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De Châlons à Pontigny



            1643, December - 1645: Construction of the organ for the Saint-Pierre abbey of Châlons in Champagne, by “Nicolas, factor and organist, assisted by the factor [Chrétien] Dognon (chief organier) and the sculptor Pierre Prévost”, for the sum of 3212 pounds [check A.D. Marne, H 922, fol. 137 v°] (Jacques Gardien, The organ and the organists in Burgundy and Franche-Conté in the eighteenth century, Paris, 1943, p. 244).  

            In 1771, Saint-Pierre Abbey was demolished [check A.D.Marne, series J]; the organ is sold to the abbot of Pontigny, Dom [Nicolas] Chanlatte (Gardien, ibid.).



            1708, or shortly before: construction of the stand by Dom Joseph Caron, as well as a positive:

                June 25, 1708: “a new gallery was made to place an organ, the positive of which was made and placed. » (A.D. Yonne, 40 B 84, minutes of reform of Water and Forests, Mastery of Sens, visit to Pontigny, p. 13).

                [between 1690 and 1708]: “being a cellar maker [Joseph Caron] himself made the porticos which support the barley games and had this positive made” (Auxerre, Bibl. Mun., ms. 225, p. 127: history of Pontigny attributed to Dom Edme Robinet [between 1726 and 1738]).

                [between 1690 and 1708]: “[Joseph Caron] had sculpted with his own hands, being a celery grower, the portico which supports the organ, and had the positive made” (Auxerre, Bibl. Mun., ms. 222, fol. 26 r°-v° [p. 51-52]: history of Pontigny by Dom Jean Depaquy [around 1790]).




            1773: the large body is installed in Pontigny by the Trojan master organ builder Jean Richard who seems to have been quite proud of it, indicating in his estimate of 1174 (Abbé L. Landry, The great organ of the cathedral of Sens, Sens, 1938, p. 7) for the instrument of Sens Cathedral: “I made another [organ] last year in Pontigny, and I can flatter myself that it is absolutely beautiful! » (Landry, op. cit., p. 9 [check the dating on the original, undoubtedly in the Archives of the Fabrique de la Cathédrale de Sens, cf. Landry, op. cit., p. 8])


            N.B. According to Gardien (op. cit., n. 2 [check the terms of the text cited from February 27, 1790, A.D.Marne, series L]), the positive would have remained in Châlons, and we do not know if the de Pontigny is attributed to Richard. It could perhaps be the one built at the beginning of the 18th century. if we are to believe Dom Depaquy (op. cit., fol. 29 [p. 57]) who writes:

“It is to [Nicolas Chanlatte] that we owe the organ in the state it is: before him, only the positive existed.”

Jean-Luc Benoit,  2006       

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