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The Pipe Organ: Its History and an Overview of Examples Around the World
(Released December 2011)

  by Sandie Schwenker  


Key Citations




Key Citations Short Format Full Format
  1. Catching them Young: 'The organ pipes at the gates of dawn'

    C. Shelborne.

    The Organ, Vol. 90, No. 357, Aug-Oct 2011, pp. 46.

    Shelborne reviews a special organ recital for an audience of 1,300 schoolchildren from Suffolk and Essex, England. The July 4, 2011 event, entitled "'Keys, Hands, Feet and Pipes,"' featured organists Daniel Moult and William Saunders in a 50-minute program designed to educate and excite the young audience regarding the history, music, and physics of the pipe organ.

  2. Cathedral Organs of England - VI: The Organs of Southwark Cathedral

    E. Dean.

    The Organ, Vol. 90, No. 357, Aug-Oct 2011, pp. 14.

    Dean discusses the provenance, design and structure of the 1897 Lewis and Company pipe organ of Southwark Cathedral, London, England. A detailed history of the renovations and enhancements to the instrument subsequent to its installation is provided.

  3. The Historic Organs of the Chapels Royal

    Carl Jackson.

    Organists' Review, Vol. 97, No. 2, May 2011, pp. 17-23.

    While there are no physical remains of a Tudor organ in any of the Chapels Royal of today, there are numerous contemporary references to organs being purchased, repaired, tuned, or moved between Whitehall, Hampton Court, Richmond, Greenwich, and St. James' Palaces (and elsewhere) in the period 1493-1714. Whitehall Palace was the London home of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early part of the 16th century and known then as York Place. John and Samuel Chappington, who came from a family of Devon organ builders, are known to have built an organ for Whitehall Palace in 1599. References to organs at St. James' Palace have been discovered for the years 1593, 1547, 1576, 1613, 1710, 1785, 1810, and 1866. The first organ was installed at Hampton Court Palace in May 1538 and was rebuilt in 1636. Other rebuilds occurred in 1710, 1840, 1857, and 1957. The Chapel Royal of St. Peter-ad-Vincula, Tower of London received an organ in 1891 that was missing its chaire case. Among all of these organs, very little of the original pipework remains.

  4. Oxbridge Organs - II: Brasenose College


    The Organ, Vol. 90, No. 357, Aug-Oct 2011, pp. 37.

    Brasenose College was equipped pretty soon after its foundation in 1509 with a pair of organs in its original chapel in the Old Quad.

  5. Oxbridge Organs - II: Harris Manchester College

    C. Rogers.

    The Organ, Vol. 90, No. 357, Aug-Oct 2011, pp. 30.

    In the second installment of a series, Rogers discusses notable historic pipe organs in the colleges of Oxford University, Oxford, England. The provenance and design of the organs of Harris Manchester College, St. Peter's College, and Brasnose College are presented.

  6. Oxbridge Organs - II: St Peter's College


    The Organ, Vol. 90, No. 357, Aug-Oct 2011, pp. 34.

    St Peter's is in a similar position as Harris Manchester in the context of Oxford in that, although it is by no means one of the more prominent colleges, it houses an organ - an essentially unaltered one by Father Willis - that far outshines those of quite a few, considerably more famous colleges.

  7. 'Recreating' the Sounds of Central Germany

    E. Dean.

    The Organ, Vol. 90, No. 357, Aug-Oct 2011, pp. 40.

    Dean presents an analysis of the great historic pipe organs of Germany, in order to shed light on the articulation and registrations intended by Baroque German composers such as J. S. Bach. Such information was rarely recorded in the original manuscripts, but an examination of the instruments known to Bach and his contemporaries can provide hints.

  8. Three Wonderful Organs in Le Marche, Italy

    Bill Halsey.

    The Diapason, Vol. 101, No. 1, January 2010.

