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The great symphonic organ of Notre Dame de Paris, considered by the French to be the "voice of the cathedral" since 1733, will sound like new again in 2024 after its restoration, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the fire that devastated this gem in April 2019 of the Gothic and the reopening of the temple to the faithful.

Today Monday the dismantling of the organ begins - made up of 8,000 pipes divided into 115 sets - so that it can be cleaned and restored. First the five keyboard console will be dismantled and then, one by one, the tubes that form it. This dismantling operation is expected to last until the end of the year. The organ parts will be stored in four watertight containers until they are cleaned and restored.

The organ, one of the most beautiful in France, should have begun dismantling in April, but the operation was delayed due to confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused a halt in the restoration works of Notre Dame.

Thorough organ cleaning and restoration work will take place between 2021 and 2024. Due to lead contamination, a very strict protocol must be followed. "The work will be done under a diving suit and should not exceed 90 consecutive minutes," explained Eric Brottier, an organ expert at the French Ministry of Culture a few months ago.

General Jean-Louis Georgelin, president of the public establishment responsible for the conservation and restoration of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, recalled that the great organ is "one of the jewels of the cathedral" and considered that its restoration represents "a stage important in the revival of the cathedral. "

First scheduled concert: April 2024

The goal is for the organ to sound again in the heart of Notre Dame on April 16, 2024 on the occasion of the "tedeum" (solemn liturgical hymn of thanksgiving of the Catholic Church) to be organized in the cathedral on the fifth anniversary of the fire.

The Notre Dame de Paris organ was not hit by the flames and received "relatively little water" during firefighters to put out the fire, according to the public body in charge of restoring the Parisian cathedral.

However, the organ was damaged as it was covered in lead particles that spread throughout the instrument. In addition, some parts have suffered due to the thermal variations experienced by the cathedral since the fire, especially due to the strong humidity after the intervention of the firefighters and during the heat wave of July 2019.

Throughout the history of Notre Dame, there have been various organs that have accompanied the most important religious and national events in the country with their music. These have been modernized to their current state.

The architect Eugène Viollet-le Duc, responsible for the restoration of the cathedral in the 19th century, commissioned the French organ maker Aristide Cavaillé-Coll "an instrument worthy of a cathedral". Its symphonic organ was modernized in the 20th century, but it still preserves some tubes from the 15th century, according to the cathedral's website.

Scaffold removal

Fifteen months after the Notre Dame de Paris fire, restoration work on the cathedral has not yet begun . So far debris has been removed and consolidation work has been carried out on the building, the structure of which was badly damaged by the fire.

The dismantling of the scaffolding , which had been placed before the fire to restore the spire of the cathedral and which resisted the accident, will continue throughout the summer . The 40,000 pieces that make it up were deformed and welded together by fire and must be cut by hand for removal. This delicate operation is expected to end in September.

Once the scaffolding has been disassembled, you will be able to better see the state in which the cathedral vault is actually located . "In October we will do the diagnostic studies. It is a capital stage because it will allow us, finally, to do the planning until 2024 and determine the works that must be done," General Georgelin explained a few days ago. "Until we have thoroughly examined the vault, we do not know how many stones it will take," he added.

An Olympic goal

Following the fire, President Emmanuel Macron set himself the ambitious goal of restoring Notre Dame in five years , just in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024. Georgelin is confident that Notre Dame can reopen to worship on that date but not He believes that all the restoration works are finished by then, especially on the exterior of the cathedral.

Macron, who had initially been in favor of giving "a contemporary gesture" to the cathedral after its restoration, finally announced that the spire will be restored in exactly the same way that Violet-le-Duc built it in the 19th century and that it collapsed during the fire last year.

The wooden or charpente frame of the cathedral, known as "the forest", will also be rebuilt in an identical way to the original, that is, with oak beams. They estimate that they will need between 1,000 and 2,000 oaks.

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