavaillé’s estimate have not come to light, but it is known that he expected 60,000 francs for an instrument of forty-four stops.

The organist M Rigaut appears to have preferred a larger instrument made locally rather than a more modest organ from Paris, and Dalstein-Haerpfer had already worked in Nancy before the 1870 war.

The matter did not take very long.  Three church representatives met the builder who immediately submitted plans for a forty-stop instrument, the draft copy of which is preserved in the Haerpfer archives.

I Grand-orgue (56 notes, C-g’’’)
Montre          16     C-E en bois, à partir de F en étain anglais en façade.
Bourdon        16     C-h en bois, c’-f’’’ en étain.     
Montre            8     En étain anglais, en façade.
Bourdon          8     C-H en bois, c-f’’’ en étain.
Flûte forte       8     C-h en bois, c’-f’’’ en étain.
Gambe            8     Etain anglais fin.
Prestant          4     Etain.
Flûte douce     4     Etain.
Doublette        2     Etain.
Grand Cornet         Progressif et complet, en étain sauf C-H du Bourdon 8 en bois.
Plein-Jeu   5 rgs     Etain.
Trompette       8     Etain, de grosse taille.
Clairon            4     Etain.


II Positiv expressif (56 notes, C-g’’’)
Salicional      16     C-H en bois, puis étain..
Montre            8     Etain.
Bourdon          8     C-f’’ en bois, puis étain.
Flûte de Vienne 8   Bois.
Salicional        8     C-H en bois, puis étain.
Flûte traversière     4       Etain.
Chor de chamois   4       Sic, en étain.
Viola                4     C-h en bois, puis étain.
Doublett          2     Sic, en étain.
Fourniture progressif              Sic, en étain, 3-4 rgs.
Basson          16     C-H en bois, puis étain.
Clarinett          8     Sic, en étain.

III Récit expressif (56 notes, C-g’’’)
Principal-Violon 8    Etain, jeu finalement barré.
Bourdon          8     C-f’’ en bois, à doubles-bouches, puis étain.
Viola                8     C-h en bois, c’-g’’’ en étain.
Eolienne          8     Etain anglais.
Rohrflute       [4]     Etain, marquée par erreur en 2’.
Picolo              1     Sic, en étain.
Trompette harmonique   8      Etain.
Basson-Hautbois   8       Etain.
Voix humaine  8     Etain.

Pédale (27 notes, C-d’) 
Flûte              16     Ou Principal 16, en bois.
Sous-basse   16     Bois.
Contre-basse 16     Bois.
Quint       10 2/3     Bois, bouchée.
Octavbaß        8     Bois.
Violoncello      8     Etain.
Bombard       16     Bois.
Trompett         8     Etain, de grosse taille.

Accouplements II/I, III/I, accouplement général
Tirasses I/P et II/P
Grand Crescendo pour tout l’orgue avec des accouplements
Pedales pour obtenir tout lorgues 40 jeux
Appel des jeux d’anches
Trémolo III
Donner” (= Tonnerre)


Cone chest
Mechanical action with Barker lever for the Grand orgue
Winding with two reservoirs, measuring 3.50m by 2m.  Judging by the decreasing number of stops from one keyboard to the next, the modest Récit division, the German style of the flues, the absence of harmonic flutes and a Voix Céleste, this stop-list (probably the work of Charles Haerpfer in view of the German-sounding expressions used in the estimate) has more in common with the aesthetic approach of Walcker (where Haerpfer learned his craft) than with Cavaillé-Coll.  However, this did not appear to have discouraged M Rigaut.

The Contract

This was signed with the builders on 30 Sept 1879.  It cited the following stop-list which is different from that of the initial project, no doubt having been modified by M Rigaut.

I Grand-orgue (56 notes, C-g’’’)
Montre               16
Bourdon             16
Montre                 8
Bourdon               8
Flûte                    8
Viole de Gambe   8
Prestant               4
Flûte octaviante   4
Quinte            2 2/3
Doublette             2
Grand Cornet 5 rgs
Plein jeu        5 rgs
Basson              16
Trompette            8
Clairon                 4

II Positif expressif (56 notes, C-g’’’)      
Principal              8
Flûte amabile       8
Cor des Alpes      8
Salicional             8
Eolienne              8  
Flûte douce         4
Dulciana              4
Doublette             2
Trompette            8
Clarinette             8

III Récit expressif (56 notes, C-g’’’)
Quintaton           16
Diapason             8
Bourdon               8
Flûte harmonique 8
Voix céleste         8
Flûte octaviante   4
Octavin                2
Basson           8-16
Trompette harmonique   8
Basson-Hautbois 8
Voix humaine       8
Clairon                 4

Pédale (30 notes, C-f’)
Contrebasse      16
Soubasse          16
Quinte          10 2/3
Flûte                    8
Violoncelle           8
Flûte douce         4
Bombarde          16
Trompette            8
Clairon                 4

Accouplements II/I et III/I
Tirasses I/P et II/P
Accouplement général
Appel machine
Appel anches
Forte général
Pédale de crescendo
Trémolo III



The first electric blower was installed in 1914 by Dalstein-Haerpfer.  Its presence is attested by a label pasted on the windtrunk connected to the main bellows.
Further restoration work was carried out in 1936 by Jacquot.  This was when the inter-manual coupler and ‘storm-effect’ pedals were replaced by a keyboard coupler (III/II) and a pedal coupler (III/P).  The Récit and Positif swell pedals, formerly separated by a crescendo pedal, were placed next to each other.
The same firm returned in 1940 to modify the pedal reed ventils at a cost of 550F and to repair the two largest façade pipes for 63,550F.
In 1970 the organ was in poor condition and the action no longer reliable.  Philippe Hartmann was asked to restore the organ to working order and did so scrupulously avoiding any temptation to make it sound like a baroque instrument.  His suggestion that the organ should be listed as an historic monument was adopted on 12 May 1978.

Further work, carried out during the 1990s, with the Ete de l’orgue Festival concerts and recordings in mind, restored the organ to a serviceable playing condition, even if the overall state of the instrument was far from satisfactory.
In 2004, the responsibility of a full-scale restoration was entrusted to Laurent Plet (Troyes) working in collaboration with Jean-Baptiste Gaupillat (Noviant-aux-Près).


Recordings made before the restoration

Music by Liszt and Guy Ropartz / Jean Bizot, K617, K6 17055

Third and Sixth Symphonies by Vierne / Bruno Mathieu, Naxos


Christian LUTZ 2003.






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