Wanamaker Organ

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The organ's six-manual console

The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the largest operational[1] pipe organ in the world (as measured by the number of ranks, therefore outranking the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in one way), located within a spacious 7-storey court at Macy's Center City (formerly Wanamaker's department store). The largest organ by some measures is the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ (which is barely functional currently). The Wanamaker organ is usually played twice a day Monday through Saturday, but more frequently during the Christmas season. The organ is also featured at several special concerts held throughout the year, including events featuring the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Festival Chorus and Brass Ensemble.

Notable characteristics[edit]

In its present configuration, the Wanamaker Organ has 28,604 pipes in 463 ranks.[2] The organ console consists of six manuals with an array of stops and controls that command the organ. The organ's String Division forms the largest single organ chamber in the world. The instrument features eighty-eight ranks of string pipes built by the W. W. Kimball Company of Chicago.[2] The organ is famed for its orchestra-like sound, coming from pipes that are voiced softer than usual, allowing an unusually rich build-up because of the massing of pipe-tone families. The artistic obligation entailed by the creation of this instrument has always been honored, with two curators employed in its constant and scrupulous care. The organ, with its regular program of concerts and recitals, was maintained by Wanamaker's throughout the chain's history, even as the company's financial fortunes waned. This level of dedication was maintained when corporate parentage shifted from the Wanamaker family to Carter Hawley Hale Stores followed by Woodward & Lothrop, Lord & Taylor, and finally to Macy's.

History[edit]

The Wanamaker Organ centennial plaque

The Wanamaker Organ was originally built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company, successors to the Murray M. Harris Organ Co., for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. It was designed to be the largest organ in the world, an imitation of a full-size orchestra with particularly complete resources of full organ tone including mixtures. In addition to its console, the organ was originally equipped with an automatic player that used punched rolls of paper, according to the Los Angeles Times of 1904.[3] It was designed by renowned organ theorist and architect George Ashdown Audsley. Wild cost overruns plagued the project, with the result that Harris was ousted from his own company. With capital from stockholder Eben Smith, it was reorganized as the Los Angeles Art Organ Company, and finished at a cost of $105,000 (equal to $2,756,056 today), $40,000 over budget, equal to $1,049,926 today. The Fair began (in late April 1904) before the organ was fully installed in its temporary home, Festival Hall. It still was not entirely finished in September of that year, when Alexandre Guilmant, one of the most famous organists of the day, presented 40 very well-attended recitals on the organ.

Following the Fair, the organ was intended for permanent installation by the Kansas City Convention Center. Indeed, the original console had a prominent "K C" on its music rack. This venture failed, bankrupting the L. A. Art Organ company after the Fair closed. There was a plan to exhibit the organ at Coney Island in New York City, but nothing came of this.

The organ in its original home, the 1904 World's Fair.

The organ languished in storage at the Handlan warehouse in St. Louis until 1909, when it was bought by John Wanamaker for his new department store at 13th and Market Streets in Center City, Philadelphia. It took thirteen freight cars to move it to its new home, and two years for installation. It was first played on June 22, 1911, at the exact moment when British King George V was crowned. It was also featured later that year when U.S. President William Howard Taft dedicated the store.

Despite its then-unprecedented size (more than 10,000 pipes), it was judged inadequate to fill the seven-story Grand Court in which it was located, so Wanamaker's opened a private organ factory in the store attic, which was charged with enlarging the organ. The first project to enlarge the organ was the addition of 8,000 pipes between 1911 and 1917.

Wanamaker's sponsored many historic after-business-hours concerts on the Wanamaker Organ. The first, in 1919, featured Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra with organist Charles M. Courboin.[2] Every sales counter and fixture was removed for the free after-hours event, which attracted an audience of 15,000 from across the United States. Subsequently more of these "Musicians' Assemblies" were held, as were private recitals. For these events Wanamaker's opened a Concert Bureau under Alexander Russell and brought to America master organists Marcel Dupré and Louis Vierne, Nadia Boulanger, Marco Enrico Bossi, Alfred Hollins, and several others. (This agency, which worked in partnership with Canadian Bernard R. LaBerge, evolved into the Karen McFarlane Concert Agency of the present day.) During his first recital on the organ, Dupré was so impressed with the instrument that he was inspired to improvise a musical depiction of the life of Jesus Christ. This was later published as his Symphonie-Passion.

