Serge Koussevitzky’s Organ at Tanglewood

Tanglewood’s Original Organ

TIL about this organ. If you are not a reader of Reddit, this is the abbreviation for “Today I Learned.” There is history and optimism, so read William Sexton’s article.

If pipe organs could have pipe dreams, then you could imagine that Serge Koussevitzky’s instrument at Tanglewood is suffering one long nightmare during the 75th anniversary it shares this year with the late maestro’s better-known legacy: the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer school he founded for young professionals.

And the Music Shed’s sole concert dedicated to the organ this season will feature an electronic instrument: sheer anathema to windblown traditionalists. In fact, it was the inferior tone of a pre-digital electric instrument that prompted Koussevitzky to acquire a pipe organ in the first place. It arrived just in time for the Music Center’s 1940 debut.

Possibly because of the high cost of retuning it after a Berkshires winter, the instrument is seldom played and few people are even aware of its existence. The pipes are shrouded by the stage’s acoustical reflecting panels; the console is parked backstage.

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3 Responses to Serge Koussevitzky’s Organ at Tanglewood

  1. Tom Nichol says:

    I remember reading the stoplist of this organ once. What really struck me as odd was that the 32-foot Bombarde in the Pedal division had ONLY ONE PIPE–LOW C!! I’m sorry, but to me, that’s just stupid! I don’t know what G. Donald Harrison and the Maestro were thinking at the time, but to me, that simply makes no sense!!

    • Colin 't Hart says:

      I’m sure I read somewhere (Sumner?) that it was to be able to play Saint Saens’ organ symphony.

  2. Steven Frank says:

    Final chord of the Saint-Saëns 🙂

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