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Is the Baroque organ the preferred organ and how do other organs compare to it?
The term "Baroque" musically refers to a style of music that was in vogue during the Baroque period which started in the 1600's. This musical style was "flashy", elaborate and embellished. The organs used to perform this style of music were built to lend credence to the developing style. Therefore, whether the organ be old or modern, the requirements for an organ to perform Baroque music properly remains the same. Typically, this means a Baroque instrument will include lots of bright mixtures, reeds, mutations and highly articulate ranks to add the sizzle and flash the music requires (http://www.organstops.org/index.html ) within the limitations of the acoustical environment.
This worked well in the European settings where sanctuaries were built out of stone and could acoustically handle the brilliance of the Baroque instruments. However, when organ builders began to set up shop in the new world, buildings were commonly made out of wood and less able to handle the typical Baroque voicing. This meant a new kind of instrument would be needed. Partly because of acoustical changes in architectural materials and partly because of a change in the mood of organ composers, a new kind of organ tonality began to develop. It came to be known as the "Romantic" organ. Unlike the Baroque instruments, the Romantic organ favored dark, lush, warm sounds rather than brilliance. A typical Romantic organ will feature many ranks at the 8' pitch which allows an organist to intermingle colors together into a seemingly endless number of ethereal combinations.
Neither Baroque nor Romantic organs are preferential. A Baroque organ lends itself to music that is typically Baroque in style. A Romantic organ lends itself to music written specifically in the Romantic style. Both represent exquisite musical creations each having their place in the wonderful world of composition, tone and emotion.