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Organist’s space: events, organ travels and player stories

Thomas Dallam’s Organ for Sultan Mehmet III 1599

Dallams diary

Born about 1575 Dallam served an apprenticeship as a Blacksmith but went on to become an organ builder of great repute and is believed to have built the organs of Kings College Cambridge, Eton College and the Cathedrals of Norwich, Bristol and Worcester.

But none of the commissions can rival the extraordinary instruction from Queen Elizabeth the First to build an instrument as a gift for Sultan Mehmet III  who became ruler of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1595. This gift together with  a horse drawn coach was to cement trading relationships between the two nations. An so Dallam set sail in 1599 for Constantinople with his instrument which as today required building in the Sultan’s Palace

Schematic of the organ sharpenedAs a present intended to garner trade and political advantages for England, a fantastic mechanical organ. Dallam’s wonder stood 16 feet high and was topped by a silver holly bush filled with blackbirds and thrushes that sung and shook their wings.

Indeed the Sultan was so  pleased with the organ that Dallam was offered the pick of three concubines or virgins from the palace harem. Dallam kept a diary and he records of his viewing of the women   “I stood so long looking upon them that (the guide) stamped with his foot to make me give over looking; the which I was very loath to do, for that sight did please me wondrous well.”


Dallam’s ingenuous style and numerous adventures make for a highly enjoyable storey.You tube audio image

You can go to a You Tube reading of the diary by clicking the picture to the right.


John Moles bookA hard copy of the diary can be purchased from Amazon.

To go to the Amazon page click the picture to the left.

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I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.

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