Notre-Dame’s famous Grand Organ is the largest organ in France, consisting of approximately 8,000 pipes, a console with five keyboards and pedals, and 109 stops. Its largest pipes stand an impressive 32 feet tall.
Status of the Grand Organ
Miraculously, the Grand Organ survived the April 2019 fire with minor damages, sustaining water damage in only one pipe out of thousands. However, the Grand Organ needs to be totally restored to remove the lead dust that settled inside it in the aftermath of the fire. The Grand Organ’s body and pipes contain leather which helps direct the air flow that produces its impressive sound. In the process of decontaminating the organ, the leather must be changed and replaced.
In early December 2020, the Grand Organ was dismantled and removed from Notre-Dame Cathedral, sent for expert restoration at an undisclosed location in France. Once the restoration work on the organ is complete, it will take about six months to tune and harmonize the Grand Organ before it can be played again. Tuning is a very precise process, as the organ is tuned to the specific acoustic environment of Notre-Dame Cathedral. When the cathedral’s reconstruction is finished, the Grand Organ will likely sound brighter than we are accustomed to, because the cathedral’s walls will be free of the dust that settles and accumulates over time.
The restoration work, organ reassembly and tuning are projected to finish by 2024.