Organ Building in New Zealand 1895-1930: A Documentation of Cultural Context

Contents and Introduction to Part IV; Conclusion and Acknowledgements

 

  

  

  

 New Zealand Organ Manufactory

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Press Excerpts

List of Tunings

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Dr Ron Newton

Recitals

Organa Cantuariensia

Thesis

 

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ORGAN BUILDING IN NEW ZEALAND

1895 - 1930:

A DOCUMENTATION OF CULTURAL CONTEXT


PART IV


ORGAN BUILDERS IN NEW ZEALAND

1895 - 1930


 

CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER                                                                                                                             PAGE

PART IV            ORGAN BUILDERS IN NEW ZEALAND 1895-1930

                  INTRODUCTION                                                                                                   455

        1.       Life and Work of Edgar H. Jenkins (1836-1924) . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        457

                            Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             457

                            Beginnings in England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          460

                            Arrival in New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          462

                            Organ Building in Kaiapoi 1872-1879 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       463

                            Organ Building in Christchurch 1880-1894 . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      465

                            Organ Building in Christchurch 1895-1907 . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      476

                            Jenkins & Brett September 1907- March 1909 . . . . . . . . . . .                      490

                            Final Years 1909-1924 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           492

        2.       Life and Work of Christopher Farrell (1838-1918) . . . . . . . . . . . .                      501

                            Jenkins & Farrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             504

        3.       Life and Work of William F. Willmette (1825-1911) . . . . . . . . . .                       509

        4.       Life and Work of Frederick W. Sandford (1852-1941) . . . . . . . . .                     517

                            Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             517

                            Early Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              518

                            Apprenticeship 1882- March 1884 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       519

                            Organ Building 1884-1888 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         520

                            Organ Building 1889-1906 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         526

                            Later Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              535

        5.       Life and Work of George M. Sandford (1861-1935) . . . . . . . . . . .                      539

                            Early Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              539

                            Work in Sydney 1886-1894 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          540

                            Work in Christchurch 1894-1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        543

                            Later Work 1909-1932 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          549

        6.       Life and Work of the Litolff Brothers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         553

        7.       Life and Work of Nicholas T. Pearce (1852-1931) . . . . . . . . . . . .                       557

                            Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             557

                            Early Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             557

                            Pearce in Invercargill 1880-1906 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         558

                            Pearce in Christchurch 1906-1928 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        567

                            Final Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             593

        8.       Life and Work of George Croft (1872-1955) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         597

                            Early Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              597

                            Organ Building in Petone 1892-1898 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       599

                            Organ Building in Mt Eden 1898-1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        603

                            Visit to England April 1900- February 1901 . . . . . . . . . . . .                       607

                            Organ Building in Wellington 1901 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       608

                            Organ Building in Auckland 1902 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         609

                            Organ Building in Eden Terrace 1902-1930 . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      610

        9.       Life and Work of Alfred Brake (1858-1945) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       655

                            Beginnings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             655

                            Brake in Taranaki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           656

                            Brake as Inventor 1896-1940 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         660

                            Organ Building 1906-1929 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         667

                            Organ Building 1930-1944 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         695

                            Later Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              698

                            Brake Papers in the Barton Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      700

      10.       Life and Work of Charles B. Johnson (1858-1940) . . . . . . . . . . . .                      705

      11.       Life and Work of Arthur Hobday (1851-1912) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        709

                            Early Life in Geelong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           710

                            Apprenticeship to George Fincham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        716

                            Partnership with Fincham in Adelaide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       721

                            Partnership with Fincham in Melbourne . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      738

                            Fincham & Hobday in New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        748

                                (1) First Trip: February - March 1894 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        748

                                (2) Second Trip: November - December 1894 . . . . . . . . .                      756

                                (3) Third Trip: February - December 1895 . . . . . . . . . . . .                     758

                                (4) Fourth Trip: January - August 1896 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       769

                            Dissolution of the Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         776

                            Arthur Hobday in New Zealand 1896-1912 . . . . . . . . . . . .                       784

      12.       Life and Work of Arthur A. Hobday (1880-1970) . . . . . . . . . . . .                       831

                            Arthur Hobday 1896-1904 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           831

                            Hobday & Son 1904-1912 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          832

                            Arthur A. Hobday 1912-1922 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          833

                            Later Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              850

                            Documents relating to the Life and Work of Arthur Adrian

                                Hobday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            853

      13.       Life and Work of Alfred H. Hathaway (1859-1942) . . . . . . . . . . .                     861

                            Piano Building . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            861

                            Organ Building 1902-1914 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         863

