Gourmet Fair

A Daring Departure from Notre-Dame

The great organ of Notre Dame of Paris intact in front of the western rose window. Photo ©Patrick Zachmann/Magnum Photos

Paris, France — It is one of the largest instruments in France with its 8,000 pipes spread out over 115 ranks, the sets of pipes producing the same timbre for each note. The great organ of Notre-Dame of Paris has been the voice of the cathedral since 1733. And it has just left home, removed meticulously for deep cleaning and restoration. While the organ suffered little damage from the fire that extensively damaged the medieval UNESCO World Heritage site on April 15th, 2019, it was covered in lead particles.

Paris, on the 8th of September 2020. Beginning of the disassembly of the organ of Notre-Dame of Paris’ cathedral. Technicians and organ builders are removing the horizontal tubes (les chamades) and pipes. The organ is composed of 8000 pipes.The first of the five manual keyboards was undamaged but covered in lead particles. Photo ©Patrick Zachmann/Magnum Photos

The huge and complex operation to take apart and lift the instrument, in stages, out of the fire-damaged building took four months. A scaffold nearly 100 feet (30 meters) high was erected in front of the organ to safely descend the elements. The removal began last August with the keyboards leaving first and wound up on December 9th when the 19 wind chests – the pieces upon which the pipes are positioned which enable the wind to feed them — were removed. The organ was taken to a Parisian warehouse in four refrigerated trucks.

Army General Jean-Louis Georgelin who is heading up the conservation and restoration of the cathedral, surrounded by organ expert Christian Lutz who is overseeing the operations, Mario d’Amico, the site foreman and the organ makers during the removal of the great organ. Photo ©David Bordes / Etablissement public chargé de la conservation et de la restauration de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

The operation under the direction of the expert in musical instruments and organs Christian Lutz involved the participation of 11 organ makers. Once the restoration work has been finished, six months will be required to tune and harmonize the instrument. The organ is slated to return to the cathedral and gradually be reassembled in time for the re-opening of the cathedral, scheduled for 2024.
©The Gourmet Gazette

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