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Lira Organizzata
Lira Organizzata



Emile Bernard

Jean Emile Auguste Bernard was born on the 28th November, 1843 in Marseilles.  He

studied organ at the Paris Conservatoire with Benoist and piano with Marmontel.  He

later became organist at Notre Dame des Champs church until his retirement in 1895.

His works include a Suite for Violin and Piano, Concertstück for Piano and Orchestra,

Andante and Rondo for Cello and Orchestra,  Organ Fantasy and Fugue,  which won

the 1877 prize of  the Société de Compositeurs de Paris,  and a Concerto for Violin

and Orchestra which was dedicated to and played by Sarasate at the Conservatoire

 in 1895.   His Divertissement, Op.36  was first performed at the Parisian Société des

Instruments à Vent.       Emile Bernard died on the  11th September, 1902  in  Paris.

Arthur Bird

Arthur H. Bird was born on July 23rd, 1856 in Belmont, Massachusetts.  After receiving his early musical training from his father, Horace and uncle, Joseph Bird, he was sent to study organ in Germany at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik in 1875.  Returning to North America two years later, he took a church music position at St. Matthews Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada where he began to compose.  He also taught piano at the Young Ladies Academy and at the Mount St. Vincent Academy. He returned to Berlin in 1881 to study composition and orchestration under Heinrich Urban.  Except for brief visits to his homeland, Bird spent the rest of his life abroad.

Bird became a close friend and disciple of Franz Liszt; they often played chess together.  The master supported him by conducting his Carneval Szene, Op. 5 and giving him encouragement when the critics attacked the work?s unusual aspects.  By 1886, Bird was well established as a pianist and a composer; his melodious, well-crafted compositions were being published and performed widely.  He returned to the U.S. that year, for the last time, to conduct the Milwaukee Musical Festival.

After his marriage in 1888 to a wealthy widow, Wilhelmine Waldman, his compositional output slowed dramatically.  The couple spent most of their time entertaining the musical circles of Berlin in their lavish homes (an opulent mansion and an apartment).  Taxes and inflation of post  World War I Germany caused the Birds to have to take income producing positions.  Mrs. Bird presided over the women?s page of a leading newspaper and, as a foreign correspondent, the composer contributed articles to various American musical publications, including: the Musical Leader (Chicago), The Etude, and The Musician.  The Boston Herald critic wrote in 1907: ?It is a pity that Mr. Bird has taken life so easily of late years.  He was a composer of true promise and his critical articles published in sundry musical periodicals show him to be a man of much acumen and fastidious taste.? He died in Berlin on December 22nd, 1923.

Bird composed approximately 110 works; most of them between 1882 and 1900.  Characteristically, they are rich in harmony, melodic writing and counterpoint skill.  He wrote three works for wind ensemble: Marche Miniature (Nonet), the Serenade Op.40 and the Suite in D, Op. 29 (1889) which was commissioned by the French flautist Claude Paul Taffanel and his Paris woodwind ensemble ?La Société de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments a vent.?

Mary Chandler

Privately tutored  by Leon Goossens (oboe),  Harold Craxton (piano)  and others,  she

then read  English at Oxford and taught  in  London schools before joining the City of

Birmingham   Symphony  Orchestra as principal  oboist;  she also appeared with it as

 oboe and piano soloist.    Later,  as  a  freelance player, she formed the Mercian Trio 

 (flute, oboe and piano).  From 1960-71,  she was Director of the Kent Music School.

There  she  taught,  conducted,  arranged  and composed until her retirement.     Her

numerous  compositions  include  many for wind ensembles.

Claude Debussy

Born on August 22nd, 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France,   though he had little

formal   education as a child,   Debussy showed promise as a pianist by the age of 9

and  entered   the   Paris Conservatoire   soon after to study composition and piano,

gaining   a   reputation   there as an erratic pianist and a rebel in following rules   of

harmony and theory.   However, he won the Prix de Rome in 1884 and spent 2 years

in Rome where he met Liszt and Verdi.   Other musical influences included Wagner,

Borodin,   Mussorgsky   and   Satie as well as friendships with and inspiration from

'Impressionist' painters, writers and poets. Debussy was among the most important of

20th century composers,   developing an original system of compositional techniques

expressed through the use of   block chords,   modal harmonies,   orchestral colours,

layered sounds and a lyrical style.     His works include   ballets,   opera,   orchestral,

choral,   piano   and   chamber music.      He died on   March 25th, 1918   in   Paris.

