The Eleventh Day of an 1862 Christmas…

On the eleventh day of Christmas the 1862 Committee gave to me… eleven Pipers Piping

 

John Crace, design for an organ, c.1880, watercolour, England, Victoria and Albert Museum, E.1856-1912 © V&A, 2013

John Crace, design for an organ, c.1880, watercolour, England, Victoria and Albert Museum, E.1856-1912 © V&A, 2013

Although not a design from Crace’s 1862 scheme, this watercolour does demonstrate something of Crace’s approach to organ design.  In 1862, a ‘blind’ man wrote a report in The Temple journal about his visit to the opening ceremony of the 1862 International Exhibition.  Although many components of his report suggest that he was not in fact blind at all (!) – this literary trope provided him with the opportunity to discuss the sounds and smells of the exhibition in great detail.  One of the sounds that he paid particular attention to was the beautiful music played by the organ in the exhibition space.  Music played an important role in the ‘image’ of the 1862 International Exhibition, Sir William Sterndale Bennett composing music for its opening ceremony.  John Crace, who developed the gothic-inspired design of the exhibition’s internal spaces, incorporated a large organ into his scheme, its piping pipes decorated with bright colours.

© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2013

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