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 church of 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 San 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.
  • In Bälinge kyrka [sv] in Sweden, there is an organ built in 1632 with 51 pipes. It was constructed by George Herman (dies ca 1655) and Philip Eisenmenger (dies after 1657) in Stockholm. The Wood carvings on the facade were made by the German master carver Mårten Redtmer (dies 1655), he also worked on the royal warship Wasa.
  • 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 organ of St Patrick's Cathedral is one of the largest in Ireland with over 4,000 pipes. Parts of it date from a Renatus Harris instrument of 1695.[2]
  • 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.[3]
  • The oldest fully functional organ in The Netherlands is that by Jan van Covelen in the Laurenschurch, Alkmaar. This organ dates from 1511.[citation needed]

The largest pipe organs in the world[edit]

There are many methodologies for comparison of organs according to their size. One of the most encompassing methodologies was described by Dr. Michał Szostak.[4]

Civic and concert hall organs[edit]

Organ Country Location Builder Specifications Details
Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ United States of America Atlantic City, New Jersey Midmer-Losh Organ Company, 1929-32
  • 7 manuals
  • 337 stops
  • 449 ranks
  • 33,114 pipes[5]
The largest pipe organ ever built, based on number of pipes. It weighs approximately 150 tons. Most of the organ has not functioned since 1944; a partial restoration in 1998 was largely reversed by construction damage during a renovation of the Boardwalk Hall shortly afterwards. Parts of the organ are again being restored to playing order in a $16M restoration effort that is expected to be completed by 2023. The Historic Organ Restoration Committee reports that as of 2018, 95% of the Ballroom Organ is operational, and 50% of the Main Auditorium organ is operational.[6] Restoration work is ongoing to the extent that public concerts have resumed.[7]
  • 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, the other being the 64′ Contra-Trombone stop at the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ (See below)[8]
  • 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.[9]
Wanamaker Grand Court Organ United States of America Philadelphia's John Wanamaker department store (now operated by Macy's)
  • Los Angeles Art Organ Co., 1904
  • Wanamaker store Organ dept, 1914-17, 1924-30
  • 6 manuals
  • 401 stops
  • 464 ranks
  • 28,750 pipes
The largest pipe organ in the world, based on number of ranks and physical mass weight. It ranks second in the world based on number of pipes.[10] It is the largest fully operational musical instrument in the world, with the weight of 287 tons. This concert organ was initially constructed for the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis; it was designed by George Ashdown Audsley. The organ was purchased by John Wanamaker for his palatial Philadelphia store; disassembled, the organ filled 13 rail cars. Uniquely, the Wanamaker Organ had from the beginning full-time organ fabricators and technicians, a true "organ shop", building it to luxurious standards of quality.[11] It is played twice a day, six days a week, and there are many recordings of this organ.[12]
  • Its 88-rank String Organ is the largest division in any pipe organ in the largest single organ chamber.
  • Its Pedal Organ of 75 ranks (supplemented by additional borrowed ranks) is the largest Pedal department of any instrument, possessing unsurpassed richness of tone with the capacity for subtle bass gradation in volume and complete separateness of musical line from the manual stops.
  • At 71 ranks, its Swell Division is the largest Swell ever built.
  • It is the largest organ built to a straight design with minimal resorting to unification.
  • It has more expression pedals (10) than any other pipe organ, and 8 separately expressive pipe divisions.
  • Despite its formidable size and power, its strength and hallmark is in musical subtlety and nuance.
  • It is also recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Auditorio Nacional (National Auditorium) México México City
  • 5 manuals
  • 250 ranks
  • 15,633 pipes[13]
The largest concert hall organ in the Western hemisphere, and world's 6th (2nd and 7th respectively, if the Midmer-Losh in Boardwalk Hall is included).[14]
Barry Norris Residence United States of America Birmingham, Alabama
  • 5 manuals
  • 161 stops
  • 200 ranks
  • 11,200 pipes
The world's largest house organ. It can be played from the console in the living room.[citation needed]
Curtis Organ United States of America Irvine Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Austin Organ Company, Op. 1416, 1926
  • 162 ranks
  • 10,731 pipes
This organ was built for the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia. At the time of its installation it was the fourth largest organ in the world. The presence 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.
Sydney Opera House's Concert Hall organ Australia Sydney
  • 5 manuals
  • 130 stops
  • 200 ranks
  • 10,154 pipes
The largest organ with mechanical key action.[15]
Newberry Memorial Organ United States of America Woolsey Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut E. M. Skinner
  • 197 ranks
The largest fully operational concert hall organ in the US. It is the third largest fully operational concert hall organ in the world, behind Auditorio Nacional and the Sydney Opera House organ.[16]
National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts Organ Taiwan Johannes Klais Orgelbau
  • >9,000 pipes
This is the largest organ in Asia.[17]
The Grand Organ in the Sydney Town Hall's Centenary Hall Australia Sydney
  • 127 stops
This organ was for many years after its inception the largest in the world, and was the largest built in the nineteenth century.[18][19][20] 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).[21] (The other being the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ.)
Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ United States of America Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Op. 76
  • 4 manuals
  • 125 ranks
  • 6,938 pipes
The largest mechanical-action concert hall organ in the US.[22] 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.[23]
Visser-Rowland Organ United States of America Bates Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, University of Texas at Austin The second (actually third) largest tracker organ in the United States. [While the Visser-Rowland may be the second largest tracker in a concert hall, it is not the second largest in America. That distinction belongs to the 126 rank, 6616 pipe, tracker-action Casavant Opus 3145 (1972) in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul; Providence, Rhode Island.]!cathedral-organ/cyx0
Kotzschmar Memorial Organ United States of America Portland, Maine Austin Organ Company, 1912 This was the second-largest organ in the world when it was built, and is one of only two surviving "municipal organs" in the US.—the other being the Spreckels Organ in San Diego, California. Both organs were built by the same company.[25]