In 1924, a new project to enlarge the organ began. Marcel Dupré and Charles M. Courboin were among those asked by Rodman Wanamaker, John Wanamaker's son, to "Work together to draw up a plan for the instrument. Use everything you have ever dreamed about." They were told there was no limit to the budget. This project resulted in, among other things, the celebrated String Division, which occupies the largest organ chamber ever constructed, 67 feet long, 26 feet deep, and 16 feet high. During this project, the organ's current console was constructed in Wanamaker's private in-house pipe-organ factory, with six manuals and several hundred controls. By 1930, when work on expanding the organ finally stopped, the organ had 28,482 pipes, and, if Rodman Wanamaker had not died in 1928, the organ would probably be even bigger.[4]

Plans were made for, among others, a Stentor division, a section of high-pressure diapasons and reeds. It was to be installed on the fifth floor, above the String Division, and would be playable from the sixth manual. However, it was never funded, and the sixth manual is now used to couple other divisions or play various solo voices from other divisions that are duplexed to this keyboard.[5]

Rodman Wanamaker was not interested in mere size, however, but in artistic organ-building with finely crafted pipes and chests using the best materials and careful artistic consideration. The Wanamaker Organ console, built in the store organ shop by William Boone Fleming, is a work of art in its own right with heavy, durable construction, an ingenious layout of its pneumatic stop action and many unique features and conveniences. Wanamaker also had a collection of 60 rare stringed instruments, the Wanamaker Cappella, that were used in conjunction with the store organs in Philadelphia and New York, and went on tour. They were dispersed after his death.

Following the sale of the store to The May Department Stores Company, in 1995, the Wanamaker's name was removed from the store (first as Wanamaker-Hecht's) in favor of Hecht's, but the organ and its concerts were retained. During the local renaming of the Hecht's stores to Strawbridge's, the historic Wanamaker Store briefly took the name of its longtime rival Strawbridge's. The May Company began a complete restoration of the organ in 1997, as part of the store's final May Co. conversion into a Lord & Taylor. At that time the store area was reduced to three floors and additional panes of glass were put around the Grand Court on floors four and five, greatly enhancing the reverberation of the room.

The Wanamaker Organ in the Grand Court

The Philadelphia Orchestra returned to the Grand Court on September 27, 2008 for the premiere performance of Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante (1926) on the organ for which it was written. The ticketed event, featuring soloist Peter Richard Conte, also includes the Bach/Stokowski arrangement of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Marcel Dupré's Cortege and Litany for Organ and Orchestra, and the world premiere of a Fanfare by Howard Shore, composer for The Lord of the Rings films. Shore visited the store in May 2008 to meet with Peter Richard Conte and hear the Wanamaker Organ. The Philadelphia Orchestra Concert was co-sponsored by the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ and was a benefit for that organization.[6]

Organists[edit]

Although numerous famous organists have played special concerts on the organ, it has had only four chief organists in its history:

  • Dr. Irvin J. Morgan (1911–1917)
  • Mary E. Vogt (1917–1966)
  • Dr. Keith Chapman (1966–1989)
  • Peter Richard Conte (1989–present)

Some noteworthy assistant organists[edit]

