The Aubertin organ of the Saint-Louis church in Vichy (France).


Listing of pollution alarms
(1991-2005)
Salmons at the bottom 
of the pedal towers.

1) Meeting reception work (January 3, 1991) with:
  • The elected officials (Sirs Cassier and Bennejean)
  • The priest of Saint-Louis, Michel Draper
  • Representatives of the engineering departments of the Town hall
  • The organ builder, Michel Gaillard
  • Francoise Pouradier Duteil, organist
It is asked to make position back the filters of the heating which were removed at the time of cleaning/rough-casting of the interior of the church during the year 1990.
2) Letters
  • May 22, 1991: letter of Bernard Aubertin to the Mayor of Vichy: "at the time of my last visit in Vichy, I noted that the new organ of St-Louis was getting dirty in a worrying manner. The skin of the bellows is very black and all the woodworks start to be covered with a fine filth."
  • July 29, 1991: letter of Francoise Pouradier Duteil to the Mayor of Vichy: "the factor noticed once again that the organ is abnormaly getting dirty (fatty and very black dust)".
  • February 11, 2000: letter of Bernard Aubertin to the Purchase service of the Town hall: "on February 1, 1995, I sent a letter to Mrs Vedel. Of course no answer, nor effect followed and the problem remains whole 5 years later. I can ensure you that all the organists who played in Vichy are unpleasantly surprised by the lamentable and very dirty state of the organ and of the platform without speaking about the staircase which was not even cleaned before the installation of the instrument. All things you touch are black of a black and sticking dust in the interior of the organ".
  • on May 11, 2000: letter of Bernard Aubertin to J. Vernet, assistant of the Culture: "the instrument is in an alarming state of filth making the pitch random".
  • On September 2, 2001: Francis Jacob, - concert performer and professor of organ, which made many training courses of organ building - sent a long letter to the Town hall, to the priest of the Parish, to the association and to Bernard Aubertin. He wrote his worry about the state of the church and of the organ, of which it underlines its exceptional qualities in preamble.
  • October 12, 2001: answer of Mr Malhuret to Francis Jacob: "you draw my attention to the problem already identified. In addition, it is possible that in the inaccessible parts of the blowing tubes remain some residues of the time when the heating was still with coal, what will be the subject of the next investigations. Mister the priest plans on his side to substitute electric candles".
3) Book of connection between the organists and the organ builder whose copy is given each year to the engineering department of the Town hall for payment of the service contract.
  • October 7, 1992: Michel Gaillard notes: "more and more of soot in the organ and many axes are strongly oxidized".
  • February 26, 1993: he removes dust from many reed pipes abnormally dirty: "we have to leave and clean several pipes".
  • July 16, 1996: he notes the presence of soot in the reed feets and between the strips and the drains and does not guarantee the behaviour of the pitch.
  • December 16, 1996: he re-examines the airtightness of the curtains boxes and of the Grand Organ and Pedal bellows. He controls the airtightness of the circuit of the wind in the bedsprings for the reed pedal. The leaks are due to the elements made with wooden which suffered from the heating.
  • May 7, 1997: he cleans the 3rd C of the choir flute.
  • June 21, 1997: he cleans and scraps the skin of the valves and the 32' reeds. The builder also notes: "the rather important dirt in the G.O. summary, results in the hardening of traction in the first 2 octaves".
  • Dec 11, 1997: the dirtiness of an organ never belonged to a guarantee, even decennial. It is about a deterioration due to the heating, as it is obviously observed in the interior of the organ. The reed sets are also very dirty and hold the pitch with more and more difficulties. The problems will appear increasingly numerous. Before solving them by a complete maintenance, it will be necessary to solve the cause of this dirtiness.
  • July 17, 1998: all mechanics become heavy and flabby, the summaries are filled more and more with soot. During a great cleaning, it will be necessary to deposit the summaries!
  • [in March 2000, the Town hall carries out washing walls of the stand and cleaning the wood of the back of the organ case in order to decently greet the international artists invited for the festivals of the 250e birthday of Bach. Today, in 2006, there is no more difference with the remainder of the church]
  • 23 and May 24, 2000: repair of 2 skin tears in the angles of the bellows. Replacing the skin of 3 valves of the 32' and cleaning the pipes.
  • May 24, 2002: new corner repaired in the bellows. The 1st F dize of the 16' pedal does not sound any more (the light of the mouth is blocked by dirtiness). The pipe is in frontage, inaccessible without scaffolding.
  • January 2003: new leaks of the bellows and I am obliged to put packing sticking paper on the corners. (leaks stopped in June by the builder).
  • September 23, 2003: control of the leaks in the intermediate bellows.
  • October 2004: I note 3 new leaks in the bellows. During his visit, on Dec 15, the builder cannot repair and sends an estimate of repair on the spot.
  • April 3, 2005: the builder specialized in the skin sticking (Jean-Marc), observing the dirtiness inside the bellows, gives up repairing on the spot and recommends the complete disassembling of the blower for cleaning, sticking of the parchments, replacement of all the skins. I carry to Mr Tauveron (Buildings Service, Town hall of Vichy) some of the fused and blackened skins in order to be analysed.
4) Reports of the general assembly of the Association for the Rebirth of the Organ and Sacred music in Saint-Louis church of Vichy

The problems of pollution and premature deterioration of the organ are mentioned at the following assemblies:
  • March 27, 1998
  • June 4, 1999
  • March 15, 2002
  • April 17, 2005
Francoise Pouradier Duteil
Organist, in charge for the organ
On May 4, 2006
Copy to:
Mrs Victoria Gesset, mayor-assistant, in charge of the Culture
Mister Pierron, priest of Saint-Louis/Saint-Blaise
Mrs Ginette Charnay, president of Association

Mar 17, 2007
Jean Convert, Valence, France.