Kent Tritle New Organ Dept Head of Manhattan School

Kent Tritle, New Chair of Manhattan School Organ Dept

Kent Tritle has been chosen to succeed McNeil Robinson as Chair of the Manhattan School of Music Organ Department. This article includes a listing of pieces played on some of his recent concerts.

Manhattan School of Music (MSM) recently announced the appointment of Kent Tritle, also the School’s Director of Choral Activities, as Chair of its historic Organ Department. Tritle, who the New York Times has hailed as “the brightest star in New York’s choral music world,” is organist for both the New York Philharmonic (since 1994) and American Symphony Orchestra (since 1993), as well as serving as Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He is also Music Director of both Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York, and the acclaimed Oratorio Society of New York.

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George Bozeman, Artist

Artist Profile: George Bozeman

Here’s a nice article with plenty of pictures. If you knew of George Bozeman in connection with the organ world, then you will learn a lot more about him here. He’s an organist who reminds me of Paul Norris, the organist of Charlotte’s Carolina Theatre in the the 1930s, who took and developed his own photographs, some of them hand colored. I’ll post some of them (next year) in the new website I’m working on.

George Bozeman is an affable man for whom laughter comes easily. His work as an pipe organ builder throughout the United States, and as an organist internationally has taken him to a wide variety of destinations over many years. When he travels he brings at least one camera and sometimes an assortment of gear.

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Just What I Have Been Looking For

“I love the Gounod Sanctus and Cronham’s The Kings of the Orient. The Gounod is just what I have been looking for, as the difficult parts just fall into place. The ‘March’ will be a lot of fun to play — so different and dramatic! The two selections are wonderful additions to my repertoire. Thank you both for the work you are doing to make these treasures available to us. I look forward to future selections. I am always thrilled when I see your emails coming up on my screen. Thanks again, and take care!”—Georgia, USA

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Gifts for Your Organist Friends

Gifts for Your Organist Friends

I recommend these products that I have designed with photos of organists: Great American Organists, Series 1 and 2.

Shirts,outerwear, bags, cups, mugs, caps, and more. These high quality products are made in your choice of size and color, shipped from Cafepress, the world’s leading specialty gift source. 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee. Proceeds from these sales help me to restore more great organ music.

Series 1

E Power Biggs (1906-1977)
Dudley Buck (1839-1909)
Jesse Crawford (1895-1962)
Virgil Fox (1912-1980)
Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Ralph Kinder (1876-1952)
John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)
Eugene Thayer (1838-1889)
Fats Waller (1904-1943)

Series 2

George Chadwick (1854-1931)
Charles Courboin (1886-1973)
Gaston Dethier (1875-1958)
I V Flagler (1840-1909)
Caspar Koch (1872-1970)
Horatio Parker (1863-1919)
Rosa Rio (1902-2010)
Leo Sowerby (1895-1968)
Firmin Swinnen (1885-1972)

I also offer Console Dustcloths. You will get one free with a $50 order. Check out my Gifts and Merchandise page to see everything including selected CDs and downloads.

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St Dunstan’s Episcopal Has A New Organ

Carmel Valley Church Builds New Pipe Organ

This is a nice article about a new organ, but there is no builder mentioned and no link for information. Does anyone have any information on it? Contrary to the headline, I don’t think the church built it!

Vibrations filled the room as the church’s new organ made its debut performance. “I’m mostly feeling utter gratitude and joy,” said organist Steven Denmark.  “I keep pinching myself to say, ‘Is this is a dream or is it real?’  It’s very real.” A longtime Carmel Valley organist, Denmark had the honor of playing the new organ, an instrument that he said is world class with its more than 1,000 pipes and handmade wooden case.  Denmark said that compared to the church’s previous electric organ, the new organ gives them much more control to connect with the music physically. “It is wonderful to play because you are very much in touch with the pipes, because when you play there are levers that go right from your keyboard to open the valve to let the air into the pipes and you can feel it as it’s opening,” Denmark said.

Building the organ has been a dream for the small Carmel Valley church for four years.  The price tag of roughly $800,000 for the whole project was one reason the senior pastor was hesitant at first to take it on.

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Our Restorations Are Really Five-star Productions

“If you lived in the UK you would surely be eligible for some kind of Honour — ‘For services to music.’ You really must be a musical genius to send music as you do; printing, packaging, etc are really five-star productions. Really grateful for the music, for which many thanks. I will be in touch again, and I’ll also spread the word to other organists and friends. Best wishes and regards.” —United Kingdom

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Henry Janiec Dead at Age 85

Converse College, Brevard Music Legend Henry Janiec Dies

“When I die, they can put on my tombstone ‘at least he can keep a job.'”

That tells you a lot about Henry Janiec. He died this past October at the age of 85. He was well known in Converse, of course, but most people knew of him and of his decades of work at the Brevard Music Center.

Janiec died Saturday at Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home, but not without leaving behind a powerful legacy in music that included multiple long-held positions of prominence, primarily in Spartanburg and Brevard, N.C. Janiec was 85.

In addition to his work at Converse, Janiec served for 43 years as music director/conductor of the then-Spartanburg Symphony Orchestra and for 32 years as artistic director of the Brevard Music Center.

Henry was a strong proponent of music in our area for many, many years, and while he was not an organist, his tenure of making good music and striving for the highest standards was reflected to the organ world.

In addition to the Casavant tracker shown above, Converse has a Schantz.  See more at

And above is the III/69 Jaeckel in Brevard.