  • Alma Wilson Baecker (asst. to Mary E. Vogt)
  • Harriet Ridley (Vogt)
  • Rollo Maitland (Vogt)
  • Nelson E. Buechner (Vogt and Keith Chapman)
  • Walter Baker (Vogt)
  • David Ulrich (Vogt)
  • Kenneth Goodman (Vogt)
  • Barron Smith (Vogt)
  • Dr. Richard L. Elliott (Chapman)
  • Robert Carwithen (Chapman)
  • Dennis Elwell (Chapman)
  • Bruce Shultz (Chapman)
  • Diane Meredith Belcher (Chapman)
  • Rebecca Kleintop Owen (Peter Richard Conte)
  • Rudolph A. Lucente (Chapman and Conte)
  • Russell Patterson (Conte)
  • Michael Stairs (Chapman and Conte)
  • John Binsfeld (Chapman and Conte)
  • Ken Cowan (Conte)
  • Dr. Harry Wilkinson (Conte)
  • Colin Howland (Chapman)
  • Fred Haas (Conte)
  • Nathan Laube (Conte)
  • Monte Maxwell (Conte)
  • Matt Glandorf (Conte)
  • Wesley Parrott (Conte)

Present curators[edit]

  • Curt Mangel
  • Sam Whitcraft

Music inspired by or written for the Wanamaker Organ[edit]

Architectural layout[edit]

A view of the string division.

The pipes are laid out across five floors, with the sections situated as follows:

  • 2nd floor south - Main Pedal 32′, Lower Swell, Great, Percussions
  • 3rd floor south - Main Pedal, Chorus, Upper Swell, Choir/Enclosed Great, Solo, Vox Humana Chorus
  • 4th floor south - String
  • 4th floor west - Orchestral (adjacent to String)
  • 7th floor south - Major Chimes, Ethereal, Chinese Gong
  • 7th floor north - Echo

The 32′ Wood Open, 32′ Diaphone, and 32′ Metal Diapason pipes run the length of a little more than 2 stories, beginning on the second floor.[2]

Stoplist[edit]

Main Organ[edit]

