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The American Pipe Organ. Definitions. Manual A keyboard played by the hands.  All instruments also have a pedalboard, which is the keyboard played by the feet. Rank A set of pipes of a particular tone color (timbre), one for each note of the keyboard.  Stop

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The American Pipe Organ

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The american pipe organ l.jpg

The American Pipe Organ

Definitions l.jpg



  • A keyboard played by the hands.  All instruments also have a pedalboard, which is the keyboard played by the feet.

  • Rank

    • A set of pipes of a particular tone color (timbre), one for each note of the keyboard. 

  • Stop

    • A knob or tab on the organ console that turns on a set of pipes.

  • Register (Independent Stop)

    • An independent speaking stop that has its own pipes that are not "borrowed" from any other stops.

  • Borrowed Stop

    • A stop that does not have its own pipes, but rather reuses pipes from an independent stop (register).

  • Total Stops

    • The total number of speaking stops on the organ, whether independent or borrowed.

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    The Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Spring, 1876

    • In 1876 Philadelphia held the national Centennial Exposition.

    • Patrick Gilmore's Band was hired for sixty performances.

    • Jacques Offenbach, the celebrated composer of comic operas, was also hired for a series of performances.

    • One of the musicians hired by Offenbach to play first violin was John Philip Sousa.

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    • Music was heard in the exhibition halls, along the garden walkways, in restaurants - there were concerts, choirs, organ recitals, chimes, minstrel shows, and musical instrument demonstrations

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    Opening Day Ceremonies

    • After Hail to the Chief upon the entrance of President and Mrs. Grant, the orchestra under the direction of Theodore Thomas, began the inaugural performance of the Centennial March by Richard Wagner, a piece commissioned by the Women's Centennial Committee.

    • Although Wagner had stated that he was moved by "the inspiration of the beautiful ladies of America," even he admitted in private that the best thing about the piece was his $5,000 commission.

    • Prayers and benedictions followed, then a cantata by Sidney Lanier, Centennial Meditation of Columbia and a hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier.

    • Speeches by President Grant and other dignitaries followed, and then a rendition of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus accompanied by the Centennial Chimes, church bells, factory whistles, and a 100-gun salvo

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    The Music

    • The main source of music during the Centennial was the Music Pavilion

    • There were two immense organs, the Centennial Organ by Hook and Hastings of Boston, and the Roosevelt Organ by Hilborne L. Roosevelt of New York, which had a special "electric echo" effect.

    • A second Music Pavilion was located outdoors in Lansdowne Valley between Memorial Hall and Horticultural Hall.

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    Machinery Hall

    Home to the Centennial Chimes, 13 chimes representing the 13 original colonies

    These were played three times daily by a professor Widdows of Washington, D.C.

    There were daily concerts arranged by manufacturers of musical instruments.

    Visitors flocked to hear the Steinway Centennial Concert Grand Piano.

    A series of concerts was arranged by the Women's Committee at the Edwin Forrest estate.

    The Great American Restaurant offered a beer garden with concert music, and the Restaurant of the South featured an "Old Time Darky Band."

    Additionally, every state day and every special event was the occasion for more concerts, marching bands, and choruses.

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    The Centennial Organ

    • Built in 1876 by Hook and Hastings, Boston, for the great Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. This was one of two large instruments in the hall

    • Used for 1000 recitals by leading organists of the day

    • After the Exposition the instrument was sold to and installed in St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral in Buffalo, New York

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    Hook and Hastings

    • The Exposition closed in November, 1876 and St. Joseph’s Cathedral bought the instrument and installed it in 1877

    • The original playing action was replaced in 1925 but the remainder was left intact

    • The instrument was restored in 1975-76

    • A second restoration took place in 1999-2001 by the Andover Organ Company of Lawrence, Massachusetts

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    16'Open DiapasonOld61 Pipes

    8'Open DiapasonOld61 Pipes

    8'2nd Open Diapasonfrom 16' O.D.12 Pipes

    8'Doppel FlöteOld61 Pipes

    8'GambaOld61 Pipes

    6'QuinteOld61 Pipes

    4'OctaveOld61 Pipes

    4'Flute HarmoniqueOld61 Pipes

    3'TwelfthOld61 Pipes

    2'FifteenthOld61 Pipes

    III-IVCornetOld232 Pipes

    IVMixtureOld244 Pipes

    VCymbaleNew305 Pipes

    16'TrumpetOld61 Pipes

    8'TrumpetOld61 Pipes

    4'ClarionOld61 Pipes

    Blank Knob

    Great to Great 16'

