Hooghuys Organ Pages
Dance organs

The dance organs built by Hooghuys certainly belong to the crème the la crème of all organs ever manufactured. The instruments have a very clear sound with contrasting registers, which are very suitable for 'light music' like mazurkas, schottisches, polkas, …
Unfortunately, only few Hooghuys dance organs have remained unaltered: some (like LH630 in Thursford) were rebuilt to 'a semi-fairground organ', while others were enlarged (e.g. LH605 "Condor"). Anyway, Hooghuys never built book organs with more than 100 keys, so instruments with such a number of keys have certainly been modified.

Some instruments originally had an automatic guitar or mandolin, but judging from the small amount of factory books that actually use these registers, this probably wasn't a great success. Therefore, it is not surprising that in many organs these registers have been removed, because they quickly got out of tune ánd because their sound was generally drowned by that of other registers. The organ in the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht (NL) still has the mandolin register, but the mechanism is not attached. The only organ that does have a working mandolin, is LH595 ("Big Bertha") of Ted Bowman from Clophill (GB); the mechanism of the mandolin comes from LH507, a 93-key dance organ that Romain Charles Hooghuys bought in the early ‘60s. Romain disassembled the organ for spare parts.

It might be interesting to know that the scale of most Hooghuys dance organs is always the same up to the grosse caisse (bass drum). Furthermore, some organs had a scale that matches the so-called Gavioli G4-scale (e.g. the above-mentioned LH507).

The façades of the organs vary a lot, but they are usually easy to recognize, because they are hardly similar to those of other organ manufacturers. Typically Hooghuys are the small ‘chapels' which house the vox humana (a.o. on the "Condor" and the organ in Utrecht). Some instruments had a nearly identical façade (e.g. LH600 and LH605, as well as LH640 and LH645); differences are usually very small, apart from disposition divergences.

Dance organ Dance organ   83-key LH553 Move of LH553 to the Music academy of Geraardsbergen
Two factory photos of dance organs. Simply eye-catching is the façade of the right organ; this organ was one of the instruments with a Gavioli G4-scale.
A well-known dance organ: LH553, located here in the room of the Tourist Service of Geraardsbergen.
The organ is one of the 'lucky few' that has hardly been altered. It is one of the first organs with a mechanism that Hooghuys would later use in all his dance organs.
The organ became quite famous after A.Becquart sold it to the well-known English collector Barlow, who named it "Prince Carnival". Afterwards, Arthur Prinsen brought the instrument back to Belgium and in 1986, he sold it to the city of Geraardsbergen which placed in the cafeteria of camping ground "De Gavers". That location was far from ideal, though, so in 2002 it was decided to move the organ to the Tourist Service. There, Marc Hooghuys repaired the instrument so it played well again.
However, in 2004 the organ was moved again, this time to the Music academy in Geraardsbergen. Unfortunately, this location is very bad and the organ doesn't play. But there's hope, since a Circle of Hooghuys Friends devotes its time and energy towards finding a better place for the organ.
  70-key LH595   85-key LH600 85-key LH600   100-key LH605  
70-key LH595 "Big Bertha" owned by Ted Bowman. Apart from having a working mandolin, the organ also has an extensive repertoire with original arrangements by Louis and Romain Charles Hooghuys; there are also splendid arrangements by August Schollaert.
This organ – the 85-key LH600 – is very similar to LH605 "Condor". The organ was sold to England, where it is owned by the son of Melville Watts.
As you can see on the right picture, the façade has been seriously cut down; moreover, internal changes have been made too: originally, the organ had a mandolin ánd a guitar but both have been removed. Furthermore, the organ has a wind chest and a key frame from a Mortier organ – a modification carried out by Pierre Verbeeck.
The well-known 100-key LH605 "Condor", now to be seen in the Boudewijnpark in Brugge. The organ became famous thanks to an LP on the Decca-label.
The organ was originally built as a 97-key instrument but Romain Charles enlarged it to 100 keys, a.o. by installing piccolo's using separate keys.
Unfortunately, the organ is not in optima forma anymore …
  90-key LH615 Top piece of the façade of LH615   71-key LH620   101-key LH630  

The 90-key LH615 in the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht (NL). This organ still has a mandolin (which is located above the name plate) but the mechanism is not attached.
The façade is now completed with the top piece on the right picture: this part was obviously forgotten when the organ was bought. Marc Hooghuys made sure that it returned where it belongs.
Interesting about this organ is that the lovely Jugendstil-façade was only delivered years after the organ itself: the instrument was probably already finished before the outbreak of WWI but only got its façade after the end of the hostilities.

71-key LH620, on this photo in possession of Ron Bennett; the organ is now owned by Bill Nunn (USA).
The organ has more or less the same scale as Ted Bowman's LH595.
The instrument has been completely overhauled by Bill Nunn and is now named "Sunflower".
Charles Hooghuys once owned this particular organ; he placed it in his café.
101-key LH630 in the Thursford Collection of the late George Cushing.
The organ was sold by Albert Becquart to George Cushing in the early ‘60s, together with LH640 and LH645. Before that, the organ had already been modified and enlarged to adapt it for use on the fairgrounds.
  83-key LH640   101-key LH645   84-key LH650 84-key LH650  
83-key LH640 on its current location, on an elevated platform in the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim (D).
For a long time, this organ was part of the collection of the Turner family in England; it found its way to its current spot via Retonio in Switzerland.
101-key LH645, which can be found in Thursford like LH630.
This organ has a façade that is identical to the one of LH640; its scale used to be the same too, but it was altered so books could be exchanged with LH630.
At this moment, a team led by Bob Ince (with the cooperation of Judith Howard) is bringing back the organ to its original specifications as much as possible.
84-key LH650 in the Sanfilippo-collection in the USA. This was one of the last organs manufactured under Louis Hooghuys; after Louis' decease, it was assembled by Charles (hence the initials "Ch." on the name plate; but the organ does have serial no.LH650).
Underlying layers of paint have shown that the façade was manufactured by Mortier, but it is unclear whether Charles or later owners have 'united' this façade with the organ.
For a long time, the organ was a popular crowd puller in Café Toerist in Loppem (B); from there it was sold to the USA via J.Verbeeck.
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Page updated on 25.08.2006