    Halsey highlights a trip to Pesaro, Italy, where he accompanied singers and visited historic organs. He was curious about organs outside of the classical period, from the 16th to 19th centuries. He describes the following instruments, buildings, and their histories: (1) the Angelo and Nicola Morettini organ at the Monastero della Fonte Avellana in Serra Sant'Abbondio; (2) the Malamini organ at Chiesa di San Francesco in Cagli; and (3) a French Romantic organ at the cathedral in Cagli.

  9. Historic Organs in Minas Gerais - Brazil: The Instruments in Diamantina and Córregos

    Calimerio Soares.

    The Organ, Vol. 88, No. 347, February-April 2009, pp. 31.

    During the 17th and 18th centuries, music was an important activity in several historic cities in Brazil. Apart from the European instruments found today at the Se Cathedral of Mariana (Schnitger/Ulenkampf) and at the Church of Santo Antonio in Tíradentes, there were many interesting small organs in several churches and farm chapels in Minas Gerais. While the majority have disappeared, one remains at the Museu Regional in São João del Rei, but only the case, the mechanism, and one pipe have survived. The Church of Bonsucesso in Caeté holds the remains of a cabinet organ, with no surviving pipes or mechanism. In Diamantina city, Chica da Silva and Padre José Rolim raised money for the construction of the organ for the Church of Carmo, and two organs were built by Padre Manuel de Almeida e Silva for the churches of Carmo and Santo Antonio. Another instrument is located in the village of Córregos at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora d'Aparecida.

  10. Brief History of the Organs of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul

    Paul R. Marchesano.

    The Tracker - Journal of the Organ Historical Society, Vol. 51, No. 3, Summer 2007, pp. 20-30.

    A history of the organs of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is provided. The first pipe organ known to have been installed in the cathedral was built by John C. B. Standbridge in 1868 and is known only from historical sources. In 1920, Herbert Brown of the Austin Organ Company, sold a new organ to the cathedral for $30,000: the Austin Organ Opus 939, which contained four manuals and pedal, consisting of 72 stops, 56 pipe ranks, and 3,672 pipes. The Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which had been added to the north side of the cathedral in 1954, was supplied with an organ under a separate contract with the Tellers Organ Company. After the cathedral was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, it was decided that the current organ was inadequate; in 1977 Austin Organs representative Brantley A. Duddy was contracted to rebuild the Tellers organ. The author concludes that with each replacement or rebuilding, the cathedral organ was diminished.

  11. A Forest of Pipes: The Story of the Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ


    The Diapason, Vol. 98, No. 8, Aug 2007, pp. 15.

    Zobelein's monograph on the pipe organ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Balcony Press, 2007) is reviewed.

  12. A History of the Organ in Latvia

    Alexander Fiseisky.

    The Diapason, Vol. 98, No. 8, Aug 2007, pp. 24.

    The history of the organ and its music in the territories of modern Latvia is chronicled, beginning in the 13th and continuing through the 20th century. A brief history of the country, including occupations and foreign rule on to independence, is detailed. Organ builders, some Latvian, but primarily Germans, who built instruments in the region throughout the centuries are introduced, and prominent composers and musicians who lived in Riga and other cultural centers in Latvia are discussed.

  13. The Organ in England to the Death of Elizabeth I: Its Music, Technology, and the Wider Role

    Calvert Johnson.

    The Diapason, Vol. 98, No. 8, Aug 2007, pp. 22.

    A series of lectures and presentations given at the April 12-15, 2007, conference on Tudor-era organ music held at New College and All Souls College, Oxford University, in England, are recounted. Topics include: (1) reproduction organs, (2) medieval polychromy, (3) pre-Reformation liturgy, (4) the organ as spiritual technology, (5) performance practices, and (6) other subjects related to the organ. Performances held during the conference are also discussed.

  14. An Organ Tour in the Paris of the South - The Last Frontier: An Organ Tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 27-June 4, 2006

    David Dahl.

