Today’s visit to the Cathedral Saint Dié was pure joy, not only for us Historic Organ Study Tour visitors, but for the town of Saint Dié-des-Vosges where they would install a new Bishop a couple hours after our visit. You see, the building was left in ruins following a devastating bomb attack on November 9, 1944. I found this photo of the ruins on the internet, and what a contrast to the building we entered this afternoon.
And look at this gorgeous organ built in 2008 by Pascal Quorin to replace the one lost in 1944! That means, though, that the building was without an organ for sixty years. Out of all the organs we have played on this trip, this was the most modern, with the most up-to-date, and in my opinion, the easiest to play pedalboard. I could have spent hours playing and exploring this organ. What was most unusual, though, were the colors used on the printing of the stop knob names: Red ink was used for the Récit; blue was used for the Great; black was used for the Positif, and green was used for the Pedal stop knobs! I’ve never ever seen this system before, and it would take some getting used to.
By the way, this is the fifth organ in this location—the first organ, 1488-1554 was lost to a fire; the second organ lasted from 1571-1686; the third from 1686-1796; and the fourth, 1803-1944 was destroyed by wartime bombs.
I played the “Christe alter Welt trost” from Bach’s Clavierübung and the touch felt really comfortable on the manuals and pedals, although I found the width of the pedalboard wider than usual. The low C was farther away than I thought!
We then walked to the city hall for a special reception with the town’s officials. It was in this town that they first discovered America in the seventeenth century and drew the first maps of what they perceived as North and South America. I can’t believe how much attention our presence is causing in this region! Everywhere we go, local news media want to take our picture, and people are generously giving us food and refreshments.
This morning we visited a classic French organ by Claude Legros (1704) in the town of Deneuvre at the Église Saint Rémy. What stood out in my mind were three large Baccarat chandeliers in the nave—after all, the town of Baccarat, home of crystal, is nearby. We were told that 500 people work for the Baccarat factory.
You will see in the slideshow below that there is a French pedalboard (pedalier à la Française) with very small pedals.
In the late afternoon we visited an 1848 Jean-Nicolas Jeanpierre organ in Tantreux and for the umpteenth time, we were asked to pose for a photograph for the local newspaper. It’s obvious that we are curiosities to the locals as they must never have out-of-town visitors! In fact, we have not yet seen another tour bus in this entire region!
Yesterday afternoon several neighborhood children watched our bus pull up and you wouldn’t believe how excited they were— It must be because they don’t often see buses in this area!