Since its creation in 1975, the A. Cavaillé-Coll Association has had the permanent concern for the proper conservation and restoration projects of the organs integrated by A. Cavaillé-Coll in order to prevent these instruments from undergoing transformations under the pretext “improvement” or “modernization”.
The leaders of the association have often made contact with all kinds of people involved directly or indirectly with the instrument-organ: organists, members of the clergy, organ builders, heads of associations, municipal or territorial elected officials, administrators, etc.
All these encounters led to exchanges that were often fascinating (or even sometimes disappointing) but always interesting and essential when tackling a project to restore an instrument or quite simply a conservation and protection action.
- The first concern of the association to safeguard the work of A. Cavaillé-Coll concerned his opus 1, the great organ of Notre Dame de Lorette in Paris, the restoration of which, led by the Historic Monuments service in 1976, turned out to be catastrophic and was the subject of a petition from us distributed at the very entrance of the inauguration concert.
- From its creation in 1975, the Association A. Cavaillé-Coll took a strong interest in several Parisian instruments which deserved special attention: the gallery organ of the Temple du St-Esprit, 5 rue Roquépine in the 8th arrondissement (which became the association’s head office very shortly after), the great organ of the church of St-Louis d’Antin (9th arr.) and the great organ of St Bernard de la Chapelle in the (19th arr. .) built in the same period as that of Ste-Clotilde, without of course forgetting the prestigious organ of St-Sulpice and that of the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre.
- For many years (since 1977) we have been in contact with the Tourist Office and then the Town Hall of Long (Somme) on the occasion of the recommissioning of the organ to celebrate the centenary of its construction. Several concerts have drawn attention to this magnificent instrument which over the years has led to its classification as a “Historic Monument” and then its scrupulous and exemplary restoration in 1989-90.
- The great organ of the cathedral of Lescar (64) has been at the center of our concerns since 1975. This instrument built by G. Wenner in 1869 (former employee of the Maison Cavaillé-Coll) was the subject of a new project -classicization while it was 95% intact. We collaborated in the birth of a safeguard association (ASOCL) and actively participated in making the instrument known through concerts, recordings, broadcasts on France Culture. After a first unconvincing restoration in 1978, the instrument was classified M.H. then restored in 2000 with the greatest respect. The ASOCL is still a member of the A. Cavaillé-Coll association and is one of our privileged partners.
- From the same organbuilder Georges Wenner (former employee of the Cavaillé-Coll house) we were invited in 1981-82 to follow the work of raising the great organ of Notre Dame de Lesparre-Médoc (Gironde) and the impressive instrument of St Louis des Chartrons in Bordeaux (53 stops with a 32′): this instrument was classified M.H. then restored a few years ago. That of Lesparre-Médoc has just been classified M.H.
- On November 15, 1982, we sent a letter of questioning and concern to Mr. Jack Lang, Minister of Culture, concerning the restoration project of the great organ of the Basilica of St-Denis programmed by the State. An international petition is then launched by our association so that the file be the subject of a more in-depth study: a direct consequence of this action was the formation of a “Monitoring Commission” to which the association was convened and whose progress – very disappointing – is documented in the pages of La Flûte Harmonique of the time…
Sign of the times, at that time already, some signs of a more than superficial respect for the work of Cavaillé-Coll were felt, and the association was then able to offer support rather than protest.
- A restoration that also marked a milestone in our approach to protecting the work of A. Cavaillé-Coll was that of the great organ of the Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre in 1985 thanks to the conviction and vigilance of its holder at the time.
- Thanks to the intervention of a German associate member, the leaders of the association were able to be put in personal contact with the recording firm Motette and thus build a musical and documentary program on the work of A. Cavaillé-Coll distributed in a box of 7 microgrooves (including a booklet of documents in three languages). This achievement has caused many repercussions for the knowledge of the association and the work of A. Cavaillé-Coll especially abroad.
The association has been asked many times to contribute to various events outside of the actual organ projects but closely related to the instruments and organ music of the 19th century (see also our Conferences page on this subject).
- From October 1992 and for several years our association collaborated closely with the association Le Puy Musical de Rouen to organize an international organ academy around the prestigious romantic and symphonic instruments of the region. This Academy, comprising interpretation courses, concerts, conferences, visits to instruments, debates, took place for a week and lasted for 7 consecutive years from 1992 to 1998. The instruments of St Ouen, St Godard, St Sever, St Vivien, St Nicaise, Rouen as well as those of Elbeuf, Caudebec les Elbeuf, Bonsecours, Saint-Saëns, etc… could be played, tested, analyzed by all the participants.
- The year 1999 (centenary of the death of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll) could be immortalized by the Saint-Denis Conference designed and organized by our association in collaboration with the Office of Organs of the Ministry of Culture (Heritage Department) . Several concerts and conferences took place in the Basilica and in the prestigious Maison de la Légion d’Honneur not only to honor the memory of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll but also to magnify and consolidate the future of his work.
- The University of North Texas at Denton in the USA invited our association to participate with two conferences in the A. Cavaillé-Coll Colloquium which it organized from October 13 to 16, 1999. A large audience of students, professors and organists took part in the many events and was very admiring of the French organ heritage and in particular that of A. Cavaillé-Coll.
- This commemorative year ended on December 17 and 18, 1999 in Mainz, Germany with the Symposium organized around the inauguration of the Cavaillé-Coll restored and acquired by the Parish of St Bernhard in Mainz-Bretzenheim. The A. Cavaillé-Coll association was able to join this event with a conference and a concert on the only Cavaillé-Coll installed in Germany at the time.