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Profile of Dominic Gwynn

Dominic Gwynn
Honorary Research Fellow, ICSMuS
01909 485635
School of Music, College Road


Dominic Gwynn read Modern History at St. John’s College Oxford, 1971–4. Since then he has been a practicing organ builder, and since 1980 a director of Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn, organ builders. In 2003–4 he was awarded a Leverhulme Trust grant to research and write a book on the social and cultural history of the English organ between 1500 and 1770, a project which should be completed in 2008.

Research Interests

As a historian, he has organised conferences, given lectures and written articles, mostly through the British Institute of Organ Studies, and mostly into British organ building and the place of the organ in musical culture in the period 1500 to 1800. As organ builders he has specialized in restoring British historic organs, and making new ones in the classical British style. The mixture of research and traditional craft techniques has led to exciting restoration and reconstruction projects, usually with the funding of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Most exciting has been the making of two new early 16th century organs, based on two soundboards found in Suffolk in recent years, for the Early English Organ Project. The two organs have helped to open up and stimulate a whole area of British musical culture.

Main Publications



  • Lost Worlds: the English Organ before 1700 in Essays in Honor of Peter Williams (Organ Historical Society Press 2007)
  • The Renatus Harris organ at St Botolph Aldgate and Three Dutch chamber organs, Organbuilding vol7


  • The origins of the English style in organ building in BIOS Journal 30
  • Twenty-five years of Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn, and with Edward Bennett The Organ at PonsonbyBaptistChurch, Auckland, New Zealand (the 1774 John Avery chamber organ), Organbuilding vol6


  • The Convent of Santa Clara Santiago de Compostela (the restoration of the 1709 Manuel de la Vina organ) and St Mary and All Angels Great Budworth (the restoration of the 1839 Samuel Renn organ) Organbuilding vol5
  • The chamber organ in Stuart England; the background to the Smithfield organ in Organ Restoration Reconsidered, edited by John R. Watson, essays delivered at the colloquium Historic Organs Reconsidered: Restoration and Conservation for a New Century, held in 1999 at St. Luke’s Church (1609) in Smithfield, Virginia (Harmonie Park Press USA)
  • From stops organical to stops of variety: the English organ from 1630 to 1730 in From Renaissance to Baroque: Change in Instruments and Instrumental Music in the Seventeenth Century eds. Jonathan Wainwright and Peter Holman (Ashgate)


  • A study in the transmission of organ building knowledge in early modern England BIOS Journal 28
  • Two new chamber organs (for Harm Vellguth and LeedsUniversity) Organbuilding vol4
  • A series of five short articles on the business of organ restoration for Church Music Quarterly


  • With Ian Bell St James’s Church, Bermondsey (the restoration of the 1829 J.C.Bishop organ) in Organbuilding vol3


  • The restoration of the 1829 J.C.Bishop organ at St James Bermondsey in BIOS Journal 26
  • The newest and the oldest organs in England: reconstructions of two pre-Reformation Tudor organs in Organbuilding 2 (2002)


  • Historic Organ Conservation: a practical introduction to processes and planning (Church House Publishing)
  • The restoration of the 1829 J.C.Bishop organ at St James’s Bermondsey Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol25


  • Conservation of old materials in organs in Towards the Conservation and Restoration of Historic Organs (A record of the 1999 Liverpool Conference) Church House Publishing


  • A new British organ in Germany, the new organ for the church of St Nikolaus, Rehringhausen, Westphalia The Organbuilder vol16
  • The sound of the seventeenth-century English chamber organ Chelys vol25 (published papers from the 1995 Viol da Gamba Society conference in York)


  • Two English pre-Reformation organ soundboards The Organ Yearbook volXXVI
  • A description of the organ from the middle of the eighteenth century in William Emerson’s Principles of Mechanics of 1758 Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol21
  • (with Martin Goetze) A new seventeenth century Italian chamber organ Organists’ Review 2/1997
  • An organ of two periods (the Williams Wynn organ in the NationalMuseum of Wales, Cardiff) The Organbuilder, vol15


  • The Handel organ at St Lawrence Whitchurch The Handel Institute Newsletter vol7/2


  • The new organ at St Lawrence Whitchurch Choir and Organ 1995/1
  • The Organs of St Lawrence Whitchurch The Organ 1995/2
  • The English organ in Purcell’s lifetime in Performing the Music of Henry Purcell, ed. Michael Burden (Oxford)
  • ”Wondrous Machine”: the organ that Purcell knew Organists’ Review 1995/3 + 4
  • The development of English reeds from Robert Dallam to John Gray Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol19
  • Purcell’s organ at Westminster Abbey Early Music November 1995


  • The development of English key actions up to 1800 Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol17


  • The Organ at St John the Baptist, Marldon, Devon, England The Organ Yearbook vol22


  • The development of bellows systems in British organs c990–1790 Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol14


  • Building a classical English organ Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol13


  • Reviving the classical organbuilding tradition in Britain Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol12


  • Voicing developments in the eighteenth-century English organ The Organbuilder vol4


  • Organ pitch in seventeenth-century England Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies 9

With Martin Goetze I have made available our reports on the organs which we have restored (or used as models for new ones), called the Harley Monographs. Some are studies of the organs, some are restoration reports with technical information, available from us, either on CD or bound hard copy. There are currently about 40 of varying sizes.