Church organs[edit]

Organ South in Milan Cathedral (1395-1986).
Tabernacle Organ in Salt Lake City, UT

Largest church organ per country[edit]

Country Location Builder Specifications Details
Germany Passau Cathedral Organ, Passau, Germany
  • 5 manuals
  • 233 stops
  • 17,774 pipes
The world's third largest church organ, is the largest organ in Europe. It is also the largest cathedral organ in the world. All the pipes of the organ can currently be played with the gallery console.[26][citation needed]
Italy Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) Various
  • ~16,000 pipes
The organs in this cathedrals 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, Tamburini, and Mascioni, as well as some non-Italians such as Bernard d'Allemagna. The golden decoration dates from the 16th century. In 1984 the pipes were reorganised into four cases (north and south), with two console. Actually is the biggest organ in italy and the second in Europe.[citation needed]
Norway Nidaros Cathedral
  • G.F. Steinmeyer & Company, Op. 1500, 1929-30
  • Kuhn Orgelbau, 2013-14
  • 4 manuals
  • ~130 stops
  • ~10,000 pipes
Originally commissioned for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Stiklestad. The organ was soon deemed too big for the cathedral, and as such moved and reduced in size several times through its history. It was in a sorry state for years before a full restoration brought it back to its former glory in 2014.[27] The casing and facade was completely rebuilt to seamlessly fit the western portion of the cathedral, and the organ got a brand new console incorporating modern digital technology. However, the new console has been modeled after the original 1930 console layout, and as many as possible of the old pipes were preserved. New pipes were only made where the original pipes had been lost.[28]
Poland Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń Zych - Zakłady Organowe, 2002-07[29]
  • 6 manuals
  • 157 stops[30]
This organ console is the largest in Poland. The organ has 5 Sections on 5 emporas: 81 stops Symphonic Organ, 52 stops Baroque Organ, 8 stops Spanish Organ, 8 stops Italian Positive Organ, 8 stops Baroque Positive Organ.
South Korea Youn Dong Presbyterian Church, Seoul
  • 4 manuals
  • 104 stops
  • 119 ranks
This is the largest church organ in Asia. It is the first organ built in Korea by Koreans in the first organ factory. The action is Electro-Pneumatic with Pitman stop action. It is sectioned into 5 Divisions.
United Kingdom Liverpool Cathedral Grand Organ Henry Willis & Sons The builder also built the Royal Albert Hall Organ, the second largest in the United Kingdom.
United States of America Cadet Chapel, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York M. P. Möller, 1911
  • 4 manuals
  • 293 stops
  • ~380 ranks
  • 23,500 pipes
The organ is the largest all-pipe organ, in a religious structure, in the world. The console has 874 switches for activating the stops, and the action is electro-pneumatic. The instrument is estimated to weigh over 124 tons, and is organized in 23 divisions.[32] 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.[33][citation needed]

