Kotzschmar Memorial Organ

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The newly renovated Kotzschmar Organ at Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine. October, 2014

The Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, usually referred to as the Kotzschmar Organ, is a pipe organ located at Merrill Auditorium in the City Hall of Portland, Maine, United States. Built in 1911 by the Austin Organ Co. as Opus 323, it was the second-largest organ in the world at the time, and it remains the largest organ in Maine today.[1]

The organ was donated to the city by Portland native Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis (founder of the Curtis Publishing Company of Philadelphia) as a memorial to Hermann Kotzschmar, a close family friend for whom he had been named. Kotzschmar was a German-born musician who came to Portland in 1849, acquired a reputation as the city's most prominent musician, and lived there until his death in 1908. [1]

The Kotzschmar Organ is a prime example of the U.S. style of municipal (city-owned) organs which were once a prevalent part of American culture throughout the first half of the 20th century.[2] It was the first municipal organ built in the U.S.,[3] and is one of only two U.S. municipal organs still owned by a municipality — the other being the Spreckels Organ in San Diego, California.[1] PortTIX is the official box office for Kotzschmar organ performances at Merrill Auditorium.


The Kotzschmar Organ in 1912, shortly after it was built.

Municipal organists[edit]

The City of Portland created the position of municipal organist in 1912. The position remained until 1981, when it was eliminated due to budget constraints. That same year, a non-profit organization called Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ was formed in order to provide continued funding for a municipal organist (who would become a FOKO employee), as well as to fund upkeep and restoration of the organ, which the city could no longer afford.[1]

To date, there have been eleven municipal organists in Portland:[1]

Visiting organists[edit]

A partial list of notable organists who have played the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ:[1] [4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Parkinson-Tucker, Janice (2005). Behind the Pipes: The Story of the Kotzschmar Organ. South Portland, Maine: Casco House Publishing. ISBN 0-9763041-1-2.
  2. ^ The American Municipal Pipe Organ Website
  3. ^ "Pipedreams #0124: The Maine Idea". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Archived Concerts". Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  5. ^ Thomas Heywood at the Kotzschmar Organ
  6. ^ Kapp, Madeline (August 24, 2016). "Orgelfest16 opener showcases masterful playing of Frederick Swann". Retrieved 2018-08-07.

Coordinates: 43°39′34″N 70°15′26″W / 43.65955°N 70.25725°W / 43.65955; -70.25725