    The American Organist, Vol. 41, No. 1, January 2007, pp. 82-88.

    Highlights of the first organ tour to Argentina for North Americans, held May 27-June 4, 2006, are provided. The Last Frontier Organ Tour provided a unique opportunity to hear mostly untouched instruments by Walcker, Serassi, Bossi, Forster & Andrews, Merklin, and Mutin-Cavaillé-Coll. At each visit, members of the tour were invited to play and examine the interior of the instruments. Churches on the tour included Colegio "'San Jose"' Chapel, the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, Nuestra Señora de Monserrat, Basilica de Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, the Church of San Juan Bautista, the Basilica de Maria Auzilliadora y San Carlos, the Cathedral Metropolitana, Primera Iglesia Metodista, the Basilica del Santisimo Sacramento, the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Luján, and the Iglesia Evangelica Alemana. Specifications for the organs at these places of worship are included.

  15. The Organistas: A kaleidoscopic view behind the scenes into the fascinating world of the pipe organ. Master musicians speak about why they are passionate about the "'King of Instruments."'

    Joel H. Kuznik.

    The Diapason, Vol. 98, No. 8, Aug 2007, pp. 16.

    A DVD recording that examines both famous pipe organs and the musicians who play them (Pheasant's Eye Production, DVD) is reviewed.

  16. Organs in Los Angeles Part I: Pondering the Future of the Historic Organ in Second Church of Christ, Scientist

    James Lewis.

    The Tracker - Journal of the Organ Historical Society, Vol. 52, No. 1, Winter 2008, pp. 26-28.

    In part one of a series of articles about organs in Los Angeles, California, the focus is on the historic organ in the Second Church of Christ, Scientist. The three-manual, 47-rank 1910 Murray Harris organ is installed high above the readers' platform and speaks through a decorative plaster grille. Drawing all of the eight-foot flue stops on the Great gives a full sound that is clear in the bass and tenor and brightens as it ascends the compass. Over the years, the organ has had very little alteration. In 1956, a new drawknob console replaced the original, elegant Harris console, and some damage was done by an unqualified worker who removed some pipes from the chests and stored them incorrectly. When the church property went up for sale in 2007, the purchasers, a Buddhist group, asked that the pews and organ be removed before they took possession, and the Christian Science congregation scrambled to sell the organ. At the last minute, the Buddhist group backed out, and the new owners have decided to keep both the pews and the organ.

  17. The University of Michigan Historic Organ Tour 54

    Jeffrey K. Chase.

    The Diapason, Vol. 98, No. 12, December 2007, pp. 24-26.

    The Marilyn Mason University of Michigan Historic Organ Tour 54, held July 9-22, 2007, is discussed. The tour examined the cities and churches limning the lives and careers of composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Dietrich Buxtehude, and organ builders Silbermann, Schnitger, Trost, and Marcussen. Historic organs were visited in Mühlhausen, Weimar, Eisenach, Arnstadt, Altenburg, Frauenstein, Freiberg, Dresden, Leipzig, Wittenberg, Hamburg, Lübeck, Arhus, Odense, and Copenhagen. One of the primary values of the tour is that all of the travelers can acquaint themselves with famous historic organs of the world and experience what it is about each that makes it so revered.

  18. Estonia

    Andrew Williams.

    The Organ, Vol. 85, No. 337, August-October 2006, pp. 8-11.

    Highlights of a symposium held in Kihelkonna, Estonia, May 19-25, 2006, are recalled. Its theme was the preservation of historic organs in the Baltic countries. The parish church of St. Michael in Kihelkonna houses Estonia's most intact historic organ – a two-manual instrument built as a one-manual organ in 1805 by Johann Andreas Stein and added to in 1890 by Friedrich Weissenborn. The organs of Heinrich Andreas Contius are also typical of the region. Lectures, discussions, and concerts presented as part of the symposium are outlined, and a post-conference tour of historic organs in Northern Estonia is recounted.

