Casavant Frères is a prominent Canadian company that builds fine pipe organs.
Company history and technical innovationsEdit
It had its beginnings with Joseph Casavant, the first Canadian-born organ builder, who received his first commission to build an organ in 1840. He built a total of 17 organs. The company then continued under the direction of his two sons Claver and Samuel and thrives to this day.
The brothers traveled extensively in Europe where they studied organs and organ construction. They returned to Canada and set up their firm in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, in 1879. The company still continues at this same location.
Their instruments boasted many innovations such as concave pedalboards, balanced expression pedals, keyboard improvements, and other enhancements. Their reputation as organ builders of international status was cemented in 1891 with their construction of the organ for the Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, a four-manual organ of eighty-two stops. This famous organ features adjustable combinations and speaking pipes of thirty-two foot length in the façade.
They won the Grand Prix at the International Exhibition held in Antwerp, Belgium in 1930.
They built organs around the world, including Canada, the United States, Australia, Bahamas, Bermuda, China, Colombia, Equator, France, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and Zimbabwe. Their organs have been praised by many famous organists over the last 100 years, including Guilmant, Vierne, Widor, Bonnet, Lemare, Dethier, Courboin, Bingham and many others who inaugurated and played Casavant organs. Many organists learn to play on Casavant organs because they have been installed in the leading colleges, universities and conservatories in the United States and Canada.
After the death of the Casavant brothers, the company continued to add new innovations to their instruments including an extraordinarily reliable key contact and tracker touch mechanism which is a hallmark of the Casavant playing action.
During the 1960s Casavant pioneered new electronic technology to the capture system of combination actions.
In 1960 the company returned to mechanical action technology and has since built over two hundred tracker instruments ranging in size from a single manual portable Continuo of four stops to two, three and four manual organs.
New technology such as solid-state coupling and switching systems, multiplex, multi-memory combination actions and MIDI have been adopted, and other improvements, such as more effective expressive enclosures, continue to be made.
Casavant organs tend to have a "French" sound.
Some significant Casavant organs Edit
- Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, a "Casavant Opus 3750" with 129 stops and 10,615 pipes
- Temple complex of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri, a "Casavant Opus 3700" four-manual organ of 60 stops, 5,685 pipes 
- Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico, 123 stops
- Victorian Arts Centre in Melbourne, Australia, 60 stops, tracker action
- Chapel of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, 66-stops - probably the only organ in the world which is entirely suspended from the ceiling
- Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, 83 stops
- Saint-Nom-de-Jésus in Montreal, 90 stops
- St Paul's Anglican Church in Toronto, 106 stops
- Royal York Hotel in Toronto, 107 stops
- Emmanuel Church in Boston, 137 stops
- Metropolitan United Church, Toronto, 5 keyboards and 110 stops
- Hanson Place Seventh-day Adventist Church, Brooklyn New York. 4 Manual 63 Stops
There have been many recordings performed on Casavant Freres organs. Many recent recordings are listed here .
Celebrated Canadian pianist Glen Gould recorded his 1962 album The Art of the Fugue by Bach (Columbia Records) on a Casavant Freres organ in All Saints' Kingsway Anglican Church in Toronto. The organ was a very advanced design but was destroyed by fire shortly after the recording was made.