In his letter of 29th August 1974, Prof. Dr. Uwe Pape, Berlin, suggested
making a complete list of the works of the French organ builder Aristide
Cavaillé-Coll (1811-1899), in France and elsewhere. To undertake such an
enormous task is no simple matter! Several lists of organs from the firm
of Cavaillé-Coll have already been published. Two of these deserve
consideration, and were the foundation of our work:
B G. et E. Cavaillé-Coll, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll: ses origines, sa vie, ses ceuvres, Paris 1929 (reprint Fischbacher, Paris 1982), pp. 151-161 (Bibliography);
M Ch. Mutin, Manufacture de grandes orgues pour églises, chapelles & salons. Paris s. d. (1923), pp. 17-32.
These two lists only give the country and place, type of organ and the
building which they were built for. It was our task to check these lists
and complete them, as well as to collect the contracts and estimates.
The latter point was impossible to realize. There are two reasons for this:
1) Fruitless efforts to try to get information from Cavaillé-Coll's heirs, as to whether the archives of the firm of Cavaillé-Coll still exist. Formerly, rumors were spread out (from the heirs?) that the documents were destroyed in the Second World War. This is nonsense! A search through the notes of the late Belgian organologist Dom Joseph Kreps O.S.B. showed that in 1949 material from the archives existed in Paris. Many thanks to the heirs for their cooperation ...
2) A large number of letters were sent to Church administrators, monasteries and foreign institutions. Very few were answered. Traveling to each instrument would be like trying to drink up the sea, as far as travel and other expenses are concerned.
The fact that a large number of the instruments have been destroyed, altered or removed makes the job even more difficult. It is therefore questionable, if details of all the instruments which Cavaillé-Coll built can be reconstructed. I think it would be possible, but one would need: a good team of specialists; knowledge of the archives of the firm A. Cavaillé-Coll;enthusiastic cooperation on the part of those who possess instruments or information about Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. If such an important enterprise were officially financed, success would be possible. Is this utopian?
As to the correcting and completion of the lists B and M, we discovered by chance an interesting paper. This comes from the hand of the late Dom Kreps, and is a chronological list of all the works of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. It comprises five note books containing a copy of a catalogue of 271 pages (plus index) of which 154 were completed. It had the title Grand livre noir de commandes ("Black main order book"), and was kept by the foreman of the firm A. Cavaillé-Coll, (Auguste) Neuburger. This catalogue was in possession of the firm of Pleyel in Saint-Denis when Dom Kreps copied it in 1949. For some time it has not been possible to locate it. The Kreps copy therefore has documentary value.
Of the 1382 numbers which stood in the Grand livre noir de commandes, Dom
Joseph Kreps had only copied the numbers 1-704. 699 numbers can be
attributed to Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Numbers 700 - 704 were begun by
him and completed by his successor Charles Mutin. This catalogue
contains the following information:
1) A catalogue number from Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
2) The place.
3) The building (name of the Church, monastery or institution).
4) The date of delivery.
5) The number of manuals, stops and drawknobs
6) The price.
Only the numbers 1 to 699 are covered by this paper. Regarding the
classification, I have kept to the list:
1 Paris, Roman Catholic churches and chapels.
2 Paris, other churches and synagogues.
3 Paris, societies, schools, theatres and institutions.
4 Paris, house organs.
5 Paris, trial organs.
6 Paris, other organs.
7 French provinces.
8 French colonies. Alphabetical classification according to place names.
9 Foreign countries.
G.O. main organ
O.Ch. choir organ
O.S. house organ
O.acc. organ for accompaniment
s.d. not dated
It should be noted that the first use of the abbreviation E dates from June 21-23 1864 (see alphabetical list No. G.H. 257 = C.C. 232-207).
This publication is therefore a meticulous transcription of the Kreps copy. For the reasons given above it was not possible to check the Kreps copy with the original (lost?). Nevertheless, we hope that this contribution will be the starting point for a larger and more thorough study of the romantic organ and Aristide Cavaillé-Coll as one of its creators and builders.
Thanks are due to the Emeritus Abbot Rombaut Van Doren and the Reverend Fathers from the Library and Archives of the Benedictine Abbey of Mont-Usar in Leuven, who placed the manuscripts of the late Dom Joseph Kreps at my disposal. I should also like to thank the French organologist Pierre Hardouin for his help in searching for and copying several documents in the National Library in Paris. Special thanks go to my Mother and two of my Students, Messrs. Koenraad and Lieven Marques, who took over the tedious job of sorting the index cards.
Gilbert Huybens -- Brusselse straat I; LEUVEN 3000 - Belgium
From ARISTIDE CAVAILLÉ-COLL: Liste des travaux executes, Opus List, Verzeichnis der ausgeführten Arbeiten
Edited on behalf of the International Society of Organbuilders; Author: Gilbert Huybens
Copyright 1985 Orgelbau-Fachverlag Rensch, D-7128, Lauffen Neckar; ISBN 3921 848-12-1