Victor Gonzalez (1877-1956) was the founder of the neo-classic French school, together with Norbert Dufourcq, Béranger de Miramon Fitz-James and André Marchal (founders of the famous Association des Amis de l'orgue), which became the leading principle of French organ building and renovation in the past century, starting in the years between both world wars. Victor Gonzalez worked at the Cavaillé-Coll company, Gutschenritter, Gustave Masure, Merklin, and founded his own company with the engineer Victor Ephrem in 1922. In 1930, he founded Les Établissements Gonzalez with his son Fernand, who died in 1940. A well-known instrument made by Victor Gonzalez, and also his last creation, is that of the Cathedral of Soisson (1956).
After the death of Victor Gonzalez in 1956, his employee Georges Danion (who married the granddaughter of Victor Gonzalez in 1945) inherited the company, now named the Danion-Gonzalez company. Well-known instruments made in those days are the organs of l’Oratoire du Louvre in Paris (1962), the Cathedral of Chartres (1964) and the 104 concert hall of Radio France (1966, relocated at Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille – Lille). In 1988, the company was purchased by Bernard Dargassies, a former employee, and named Manufacture Vosgienne de Grandes Orgues Bernard Dargassies. Besides a big factory in The Vodges (Rambervillers), there is a small annex in Paris named Atelier de Facture d'Orgues Bernard Dargassies since 2007. The last new organ of Bernard Dargassies can be found in the Parisian church Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours (1997-2004). Many organs in Paris have been restaurated and are maintained by Dargassies.
Until 1925, organ aesthetics had followed music trends of the end of the 19th century and of the beginning of the 20th century with romantic and symphonic music. Organ builders of this period, for which the most renowned were Merklin and Cavaillé-Coll, offered organ design with an important number of foundation ranks and a significant expressive great section, providing a very symphonic sound result. Therefore, we speak about orchestral organ.
The neo-classic organ is the outcome of the collaboration of Victor Gonzalez, the musicologist Norbert Dufourcq and Master André Marchal, titular organist, among others, of the Saint Eustache's great organ from 1945 till 1963. While preserving the best of the symphonic color of organs of organ builders such as Cavaillé-Coll or Merklin, the neo-classic aesthetics reintroduced more brilliant colors with mixtures, mutation ranks and clearer and softer reeds.
Source: Marc Perrot