      14.       Life and Work of Herbert Brett (1870-1953) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        873

                            Early Life and Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           873

                            Christchurch City Organ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           876

                            Brett in New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           880

                            Jenkins & Brett September 1907- March 1909 . . . . . . . . . . .                      882

                            Organ Building 1909-1920 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         884

                            Organ Building 1921-1930 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         887

                            Organ Building 1930-1945 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         892

      15.       Work of Norman & Beard in New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        895

      16.       Life and Work of Harry A. Tustin (1881-1951) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        909

      17.       Life and Work of Donald S. Osborne (1890-1970) . . . . . . . . . . . .                      917

                            Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             917

                            Early Years in England and New Zealand 1890-1925 . . . . .                    917

                            Lawton in Scotland and New Zealand 1898-1925 . . . . . . . .                     920

                            Lawton & Osborne in New Zealand September 1925-1930 .                   922

                            Lawton & Osborne from 1931 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          928

      18.       Life and Work of Edward Alden (1885-1961) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        931

      19.       Life and Work of Hugh P. H. Herapath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         935

      20.       Miscellaneous Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             939

                            Geoffrey Blease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             939

                            John Coombes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             939

                            James Davidson (1869- ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          939

                            Josiah Eustace Dodd (1856-1952) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                         940

                            George F. Fincham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           940

                            John Hill Fray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                              941

                            Frank W. Hardingham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          942

                            Reginald Janes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             943

                            Oscar Naylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             944

                            Cyril and Ernest Oakey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           945

                            Henry Parson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            945

                            George A. Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                            945

                            Unknown Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           947

                  CONCLUSION                                                                                                       949

                  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                                                    955

                  REFERENCES                                                                                                         957

                  MAPS                                                                                                                       981

 

INTRODUCTION

 

                  Part IV of this thesis comprises biographies of organ builders known to have been active in New Zealand between 1895 and 1930. They are ordered chronologically by the commencement of each builder's work in New Zealand. Their activities after this period are summarised briefly.

                  Pipe organs built by them within these years are documented in part V, and so are not treated at any length here; other major work undertaken is surveyed in more detail. Lists of instruments built before 1930 are included as appendices to each biography. It is intended that readers consult part V as an appendix to these biographies.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentis.- Virgil

                  As philosophical enquiry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries altered its basis from objective to subjective perception, aspects of the western world-view altered dramatically, particularly under the influence of German transcendentalism. Concepts of nature altered from pastoral to cosmic, artistic visions changed from innocent to pathetic, and musical ideals shifted emphasis from form to colour. Aesthetic concepts and devices were allied to and confused with spirituality and morality, and these and other aspects of the romantic movement had a thorough outworking in the concept and practice of Gesamtkunstwerk.

                  German transcendentalism was in fact a miscellany of gnostic, hinduistic and mystic thought, propagated under the guise of a respectable and pietistic Protestantism. This may be seen clearly in the progression of the typical German transcendental concept of the power of music to elevate the soul to the self-projected infinite, to the oft-repeated Protestant aesthetic worship concept of the power of music to elevate the soul to God.

                  The continual drawing on German transcendentalism by British writers, artists and musicians throughout the nineteenth century led to the general acceptance of aesthetic concepts and practices, the widespread embracing of music (although not for its own sake), and the popular demand for aesthetic worship and pipe organs. Former classicist suspicion of the introduction of aesthetic concepts and devices into British culture and worship gave way to widespread acceptance, and for those who surrended themselves to the total aesthetic experience of a Gesamtkunstwerk (whether listening to the first strains of a Wagner Prelude or to those of an organ prelude) the warnings of Plato and other classicists of the threat of subjective aesthetics melting or dissolving the heart (that is, de-classicising) went unheeded. Propagated by novelists, critics, clergy, choirs, organists, young people's organisations, and the secular and religious press, the new philosophical content had by the end of the nineteenth century become the new cultural consensus.

                  Following in the wake of the new romantic cultural consensus, aesthetic awareness in New Zealand bourgeois society from the mid-1870s increased dramatically. Its expression in various forms of art and craft was severely stifled by the recession of the 1880s and early 1890s, but subsequently blossomed, bequeathing to this country a considerable heritage of aesthetic achievement. Further, the extensive availability of technological information and materials meant that common people could participate in that achievement, enriching it with a wide variety of skills and ideas.

                  In both these contexts (technology and spiritualised aesthetics) the concept of Progress was a major influence, and brought the century to a close on a note of high expectation. Being itself a machine which produces beautiful sounds for churches, the pipe organ became a significant objectification of both contexts, one result being that the pipe organ (previously on the periphery of classicist worship just as music had been on the periphery of classicist philosophy) was given pride of place in this aesthetic heritage and became the central unifying factor in aesthetic worship.

