Paris latest: Notre Dame organ has survived the fire

Paris latest: Notre Dame organ has survived the fire


norman lebrecht

April 16, 2019

Emmanuel Gregoire, deputy mayor of Paris, said this morning that the historic organ of Notre Dame has survived the conflagration. The fire, he added, has now been completely extinguished.

He was referring to the 8,000-pipe organ built in the 1730s by Francois Thierry. The number of pipes was doubled in the 1860s by Aristide Cavaille-Coll, after whom the organ is named to this day.


  • Caravaggio says:

    Great news after an utterly depressing 24 hours

  • Been Here Before says:

    Excellent news considering the circumstances! The fire last night was a disaster indeed – let’s hope it won’t take the French too long to rebuild it.

  • Novageio says:

    A miracle!

  • CJ says:

    Yes, alleluia. I’ve just heard the “régisseur” say that the organ had not been touched by fire or water, but was covered in dust and soot particles and would have to be dismantled again (it was restored in 2014) to have the 8000 pipes cleaned and the complex computer system revised.

  • Norbert says:

    The organ will need completely refurbishing from scratch – the smoke and water damage will still mean it needs totally re-doing. Lots and lots of £.

  • Jim says:

    CJ and Norbert are right. I would assume that the organ would need to be removed anyway during the extensive cathedral rebuild. In any case, it might be years before we hear the instrument again.

    • Emil says:

      Safe to say they’ll have a few years before them before the church is used. And fortunately, they should have plenty of money (not least the 300 million € already pledged), so we can hope for a full restoration. Also, Olivier Latry was a consultant on the construction of the Orgue Pierre-Béique at the Maison Symphonique in Montreal and did a splendid job, so we can trust that the organ will be in safe hands.

      Finally, I’d note that Canterbury Cathedral has had a temporary organ for a few years now (until 2020) while the main instrument is refurbished, so while not ideal, it is possible to do a decent job conducting services while the main instrument is being repaired.

  • Edward says:

    Yes it will need substantial cleaning and refurbishment, but as long as the pipework is intact and hasn’t been burned it should still come back as it was. The same thing happened at Peterborough Cathedral a few years ago, and the organ still survives in fine voice.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Terrible event, but could have been much worse. Finding the money will not be a big problem considering the cultural and religious importance, finding the experts to do the repairs might be trickier.

  • M Chad Levitt says:

    I’m incredibly grateful to see this. Thank you for sharing the good news, Norman.

  • Karl says:

    Good news. I had an image in my mind of it melted down to slag.

  • Helena says:

    Wonderful news!

  • Ann says:

    I am overjoyed!

  • Ian Wilson says:

    Hallelujah! A miracle

  • Henk Gal says:

    I am relieved to hear that that magnificent organ survived. We’ll hear it again in the future.

  • mark says:

    Thank God for that.

  • Michael says:

    It is indeed good news. The last time I heard any organ music in Notre Dame it was on the lovely little choir organ. I imagine that has gone though……

  • geoffrey bush says:

    Halllelujah – still largely Caville Coll. This is great news. It will obviously need a lot of work but it is saved! Try Utube Olivier Latry improvisatoion on “The Marseillaise” from a commemoration service in 2015. Magnificent!!

  • Alethea says:

    Wonderful to hear. I am so glad the great organ survived. My boys who are 14, 10, and 6 and play the organ we’re in tears last night sure, as I was, that the organs would be lost. Does anyone know the fate of the little chancel organ?

  • fflambeau says:

    “Every face, every stone, of this venerable monument, is a page not only of the history of the country, but of the history of science and art. ….Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of ages.”

    Victor Hugo, Book Three, Chapter 1, “The Cathedral of Notre-Dame” in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”

  • Dick Smith; organist says:

    I am so glad the organ was saved. When I was twelve years old I got a chance through friends who knew the organist I believe at that time it was Pierre Coruseau I got a chance to play this magnificent instrument. Even at 12 years old I was totally thrilled and the sound is like nothing I had ever heard until in 1965 I got a chance to play the Mormon Tabernacle Pipe Organ Very similar sound massive and totally beyond words just like the sound I experienced at Notre Dame. I will never forget this once in a life time opportunity that may never comes along again. Bravo to the brave fireman that saved her and never came up on her. She will shine again just like it has done for 800 years. I am positive that the LORD saved HIS church so that it can go on forever.
    Let me clarify one point I was on vacation with my parents in Paris. This is how this happened. What a wonderful memory forever.

  • colin says:

    yes! this organ has survived