Stephen Dodgson

Born in London  on March 17, 1924,  Stephen was a composer,  broadcaster  and

Chairman  of  the  National  Youth  Wind  Orchestra of  Great Britain  until  2002.

    His works range from  symphony and  opera to miniatures for  lute and clavichord.

A  former  student   of the Royal College  of Music,  he  taught  theory  and

 composition there  for  many  years and  enjoyed a close association  with the

   Philip Jones Brass Ensemble,  providing them with original works and arrangements.

   During the period 1966/75, he wrote music for many major BBC radio drama productions.

With  his  Wind Symphony, he extended his activity into the wind band repertory and

completed eight further works,  including   Arlington Concertante, commissioned by

the  University of  Texas,  which,  through  performances  in  the  U.S.A.,  led to the

invitation to compose  Flowers of  London Town.     His prolific output includes much

chamber  music for  strings,  wind and  brass.     He has a worldwide reputation as 

a composer for the guitar; John Williams has premiered many of his works.

His Windbag,  for wind dectet,  was written for Kaleidoscope Wind and premiered

on March 27, 2003  with the composer and John Williams present.

Stephen Dodgson died on April 13, 2013.

Jean Françaix

Born in Le Mans, France, he studied composition (with Nadia Boulanger) and piano

at the Paris Conservatoire.   As a pianist, he was a frequent soloist in his own works.

His often witty,   yet elegant and sophisticated style of writing became his trademark

throughout his life.    His works include operas,  ballets,  symphonies,  concerti  and 

chamber  music,  much  of  it  for  wind  ensemble.

Ruth Gipps

Self-declared rebel and campaigner for women's rights and  British music,   she was

born  in  Bexhill-on-Sea and studied at the  Royal College of  Music  with  Vaughan

Williams (composition) and  Leon Goossens (oboe).  Her professional career began 

as oboist and pianist,  later becoming founding conductor of the  London Repertoire

and  Chanticleer Orchestras.     In 1957,  she was the first woman to conduct at the

 Royal Festival Hall  and  in 1967  became  Chair of  the  Composers' Guild of Great  

Britain.     She taught at the Royal College of  Music  ( her students included  Julian

Lloyd  Webber  and  Alexander  Baillie)  and was made an  MBE  in  1981.     Her

 numerous works include  five symphonies,  various concerti  and   chamber  works.

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Haydn wrote five concertos during 1786-1787 for two lira organizzata with accompanying instruments (2 horns and strings) and eight notturni, around 1788 to 1790, for two lira organizzata also with accompanying instruments (2 horns, 2 clarinets, 2 violas and cello or bass).  They were written for the King of Naples (Ferdinand IV) who deemed himself to be a virtuoso on his favourite instrument the Lira Organizzata, which was a popular instrument at that time and had the shape of an 18th century string instrument but with a rotating wheel playing the strings.  It was similar to a hurdy-gurdy but incorporated small organ pipes activated by a keyboard.  There were at least two different types with one having the pipes vertically arranged and the other with transverse ones.  The handle worked the bellows as well as the wheel for the strings and pipes. A good example can be found in the old instruments collection of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as well as in museums in Amsterdam and London.

'Notturno' was a musical term mainly used in the 18th century for two to three movement compositions similar in style to a serenade or divertimento.  They were not played until eleven o'clock at night and very often they were performed in the open air.

Haydn later rescored most of his lira pieces, for oboes, clarinets, violins and flutes in various combinations, several of which were performed in London.  His rescored notturni, performed at the Salomon concerts in London in 1791-92, used flute and oboe to replace the lira parts.

Lira Organizzata / Lire Organizzate / Vielle Organisee
(copy of one made in 1771, from drawings by Dom Bedos [1709 -1779])


Photos reproduced by kind permission of Robert Moore.
For information on these and other interesting items made by Rob Moore,  click here

Lira Organizzata (copy of one in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London)

Lira Organizzata
Click photo to enlarge and for sound clips at Matthias Loibner's web site

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