List of pipe organs

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This is a list and brief description of notable pipe organs in the world, with links to corresponding articles about them.

Historic organs[edit]

  • It is generally agreed upon that the world's oldest playable pipe organ is located in the Basilica of Valère in Sion, Switzerland. Built around 1435, most of the case is original, but only 12 pipes are original, as the rest have been replaced during restorations.[1]
  • It is said that the organ in the St. Andreas at Ostönnen (Westfalia, Germany) is even older than the organ mentioned above. Its wind chests and divisions date back to 1425 - 1430, and half the pipes are still original. However, the case and key action were rebuilt in the Baroque period.[1]
  • In the S. Petronio Basilica in Bologna there is a Lorenzo da Prato organ built in 1475 with a lot of original stops, and is still playable after a restoration took place in 1986.
  • In the Old Cathedral (Duomo Vecchio) in Brescia (Italy) there is a Giangiacomo Antegnati (1536) - Fratelli Serassi (1826) organ. When in the 19th century the Antegnati was restored and enlarged, the priests of the church, in admiration of Antegnati masterpiece, asked Serassi to preserve all the old pipes.
  • The organ in Évora Cathedral in Portugal was built in 1562. Some of the materials used belong to a previous instrument from 1544. This organ is fully functional today. It had interventions in 1694 by Heitor Lobo, 1760 by Pasquale Gaetano Oldovini and 1967 Dirk Andries Flentrop.
  • In Wilhelmsburg Castle in Schmalkalden, Germany, there is a historic organ built between 1587 and 1589 by Daniel Meyer. Notably its facade pipes are veneered with ivory.
  • The Johann Woeckerl Organ in the Cathedral-Church of Saint-George in Sopron, Hungary, was built in 1633, but the pipes of its Holzflöte 8 stop were made in 1580. Among the church's congregation was Vitus "Veit" Bach, a miller whose great-great grandson Johann Sebastian Bach would compose the most celebrated organ music in the world.
  • The oldest (complete) surviving church organ in the UK is that by Renatus Harris in St Botolph's Aldgate, and dates from 1744.
  • The Organ Historical Society maintains a citation list of historic North American organs at [1].

The largest pipe organs in the world[edit]

Civic and concert hall organs[edit]

