Invalides

The history of the organ of the cathedral of St Louis des Invalides is a turbulent one, but today, thanks to extensive restoration work and careful maintenance, it one of Paris’s finest instruments.

It was King Louis XIV who commissioned the architect Libéral Bruand to build a hospice for invalid officers and soldiers, on the plain of Grenelle. The first stone of the future Hôtel national des Invalides was laid on 30th November 1671 and in October 1674 the first pensioners were admitted. The architect Jules-Hardouin Mansart then proceeded to design and build the church of St Louis des Invalides, which was officially dedicated on 28th August 1706.

The organ was built between 1679 and 1687 by the royal organ builder, Alexandre Thierry, and the case, designed by Hardouin Mansart,  was the work of the royal carpenter Germain Pillon.  Thierry’s instrument contained the 37 stops on four manuals and pedal. The organ, maintained by another great builder of the time – Robert Clicquot – remained in use until the end of the 18th century.
The period of the French Revolution saw the beginning of the damage which the classical instrument was to suffer through most of the 19th century; various accidents, including an explosion in a nearby gunpowder factory and a fire, increased the degradation, and several attempts at restoration and rebuilding transformed it  into a undistinguished romantic organ.

In 1942, Bernard Gavoty was appointed organist of the church. Conscious of the intrinsic qualities of the instrument and its exceptional potential, he succeeded in obtaining a complete rebuild, entrusted to the firm Beuchet Debierre of Nantes, who began the work after the second world war. The rebuilt instrument, in its historical casework, was finished in 1957.
The organ however required further repairs, which were carried out by Bernard Dargassies, beginning in 2003. Since then, thanks to careful and regular maintenance, the instrument has regained much of its original brilliance and may now be considered as one of Paris’s finest organs. Today it has 63 stops on 3 manuals and pedal, of 61 and 32 notes respectively, totalling 4615 pipes to which are added the chamades, (horizontal trumpets placed on each side of the case).

Gabriel Garnier, appointed “King”s Organist” in 1702, was the first “titulaire” of the instrument.  His successor was Jean Landrin, whose family held the post until the Revolution. In 1806 Nicolas Séjan was appointed titulaire, followed by Louis Séjan around 1819 and Charles Ponsard in 1852. Théodore Dubois carried out  the duties of organist from 1855 to 1858, before going to the St Clotilde Basilica. Jean Héry was appointed in 1882. He seems to have been the last titulaire before Bernard Gavoty in 1942.
In 1980 Pierre Gazin succeeded Bernard Gavoty.
Today, the instrument  is entrusted to the organists Susan Landale, Philippe Brandeis and Eric Ampeau.



 

Composition Orgue

 

 

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Susan landale

co-titulaire de l'orgue de l'église Saint-Louis des Invalides

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Philippe Brandeis

co-titulaire de l'orgue de l'église Saint-Louis des Invalides

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Eric Ampeau

co-titulaire de l'orgue de l'église Saint-Louis des Invalides

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