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The Rickenbach-Aubertin Organ of Thann (France)
Built in 1888 to replace an organ situated very high on one side of the nave, the great organ of the collegia! church was placed on a double tribune. It was built by Martin RINCKENBACH and reconstructed by his son, Joseph, because it had suffered serious damage during the 1st World War. The instrument had to suffer a second time during the 2nd World War. Then, Roethinger transformed it completely. Many organ builders worked on this instrument which, at the time, wasn't nothing more than a pile of hybrid pipes without either character or precise style. As I was finishing my Art diploma, it was my duty to make a masterpiece. I chose two instruments: the great organ ofForbach for the acoustic ideal and the organ ofThann for the technological innovation, the choice of a romantic musical aesthetics having been retained. Replaced in the context of the 19th century, the romantic organ was a privileged ground for technological progresses. In this frame of mind, I have imagined a transmission system which is resolutely innovating . As far as the traction of the notes is concerned, the manuals are linked to industrial standardized pneumatic material in order to replace the bellows covered with leather with miniature valves working with compressed air. This allowed me to build three mechanical aids for the first three manuals instead of only one traditional "Barker" machine. A traditional mechanism starts up the fourth manual and the pedal board . This principle enabled me to remove all the parts of the organ cove red with leather which hadn't the quality of yesteryear anymore. I have also used this new technology to create a mechanical and pneumatic system to preset the stops. Thus the organist has four programmable memories, one tutti and one general return at his disposal to help him or her preset the registrations. I would like to make it clear that I didn't resort to electronic or electric solutions. The assemblage on the spot was the most delicate part of the work. The acoustic aspect is a true exercise in style. I have reintroduced the great progressions Cavaille Coll had perfected in his famous organs. The progressions and cuttings of the pipes have been carried out according to my own criteria and to the idea I have of the romantic organ. I cannot deny the influence of Bernard Aubertin's subtle harmony, and, in this organ, I have intentionally wanted tones sprung from his own production with baroque tendencies to mix with resolutely romantic tones The organ being situated on a too high tribune itself situated in a very short edifice I had to obtain an acoustic definition and precision which would allow people to hear the details of the softest playing and those of the strongest performance of a virtuoso. I have supervised the reinforcement of the superior components of the case. A new facade whose movement of the lines of the mouths is quite marked and fits in the series of polygons, flat sides and crowns. The great organ of the collegial church of Thann is a new Aubertin organ with a romantic aesthetics. It is quite an original creation . I think this work illustrates the knowledge B. Aubertin passed on to me. (Michel Gaillard).

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