    Great to Great 4'

    Great Unison


    16'BourdonOld61 Pipes

    8'Open DiapasonOld61 Pipes

    8'ViolaOld61 Pipes

    8'Voix CélesteOld Pipes Tellers49 Pipes

    8'Stopped DiapasonOld61 Pipes

    8'QuintadenaOld61 Pipes

    4'Octave"Old E&GG H&H, Op.869"61 Pipes

    4'ViolinaOld61 Pipes

    4'Flauto TraversoOld61 Pipes

    2 2/3'Cornet NazardOld from Cornet61 Pipes

    2'FlautinoOld from Cornet61 Pipes

    1 3/5'Cornet Tierce"Old Pipes Hook, Op. 869 "61 Pipes

    IVMixtureNew244 Pipes

    16'Contra Fagotto"From Oboe, New Bass "12 Pipes

    8'CornopeanOld61 Pipes

    8'OboeOld61 Pipes

    8'Vox HumanaOld61 Pipes



    Swell to Swell 16'

    Swell to Swell 4'

    Swell Unison Off

    List of Stops

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    16'Lieblich GedecktOld Pipes Estey Op. 307961 Pipes

    8'Geigen PrincipalOld61 Pipes

    8'DulcianaOld61 Pipes

    8'MelodiaOld61 Pipes

    8'Rohr FlöteOld61 Pipes

    4'OctaveOp 501 Hook Geig. Prin.61 Pipes

    4'FugaraOld61 Pipes

    4'Flute d'AmourOld61 Pipes

    2 2/3'Quint FlöteNew61 Pipes

    2'PiccoloOld61 Pipes

    1 3/5'TierceNew61 Pipes

    1 1/3'Octave QuintNew61 Pipes

    IIIMixtureNew183 Pipes

    8'Trumpet"Old Pipes, Estey Op.3079 "61 Pipes

    8'ClarinetOld61 Pipes

    8'Vox AngelicaOld61 Pipes

    8'CromorneNew61 Pipes

    4'Clarionfrom 8' Trumpet12 Pipes


    Choir to Choir 16'

    Choir Unison Off


    8'Stentorphon"Old, New or old trebles "61 Pipes

    8'Tuba MirabilisOld61 Pipes

    VGrand Cornet T.C."8' fr. Opus 501, 4' fr. Sw. "

    "Cornet, 2 2/3',2',1 3/5' New"245 Pipes

    Blank Knob

    Solo to Solo 16'

    Solo to Solo 4'

    Solo Unison Off


    16'Gemshorn"Old , treb fr.Estey 4079"61 Pipes

    8'PhilomelaNew61 Pipes

    8'Gemshornfrom 16' Gemshorn12 Pipes

    8'Dolcan GambaOld Pipes Hutchings61 Pipes

    8'Gamba CélesteOld Pipes Hutchings49 Pipes

    8'SpitzflöteNew61 Pipes

    8'Spitzflöte CélesteNew49 Pipes

    4'Hohlpfeife"Old Pipes Hook, Opus 355"61 Pipes

    2'Harmonic PiccoloHutchings. Votey fr. Chicago61 Pipes

    8'French HornOld Pipes Gottfreid61 Pipes

    8'Cor Anglais"Old Pipes Estey, Opus 3079"61 Pipes


    List of Stops

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    Celestial Bells


    Celestial to Celestial 16'

    Celestial to Celestial 4'

    Celestial Unison Off


    32'BourdonOld32 Pipes

    16'Open DiapasonOld32 Pipes

    16'VioloneOld32 Pipes

    16'DulcianaGreat 16' OD.32 Notes

    16'GemshornFrom Celestial32 Notes

    16'BourdonFrom 32' Bdn.12 Pipes

    16'Lieblich GedecktFrom Choir32 Notes

    12'QuinteFrom 32'7 Pipes

    8'OctaveFrom 16' OD.12 Pipes

    8'Bell GambaOld32 Pipes

    8'VioloncelloFrom Violone12 Pipes

    8'GemshornFrom Celestial32 Notes

    8'GedecktFrom Choir Lieblich32 Notes

    5 1/3'Octave QuinteOld Pipes32 Pipes

    4'PrincipalOld Pipes32 Pipes

    4'Super OctaveFrom Bell Gamba12 Pipes

    IVMixture5 1/3' Quint & Old Pipes

    fr.Estey 307968 Pipes

    VGross HarmonicsOld Pipes96 Pipes

    32'Contra Bombarde"New, Ext. Trombone "12 Pipes

    16'TromboneOld32 Pipes

    16'BassoonFrom Sw. Oboe32 Notes

    8'TrumpetFrom Trombone12 Pipes

    8'PosauneOld Pipes32 Pipes

    8'OboeFrom Sw.32 Notes

    4'ClarionFrom Posaune12 Pipes

    List of Stops

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    W. Eugene Thayer (1838-1889)

