He had survived, "by a miracle", the flames which had ravaged the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris on April 15 and 16, 2019. This Monday, the organ of the Cathedral will be dismantled for decontamination and in-depth restoration . Voice of the cathedral since 1733, it is the largest instrument in France in terms of number of stops which is now the subject of a huge project which should last four years. Olivier Latry, titular organist of the great organ of Notre-Dame de Paris, is delighted at the microphone of Europe 1 at the start of the decontamination work.
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"It's absolutely a miracle that this organ is still whole, but it's full of dust. Obviously, everything has to be decontaminated, then restored after that," he explains. "An organ is extremely fragile, you wouldn't say like that because you see an enormous mass, a lot of volumes, very heavy things that seem indestructible, but not at all!"
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8,000 pipes for a 4-year project
The Notre-Dame de Paris instrument has around 8,000 pipes divided into 115 stops. During the fire, if the organ was not affected by the flames, it received a lot of water and was covered with lead dust. “It's made up of thousands of parts, there are pipes that are ten meters high, there are pipes that are less than half a centimeter,” continues Olivier Latry. "If you handle them a little too violently, you lose the sound of the pipe."
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This Monday will begin the removal of the keyboard console, which will continue with the piece by piece dismantling of the instrument. They will then be stored in waterproof containers, before the publication of a call for tenders for the cleaning, restoration and reassembly of the great organ. A project that should stretch until 2024. "We are promised that the organ will be there for April 2024 so we are hanging on to this date", hopes Olivier Latry, impatient to find the instrument. "There is an almost carnal relationship, this instrument I spent hours of day, night, working on recording. I feel a little bit orphaned and I really await the resurrection."