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Cathedral organ receiving cleaning

PARIS (AP) — Pipe by precious pipe, the organ that once thundered through Notre Dame Cathedral is being taken apart after last year’s devastating fire.

The mammoth task of dismantling, cleaning and re-assembling France’s largest musical instrument started Monday and is expected to last nearly four years.

Once restored, it will take six months just to tune the organ, according to the state agency overseeing Notre Dame’s restoration. Its music isn’t expected to resound again through the medieval Paris monument until 2024, to the dismay of the cathedral’s dedicated organists.

“It’s a very powerful organ, but with also a lot of poetry,” said Johann Vexo, who was playing the organ during an evening Mass when the fire alarm sounded on April 15, 2019. “It’s just probably the most beautiful organ in the world.”

Amazingly, the 8,000-pipe organ survived the fire, which consumed the cathedral’s roof and toppled its spire. But the blaze coated the instrument in toxic lead dust that must now be painstakingly removed.

And while the organ didn’t burn, it did suffer damage from a record heatwave last summer.

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