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Pipe Organs

La scuola organaria ligure: Roccatagliata-Ciurlo-De Ferrari
La scuola organaria ligure: Roccatagliata-Ciurlo-De Ferrari

Liguria, from the fourteenth century onwards, has seen organ builders, coming from neighboring regions (especially from Lombardy, but also from Piedmont and Veneto) as well as from France, working in major churches and basilicas. With the exception of some minor figures, only since the middle of 1600 it is possible to speak of a real organ building local school, to be identified mainly with the dynasty of Roccatagliata-Ciurlo-De Ferrari of Santa Margherita Ligure. The Roccatagliata and Ciurlo - bound together by the marriage of the daughter of most important exponent of the first, Tommaso Roccatagliata II (1725-1798) and Luigi Ciurlo from Genoa (1751-1816). Ciurlo learned the art of building organs and in turn he settled in Santa Margherita Ligure and built instruments in all major centers of the region, but also in the southern Piedmont. Another marriage later connected Ciurlo with De Ferrari, which continued until the beginning of the '900 the assets no longer in the coastal town but in Corsica.

While the interest in this organ workshop is related to its uncommon longevity - two centuries of uninterrupted activity - the other interesting thing is that its roots don't lie in local traditions, but rather in the wake left by organ builders that where not from Liguria but worked on site (mainly in Genoa), and in particular in the school of Flemish Jesuit Willem Hermans, who built between 1656 and 1663 four organs at some of the most important churches of the city. Tommaso I Roccatagliata (1647-1735), founder of the sammargheritese dynasty was indeed his assistant.

The Roccatagliata and the first generation of Ciurlo were always linked to the same type of instrument following the characteristics of the classic Italian orgna: one manual (with an extension of the keyboard initially C1-F5 with first octave short and then C1-C5, always with the first octave short, and with division bass / treble between B2 and C3) and a pedal constantly joined to the manual that does not go beyond the scope of the first octave. The phonic setting is always based on the Principale 8, in addition to the usual file of filling that never goes further the Vigesimanona. The concert stops are invariably three: Flute in Ottava (always full), the Voce Umana Soprano and Cornetto soprani in three rows. Some instruments placed in churches or basilicas of greater importance required a richer phonic setup, so that more stops can be found: a Contrabbasso 16 at the pedal, the Trumpets broken between bass and treble to the manual and, the only case ever, Trombone 8 to the pedal in the organ of Nozarego. There are also some accessories of clear foreign import, such as Rollante and the Uccelliera. The appearance of these instruments betrays Flemish influences: the front is always divided into three bays with a spire each (although the oldest instruments, those by Thomas I, are still in Renaissance style with five bays plus organetti morti); the design of the mouths follows a trend contrary to the cusps, making a significant visual effect, recalling the typical of curvilinear prospect of foreign organs.

The latest generation of Ciurlo, by identifying with the figure of Marcello (1787-1855), as well as De Ferrari, coming into contact with instruments made by manufacturers from the neighboring region (in Liguria in the nineteenth century worked the Agati, the Paoli and Serassi), they also assimilate some characteristics, related to the change of musical language. Hence in the last organs built by Marcello Ciurlo (Portofino, 1847 and Zoagli, fraz. Semorile, 1847), introduced additional concert stops such as Ottavino, the Viola bassi 4 or Flauto 8 'and is increased the scope the pedalboard, until E2. Even the outer appearance changes and the three Baroque bays give way to more modern single span, similar to what happens in most of Italy.

Code and graphic by Lucio Marinelli