  • The largest pipe organ ever built, based on number of pipes, is the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in Atlantic City, New Jersey, built by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company between 1929 and 1932, officially containing seven manuals, 449 ranks, 337 registers, and 33,114 pipes and weighing approximately 150 tons.[2] Parts of the organ are no longer operational because of prolonged decline and damage during the renovation of the Boardwalk Hall. A workman found the cable linking the console to the pipes in his way and cut the cable, causing extensive damage that rendered the organ mostly inoperable. A portion of the organ (the Right Stage chamber) has functioned from 1998 to 2000 and a recording was made during that time. Currently, the Kimball Ballroom and the Right Stage chamber of the Main Auditorium organ are being restored to playing order again.[3]
    • It contains the world's largest Diaphone, the 64′ Diaphone-Dulzian in the Pedal Right Division, which is also one of only two full-length 64′ stops in the world [2] (click here for a sound sample).
    • The Grand Ophicleide (organ stop) in the Pedal Right Division, speaking on 100" wind pressure, is also recognised by The Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest organ stop in the world. It is described as having "a pure trumpet note of ear-splitting volume, more than six times the volume of the loudest locomotive whistle". In fact, the Grand Ophicleide produces 130 dB at 1 meter distance.[3]
  • The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ at Wanamaker's department store (now operated by Macy's) in Philadelphia is the second largest organ based on number of pipes, and the largest in the world based on number of ranks and physical mass weight.[4] It is the largest operational musical instrument in the world, with six manuals, 463 ranks, 399 registers, with 28,677 pipes and weighs 287 tons. The organ was initially constructed by the Los Angeles Art Organ Co. in 1904, and expanded twice by the Wanamaker Organ Shop from 1914–1917, and 1924-1930.[5] It is played twice a day, six days a week, and there are many recordings of this organ.[6]
  • The largest Concert Hall Organ in America is the Newberry Memorial Organ, a 197-rank E. M. Skinner at Woolsey Hall, Yale University, New Haven, CT. With the exception of the Sydney Opera House organ, it is the largest Concert Hall organ in the world.[7]
  • The National Concert Hall instrument in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China, was the largest in Asia when installed in 1987.[citation needed]
  • In 2007, the Shanghai Central Concert Hall will open with the largest pipe organ in the People's Republic of China.[citation needed] The organist is head of the organ department of Shanghai Conservatory.
  • The Grand Organ in the Sydney Town Hall's Centenary Hall, Australia was for many years the largest in the world.[8][9][10][citation needed] It remains the world's largest organ without any electric action components and is one of only two organs with a full length 64′ Contra-Trombone stop (click here for a sound sample).[11]
  • The Sydney Opera House's Concert Hall organ is the largest organ (200 ranks, 130 voices, 5 manuals, 10,154 pipes) with mechanical key action.[12][citation needed]
  • The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ built by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Op. 76, ranks as the largest mechanical-action concert hall organ in the United States.[13] The organ is installed in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. At four manuals and 125 ranks, the organ contains 6,938 pipes, which are constructed of wood and metal. The largest pipes are made of wood and are about two feet square and 32 feet tall. The smallest pipes are the size of a slender drinking straw. Several of the larger metal pipes are placed in the organ’s case to form a visual display, or façade. They are made from an alloy of highly polished tin. These pipes are arranged in a broadly curving arc, and lean outward at a four-degree angle, thereby coinciding with the architecture of the Hall’s balconies. This is the first instrument ever constructed with pipes of this size mounted in this manner.[14]
  • The University of Texas at Austin's Performing Arts Center is home to the second largest tracker organ in the United States. Located in Bates Recital Hall, the Visser-Rowland organ consists of 5,315 pipes.[15]
  • The largest full mechanical organ in Europe is the main organ of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk Rotterdam (Netherlands) it has 85 stops and more than 7600 pipes and was built by Marcussen & Søn.
  • The Curtis Organ installed in Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia was built for the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia by the Austin Organ Company as its Opus 1416 in 1926. At the time of its installation it was the largest organ in the world, containing 162 ranks and 10,731 pipes. The completion of the Wanamaker Organ ranked it as the second largest pipe organ in Philadelphia. For many years it was ranked as 11th largest by pipe count, but recent combining of instruments under single console control have placed it in the top 25 largest in the world by ranks or pipe count.
  • The Kotzschmar Memorial Organ in Portland, Maine was the second-largest organ in the world when it was built in 1912, and is one of only two surviving "municipal organs" in the U.S.—the other being the Spreckels Organ in San Diego, California.[16]
  • The world's largest house organ can be found in the United States, in the Barry Norris Residence, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. It has 200 ranks, 161 stops and a total of 11,200 pipes, which can be played from the five-manual console in the living room.[citation needed]

Church organs[edit]