                  It is observable, however, that this late-century culture (at least in New Zealand) was the result of degeneration in both of the contexts from which it had originally developed. Spiritualised aesthetics, the offspring of German transcendentalism, had decayed into popular sentimentalism, the former propagating the Musikdrama, the latter aesthetic worship; the Industrial Revolution had decayed into popular mechanics, the former producing the pipe organs for the Great Exhibition and the Town Halls of industrial cities, the latter the pipe organs for aesthetic worship. Further, the cult of aesthetic worship gave a generation brought up in the earlier Puritan tradition with no previous experience of aesthetics and music in a church context the freedom and opportunity of purchasing pipe organs, and the cult of popular mechanics gave others with no previous professional experience of organ building the opportunity of building them. It is also worth noting that both historic contexts originated in Protestantism, and that both were originally shunned by the Establishment.

                  If any direct connection exists between Wagner and aesthetic worship it must surely be in the same order as the relationship of Sprechstimme with the recitation of sentimental melodramas to a sympathetic piano accompaniment, and as such it may perhaps be thought of as the bowdlerisation of Bayreuth. Indeed, if a church could perceive that their little two-manual pipe organ with eleven stops placed behind a faux-Gothic reredos "reminds one of the magnificent organs in the cathedrals of Continental Europe," then their perception of aesthetic worship as a whole cannot have been much different; at the very least it invites the historian not to dig too deeply in this area.

                  Churches were not looking for artistic forms to bring about life-changing catharsis, but for aesthetic devices to induce a sense of well-being and devotion Sunday by Sunday, were cheap but effective, and made implicit rather than specific allusion: architecture which appeared Gothic; coloured windows which gave the effect of stained glass; recesses which gave the impression of chancels; and accumulations of technological and aesthetic references which looked and sounded like pipe organs.

                  The classical pipe organ had stood alone and detached in a rear gallery, its case separated from its physical surroundings, just as its pure musical sound remained independent from the classicist worship which it accompanied. As a dominant factor in the new cultural consensus the organ, far from remaining aloof, developed into an aesthetic device, whose sound, appearance, position and purpose were individually and separately integrated into various elements of aesthetic worship and culture: its tone colours became more varied and complex in sympathy with the choir and its music; its appearance became subject to the designs and colours of its surroundings; its technical features became related to the expressive facility of the piano; and, as a result of the confusion of aesthetics with spirituality, its position and purpose (along with that of the choir) was allied with that of the pulpit.

                  And yet aesthetic worship was not perceived to be the degeneration of classicist worship, but a higher, more progressive form. Similarly, the introduction of instrumental music into nonconformist churches was not seen as an attempt to reject the regulative principle, but to supercede it, and those who reacted against this and other innovations on classicist grounds were viewed as unsophisticated hindrances.

                  This move toward higher and more progressive forms in the contexts of the organ is also discernible in the instrument itself: in the trend toward a flat of shining pipes rising apparently unsupported above dull casework, and the increasing variety of aesthetic or "sweet" ranks of pipes independent of an emaciated classicist chorus of a couple of "powerful" ones. Further, the pipe organ transcended the other elements of aesthetic worship simply by being positioned "above and beyond" everything else, including the organist, and by being itself spiritualised, and by drawing together and linking all perplexed aesthetic and technological meanings, the pipe organ came to fill the same role Schopenhauer and Wagner had given to music in their systems.

                  It is therefore crucial to understand that the organ of this period was perceived to be not the classical organ debased, but transcended. It came not from a falling away from classicist principles in philosophy and culture, but from a conscious and sustained shift toward transcendentalist ideals. The classical organ may only be understood at one level, in terms of classicism, but the pipe organ of the late nineteenth century, being itself a transcendent Gesamtkunstwerk, contains a hierachy of meaning and significance.

                  These observations must not, however, distract us from acknowledging the differences between Anglican and nonconformist worship. While it is certainly apparent that both adopted elements of Catholic worship, critical examination reveals that their perception and use of these were fundamentally different. Further, the trend toward Catholicism in the Established religion corresponded to a move toward transcendentalism in nonconformity, and the steady stream of those "going over to Rome" from Anglicanism was paralleled by Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other nonconformists turning to Unitarianism and other transcendentalist systems.

