BAROQUE ORGAN-CASES OF PORTUGAL
Author: Carlos de Azevedo
Publisher/Date: The Netherlands: Frits Knuff (1972)
Format/Condition: New old stock [NOS] hardcover in Very Good condition: slight old book odor; there is an 'indent line' which is faded across the bottom of the front cover (can not be seen in photo). 130 pages. Measures 8” X 11”. Book is in English.
Description: Presents a majority of the greater baroque organs of Portugal. The author's intention is to provide some information about organists and organ-building as well as outline the development of organ-builders. Well illustrated.
From the preface:
Although a detailed study of Portuguese organs is still to be made, I hope that the present work will appeal to organ-lovers and that it will be of some use to those who have been waiting to find out something about a much neglected subject. I am particularly honored that the Instituto de Alta Cultura, in Lisbon, should have decided to sponsor this study and I would here express my gratitude and appreciation of its support.
Undoubtedly, the past few years have witnessed an increasing interest in the study of old organs and the growing bibliography testifies to this. But it is also a fact that the Iberian peninsula has been unjustifiably neglected in this field, although one cannot ignore some important contributions by a handful of peninsular and foreign specialists. On the other hand, a new comprehension of baroque, its art and mentality, has stimulated musicologists, art-historians and other researchers into considering organs with a new interest, not only in Europe but even in the Americas. Inevitably, this study of old organs has been accompanied by a revival of organ music, much of which is being published and becoming more widely known.
In Portugal organs have been neglected for a long time and occasionally badly restored. In more recent years, however, both the Department of National Monuments and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have been doing important work in the restoration of old organs. Their efforts, perhaps, are not so widely known. Gulbenkian Foundation, in particular, has already been responsible for the restoration of a few major organs like the 1562 organ at Evora and the Oporto cathedral organs, both carried out by Flentrop under Dr. M. Vente’s expert guidance. Others will follow.
But the process goes much further as there have been many recordings of old music on such instruments and publications of works by Portuguese masters. The task of restoring and preserving, however, is much more complex than one would think and I hope that the present study will also help fill a gap in this respect, as it will reveal a good number of important Portuguese organs worth being properly restored.
Without being an exhaustive inventory, the majority of the greater baroque organs are included in this book. To some it will constitute a surprise that so many have been preserved. If we add to them the immense number of positives of all sizes still to be found, we will realize that the organ must have had an important role in church service. Many have been lost, no doubt — invariably through neglect, others as a consequence of fires, pillaging and vandalism.
This is one more reason why the survivors should be preserved and it is a good sign that several have already benefited from the campaign to save them from oblivion and decay. The problem of restoration and preservation, however, will not be carried out completely and efficiently simply by repairing chests and pipe-work, cleaning and tuning, installing electric blowers, etc. If the organs are to be saved what is equally important is to prepare organists to play on them.
In the text that follows, my intention was first to provide some information about organists and organ-builders, secondly to outline the development of organ-cases. The approach to the subject, it should be noted, was that of the art-historian, and therefore one should not expect this book to be a treatise on organology. It does, true, sum up to a good extent our present-day knowledge about Portuguese organs. But as an art-historian, I was particularly attracted by the organ-cases. Paradoxically, remember playing on old organs long before being attracted by the cases and it is perhaps this coincidence — of music and art history —which led me, a few years ago, to think about such a book. The reader will also find short descriptions of the organs (Sections I and II) and a number of important documents (Section III) concerning organ-building in Portugal, from 1532 to 1810. Most of these, although published in the last fifty years or so, are completely out of reach to foreign organ-lovers as most works from which they were taken have been out of print for a long time.