I Choir
Double Dulciana 16′
Dulciana 8′
Open Diapason 8′
Violin Diapason 8′
Stopped Diapason 8′
Concert Flute 8′
Salicional 8′
Quintadena 8′
Vox Angelica 8′
Vox Celeste 8′
Keraulophone 8′
Forest Flute 4′
Salicet 4′
Piccolo 2′
Soft Cornet VI
Saxophone 16′
Saxophone 8′
English Horn 8′
Clarinet 8′
II Great
Unenclosed Great
Sub Principal 32′
Contra Gamba 16′
Double Diapason 16′
Sub Quint 10 23
Diapason Phonon 8′
Diapason Major 8′
First Diapason 8′
Second Diapason 8′
Third Diapason 8′
Fourth Diapason 8′
Gamba (2 ranks) 8′
Major Tibia 8′
Mezzo Tibia 8′
Minor Tibia 8′
Double Flute 8′
Nazard Flute (2 ranks) 8′
Octave 4′
Mixture VIII
Harmonic Trumpet 8′
Enclosed Great
Covered Tibia 8′
Harmonic Flute 8′
Quint 5 13
Harmonic Flute 4′
Principal 4′
Tierce 3 15
Octave Quint 2′
Super Octave 2′
Mixture VII
Double Trumpet 16′
Tuba 8′
Trumpet 8′
Harmonic Clarion 4′
Great Chorus
Diapason Magna 8′
Stentorphone 8′
First Diapason 8′
Second Diapason 8′
Third Diapason 8′
Major Flute 8′
Double Flute 8′
Gamba 8′
Flute 4′
Octave 4′
Nazard 2 23
III Swell
Double Diapason 16′
Soft Bourdon 16′
Stentorphone 8′
Horn Diapason 8′
Violin Diapason 8′
Bell Flute 8′
Orchestral Flute 8′
Harmonic Flute 8′
Grand Flute (2 ranks) 8′
Double Flute 8′
Tibia Dura 8′
Clarabella 8′
Melodia 8′
Soft Dulciana 8′
Gamba Celeste (2 ranks) 8′
Gamba 8′
Quint Bourdon 5 13
Harmonic Flute (2 ranks) 4′
First Octave 4′
Second Octave 4′
Nazard (from Mixture V) 2 23
Harmonic Piccolo 2′
String Mixture V
Mixture VI
Bass Tuba 16′
Bass Trombone 16′
Contra Fagotto 16′
Double Oboe Horn 16′
Trombone 8′
Tuba 8′
Fagotto 8′
Oboe 8′
Trumpet 8′
Horn 8′
Bassett Horn 8′
Clarinet 8′
Clarinet (2 ranks) 8′
Vox Humana (2 ranks) 8′
Harmonic Clarion 4′
Musette 4′
Original String Division
Contra Bass 16′
Violoncello 8′
Viol 8′
Viol 8′
Viola 8′
Quint Viol 5 13
Octave Viol 4′
Violina 4′
Tierce 3 15
Corroborating Mixture V
Viol Cornet IV
IV Solo
Double Open Diapason 16′
Grand Viol 16′
First Diapason 8′
Second Diapason 8′
Third Diapason 8′
Violin Diapason 8′
Viol 8′
Viol 8′
Harmonic Flute 8′
Tierce Flute (2 ranks) 8′
Chimney Flute 8′
Clarabella 8′
Gemshorn 8′
Nazard Gamba (2 ranks) 8′
Grand Gamba 8′
Grand Gamba 8′
Quintaphone 8′
Quint Diapason 5 13
Octave 4′
Harmonic Flute 4′
Harmonic Tierce 3 15
Twelfth Harmonic 2 23
Piccolo Harmonic 2′
Double Trumpet 16′
Tuba 16′
Trumpet 8′
Soft Tuba 8′
Cornopean 8′
Ophicleide 8′
Musette 8′
Ophicleide 4′
Soft Tuba 4′
Grand Mixture VI
Mixture V
Mixture VI
Pedal
Gravissima 64′
Contra Diaphone 32′
Diaphone 16′
First Contra Open Diapason 32′
Second Contra Open Diapason 32′
First Open Diapason 16′
Second Open Diapason 16′
Third Open Diapason 16′
Open Diapason 8′
Contra Bourdon 32′
Bourdon 16′
Soft Bourdon 16′
Octave Soft Bourdon 8′
Open Flute 16′
Soft Flute 8′
Flute 4′
Violone 16′
Gamba 16′
Dulciana 16′
Soft Dulciana 8′
Open Quint 10 23
Stopped Quint 10 23
Stentor 8′
Octave 8′
First Tibia 8′
Second Tibia 8′
First Tibia 4′
Second Tibia 4′
First Cello 8′
Second Cello 8′
Principal 4′
Octave 4′
Mixture VII
Mixture VIII
Mixture VIII
Grand Mutation ×
Contra Bombarde 32′
Bombarde 16′
Bombarde 8′
Trombone 16′
Tuba 16′
Euphonium 16′
Contra Fagotto 16′
Octave Fagotto 8′
Tromba 8′
Clarion 4′

Ethereal Organ[edit]

V Ethereal
Bourdon 16′
First Open Diapason 8′
Second Open Diapason 8′
Clear Flute 8′
Harmonic Flute 8′
Double Flute 8′
Quint Flute 8′
Grand Gamba 8′
Grand Gamba 8′
Octavo 4′
Harmonic Flute 4′
Twelfth Harmonic 2 23
Harmonic Piccolo 2′
Mixture IV
Tuba Profunda 16′
Tuba Mirabilis 8′
French Trumpet 8′
Grand Clarinet 8′
Post Horn 8′
Tuba Clarion 4′
VI Stentor
Cello 1 (String) 8′
Cello 1 # (String) 8′
Cello 1 ♭ (String) 8′
Cello 2 (String) 8′
Cello 2 # (String) 8′
Cello 2 ♭ (String) 8′
Nasard Gamba II (String) 8′
Nasard Gamba II # (String) 8′
Clear Flute (Ethereal) 8′
Clear Flute (Ethereal) 4′
Ethereal Pedal
Acoustic Bass 32′
Diapason 16′
Bombarde 16′
Bombarde 8′

