Monday, October 20, 2008

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris
- The Finest French Gothic Architecture -

Notre Dame la Paris is a Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, the Capital City of France, with its main entrance to the west. It is the cathedral of Paris and the seat of the Archbishop of that city. Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It was restored and saved from destruction by Viollet-le-Duc, one of France's most famous architects. The name Notre Dame means "Our Lady" in French. Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, giving them a more secular look that was lacking from earlier Romanesque architecture.

Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress. The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. After the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral's architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued as such. The cathedral suffered desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution in the 1790s, when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. During the 19th century, an extensive restoration project was completed, returning the cathedral to its previous state.




The Construction of Notre Dame de Paris
In 1160, because the church in Paris had become the "parish church of the kings of Europe", Bishop Maurice de Sully deemed the current Parisian cathedral unworthy of its lofty role, and had it demolished shortly after he assumed the title of Bishop of Paris. According to legend, de Sully had a vision of a glorious new cathedral for Paris, and sketched it in the dirt outside of the original church. To begin the construction, the bishop had several houses demolished and had a new road built in order to transport materials for the rest of the cathedral.

Construction began in 1163, during the reign of Louis VII, and opinion differs as to whether Maurice de Sully or Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stone of the cathedral. However, both were at the ceremony in question. Bishop de Sully went on to devote most of his life and wealth to the cathedral's construction. Construction of the west front, with its distinctive two towers, began circa 1200, before the nave had been completed, contrary to normal construction practice. Over the construction period, numerous architects worked on the site, as is evidenced by the differing styles at different heights of the west front and towers. Between 1210 and 1220, the fourth architect oversaw the construction of the level with the rose window and the great halls beneath the towers. The towers were completed around 1245, and the cathedral was completed around 1345.

The Organ of Notre Dame de Paris
Though several organs were installed in the cathedral over time, the earliest ones were inadequate for the building. The first noteworthy organ was finished in the 1700s by the noted builder François-Henri Clicquot. Some of Clicquot's original pipework in the pedal division continues to sound from the organ today. The organ was almost completely rebuilt and expanded in the 19th century by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

The position of titular organist at Notre-Dame is considered as one of the most prestigious organist posts in France, along with the post of Saint Sulpice in Paris, Cavaillé-Coll's largest instrument. The organ has 7,800 pipes, with 900 classified as historical. The organ has 109 stops, five 56-key manuals and a 32-key pedalboard. In December 1992, work was completed on the organ that fully computerized the organ under 3 LANs (Local Area Networks).

Among the best-known organists at Notre Dame was Louis Vierne, who held this position from 1900 to 1937. Under his tenure, the Cavaillé-Coll organ was modified in its tonal character, notably in 1902 and 1932. Pierre Cochereau initiated further alterations (many of which were already planned by Louis Vierne), including the electrification of the action between 1959 and 1963 (the original Cavaillé-Coll console, which is now located in the south tower entrance to the tribune), was replaced by a new console in Anglo-American style) and the addition of further stops between 1965 and 1972, notably in the pedal division, the recomposition of the mixture stops, and finally the adding of three horizontal reed stops "en chamade". After Cochereau's sudden death in 1984, four new titular organists were appointed at Notre Dame in 1985: Jean-Pierre Leguay, Olivier Latry, Yves Devernay (who died in 1990), and Philippe Lefebvre. This was reminiscent of the 18th-century practice of the cathedral having four titular organists, each one playing for three months of the year. Beginning in 1989, another restoration to the instrument was undertaken, which was completed in 1992.

7 comments:

Free Music said...

I love paris

Rick Rosenshein said...

Great blog, photos and articles. Very informative. Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work. Rick

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