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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Left to Freeze”

January 29, 2007

Dear Michael,

The carilloneur may have his/her heated bunker but the practicing organist in a large, unheated space is often left to freeze. . . . Are there any ingenious solutions to this problem that you are aware of???

Paul Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Paul,

My second trip to visit historic organs in Europe took place in January…and it was cold! Some of the old, unheated churches simply shut down for the winter or hold services…often with small congregations…in chapels. Other churches have installed central heating, though until they realized that the heating system needed also to include a humidification system, these caused major problems with the instruments…cracked wood in the chests, etc.

Some places provide propane heater modules (such as one might see leaning over the backs of football players at outside areans) to keep the parishoners warm, though the organist usually makes do with an electric heater. In some of the big churches in the Netherlands, little ‘houses’S…framed glass panels, like storm windows, the organist’s equivalent of a heated bunker…are built to enclose the space between the main case and the large ruckpositiv, so that the electric heater can warm a lesser volume of air. Organists also play in overcoats and with wollen gloves with the finger-tips cut off. You do what you gotta do… :-) Sorry, but I don’t have a picture to show.



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