Cover Feature

Newberry Organ Restoration Nears Completion

A. Thompson-Allen Co. performs historic work in Woolsey Hall at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

 

Experiencing the Newberry

Performing, recording, and teaching our graduate organ majors on the Newberry Memorial Organ during the past 35 years will ever remain the high point of my half-century’s musical work. That the instrument is thriving so well is due to the team we celebrate in this article: Aubrey Thompson-Allen and his son Nicholas, Joseph Dzeda, and the staff they have trained so thoroughly. 

The good fortunes of the Newberry Organ are also attributable to those who have recognized its singular stature among late-Romantic organs, especially my esteemed colleague and predecessor as University Organist, Prof. Charles Krigbaum, who saw in it an ideal vehicle for some of his favorite music during a bleak period when large electro-pneumatic organs were deemed categorically inferior and artistically decadent by far too many. When Charles recorded all ten of Widor’s symphonies and the major works of Olivier Messiaen in Woolsey Hall the world took notice! Likewise, Martin Jean’s recordings of Vierne and Tournemire beautifully call forth the extraordinary eloquence of this instrument. For my own part, in addition to playing bona fide organ repertoire, I have sought to demonstrate the overtly “orchestral” qualities of this superb instrument with some judicious ventures in transcription playing and with repertoire that invites nuanced coloristic treatment. 

For our students, sitting on the same oak bench where Alexandre Guilmant sat to perform in 1904 (the heavy adjustable bench from the original organ is still in use) is a link with a remarkable past: a small detail, but something they will remember! Knowing that the Newberry Organ will soon be fit for service far into the future gives us all a heightened sense of gratitude and joy.

—Thomas Murray

University Organist

 

A Masterpiece Restored

The Newberry Organ in Woolsey Hall is one of Yale University’s greatest treasures, and arguably one of the most important examples of the work of Ernest Skinner, America’s pre-eminent organ builder of the early twentieth century. Almost equally celebrated are the artisans who care for this and all pipe organs on Yale’s campus: the A. Thompson-Allen Company, Nicholas Thompson-Allen and Joseph F. Dzeda, associate curators of organs, and
their colleagues.

This is an inspiring list of superlatives, to be sure, and is a rich context for the long-term care of such a priceless instrument as the Newberry. The oldest sections of this organ are from the Hutchings-Votey Organ Company (1903). In 1915, the J. W. Steere & Son Organ Company improved the instrument mechanically and expanded it dramatically, as did the Skinner Organ Company in 1928. For over a century, therefore, the organ has served the university community with distinction. Generations of organ faculty, students, and guest artists have played the instrument for convocations, assemblies, and concerts week after week for hundreds of thousands of grateful listeners. Its music has marked landmark occasions of both triumph and tragedy during one of the most tumultuous centuries in history. 

The care of Yale’s organs came under the auspices of the Institute of Sacred Music in 2003, and in 2012 the organ faculty and curators saw an opportunity to launch a complete renovation of all 12,641 pipes and eight divisions—the first thorough restoration in the organ’s storied career.

Such an opportunity would not be possible without leadership from the uppermost levels of Yale’s administration. In 2003, then-president Richard Levin asked all units on campus to begin a program of financial stewardship that would, in effect, create a savings account in the university coffers for the restoration or replacement of Yale’s capital assets, thus ending the practice euphemistically known as “deferred maintenance” that had been so prevalent in the 1970s and ’80s. This Capital Replacement Charge (CRC) continuously accrues funds from across the university, a stewardship model that has now been adopted by academic institutions the world over; it is the mechanism by which our Institute was able to fund a project as ambitious as the Newberry restoration

This acutely needed work has been supported by an enthusiastic administration, by our own financial capacity, and by the world-class skills of Yale’s organ curators, whose lifetimes of experience have brought them international recognition. 

Here we celebrate their work—as well as the inspiring creation of this unparalleled instrument, and the generations of stewards who have gone before us.  

—Martin Jean, Director

Yale Institute of Sacred Music

 

Restoration Goals and Timeline

When it was decided to perform a full “ground-up” restoration, the first objective was to construct a timeline that would enable the organ to be used during most of the school year. The project was divided into seven phases that could be carried out between late spring and early fall, leaving the organ available for teaching and performance during academic terms. While the restoration would have been easier and quicker to do all at once, the organ would have been shut down for three years. The seven phases are:

1) String and Choir 2012

2) Swell 2013

3) Solo 2014

4) Orchestral 2015

5) Great 2016

6) Pedal and Console 2017

7) Relay Room and Echo 2018

The two blowers, the static reservoirs, and the humidification system have been recently rebuilt and/or provided and do not need attention at this time. Also, the “piggy-backed” solid-state combination action, generously given by Yale alumnus Hugh Allen Wilson and elegantly installed by the renowned Richard Houghten, is also of recent date and works perfectly. It should be noted that the 1928 remote-control combination action, the last remaining example of the Skinner Organ Company’s design, has been retained and can still be used and studied as an historical model.  

