• How many organs did Aristide Cavaillé-Coll build ?

    The question is much more complex than it seems!

    Although we have a fairly detailed directory of the “Works” of the house, taken from the company itself and with opus numbers as well as a precise chronology, this one is only a point of departure. Indeed, certain works of the Cavaillé-Coll house are not listed there, and the list, which comprises 699 entries, includes not only ancillary works such as scientific research devices and interventions other than constructions (or complete reconstructions ) but also the sale and installation of used organs, even canceled or unrealized projects.

    On the other hand, the house used to count important reworkings of their own instruments as a separate organ. Even an in-depth study would probably only lead to more or less close approximations of a reality that would have to be defined, already at the start.
    Given all these difficulties, it is commonly accepted that Aristide Cavaillé-Coll – before 1850 in association with his father and his brother – signed some 450 to 500 new organs or total reconstructions.

  • Did the Cavaillé-Coll business continue after the death of its founder?

    At the very end of his career, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, after several years of serious financial difficulties, sold his company to a student and former collaborator, meanwhile established on his own in Normandy: Charles Mutin. He conducted it, later adding his name to the famous cartouche (“Mutin-Cavaillé-Coll”) and building many instruments, until his retirement in 1923. The Lyonnais Auguste Convers took over until in the early 1930s, when various buyers, including the Pleyel piano factory, succeeded one another, significantly eroding the company’s production and prestige; World War II dealt it a disastrous blow. Subsequently, only such and such a collaborator will have perpetuated somehow – more or less individually and in the face of a very hostile ambient aesthetics – the traditions of the century-old house…

  • What are the largest and smallest organs that Cavaillé-Coll has built?

    The largest organ made by Artistide Cavaillé-Coll is that of Saint-Sulpice in 1862 with exactly 100 stops on five keyboards and pedal.
    It is also intact today, with two sets of pedals added under the aegis of Charles-Marie Widor at the end of his tenure. The organ that Cavaillé-Coll designed for Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome would have had 128 stops.

    The smallest current house organ was a production model with four stops (often divided into bass and treble) on a single keyboard with a coupler pedal. A model of six and a half games, corresponding to number 8 of the 1889 catalogue, was particularly prized by the parishes, being sold in several dozen copies. As an exception, it is worth mentioning the accompanying organ delivered, probably at the end of the 1880s, to the Jesuit colleague from Katwijk in the Netherlands, an instrument which comprised 34 notes of a single 8′ drone (see La Flûte Harmonique n° 19, p. 17).