                  Catholicism, while containing elements of mysticism, is primarily a classicist system, and has historically been opposed to transcendental systems such as Free Masonry. While Catholicism perceived the Gothic arch to be directing the soul toward God, and music directing the soul toward devotion, transcendentalism perceived them to be elevating the spirit to the infinite and its complementary concept of immanence (although scarcely referred to in the documentations) could suggest that Gothic arches, music and other aesthetic devices were perceived to draw down that infinite into a human context.

                  Thus nonconformist aesthetic worship, although containing elements of Catholic worship, is primarily of transcendental derivation, and while nonconformity moved toward more than one expression of transcendentalism (its use of Gothic architecture and other Catholic elements in aesthetic worship was, like its reception of sources, unsystematic and diverse), the adoption of aesthetic worship by nonconformists and transcendentalists alike was both unified and universal. The demand for pipe organs thus created within nonconformity, although only one of a raft of apparently Catholic worship elements, has little to do with Catholicism or the Anglican move toward it. Indeed, it should not surprise us that the nonconformists turned to Germany for their cultural values so much as that the Establishment did not, for transcendentalism was the philosophical norm in western Europe last century. This is further illustrated by the prevalence of aesthetic worship in the United States, where Anglicanist and Episcopalian influences were not general, but where transcendentalist influence was. Finally, although the possibility of Anglican influence on nonconformist worship cannot be discounted (in spite of the total lack of documentary evidence), it is more plausible that, just as the Establishment reaction against the influx of German transcendental theology into Protestantism initiated the Oxford Movement, so their reaction against the influx of German transcendental culture initiated the very form of ecclesiological culture which the nonconformists are falsely accused of plagiarising.

                  Since the pipe organs built in New Zealand during the period in question were constructed, both in appearance and sound, as aesthetic devices serving extra-musical purposes, rather than musical instruments of independent artistic integrity, it is futile to discuss details of tone, mechanics and structure, or the integration of instrument, appearance and sound, as if they were. They are compilations as much of imported aesthetic references as of imported technological parts, and until their features are perceived as being related not to themselves, but to a culture which is today largely forgotten and unappreciated, these instruments will continue to be treated with disdain and amusement by serious musicians. Their significance lies in the fact that they encapsulated and symbolised (within their original environment) the aspirations of a class of aesthetic-minded people. For them, Sunday by Sunday, year by year these pipe organs were constant and prominent reminders of their progress in aesthetics and technology.

                  A study of this nature requires extensive use of primary sources, and from a close reading of these sources we can come to a better understanding of the cultural significance of the pipe organs documented in this thesis. While individual examples may be considered exquisite, their significance as works of art and craft is not profound. For the cultural contexts of the organs built in New Zealand between 1895 and 1930 were concerned less with the aspirations of individuals for the highest artistic ideals, than with the elevation of congregations to a higher aesthetic awareness.

                  Due to the break-down of the clearly-defined romantic cultural consensus in the aftermath of the First World War, the relationships between the contexts of technology, aesthetics and spirituality again entered a state of flux. Further, the political and economic traumas of the 1930s to the 1950s saw a significant shift in the nature of aesthetics itself, eventually resulting in the emergence of its successor, psycho-aesthetics, a philosophy reliant not on an established system of concrete aesthetic devices but on the direct manipulation of the subconscious by the means of new media. The resulting psycho-aesthetic culture and worship were again based on a potpourri of gnostic, hinduistic and mystic thought, having music as their key factor, and with categories parallel to the aesthetic culture of the nineteenth century.

                  The last vestiges of the former aesthetic awareness are now but dim in the cultural memory: concepts such as the inherent spirituality of music and the aesthetic priesthood of the organist are almost forgotten; at least, their present forms are but shadows of their previous glories. The aesthetic tide has ebbed, leaving in its wake these pipe organs high and dry at the front of churches. For these reasons they appear to us today as curiosities. They may truly be understood only from such a study as this, for if the organs and organ builders of this period are to be fully appreciated they must be studied in the entire context within which they developed. Any future history of the organ of this period must take this approach into serious consideration.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

         The author extends grateful thanks to: Dr Brian Pritchard for guidance and assistance in the preparation of this dissertation; the University of Canterbury for granting the Post-Graduate Scholarship which enabled this project to be undertaken; the Organ Historical Trust of Australia for granting the Charles Ivor Matthews Scholarship to enable research to be carried out in Melbourne; the many archivists, librarians and church secretaries in New Zealand and Australia who have assisted in the work of documentation; the fellow academics who have shared in discussion; the families of the organ builders whose lives and works are recorded in these pages; the organists, organ builders and my own family and friends who have supported the project in every way; Graham French who proof-read much of Part V; and my dear wife Tani, without whose able assistance in every aspect this work would have been impossible.