    • Born in Mendon, Massachusetts, December 11, 1838

    • Began the study of the organ at the age of fourteen, and soon gained a reputation as an excellent organist

    • 1865-66 he studied in Europe under Carl Haupt

    • Opened a studio in Boston in 1875

    • Published a 5-volume course, “The Art of Organ Playing”

    • The Variations on the Russian National Hymn, Op. 12, opens the study

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    Variations on the Russian National Hymn

    • Russian National Hymn, “God Preserve the Tsar” was composed by Alexis Lvov in 1833 and served, until the revolution, as the Russian national anthem (it was also used in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture

    • Thayer composedfive variations on the theme

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    Thayer: Variations on the Russian National Hymn, Op. 12

    • Theme

    • Variation 1 for “organ tone”

    • Variation 2 for strings and flutes

    • Variation 3 introduces the oboe solo stop

    • Variation 4 soft strings and flutes

    • Variation 5 for full organ featuring the pedals

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    THE Theater Organ

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    Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra

    • The theater organ was invented around 1900 by Robert Hope-Jones

    • The theater organ is a collection of colorful, distinctive, and powerful voices

    • It was developed to replace the symphony orchestra used to accompany silent films

    • The “Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra”

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    The Wurlitzer Theater Organ

    • Rudolph Wurlitzer bought the Hope-Jones patents in 1910

    • The era of theater organsbegan around 1910

    • By 1927 there were 63 firms building organs and produced about 2500 instruments

    • Sound movies were introduced in 1929 (The Jazz Singer) signaling the end of the theater organ era

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    Phantom of the Opera (1925)

    • 1925 starring Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin

    • The re-release of the film in 1929 with talking sequences foretold the end of the theater organ as the voice of the silent films

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    • In 1942 the War Production Board ordered the organ industry to convert to defense work and organ factories produced glider parts, various metal work, and coffins

    • Wurlitzer stopped making organs in 1943

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    Four of the World’s Largest Pipe Organs are in the United States

    • Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia

      • Murry M. Harris, 1904, 28,482 pipes

    • Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey

      • Midmer-Losh Op. 5550, 1929, 33,114 pipesMuch of it does not work

    • First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, California

      • E. M. Skinner Opus 856, 1931, over 20,000 pipesThis is the largest church organ

    • USMA Cadet Chapel, West Point, New York

      • M. P. Mohler, 1911, 20,142 pipes

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    Wanamaker Organ

    • Located in Lord and Taylor Department Store, Philadelphia

    • 6 manuals, 461 ranks, 396 registers, 28,482 pipes

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    • In 1911 the largest organ in the world (from the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904) was inaugurated in the Grand Court. The building was dedicated on December 30 by President William H. Taft

    • In 1980 The Wanamaker Organ becomes the first pipe organ to be designated a National Historic Landmark

    • Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition - The Great Gate of Kiev

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    Convention Hall

    • 7 manuals; 449 ranks; 337 registers; 852 stops; 33,114 pipes

    • The Sounds

      • Toccata in d minor (Bach)

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    First Congregational Church

    • First Congregational Church

      • 5 manuals; 346 ranks; 233 registers; 265 stops; over 20,000 pipes

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    USMA Cadet Chapel

    • 4 manuals; 325 ranks; 576 stops; 20,142 pipes

    • The Sounds: “Veni Creator”

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    Virgil Fox and the Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ (built in 1976)

    • In 1977 Virgil Fox began recording on digital tape

    • These recordings were the first digital recordings made in the United States

    • These recordings were made using the 1976 Fratelli Ruffatti instrument installed in the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California

    • Virgil Fox died of cancer 3 years after these recording sessions

    • Fox appeared at VT in the 1970s performing on aRodgers Touring Organ called“The Black Beauty”

    • Widor: Toccata from the Sixth Symphony

      • Charles-Marie Widor (France, 1844-1937)

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