France has an organ landscape of unique coherence. During the 17th century a tendency towards rationalization and standardization of the organ grew, which led to a uniform and unmistakable style of organ design in (almost) all of France. Only in some peripheral areas, such as in Alsace or near the Mediterranean coast, some influences of the German, Italian or Spanish organ styles can be seen. French organs followed a plan developed by organ builders and composers, in which each register has a (and sometimes only one) very specific purpose for a specific choice of stops, a special effect, a characteristic musical genre or a special pattern of playing.
Since the French organs of the Baroque were similar in so many details, it was possible for organ composers to prescribe certain choices of stops for their compositions, which could be realized on almost any organ. Every French organ had a wide repertoire of solo stops such as "flute", "cromorne", "trumpet", "voix humaine", "hautbois", the "recit"/"cornet", in contrast to the "plein jeu" or the "grand jeu"; the multi-manual design and the solo stops of the pedal enabled to emphasize the different vocal ranges such as "Dessus", "Taille" or "Basse" with both hands on different manuals.
This peculiarity of the French organ style exerted an enormous attraction on composers and organ builders. The ability to prescribe very specific sound effects for individual works corresponded to the wishes of many composers of this time, but elsewhere in Europe the organs were hardly as typical as in France and therefore did not offer these possibilities to prescribe a certain combination of stops, which was perhaps only possible on very few organs. This alone makes the manifold attempts to introduce French sound elements only too understandable, especially in the strongly diversified organ landscapes of southern and central Germany.
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