Our goals in restoring this masterpiece have been relatively straightforward. There have been no tonal or mechanical changes whatsoever with the minor exception of furnishing compression springs and “dowel-nutting” (a system of providing fresh hard wood for all the screws under wind-pressure) for the chests, in order to insure air tightness. The original builders sealed all the wood, common metal, and zinc pipes, plus all of the other woodwork, to protect and preserve these components.  

All the pipes have been fully cleaned and have had fresh shellac applied where appropriate, as shellac deteriorates over time and is partly removed during the cleaning process. The pipes from 8C and up have been fully regulated for original speech and power on the voicing machine, the 16 and 32 bass pipes being restored mostly on site. The reeds have been restored by Christopher and David Broome, utilizing all of the original tongues. We have made every effort to preserve the original voicing and have only sought to bring the organ back to 1928, when the Skinner Organ Company rebuilt it with mostly new diapasons and chorus reeds while retaining many of the earlier Hutchings and Steere flutes and solo reeds.  

It is very rare to find an organ of this age and magnitude that is complete and unaltered from both musical and technological perspectives. Our most important goal is and always has been to keep it that way, so that the organ can survive another hundred years—or more.

—Nicholas Thompson-Allen

Associate Curator of Organs

 

In Retrospect

The Newberry Memorial Organ would not have survived to our day were it not for the skillful ministrations of Aubrey Thompson-Allen, Yale’s curator of organs from 1952 to 1973. When he arrived, having served as managing director of Henry Willis & Sons and later as assistant to G. Donald Harrison at Aeolian-Skinner, he found the heavily used organ rapidly approaching the point of needing a major intervention, as the work done by all three of the organ’s builders was beginning to fail simultaneously. Several of the organ’s twenty-five regulators were beginning to leak, and dead notes peppered the instrument’s divisions. The organ’s fading glory did not daunt Aubrey, however; he was determined that the organ would survive.  

The large Holtkamp organ installed in 1951 in Yale’s Battell Chapel took much of the pressure off the Newberry Organ, both by assuming its teaching duties and by satisfying the desire for a more contemporary instrument on campus. Aubrey knew that if he could keep the Newberry Organ playable, there would be less chance that it might receive unsympathetic, unwanted attention of a destructive kind, as had befallen so many other major Skinner organs of the same period. Both his affection for and knowledge of the instrument enabled Aubrey to come up with ways, sometimes unorthodox, to keep the organ air-tight and its pipes playing.

Younger musicians may find it hard to believe that in the 1960s the Newberry Organ languished in the typical period of disgrace that seems to befall many great works of art twenty or thirty years after their creation. At Yale there was little awareness of the need for comprehensive work on the instrument, let alone any budget to support it. The organ survived on Aubrey’s finger-in-the-dike repairs carried out in the summertime, while Yale is out of session.  

When I became his assistant in 1968, I recognized that the Newberry Organ was something of a time capsule. The lack of funds to “update” the organ allowed it to remain as it was left when it was dedicated in late 1929. Its pipework and technology completely intact, the instrument had been spared the fate of the other three famous Skinner “university organs.” When eventually the funds did materialize through the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, they were designated for the instrument’s comprehensive restoration, preserving it from further decline or replacement. 

I often wish that Aubrey could see firsthand the current painstaking restoration of the organ, carried out by the company formed by his son Nicholas (my colleague, friend, and business partner for the past forty-eight years) and me, his last assistant.

Today it is genuinely gratifying to see the Newberry Organ so universally acknowledged, enjoyed not only by Yale’s faculty and students, but also by countless visitors and colleagues from America and abroad. Somewhere, I’m sure, Aubrey is nodding in approval!

—Joseph F. Dzeda

Associate Curator of Organs

 

The Newberry Memorial Organ in Woolsey Hall was built in 1903 by the Hutchings-Votey Organ Company, improved mechanically and almost doubled in size in 1915 by the J. W. Steere & Son Organ Company, and rebuilt and enlarged in 1928 by the Skinner Organ Company of Boston. University Organist Harry Benjamin Jepson (1871–1952) was responsible for the design of the instrument, executed by Ernest M. Skinner and G. Donald Harrison of the Skinner firm. Consisting of 12,641 pipes arranged in 197 ranks and 167 speaking stops, it is one of the largest and most outstanding instruments of its period. The Newberry Organ has been kept tonally and technologically intact since its 1928–29 reconstruction, and is used throughout the academic year for teaching, concerts, and gala events. It is maintained by the associate curators of organs Joseph F. Dzeda and Nicholas Thompson-Allen.