  19. Organ Specification: Trost Organ, Altenburg

    Felix Friedrich.

    Organists' Review, Vol. 92, No. 4, November 2006, pp. 56-58.

    The Baroque pipe organ located at the Schloßkirche in Altenburg, Germany, is described, and its specifications are provided. The organ was built by Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost between 1735 and 1739 and holds a high place among the historic organs of Europe. A complete restoration and reconstruction of the Trost organ was carried out by VEB Eule-Orgelbau of Bautzen from 1974 to 1976.

  20. The Organs of Brazil

    Calimerio Soares.

    The Organ, Vol. 85, No. 338, November 2006-January 2007, pp. 34-35.

    The Portuguese imported organs into the Brazilian colonies as early as the 16th century to use in conversions and Masses. These organs are no longer around, but evidence of their existences can be found. Soares describes many historical organs that remain in Brazil, with creation dates originating in the 17th century. The organs at the Church of Santo Antonio in Tiradentes (Minas Gerais), the Church of Our Lady of Carmo in Diamantina (Minas Gerais), the Sé Cathedral of Mariana (Minas Gerais), and the Church of the Seraphic Father São Francisco (São Paulo) are examined.

  21. Who Built the First Organ in America?: A Historiography

    Michael D. Friesen.

    The Tracker - Journal of the Organ Historical Society, Vol. 50, No. 3-4, Summer-Fall 2006, pp. 52-70.

    A history of the early organs and organbuilders in America is provided. Several "'first organs"' are described, and several "'first builders"' are profiled. Historical documents indicate that there was an organ in the St. Augustine (Florida) church about 1700, but it could have been there as early as 1687. That year, Don Antonio Ponce de León is recorded as being the chief sacristan of the church, and his name also appears as the church organist. In the West Indies, there are two known "'first"' organs: one in Havana, Cuba, and one on Barbados. Several "'first"' organ dates also arise in the first decade of the 18th century, representing the introduction of the organ into Britain's North American colonies. Other "'first"' organ claims in the 1740s and beyond include the claim that the first American organ was built by Edward Bromfield, Jr. in Boston in 1745 and the claim that Thomas Johnston was the first professional organbuilder in America.

  22. The Organs of Stockholm: Part 1 - Gamla Stan and Kungsholmen

    Alastair Disley.

    The Organ, Vol. 84, No. 331, February-March 2005, pp. 28-32.

    Part one in a series of articles about the historic pipe organs of Stockholm, Sweden, is presented. Olof Schwan was a prolific 18th-century organ builder who trained with Green & Stråle. He built organs in a number of Stockholm's churches, including a 56-stop organ in the Storkyrkan. His organs were in typical Swedish style, although latterly influenced by the Abbé Vogler. Specifications for the following organs are provided: (1) Die Orgel der Deutschen St Gertruds Kirche; (2) Die Disposition der neuen Orgel nach dem Protokoll Gustav Dübens von 1684; (3) the pipe organ at Stockholm City Hall, one of the largest in Northern Europe; and (4) Kungsholms kyrka.

  23. Historic Organs in Malta

    Robert Buhagiar.

    Organists' Review, Vol. 90, No. 3, August 2004, pp. 224-227.

    Church authorities in the Maltese islands have had a relationship with Italy and Sicily throughout history, so most of the organs there are of Italian design. The following instruments in Malta are highlighted: (1) a 1778 Neapolitan/Sicilio "'Postivo"' at Qrendi Parish Church; (2) an 1897/1914 "'Pacifio Insoli"' organ at Nadur Basilica in Gozo; and (3) a 1775 Santucci, 1899 Bergoni, and 2001 Buhagiar organ at Naxxar Parish Church in Malta.

  24. "'Great European Organs: Volume 64"'

    David Alker.

    The Organ, Vol. 82, No. 324, May-July 2003, pp. 59.

