Martin's Recordings

The Mortier Dance Hall Organ

These tracks were recorded live from the automatic punched-card-driven Mortier Organ "the Kluisberg" by Terence Lang of Totteridge, North London in the 1960s or early 70s and were never issued commercially. My father was kindly given a copy of them as test pieces when his Tandberg reel-to-reel tape recorder was adjusted, tuned and "duffed up" by Mr Lang's expert hand.

I am not certain who programmed the cards for these pieces, but the timing, orchestration and decoration are superb. It was probably the great Eugene Peersman (18 April 1897 - Jan 1973) who marked music for Mr Barlow in his final working years between 1962 and 1965.

I am told that an obituary and tribute to Terence Lang appeared in the monthly magazine Hi-Fi News and Record Review on his death, with his picture on the cover.

The Organ

This not the actual Mortier Organ recorded here, it is a simpler one
but it gives an idea of the sort of thing we are talking about.
The "Kluisberg" is bigger, has more bells and whistles (literally)
and is mostly pink.

The sleeve notes to two commercial recordings of music from the same organ, written by its current owner David Barlow, say:

This organ was built in about 1937 by the Antwerp firm of The Mortier for a dance hall at Kluisberg near Antwerp, and is operated pneumatically with "books" of punched cards. It found its way after the war to Amsterdam, having been acquired by Mr G. Perlee, the famous owner of Dutch street organs, who used it on a few occasions at an Amsterdam fair. It was bought by me in 1962 and brought back on a lorry to England in a dismantled condition. It played at the Lloyds Fair in Billiter Street, City of London, in July of that year and now spends its working time collecting for charity (mainly British Empire Cancer Campaign) in the towns of Kent and on the Fairgrounds of the Forrest family in Kent.

It has 101 keys divided into four scales with their associated stops. It is fully chromatic.

Violin P
Violin F
Onda Maris
Baxophone [sic] 2 Ranks
Reed and Flue
Jazz Flute
Trumpet (Reed)
Bourdon (Flute like stopped pipe made by Perlee of Amsterdam)

Wooden flue pipes.

Bariton (Reed)

Flute 8
Bourdon II
Bassoon (Reed)

Wooden flue pipes and reed trombones, the latter controlled by a register.

and full range of percussion, including big drum, kettle drum, cymbals, triangle, bells, wood blocks.

From Columbia/EMI Records "The Mortier Dance Hall Organ" (TWO 104)
and EMI Starline "Mortier Organ Favourites" (SRS 5160).

The Recordings

Martin Guy <>, August 2004.