The foundation of the Aristide Cavaillé-Coll Association dates back to 1975. At that time, the transformation of this maker’s instruments was still common, the classification as historical monuments was extremely rare and the acceptance of its aesthetics as fully valid for itself. was at best accepted as hypothetical. It was decided to publish a review La Flûte Harmonique. The first two years were marked in particular by prestigious concerts in Saint-Sulpice and a protest action during the total reconstruction of the first significant Parisian organ of the Cavaillé-Coll father and son house, Notre-Dame de Lorette.
In 1978 a change of direction took place: Georges Lartigau took over the presidency, a position he held for four decades. The new team that he then directed sought to promote familiarity with instruments that were little known at the time (Saint-Bernard de la Chapelle, Bécon-les-Bruyères, Long-sur-Somme, etc.), to strengthen contacts by province (creation of delegations, etc.), while improving the presentation of the magazine, which was first relaunched with a special brochure on The work of Cavaillé-Coll in Paris. The association has also published nearly one hundred postcards of 19th century organ cases. The defense of instruments that were threatened by dubious restoration projects (notably Saint-Denis, 1982-84, with international petition — see reviews in La Flûte Harmonique) took its place in our activities alongside support and advice donated over the years to owners wishing to have their instruments restored (Long-sur-Somme, Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre, St-Pierre de Douai, etc.).
As for events, in addition to concerts and attendance at various conferences, organ academies and festivals (Rouen, Angers, Texas, etc.), the association organized in 1999, at the request of the Ministry of Culture for the centenary of the death of Cavaillé-Coll, an international symposium in Saint-Denis and Paris. Since that date, several study days have been organized around specific questions concerning the broad field of aesthetics and organ music upstream and downstream of the work of Cavaillé-Coll.
The association has always had the triple concern of dissemination, intervention and historical, technical and above all aesthetic study of the organs of the French 19th century. La Flûte Harmonique in the form of a review reached its 100th issue in 2018 with a very diversified content including in particular monographs on significant instruments (Saint-Omer, Saint-Dizier, Saint-Sulpice, etc.) or the reissue of period documents very difficult to access otherwise. Since 2000 it has been devoted above all to the publication of the proceedings of the study days and to studies of emblematic instruments of the Master (Elbeuf/St-Jean, Saint-Denis, Warrington, Ghent), with an A4 format instead of A5 and a significant increase in the volume of text in each issue. However, various difficulties related to the search for quality material and the immense work involved in producing the journal prompted the association to suspend publication of La Flûte Harmonique; the activity of the association focuses on other targeted projects and should, in the future, be disseminated more and more through our website. Certain specific subjects may nevertheless still be the subject of paper publications.
The Aristide Cavaillé-Coll Association, at a time when — partly thanks to its actions over the past forty years — the instruments of the great maker are globally acclaimed, even copied or imitated and are no longer automatically threatened, is working on a new impetus. To celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll 1811-2011, the association organised, with the support of OrganPromotion in Germany, an international composition competition for original instruments by this builder. More than fifty scores from all over the world have been received, showing that the Cavaillé-Coll organ is still looking to the future.
The association is concerned to fully integrate the 21st century by opening up to a new audience, organ lovers and specialists for whom the founding message of the association has, fundamentally, been heard. A challenge for a new generation, but which the wealth of the time of Cavaillé-Coll and his successors makes very promising…