Heavenly Harmony tells the fascinating story of the organs and organists of Exeter Cathedral. Beginning in 1284 when Roger de Ropford and his wife and heirs were given responsibility for making bells for the cathedral and repairing the clock and organ, the book contains pen portraits of all of the cathedral’s organists since the late sixteenth century and also mentions assistant organists, masters of the choristers and many of those who pumped the bellows in the days before electric blowers. The story of those appointed to play the organs is one of variable standards of behaviour and musicianship, from the high quality of the decades before the Civil War, through the nadir of cathedral music in the eighteenth century, to the brilliance of today.
This book addresses questions including: who built and repaired the organs of the cathedral down the centuries? How have the organs evolved and why? What happened to the organ during the English Civil War? How badly damaged was the organ when a bomb struck the cathedral in 1942?
Malcolm Walker is an Exeter Cathedral guide and has long been a parish church organist and choirmaster. Now retired, he was an academic at Cardiff University for thirty years.
David Davies is assistant director of music at Exeter Cathedral. Educated at Magdalen College Oxford, and Yale University, he has had a lifelong interest in practical organ-building.
‘an invaluable local study which feeds into the wider narrative of the history of English cathedral music.’ — Nicholas Thistlethwaite, former chair of The British Institute of Organ Studies and author of The Making of the Victorian Organ