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Basement Bijou in the News

3,000-pipe Organ Hits Right Chord

Here’s a nice article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the incredible Wurlitzer installation in the Fred Hermes residence near Racine, Wisconsin. If you can ever visit, absolutely make it a priority. This is a destination organ!

Fred Hermes says he doesn’t move as easily as he used to. You wouldn’t believe him if you watched the 89-year-old play the rare 1926 Wurlitzer theater organ housed in his Caledonia basement, his fingers flipping buttons and flying across the five keyboards while his feet effortlessly work the pedals below.

Tucked under a three-bedroom ranch at the end of a dead-end road along Lake Michigan, the basement looks ordinary enough from the outside. A hand-painted wooden “Theatre” sign is the only hint of what lies inside. But a step through the basement door is like traveling through a time machine straight into a 1920s movie palace. Rows of red theater seats on the main level and in a balcony face the organ console elevated on a stage; Roman columns, sculptures and crystal chandeliers decorate the room; multicolored lights illuminate the stage and ceiling.

You may read the entire article online (thanks, MSJ!) but if your browser is cranky, here’s a PDF of this fine article by Chelsey Lewis.

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Albert Benzler Plays Abide With Me

Abide With Me

Frederick W Ecke was an arranger for band, but he also made organ compositions. In 1909, he arranged one of my favorite hymns, “Abide With Me” by William Henry Monk. Organs were difficult to record in those wax cylinder days and consequently not many were except as background accompaniment for soloists or quartets. Also, nearly all of the recordings that prominently show the organ were of religious music, mostly the then-popular gospel titles because that’s what was selling well.

When you listen to Albert Benzler play this arrangement by Ecke, you will hear surface noise and distortion in tone and pitch, so try to listen through this for the music itself. The registration was necessarily limited so as to record well and therefore produce the best possible playback effect. This was not a 78 rpm flat disc as were so many of the old organ recordings we’re used to hearing but an Edison wax cylinder, the first medium for audio recording. You may remember that Thomas Edison had an organ in his laboratory and he loved the sound; he lived long enough to see the improvements in sound recording make it possible to produce a more credible organ recording, but alas his hearing loss prevented him from enjoying it fully.

Note the subtle use of altered harmony and the pedal solo. Yes, that’s right; there is a pedal solo in “Abide With Me”!

Much later than this, organ music was still a popular instrument for recordings. I recommend you read this excellent article by Richard Densmore from which this is taken:


June 29, 1926.

Mr. Thomas A. Edison:

SUBJECT: We need Organ Records

I am receiving a tremendous number of requests for Organ Records of popular selections to be sold at $1.00. This demand has been so persistent and widespread that I am firmly convinced that I could do nothing more important to our record business than to issue such records, particularly as Victor is making a big hit with such records at 75 cents.

I am informed by Walter Miller that you told him to cut out Organ Records for this year. I should like to ask you to reconsider this matter.

First, bear in mind that I am never going to let my enthusiasm carry me away to a point where I ask for extravagant expenditures.

We can have a splendid Organ put in the Columbia Street Studio for thirty days at a cost of $1,000. If it works out alright we can buy this Organ for $6,500, and have the $1,000 installation charge credited.

Now that is a lot of money, but it is really only the cost of twenty double-faced Fox Trot Records, and in about a year and a half, at most, we could issue that many popular Organ Records and give the Trade what they want and what they can sell.

I don’t care about making up a lot of Organ Records in one month because I want to make, on the Organ, red hot selections while they are popular, and I see no way to do this unless we have an Organ at our disposal at all times.

We can make these records so that they will not blast, when played with the Dance Reproducer, if we just eliminate that very heavy bass pipe which really does not add anything to the performance but only clutters it up.

Furthermore, think of the use I can make of this Organ for Long Playing Records. Nothing is more popular over the Radio than Organ-recitals, and we can do some slick work in this respect for Organ enthusiasts.

A. L. Walsh


As a result of this request, a “specially built” three manual, seven rank Midmer-Losh organ was installed in the Edison Columbia Street recording studio in the first week of November 1926. This organ was a conservatively voiced theatre organ that could also be used to play “classical” and church music. Starting in December 1926 through March 1928 Kinsley recorded for Edison on a more frequent and regular basis.


Prior to the Midmer-Losh mentioned above and shown in the photo at top in a dismantled state, the Edison music studio appeared as below.

Now, look closely at the photo from around 1930 of the Midmer-Losh organ seen at the top of my post and find the following:

  • Console
  • Overhead light for organist
  • Microphone had replaced the acoustic horn
  • Manual chimes
  • Swell shades
  • Diapasons in back
  • Wind line under Swell

See more photos and read the full text in Pipe Organ Artists and Recordings
on the Edison Label by Robert Densmore.

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Castro Theatre Organ Update

Hegarty on Plans for the Castro’s New World-Class Organ

I predict lots of comments in the negative vein on this article about the replacement for the Wurlitzer in the Casto Theatre in San Francisco. I am myself conflicted about the situation. There are egos involved, to be sure, but more important is that the replacement is a response to a series of sad and inevitable circumstances — to quote Lemony Snicket, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

David Hegarty is not a young man and the Wurlitzer’s owner is not a young man. The article contains photos and images of what this ridiculously large and over-designed organ will be. Its console will be daunting to an organist who has not played the Wanamaker or the Midmer-Losh in Atlantic City. The Castro simply isn’t that big and the effort here is out of balance: “It will be the largest combination pipe-and-digital organ in the world… Allan Harrah, who had the vision of building one of the largest organs in the world was just looking for a place to do it.”

You should know that the previous Wurlitzer was not original to the theatre.

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