Stephane de Sakutin / AFP / Getty Images
Olivier Latry, one of the chief organists at Notre Dame Cathedral, was the last artist to record the famous instrument before the catastrophic fire on April 15 that damaged the structure and caused its spire to collapse. This pipe is the largest in France and dates back centuries. Though it was miraculously spared from the flames, it would still require extensive renovation.
Latry has been a chief organist at Notre Dame since 1985 and has played the organ to record his album, Bach to the Future, about the course of several late nights this fits January, while the church was free of tourists and worshipers. On the day of the fire, Latry recalls getting SMS messages from friends that Notre Dame was burning and not believing it. For Latry, the shock still hasn't completely inserted.
"We were just terrified, absolutely terrified," he says. "This is probably the most famous organ in the world."
Jean-Francois Badias / Courtesy of the artist
The current instrument was built by Cavaillé-Coll during the 19th Century, and some pipes from previous organs date back centuries. Latry says the organ pipes themselves – some 8,000 of them – were not severely damaged. The main issues are fixing the water damage to the body's windchest from when firefighters put out the blaze.
"It's the box where it provides air on the pipes," he says. "So, we have to check all of those things. And, of course, the electric system. … The body has an electrical system which was installed in the last restoration and, as you know, electricity and water doesn't work. together. "
The staff of Notre Dame are still in the process of figuring out how they will make these repairs. They may have to take apart the organ – that's normally done by hoisting it up on a pulley attached to the roof, which is now gone.