Other notable church organs[edit]

  • 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.[34] Recordings of this instrument appear on Telarc and Delos labels.
  • The Salt Lake Tabernacle organ in Utah is among the largest church organs in the United States and is considered to be one of the finest examples of the American Classic style of organ building.[35][36] Inspired by the design of the Boston Music Hall organ (now in Methuen, Mass.), the original organ was built in 1867 by Joseph Ridges. At that time, the instrument contained some 700 pipes and was constructed of locally derived materials as much as possible. The distinctive casework has become iconic from its association with the famous choir, and is easily recognized around the world. The pipes are constructed of wood, zinc, and various alloys of tin and lead. When it was initially constructed, the organ had a tracker action and was powered by hand-pumped bellows; later it was powered by water from City Creek. Today it is powered by electricity and has an electro-pneumatic action. Though the organ has been rebuilt and enlarged several times since 1867, the original iconic casework and some of Ridges' pipes still remain in the organ today.[37] The current organ is largely the work of G. Donald Harrison of the former Aeolian-Skinner organ firm. It was completed in 1948 and contains 11,623 pipes, 147 speaking stops and 206 ranks.[37]
  • Aside from the multiple 100" and 50" stops[9] 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.[citation needed]
  • The 1980-pipe Ferris Tracker organ in Round Lake, New York was originally built in 1847 for Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City. It was moved to the Round Lake Auditorium in 1888, and is considered to be the oldest and largest three-manual still intact in the United States.[38][39]
  • The largest fully mechanical pipe organ in Europe is located in the St. Laurenschurch in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It has 4 Manuals, 5 Divisions, 85 Stops, 7600 Pipes and is 23 meters tall. The organ was completed in 1973, built by Marcussen & Søn from Denmark.
  • The largest mechanical action organ in North America is a 4 Manual, 5 Division, 74 stop instrument, with 6,616 pipes & 126 Ranks. The organ built was by Casavant Frères of St Hyacinthe, Quebec for the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Providence, Rhode Island in 1972.

Organs with notable construction methods[edit]

  • The Bamboo Organ at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Las Piñas, Philippines, some 12 km from downtown Manila, is made almost entirely of bamboo. The building of the organ was begun in 1816 by the Spanish Augustinian Recollect, Fr. Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, and completed in 1824. It has been damaged repeatedly over the years but always restored. After its restoration in 1975 by Johannes Klais (Bonn, Germany), a yearly International Bamboo Organ Festival has been held every year (second half of February). Recordings of the organ (by titular organist Armando Salarza, Guy Bovet, Hans and Martin Haselböck, L.Ferdinando Tagliavini exist and) are available online from
  • 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. It is the 3rd largest theatre pipe organ in the world. The 2nd largest theatre pipe organ in the world is in Mesa Arizona at the Organ Stop and the largest theatre pipe organ in the world is the Carma Labratories organ located in Franklin Wisconsin. [40] [41] The Sanfilippo 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.

