Monday, May 30, 2011

Longwood Gardens. The Conservatory. Part 4.

Longwood Gardens - Part 1 Longwood Gardens - Part 2 Longwood Gardens - Part 3 This is the chandelier in Longwood's 101' x 30' Ballroom. Pierre du Pont built the Ballroom to accommodate expanded entertaining and the much larger second Aeolian Organ. The complex was designed by E. William Martin (1891-1977) and constructed 1929-1930 at a cost of $563,385, including $122,700 for the organ, $8260 for a walnut parquet floor said to have been made from surplus World War I gunstock blocks, $10,685 for the 2 chandeliers with 156 lights and 1250 crystals each and 14 wall sconces, and $30,000 for the suspended ceiling of 1104 panes of pink etched glass originally illuminated from above by daylight coming through a clear glass roof. In 1979 the glass roof was removed and a conventional roof installed. The ceiling is now lit from above by 240 fluorescent lights. The fabric wall coverings in 1930 were green silk, and they were replaced in 1936. In 1958 they were remade to better match the ceiling. Additional fabric panels were added in 1964 and 1966. All the fabric was replaced in 1986 and again in 2005. After periodic attempts to repair interior damage caused by a leaky roof, in 2003-2005 Longwood configured a new roof, renovated and expanded the building, replaced the walnut floor and the fabric wall coverings, rebuilt the chandeliers, and added fire suppression at a cost of more than $12 million (including the Music Room). Today the Ballroom is used for concerts, lectures, dinners, and gala entertainments.
Pierre S. du Pont and the Performing Arts Longwood founder Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) delighted in the performing arts. He played with a toy theatre as a child and, beginning in college, attended theatrical performances whenever possible. In 1913 he helped establish the professional DuPont (Playhouse) theatre, which still operates in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1913 he also built Longwood's huge Open Air Theatre. For 45 years Pierre du Pont presented large-scale public and private entertainments both indoors and out at his beloved Gardens, a tradition that continues today. Pierre love music. He played the piano and acquired two Steinway concert grands and several smaller pianos including a player piano. He amassed a large sheet music collection, and, as early as 1908, Victor Talking Machines (record players). Pierre was especially fond of organ music, although he was not particularly religious. His mother had been a church organist, and he owned a pump organ with a roll player. When he created Longwood's Conservatory, he installed a 3650-pipe organ then replaced it with a 10,010-pipe instrument. He hired a staff organist and over the years hosted about 1500 organ concerts. Outdoors, he built a Chimes Tower that played familiar melodies. Music was an integral part of Pierre du Pont's life. The First Aeolian Organ Pierre du Pont envisioned a pipe organ in Longwood's Conservatory from the beginning. In 1921 the Aeolian Company installed a 3-keyboard, 63-stop, 3650-pipe instrument in the new greenhouses for $54,200 plus $341 for an electric blower. The organ was first played on Sunday afternoon, May 21, 1921. Many things malfunctioned at first, and Pierre persistently informed Aeolian of every defect. By 1922 the problems were resolved and he was initially satisfied. He even inquired about finding a good organ teacher. Aeolian added 1310 pipes in 1923, substituted a new 4-keyboard console in 1924, and replaced 10 sets of pipes in 1926. Pierre du Pont was involved in all these refinements, and he had long discussions about the instrument with famous visiting organists. But in 1929 he decided to build a new organ that was twice as large. He gave the first Longwood Organ to the University of Delaware, where it was played in Mitchell Hall from 1930 to 1964. Since 1990 the pipes have been part of a residence in Arizona. Longwood's Organ Console This new organ console was built by Robert M. Turner, Organ Builder, Inc., to resemble Longwood's 1929 Aeolian console. It controls 10,010 organ pipes located behind the pink fabric panels of the long wall. The console is moveable and can play the organ pipes from 4 different locations within the Ballroom. Its solid state circuitry permits versatility unimaginable in earlier consoles. Whereas the 1929 and 1959 consoles had one setting for each of the stop-changing piston buttons underneath the keyboards, this console can recall 256 different combinations of up to 353 tilting tablets per button. Other features include removable memory cards that allow each organist to retain their personal combinations. The console was designed by Peter Richard Conte, Grand Court Organist of the Wanamake Organ in Philadelphia, the world's largest playable instrument, in conjunction with Nelson Barden and Robert Turner.
Organ Chambers Behind these 2"-thick glass windows are 5360 of the Longwood Organ's 10,010 pipes. Five rooms of pipes are visible. And addtional 4 rooms with 4650 pipes and numerous percussion instruments are upstairs and cannot be seen. Also hidden is the Blower Room in the basement. All the rooms are explained on panels as you walk along the viewing wall. Each pipe room ("division") is separated from its neighbor by concrete walls, except on the Ballroom side where there are wooden shutters ("expression shutter" or "swell shades") on 7 of the 9 rooms that can be opened and closed by the organist to control volume. Only the first and last rooms, containing the low pedal pipes, lack shutters. The entire instrument is played from the console located in the Ballroom, or by a computer.
Throatwort. I want this plant.
Stained glass in the children's section.

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