(SEINE ET MARNE – FRANCE)
and its History
Internal side of a Renaissance
back door (around 1500)
Lower part of the medieval organ
case (around 1390 – 1410)
Near the bellows,
graffiti ‘FANCHON T 1748’ and ‘Clavde GERVAIS 1748’
The bellows blowers of
the period ?
The window type console and its original keyboards which date from
Partial view of the Grand Orgue pipes
You may notice the récit cornet in the
middle with the G.O. cornet on each side
Master Organbuilder :
(restoration ended in march 1996)
Technical supervisor : Jean-Pierre DECAVELE
Shift coupler for Grand-orgue and Positif
No pedal coupler
New stops :
Main case frame
engraved by the carpenter (CHARPI) in 1737
the end of a simple presentation of the historic organ to local school
students, a little girl asked me an interesting question : “Tell me Sir,
why isn’t your organ in Le Louvre ?”
short and simple presentation of the origins of the organ, this little girl
had understood the real historic value of this famous instrument, part of the
French cultural patrimony.
From the organ
origins to 1790
known organists for both the 17th and 18th centuries tell us more about the
existence of an organ rather than about its origins. In 1606, Justin Charon
played an organ which is certainly a Renaissance instrument. The guardrail
panels, renaissance on the south side, as well as the use of salvaged renaissance panels for main case back
doors, prove this particular point. Moreover, the guardrail on the south side
has mortises the arrangement of which shows the original position of the
“plates faces”. In 1720, Etienne Royer is mentioned as the organist in the
parish registry. He is shown as the successor to Claude Royer (his
father ?). In 1764, we find the name of the organist, Jean Pascal, also
designated as “master writer”. For the first time in 1790, the parish
inventory shows the wages of the organist, but without mentioning his name…
This is quite a poor harvest of memories which nevertheless shows that the
organ was considered to be an important aspect of country life during the 17th
and 18th centuries.
d’Alençon, who restored the organ in 1933 while retaining all the original
parts, reminds us of the tradition that describes the Rozay organ as a gift
of Madame de Maintenon who had a residence in the area.
tradition claims that the organ, or specifically the ‘’Grand-Orgue’’, was made by Louis-Alexandre Clicquot.
this deserves to be accepted with some reserve, considering the total absence
‘’The’’ document !
single document in the archives, published by Norbert Dufourcq, describes the
history of the organ during the 18th century. The document
mentions the inventory taken after the death of François Deslandes for work
to be done on the organ, but we find no information about it. Probably some
work on the case itself. We know that the instrument remained unchanged.
The cases of
both the grand orgue and the positif, which are clearly of
similar construction, and with rare precision in their respective proportions,
show, without a doubt, a profound impression of unity.
In spite of
this evidence, numerous contradictions appear: coexistence of “claires-voies” from the early 18th
century (whose remarkable design and execution was probably done by Varlet,
who sculpted the “ange musicien” in 1741)
with the molded panels of the lower part of the case,
clearly from the 17th century, or yet with the base of the
positif, so similar to the one made by Ducastel in Le Mesnil-Amelot (1678)…
How to explain
such incoherencies of style without bringing to mind a rearrangement of the
17th century elements, executed in 1737 ?
The missing link : the former stop jamb panels
In 1983 Pierre
Dumoulin noticed two former panels with square stop shanks. These panels,
slightly cut short and possessing most of their labels, were reused as an
internal support for the main organ case.
miraculously preserved panels made it possible to reconstruct the original
specification of the organ as it was in the 17th century. Therefore, we have
discovered the divided registers - bass and treble - of the Trompette, Tierce
and Nazard stops which correspond precisely to the layout of the present –
and original – wind chests. This also substantiates the number of stops
currently on the Grand Orgue and Positif.
entire preservation of the reused stop panels, and the fact that these
registers correspond with those on the present windchest - especially the
bass/treble division for the Trompette, Tierce and Nazard stops - were
conclusive in enabling the instrument to be brought back totally to the late
17th century. This includes - without a shadow of doubt – the [original]
Former stop jamb panel with
square shanks (back side)
The lower two keyboards from the
THE XIXth AND XXth
The organ had
been used less and less, and hardly maintained during the XIX century with
its resulting deterioration. The pipes accumulated in the
positif, and in the kingdom of the pigeons, in the attic.
It is to be
noted that in 1900, the proposal and the cost estimate drawn up by the
establishment Anneessenss and sons to completely burn the instrument and
reconstruct a new one, was never carried out because the establishment
Anneessens went bankrupt.
When the Republic took possession of the organ the instrument was
unusable and beyond repair.
Irreparable until the study in 1930 by the Father Levasseur, senior
priest: (…) After
having studied for months the deplorable condition of what remained of the
organ, I was able to conclude that hopefully it would be possible to use what
was left of the organ, on condition that an organ builder could be found who
would agree not to build a new organ, but rather to use the lamentable
It was under
these conditions that Gabriel d'Alençon, contacted by Father Levasseur,
consented to undertake the restoration of “ces lamentables restes”, as
early as the month of August 1930. The restoration was not fully
completed until August 10, 1933, and is, according to connoisseurs and
artists like Georges Bonnet, organist of Saint-Eustache, truly a work of art.
restoration by Yves Cabourdin, completed in 1996, faithfully follows the
lines established by Gabriel d’Alençon and restores to a raisonable degree
the original composition of the XVII century instrument.
familiar with organs, the history of the anonymous (let’s hope only temporarily)
Rozay organ will not fail to be atypical.
Whereas simple interventions, modifications, repairs, additions,
normally accumulate through the centuries, the Rozay organ illustrates a
quasi fetal regression. From the XVIII century ambitious plans
only the upper part of the big organ case remains, but not the instrument
itself, and its XVII century keyboards.
works of Yves Cabourdin, assisted by the brilliant plan of the musical
cultural heritage, the quality of the original mellow, soft, sonorous sounds
and powerful harmonics, such as the
ones enjoyed by Bossuet, when he visited Rozay, were restored to the great
from the text by Michel FOUSSARD (Chargé de mission pour le Patrimoine
Musical), ‘’UN ORGUE ROYAL ENTRE HISTOIRE ET TRADITION’’ and published in the
brochure of the Rozay en Brie organ, edited by l’Association des Amis de
l’Orgue de Rozay.
Yves Cabourdin during
the dismantling of the organ of Rozay en Brie
In the organ
brochure, edited by the Association in 1996, Yves CABOURDIN, Master organ
builder, describes the different steps in the restoration of the great
instrument of Rozay en Brie.
You may find this technical
description in the Organ brochure.
Translation: Robert F. ALLEN
Thanks to our friend Pastor de Lasala for his technical help