    A recording by organist Daniel Roth on the historic Cavaillé-Coll pipe organ at Saint-Sulpice in Paris, France, is reviewed (Priory).

  25. On the Road in Bach Country with Michael Barone: Pipedreams Organ Tour, April 21-May 3, 2002, Part 3

    Mary Ann Dodd.

    The Diapason, Vol. 94, No. 11, November 2003, pp. 18-22.

    Part three in a series of articles that describe a tour of Germany and the Czech Republic to see various historic organs is presented. On day eight, the visitors toured Altenburg, Saxony, Meissen, Coswig, Loschwitz, Dresden, and the 18th-century church Kreuzkirche. On day nine, the group toured the parish church of St. Nicholas in the village of Langhennersdorf, the church of St. Petrikirche and St. Mary's Cathedral in Freiberg, churches in the villages of Grosshartmannsdorf and Zethau, and the parish church in Nasau. Day 10 took the group to Lohmen to see an organ built by Johann Christian Kayser in 1789, to Reinhardtsgrimma to see a Silbermann organ in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and to Frauenstein to see the Silbermann Museum. On day 11, the group went to the Czech Republic to see organs at the Basilica of St. James/St. Jacob, Strahov Monastery, and Tyne Church.

  26. European Organs Old and New

    Richard Peek.

    The Diapason, Vol. 92, No. 6, June 2001, pp. 17-18.

    Discusses various European organs ranging from the early Baroque to the present day. Provides photographs and specifications for the one-manual Bazzani organ in Cavallino, Italy, dating from 1891. Discusses other European organs, including a 1753 organ built by J. G. Hoerthrich and housed at the historic monastery of Ettal in Austria; the Silberman organ housed in the Catholic Hofkirche in Dresden; and the two historic organs at the Jacobikirche in Lübeck.

  27. The Milton Organ in Tewkesbury Abbey

    Roger Fisher.

    Organists' Review, Vol. 86, No. 1, February 2000, pp. 5-8.

    Presents a cover-story profile on the historic "'Milton"' organ of Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, England, which was restored in 1996-1997 by the firm of Kenneth Jones and associates. Discusses the history of the instrument and of the Abbey's other organ including a proposal to combine both for operation by a master console following World War II which was not adopted. Offers a detailed and admiring description of the restored organ including specifications and photographs, suggesting it is an exceptionally fine job of renovation.

  28. The Varazdin Congress: The Organ as European Cultural Heritage

    Gö Grahn.

    ISO Journal, Vol. , No. 9, November 2000, pp. 28-29.

    Discusses the ISO Congress held in the North Croatian town of Varazdin September 10-16, 2000, which united about 100 organ experts, organists, organbuilders, and other interested persons. States that the program offered excursions to historic organs in Croatia, concerts, and twelve lectures about the organ preservation situation in various former eastern-bloc countries and regions. Notes plans to create a foundation titled "'The Organ as European Cultural Heritage,"' which will serve as a basis to coordinate actions to preserve organs in regions of Europe where their conservation does not receive priority treatment.

  29. Canadian Organbuilding, Part 2

    James B. Hartman.

    The Diapason, Vol. 90, No. 6, June 1999, pp. 14-15.

    Continues a survey of organbuilding history in Canada which began in the previous issue. Discusses a number of smaller organbuilding firms in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec which began operations between 1984 and 1996 and discusses their founders, notable instruments created, and specialization. Concludes with an extended speculation about the future of the organbuilding industry in the country for the 21st century.

  30. Pipe Organs in and Around Glasgow

    John Power.

    The Organ, Vol. 78, No. 307, February 1999, pp. 23-24.

    Conducts a short survey of historic organs in the region of Glasgow, Scotland, noting that organ history in the city dates back to the 15th century. Describes a small organ built by Scottish inventor James Watt in 1762 which is now in the collections of the People's Palace Museum. Discusses several periods when the use of organs during services was banned and a flowering of the organ-builder's trade over a 50-year period following the 1870s.