Echo Organ[edit]

Echo (floating)
Bourdon 16′
Open Diapason 8′
Violin Diapason 8′
Stopped Diapason 8′
Night Horn 8′
Clarabella 8′
Melodia 8′
Orchestral Viol 8′
Soft Viol 8′
Soft Viol 8′
Unda Maris (2 ranks) 8′
Open Quint 5 13
Octave 4′
Harmonic Flute 4′
Mellow Flute 4′
Cornet Mixture V
Mixture VI
Double Trumpet 16′
Trumpet 8′
Capped Oboe 8′
Euphone 8′
Vox Humana 8′
Echo Pedal
Open Diapason 16′
Stopped Diapason 16′

Orchestral Organ[edit]

Orchestral (floating)
Contra Quintadena 16′
Duophone 8′
Tibia 8′
Covered Tibia 8′
Concert Flute 8′
Harmonic Flute 8′
Mellow Flute 8′
String Flute 8′
Double Flute 8′
Hollow Flute 8′
Harmonic Flute 4′
Orchestral Flute 4′
Covered Flute 4′
Octave 4′
Harmonic Piccolo 2′
Super Octave 2′
English Horn 16′
Bass Clarinet 16′
Bass Saxophone 16′
Bassoon 16′
English Horn 8′
Orchestral Clarinet 8′
Orchestral Cromorne 8′
Saxophone 8′
Orchestral Bassoon 8′
Bassett Horn 8′
Oboe 8′
Orchestral Oboe 8′
Orchestral Trumpet 8′
First French Horn 8′
Second French Horn 8′
Third French Horn 8′
Kinura 8′
Muted Cornet 8′
Vox Humana Chorus (floating)
Vox Humana 16′
First Vox Humana 8′
Second Vox Humana 8′
Third Vox Humana 8′
Fourth Vox Humana 8′
Fifth Vox Humana 8′
Sixth Vox Humana 8′
Seventh Vox Humana 8′
Vox Humana Chorus Pedal
First Vox Humana 16′
Second Vox Humana 16′

String Organ[edit]

String (floating)
Violone 16′
First Contra Gamba 16′
Second Contra Gamba 16′
First Contra Viol 16′
Second Contra Viol 16′
First Viol 16′
Second Viol 16′
Violin Diapason 8′
Gamba 8′
Nasard Gamba (2 ranks) 8′
Nasard Gamba (2 ranks) 8′
First 'Cello 8′
First 'Cello # 8′
First 'Cello ♭ 8′
Second 'Cello 8′
Second 'Cello # 8′
Second 'Cello ♭ 8′
First Orchestral Violin 8′
First Orchestral Violin # 8′
First Orchestral Violin ♭ 8′
Second Orchestral Violin 8′
Second Orchestral Violin # 8′
Second Orchestral Violin ♭ 8′
Third Orchestral Violin 8′
Third Orchestral Violin # 8′
Third Orchestral Violin ♭ 8′
Fourth Orchestral Violin 8′
Fourth Orchestral Violin # 8′
Fourth Orchestral Violin ♭ 8′
Fifth Orchestral Violin 8′
Fifth Orchestral Violin # 8′
Fifth Orchestral Violin ♭ 8′
Sixth Orchestral Violin 8′
Sixth Orchestral Violin # 8′
Sixth Orchestral Violin ♭ 8′
First Muted Violin 8′
First Muted Violin # 8′
First Muted Violin ♭ 8′
Second Muted Violin 8′
Second Muted Violin # 8′
Second Muted Violin ♭ 8′
String
Third Muted Violin 8′
Third Muted Violin # 8′
Third Muted Violin ♭ 8′
Fourth Muted Violin 8′
Fourth Muted Violin # 8′
Fourth Muted Violin ♭ 8′
Fifth Muted Violin 8′
Fifth Muted Violin # 8′
Fifth Muted Violin ♭ 8′
Sixth Muted Violin 8′
Sixth Muted Violin # 8′
Sixth Muted Violin ♭ 8′
First Dulciana 8′
First Dulciana # 8′
Second Dulciana 8′
Second Dulciana # 8′
Third Dulciana 8′
Third Dulciana # 8′
Fourth Dulciana 8′
Fourth Dulciana # 8′
Fifth Dulciana 8′
Fifth Dulciana # 8′
Sixth Dulciana 8′
Sixth Dulciana # 8′
Quint Viol 5 13
Quint Viol # 5 13
First Orchestral Violina 4′
First Orchestral Violina # 4′
Second Orchestral Violina 4′
Second Orchestral Violina # 4′
Tierce Viol 3 15
Tierce Viol # 3 15
Nasard Violina 2 23
Nasard Violina # 2 23
Super Violina 2′
Super Violina # 2′
First Octave Dulciana 4′
First Octave Dulciana # 4′
Second Octave Dulciana 4′
Second Octave Dulciana # 4′
Dulciana Mutation V
String Pedal
Contra Diaphone 32′
Diaphone (ext) 16′
Diaphone (ext) 8′
Contra Gamba 32′
Gamba (ext) 16′
Gamba (ext) 8′
First Violone 16′
Second Violone 16′
First Violone (ext) 8′
Second Violone 8′
Violone 4′
Viol 16′
Viol 16′
Viol 8′
Viol 8′
Grand String Pedal Mixture XII 32′
Mutation Diaphone 16′
Mutation Viol 16′
Mutation Viol 10 23
Mutation Viol 8′
Mutation Viol 5 13
Mutation Viol 4′
Mutation Viol 2 23
Mutation Viol 2′
Mutation Viol 1 35
Mutation Viol 1 13
Mutation Viol 45