Other organs[edit]

  • Old Salem in Winston-Salem North Carolina has a Tannenberg Organ that was originally built in the 18th century. The case was built in Salem and the other parts were built in Litiz. Tannenberg was 72 at the time of the organ's construction, and was not able to make the trip to Salem to install it. The installation was done by George Currie of Philadelphia. Restoration of the organ has been made several times. One undertaking, in 1910, was not satisfactory, and in 2004 an extensive restoration was completed in Stanton, Va. It was then moved into the Visitor Center, where it is played by the Music Director of the museum. A tour of the bellows is available to visitors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b ('Dröhnich'), Martin Doering. "Organ Oddities and World Records". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  2. ^ "The Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland" Day, J.G.F./ Patton, H.E. p79: London, S.P.C.K.,
  3. ^ "OHS | Historic Organs | Citations". Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
  4. ^ Szostak, Michał (September 30, 2018). "The largest pipe organs in the world". The Vox Humana Journal.
  5. ^ Doering, Martin. "Disposition der Orgel in / Specification of the Organ at Atlantic City (NJ), Boardwalk Hall (Convention Hall)". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  6. ^ "The Restoration Project". Boardwalk Hall. 2019. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2012-06-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (click here for a sound sample)
  9. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2012-06-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^, The World's Largest Pipe Organs, list of the world's 75 largest organs based on number of ranks
  11. ^, The Wanamaker Organ
  12. ^ "Philadelphia". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  13. ^ Tamburini, 1957.
  14. ^ "The World's Largest Pipe Organs - The TOP 20!". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Concert Hall Grand Organ" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  16. ^ "The World's Largest Pipe Organs". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Epic scenes: the biggest arts venue on Earth lands in Taiwan". 19 Oct 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  18. ^ "SYDNEYTOWNHALL". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Sydney Town Hall Organ". Archived from the original on 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  20. ^ "Welcome to Sydney Town Hall - Sydney Town Hall". Sydney Town Hall. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Sydney Town Hall". Archived from the original on 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
  22. ^ "Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ - Kimmel Center". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  23. ^ "Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd. - Instruments". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  24. ^ "Bates recital hall | Performing Arts Center". Archived from the original on 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  25. ^ Parkinson-Tucker, Janice (2005). Behind the Pipes: The Story of the Kotzschmar Organ. South Portland, Maine: Casco House Publishing. ISBN 0-9763041-1-2.
  26. ^ "Eisenbarth - Orgel im Hohen Dom zu Passau Beschreibung". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  28. ^ "The long road to restoring an epic organ".
  29. ^ Szostak, Michał (2017). Licheńskie organy na tle największych instrumentów Polski, Europy i świata. Licheń Stary: Zakład Gospodarczy "Dom Pielgrzyma". ISBN 9788364126147. OCLC 1005163172.
  30. ^ "Information about the organ on the official webpage of the Shrine of Our Lady of Licheń (Polish)".
  31. ^ "The Organ - Liverpool Cathedral". Archived from the original on 2010-06-07.
  32. ^ Stoplist
  33. ^ "Concerts in the Cadet Chapel". Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  34. ^, The World's Largest Pipe Organs
  35. ^ Bethards, Jack: "The 1988 Renovation—A Builder's Perspective" The American Organist Vol. 22, no. 12 (December 1988), p. 71.
  36. ^ Owen, Barbara (1990). The Mormon Tabernacle Organ: An American Classic. The American Classic Organ Symposium. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ISBN 1-55517-054-4.
  37. ^ a b 11,623 Pipes: The Story of the Tabernacle Organ Archived 2009-05-31 at the Wayback Machine, Tabernacle Choir Website. Retrieved on September 28, 2007.
  38. ^ Dunn, Violet (1974). Saratoga County Heritage. Ballston Spa, NY: Saratoga County. p. 412.
  39. ^ "Ferris Tracker Organ".
  40. ^ American Theatre Organ Society : Artists Directory - Walt Strony.
  41. ^ 1927 Wurlitzer organ, Opus 1571, at Place de la Musique, Sanfilippo Residence, Barrington, Illinois on Pipedreams.

External links[edit]