Paris instrument with 8,000 pipes and five keyboards will be cleaned and repaired

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Work has begun to dismantle and repair the grand organ in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which escaped serious damage after a devastating fire in April 2019.

The instrument, believed to be the biggest in France, was untouched by the flames that threatened to engulf the building and the gallons of water used by firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

Though largely spared, experts say it suffered heat damage and is coated in dust from the 460 tonnes of lead tiles from the cathedral roof and spire that went up in smoke. With the roof destroyed and the inside of the cathedral exposed, the grand organ also suffered from the heatwave last summer.

On Monday, workers were to start taking apart the instrument, which has 8,000 pipes, five keyboards and 109 stops and is situated under the rose-stained window to the west of the cathedral. The pipes will be individually cleaned and repaired.

The aim is to have the organ, situated 16 metres above floor-level, playing again on 16 April 2024, exactly five years since the fire, a wish expressed by President Emmanuel Macron on the night of the conflagration.

Vincent Dubois, one of the cathedral’s three organists, said the instrument was “extraordinary”.

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