Les amis de l'Orgue de Saint-Martin


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1982-1989 :                            


Auf Französich

Frau Françoise Gluntz - Herr Louis Souvet - 2005

In 1982 an association, the Association des Amis de l'Orgue de St Martin, and within the Association a friendly but determined team, decide to have the St Martin organ recover its past spendour.

The church organ, Perny's then Callinet's work, has indeed suffered too many vicissitudes, and if some tones remain superb, its mechanism has become unbearably heavy. A serious study will show that everything is to be reworked and that a vague repair would not mask any more the miserable state of what once was a superb instrument. That is why a considerable task has to be undertaken.

After numerous and incessant actions, which were impulsed by Michel Chapuis (rapporteur at the 5th section of the Commission Supérieure des Monuments Historiques), with Claude Aubry (expert consultant) and with the help of corresponding members Claude Greys-Girard, the office of Historic Monuments under the aegis of the «Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles, the Conseil Général du Doubs and the city of Montbéliard agree to the restoration in September 1984.

Its very important financing will thus be taken care of: the state 30%, the Conseil Régional 30%, the Conseil Général 20%, the city of Montbéliard 10%, the Association 10%.

Several plans are examined and assessed. The restoration of Gallinet's organ, with a modification of the device, is the solution which is finally chosen. However the solution implies a repairing of the organ loft, together with a suppression of the lately added stage, a restoration of the found tiers, a lowering of the organ to floor level (being remade and strengthened) and an insertion of the device in the balustrade.

In addition to the painting of the whole set, the solution also includes the project of building a staircase, thus giving access to the attics of the church.

In its spirit, financing and time, the restoration articulates around the choice of an organ-builder.

After issuing an invitation to tender, a commission created to that effect, chose Alain Sals among several candidates.

Born in 1942 in Carpentras, Alain Sals is an organ-builder in Entrechaux near Malaucène in Provence. He has built or rebuilt some twenty new organs with mechanical transmission in St Benoît sur Loire, Nyon, Sète etc... He has also restored all over France many instruments classified as historic monuments (Notre Dame des Doms in Avignon, St Guilhem le Désert, the Alès Cathedral etc...)

All his new and restored instruments distinguish themselves by the colour and very personal character with which this remarkable harmonist endows them.

Famous organists such as Michel Chapuis, François Houbard, André Isoir, Odile Bayeux, etc... have played them and made recordings with them. In 1980 Alain Sals was awarded the «Grand Prix Régional des Métiers d'Art – Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur ».

The first part of the works is scheduled for 1985 by the Ministère de la Culture. On July 11th 1985 a convention is signed between the Parochial Association of the Lutheran Church of Montbéliard, the owner of the organ (represented by Mr Bouclet, its chairman) and Mr Lang (mayor of Montbéliard).

The state accepts the convention and takes responsibility for the works. The total cost of the works is estimated at 1,433,755 francs. Due to some modifications there are several cost increases, the most important of which are taken care of by the Association.

At the end of 1985 the organ leaves the church for a provençal stay in the organ-builder's workshop not far from Vaison-la-Romaine. The great void it leaves in the organ-loft is timidly filled by the setting up in the choir of an excellent little instrument built by Alain Sals.

Almost three years of absence is a long sad period of time. The Amis de l'Orgue enlighten it by means of concerts performed by young artists. The Association's statutes indeed advise it to help new talents to become known.

These interpreters' generosity clearly shows their will to contribute towards the undertaken restoration.

The Association also favours the international relations between music schools and with the help of the Town Council (particularly of Mr Bessero, its deputy for cultural matters) it twice received various orchestras from the city of Ludwigsburg – Montbéliard's twin city (Ludwigsburg's Youth Orchestra, the choir of Karlsruhe Foundation and the Stadtorchestra of that city, who all came and gratiutously performed a symphonic concert for the benefit of the restoration of the organ).

In June 1989, during the Music Festival, these efforts will be summed up by a great concert given jointly by the young German and French musicians.

Moreover, the financial effort of all the members of the Association is great and does not relent during the seven years. The quality and amount of the donations given to the Association are a clear evidence of the interest that a great number of private individuals and various authorities take in the restoration.

In 1986 and 1987 several members of the committee travel to Entrechaux to visit Alain Sals' workshop where they can appreciate the very accurate and dedicated work of his companions, Nicolas Warneke and Charles Henry.

The progress of the works is followed up by Messrs Chapuis and Aubry.

1988 : the organ is back. For a month Nicolas and Charles work on putting it back in its place and on the assembling of all its parts, a long-term but exciting work on many accounts.

From its journey the organ has brought back a new youth, a stirring softness and a sumptuous brilliancy. It has also recovered the light and cheerful colours of its original paints, which the sollicited painter, Roland Nonotte, ( a specialist of that kind of restoration) masterly recreates. Thanks to him, the organ-loft and the balustrade also recover their original colours.

In Spring 1989, Alain Sals and Nicolas Warneke come to Montbéliard to harmonize the instrument, a patient work during which the engaging personality of the organist freely expresses itself by means of the different organ-stops.

With the restored organ, music is here again, with its variety, violence and modulations, and we are deeply delighted at this regained musical contribution, so important in Lutheran liturgy.

We are also delighted, together with the Montbéliard Town Council and all the partners (State, Région, Département) about the cultural widening that the St Martin organ will bring to the whole town, to the music school's pupils and to a vast and various regional public, thus allowing everybody to discover or better know this king of instruments.

Françoise Gluntz