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St.Francis of Assisi Church, Valletta.

The Friary Church of St. Francis in Republic Street Valletta has the good fortune to possess a fine pipe organ built in 1932 by the Italian firm of Mascioni who were established in 1829 and are still trading today. This instrument is listed as Opus 443, one of 12 examples around the Maltese islands, the largest of which is situated in St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta. The organ of St. Francis was the second installed by Mascioni in Malta and first one in Valletta.


The pipework and tone of this modest size organ is excellent and one the Church is proud of.  The speech and the pipework has been carefully restored and preserved throughout.  Layers of dirt which have accumulated throughout the years have been removed and every one of the more than 1,400 pipes, which range in length from 16' to the size of a pencil, removed and carefully cleaned.  Some required specialist repair before being replaced, tuned and finely regulated.  This particular organ has a unique named stop found in Malta, the ‘Corno camoscio’ which is a soft toned stop and a Mixture stop (Ripieno) of 6 to 5 ranks.


The original action – the mechanism between the keyboards and the valves, which allows wind into the pipes – was operated pneumatically, which involved a series of lead tubes from each key sending wind through an intricate labyrinth of machines containing thousands of valves and action parts, many of which were made of very thin leather. With such limited space inside the organ and the heat and humidity of the Maltese climate it was impossible to maintain the instrument in reliable working order, therefore a new electro-pneumatic action has been introduced. This has simplified the action, removed the need for 90% of the fine leather and allowed the organ to be made more resourceful. Modern technology now operates the action whilst total maintaining the tonal qualities and pipework in their original form.


Such technology has enabled an additional console to be placed at ground level in the Church. The console attached to the organ has been restored and functions as it always did but the ground level console has additional playing aids; - i.e. an transposing device and  pistons – these are buttons that can be pre-set to bring out a selection of stops in the middle of a piece of music instantly assisting the organist in dynamic control of the instrument.


A playback system has been fitted which enables an organist to pre-record music so the organ can still be played if an organist is not available when required. Similar to the rolls used with a pianola and player organ in years gone by.


Despite this new technology, the wind system is still operated by a series of reservoirs or bellows, which are ribbed and rise when wind from a blowing plant is delivered to them. These four bellows, which take up most of the floor area at the lower level, steady the wind and regulate the amount of pressure that is delivered to the pipes.


The ribs and corners of these bellows are still covered with traditional sheepskin and cow hide leather (though a much thicker variety than the smaller action motors that have been removed).  Traditional restoration methods using hot animal glue is still employed on this part of the restoration.

S p e c i f i c a t i o n

Great (Grande)

Principale 16’
Principale 8’
Flauto 8’
Dulciana 8’
Ottava 4’
Decima Quinta 2’
Ripieno VI-V
Tromba 8’
Voce Umana 8’

Octave Coupler

Sub-Octave Coupler *

Melodic Pedal on Great *

Pedal (Pedale)

Basso Acustico 32' *

Principale 16'    

Basso 8'  

Subbasso 16'

Bordone  8'


II-I 16'

II-I 8'

II-I 4'



I-P 4' *

I-II 8' *


Manual: CC - c 61 notes

Pedal: CCC - G 32 notes

Swell (Espressivo)

Corno Camoscio 8'

Bordone 8'

Viola 8'

Flauto 4'

Nazardo 2 2/3'

Cornetto II  1 1/3'

Coro Viole  III 8'

Octave Coupler

Sub-Octave Coupler *



Wind pressure

Manuals: 3''

Pedals and action 3 1/4'

Balanced Swell Pedal

Crescendo Pedal

Tremolo to Manuals

Manual and foot pre-set pistons

Tromba Cancel

Ripieno Cancel

Combinazione Libera (activating preset stops)


6 Thumb pistons to Swell *

8 Thumb pistons to Great *

8 General Pistons *


Reversers to Sw to Gt *

Gt to Ped & Sw to Ped *


Toe Piston reversers to Sw to Ped & Gt to Ped *

8 pistons duplicating the General Pistons *


12 levels of memory *

Copy facility *

Lock facility *

Transposer 5 up 5 down *

MIDI outputs *

Playback device *

* = Stops, couplers, and accessories on the new ground-level console.

Dismantling and cleaning

Restoration and upgrading

Restoration and upgrading

New console


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