Organ South in Milan Cathedral (1395-1986).
  • The organ in the Cadet Chapel, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York is the largest all-pipe organ, in a religious structure, in the world. Built in 1911 by M. P. Möller, the console is four manuals and pedal, the action is electro-pneumatic; and, the instrument is some 380 ranks, 874 stops, 293 voices, 23 divisions, with some 23,500 pipes. It is estimated to weigh over 124 tons (Stoplist). It is continually being enlarged. This organ is played for over 300 services each year. In the history of the Cadet Chapel there have only been four organists. There are public tours of the post and services are open to the public. The Association of Graduates sponsors a concert series free and open to the public.[17][citation needed]
  • The world's second largest church organ is at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, California. Like Passau Cathedral (five organs, one console), it is really two separate organs playing from twin consoles. A Skinner Organ is in the front of the building built in 1931 and a Schlicker in the rear balcony. Today the organs play some 20,000 pipes with five manuals, 346 ranks, 233 registers, and 265 stops although it is continually being enlarged. Details and Stoplist. It has been restored three times, most recently in 1995 by Robert David.[18] Recordings of this instrument appear on Telarc and Delos labels.
  • The world's third largest church organ is the Passau Cathedral Organ in Passau, Germany which has acquired the largest organ outside of the United States. It is also the largest cathedral organ in the world. The organ currently has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, all of which can be played with the five-manual gallery console.[19][citation needed]
  • The Liverpool Cathedral Grand Organ is the largest pipe organ in the United Kingdom, with 10,268 pipes.[20] It was built by Henry Willis & Sons, who also built the Royal Albert Hall Organ, the second largest in the United Kingdom.
  • The organs of the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral). Their history begins in 1395 (the builder was Martino de' Stremidi), and the organs were repeatedly remodelled during subsequent centuries by major Italian builders including Valvassori, Antegnati, Serassi, and Tamburini, as well as some non-Italians such as Bernard d'Allemagna. The golden decoration dates from the 16th century. In 1986 the pipes, numbering about 16,000, were reorganised into two cases (north and south) with one console.[citation needed]
  • The 4 Manual, 5 Division, 104 Stop, 119 Rank Treanor pipe organ in the Youn Dong Presbyterian Church in Seoul Korea is the largest church organ in Asia. It is the first organ built in Korea by Koreans in the first organ factory. It is also the largest Draw-knob console in Korea. The action is Electro-Pneumatic with Pitman stop action. It is also likely the only E-P action organ to be built without unification or extensions. It was completed 2004.06.04 The organist, Kim JiLi is also the only organist in Korea to participate in the construction of an organ. (Information provided by the builder & Church brochure)
  • Aside from the multiple 100" and 50" stops[21] on the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall Auditorium organ, the most powerful organ stops in the world are the State Trumpet on the Great Organ at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and the Trompette Millitaire and Tuba Magna on the organ of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, UK. Ophicleide (organ stop)[citation needed] These distinctive-sounding stops operate on 50" of wind pressure and are each as loud as an entire large organ played on their own. The sound of the stops is aided by generous 8-9 second reverberation in both Cathedrals.[citation needed]

Organs with notable construction methods[edit]

  • The Bamboo Organ at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Las Piñas, Philippines, some 20 miles from downtown Manila, is made almost entirely of bamboo. The building of the organ was begun in 1816 by a Spanish Augustinian monk, Fr. Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, and completed in 1824. It has been damaged repeatedly over the years but always restored. The first restoration was undertaken by Fr. Cera himself. Recordings of the organ exist and are available online from St. Joseph's Church.
  • The main exhibit in the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Ontario is a hydraulophone, a kind of water-jet organ. This pipe organ has hydraulic action provided by three water pumps and the keys on the organ console are water jets, so that each "key" (water jet) affords a richly intricate means way to independently control volume, pitch, and timbre affecting each of the organ pipes. See Opening and Lesson (how to play it).
  • The 5/80 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ in the residence of Jasper and Marian Sanfilippo of Barrington, Illinois, USA is considered to be the finest example of extension organ in the world today[citation needed] and is the largest theatre organ in the world[22] with its 6,000 pipes.[23] The organ was designed by David Junchen and installed in a purpose-built music room.
  • The Organ of the Basilica of St. Martin (Weingarten), Weingarten, Württemberg, Germany, is built around six church windows, with a detached console facing the church. The tracker action is entirely mechanical, sometimes spanning as much as 20 metres, and going around several corners. It was built by Joseph Gabler during 1713 - 1750. Photos and details can be viewed here.


  1. ^ a b Organ Oddities and World Records
  2. ^ Disposition der Orgel in Atlantic City (NJ), Convention Hall / Organ Specification of Atlantic City (NJ), Convention Hall
  3. ^
  4. ^, The World's Largest Pipe Organs, list of the world's 75 largest organs based on number of ranks
  5. ^, The Wanamaker Organ
  6. ^ See "Wanamaker Organ" here for schedule.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Parkinson-Tucker, Janice (2005). Behind the Pipes: The Story of the Kotzschmar Organ. South Portland, Maine: Casco House Publishing. ISBN 0-9763041-1-2. 
  17. ^
  18. ^, The World's Largest Pipe Organs
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ American Theatre Organ Society : Artists Directory - Walt Strony.
  23. ^ 1927 Wurlitzer organ, Opus 1571, at Place de la Musique, Sanfilippo Residence, Barrington, Illinois on Pipedreams.

External links[edit]