Stentor Division[edit]

Tuba Magna (from 8′) 16′
Tuba Magna 8′

Percussion Division[edit]

Percussion
Major Chimes C–c1
Minor Chimes G–G
Metalophone C–C2
Celeste C–c2
Piano I (prepared for)
Piano II standard 88 notes
Harp I tenor C–c2
Harp II (prepared for)
Gongs tenor C–C2
Crescendo Cymbal
Cymbalstar

Recordings[edit]

  • The Grand Court Organ (1973) included a number of works demonstrating the full organ
  • Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. 1975, the recording is of Keith Chapman’s own transcription of the massive orchestral work
  • Airs & Arabesques (1976) explored the softer colors of the instrument to marvelous effect
  • Virgil Fox Plays the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ (1964, 2004).
  • Xaver Varnus' concert [8]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ The Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has over 32,000 pipes, and four entries in the Guinness Book of World Records, but it is currently not very functional. The Wanamaker Organ, however has approximately 92% of its pipes in working order, and work is progressing on the remaining 8%. The Wanamaker Organ also outranks in number of ranks, and reputedly weighs nearly twice as much as the Boardwalk Hall Organ (287 tons).
  2. ^ a b c d Biswanger, Ray (1999). Music in the Marketplace: The Story of Philadelphia's Historic Wanamaker Organ. The Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Press. ISBN 0-9665552-0-1. 
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times blog entry on construction of the organ in 1904
  4. ^ Whitney, Craig R. (2003). All the Stops: The Glorious Pipe Organ and Its American Masters. PublicAffairs New York. ISBN 1-58648-173-8. 
  5. ^ The Philadelphia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists lists all the stops on the organ and mentions the unrealized Stentor division.
  6. ^ CRAIG R. WHITNEY (June 9, 2007). "Amid the Shirts and Socks, a Concert Can Break Out". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jyrD_AS3Io
  8. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jyrD_AS3Io
  • Biswanger, Ray (1999). Music in the Marketplace: The Story of Philadelphia's Historic Wanamaker Organ. The Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Press. ISBN 0-9665552-0-1. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°57′05″N 75°09′44″W / 39.9515°N 75.1622°W / 39.9515; -75.1622