Photography by Maximillian Puhane
The organ of the Versailles Royal Chapel was built between 1708 and 1711 by Robert Clicquot and was inaugurated the same year on the Easter day by François Couperin, at that time organist in Saint Gervais. The instrument is located over the altar in an unusual position, contrary to the habitual placement on the rear wall, in order to keep the organ façade turned to the king.
Louis-Alexandre Clicquot changes the organ in 1736, adding new stops, and some decades later, in 1762, François-Henri Clicquot also does a major change in organ registers, removing and replacing stops. During the French revolution the organ pipes were removed and sold, leaving only the original organ case which still survives, apart from the royal symbols that were removed and later reconstructed.
During the 19th century the organ is rebuilt including the surviving pipes and is changed several times, including interventions by John Abbey and Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, which rebuilds completely the organ interior with exception of just four stops that are kept. The Cavaillé-Coll instrument included a wooden reversed console and two of the keyboards from the older console were moved to the “Dauphin” organ.
In 1933 the Cavaillé-Coll organ was no longer playable and in 1936 Victor Gonzalez was called to rebuild completely the organ interior according to the Clicquot instrument. The pipes from the Cavaillé-Coll instrument were moved to the Séminaire de Châteaugiron and later to the Saint Martin de Rennes church, including the 36 original oak Bourdon pipes built by Clicquot. The last reconstruction was carried in 1995 by Jean-Loup Boisseau and Bertrand Cattiaux according to the 1762 state and the only original complete register still in the organ is the 4-rank Plein-Jeu from Robert Clicquot.
The organ case was built by Philippe Bertrand and presents a great vertical dominance, with an unusually narrow façade adapted to the high and narrow royal chapel. The façade pipes are distributed across three frontal towers and two side towers, with a convex case with pipes on the front and both sides.
1708-1711 – organ construction
1736 – changes by Louis-Alexandre Clicquot
1762 – changes by François-Henri Clicquot
1817 – repair by Dallery
1873 – reconstruction by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll
1936 – reconstruction by Victor Gonzalez
1995 – reconstruction to the 1762 state by Jean-Loup Boisseau and Bertrand Cattiaux
|Bourdon 16||Montre 8||Cornet V||Bourdon / Flûte||Flûte 8|
|Montre 8||Bourdon 8||Trompette 8||Cornet III||Flûte 4|
|Flûte 8||Prestant 4||Hautbois 8||Voix humaine 8||Trompette 8|
|Bourdon 8||Flûte 4||Clairon 4|
|Prestant 4||Nazard 2 2/3|
|Grande Tierce 3 1/5||Doublette 2|
|Nazard 2 2/3||Tierce 1 3/5|
|Doublette 2||Larigot 1 1/3|
|Quarte 2||Plein Jeu VI|
|Tierce 1 3/5||Trompette 8|
|Cornet V||Cromorne 8|
|Voix humaine 8|