Great Organ
Manual II   7
1Џ2 wind pressure

No. Pitch Name Pipes Period

1. 32 Violone (6 wind) 61 III/I

2. 16 Diapason 61 I

3. 16 Bourdon 61 I

4. 8 First Diapason 61 II/III

5. 8 Second Diapason 61 I/III

6. 8 Third Diapason 61 I/III

7. 8 Fourth Diapason 61 I/III

8. 8 Principal Flute 61 III

9. 8 Doppelflöte 61 I

10. 8 Claribel Flute 61 II

11. 8 Erzähler 61 III

12. 8 Gamba 61 I

13. 513 Quint 61 I/III

14. 4 Principal 61 III

15. 4 Octave 61 I

16. 4 Waldflöte 61 I

17. 4 Hohlpfeife 61 II

18. 315 Tenth 61 III

19. 223 Twelfth 61 I

20. 2 Fifteenth 61 III

21. V Chorus Mixture 4 E-2 305 III

22. IV Harmonics 135 D-7 244 III

23. VII Cymbale 113 F-2 427 III

24. 8 Trumpet 61 I

25. 4 Clarion 80 I

26. 16 Contra Tromba (10 wind) 61 III

27. 8 Tromba (10 wind) 61 III

28. 4 Octave Tromba (10 wind) 61 III

29. String Ensemble

30. Chimes (Solo)

Swell Organ
Manual III   10
wind pressure

1. 16 Bourdon 73 I/II

2. 16 Gamba 73 I/II

3. 8 Diapason 73 I/III

4. 8 Geigen Diapason 73 I/III

5. 8 Open Flute 73 I/II

6. 8 Flauto Traverso 73 I/II

7. 8 Gedeckt 73 I/III

8. 8 Quintadena 73 I/II

9. 8 Flute Celeste (2 ranks, sharp celeste, TC) 134 III

10. 8 Gamba 73 I/II

11. 8 Voix Celeste (2 rks, # and ##, draws #10) 134 I/II

12. 8 Salicional 73 I/II

13. 8 Aeoline 73 I/II

14. 8 Unda Maris (tuned sharp, TC, draws #13) 61 I/II

15. 4 Octave 73 III

16. 4 Flute Triangulaire 73 III

17. 4 Violina 73 I/II

18. 4 Unda Maris (2 ranks, unison/sharp) 122 III

19. 223 Twelfth 61 III

20. 2 Flautino 61 III

21. 135 Tierce 73 I/III

22. V Quint Mixture 2 C-1 305 III

23. V Cornet 4/8 I-1 305 III

24. 16 Posaune 73 I/II/III

25. 8 Trumpet 73 III

26. 8 Cornopean 73 III

27. 8 Oboe 73 I/II/III

28. 4 Clarion 73 III

29. 8 Vox Humana (sep. chest/tremolo, 5 wind) 61 I/III

30. String Ensemble

31. Chimes (Solo #20)

32. Tremolo

Solo Organ
Manual IV    15
wind pressure

1. 16 Diapason 73 II

2. 16 Viole 73 II

3. 8 Diapason (two ranks) 146 II

4. 8 Flauto Mirabilis 73 II/III

5. 8 Stopped Flute 73 I/II

6. 8 Gross Gamba 73 III

7. 8 Gamba Celeste (tuned sharp, draws #6) 73 III

8. 4 Octave 73 III

9. 4 Hohlpfeife 73 I/II

10. 4 Gambette 73 III

11. 223 Nazard 61 III

12. 2 Piccolo 61 II

13. V Fourniture 2 C-3 305 III

14. 8 Tuba 73 III

15. 8 Trumpet 73 III

16. 8 French Horn 73 III

17. 8 Heckelphone 73 III

18. 513 Quinte Tromba 61 I/III

19. 4 Tuba Clarion 73 III

20. Chimes F2 to G4   27 tubes II

21. Tremolo

22. String Ensemble

25 wind pressure:

23. 16 Ophicleide 73 II

24. 8 Orchestral Trombone 73 VI

25. 8 Tuba Mirabilis unenclosed 73 III

26. 8 Trumpet Harmonique unenclosed 73 IV

Echo Organ
Manual II and IV (duplex action) 
10
wind pressure

1. 16 Bourdon 73 II

2. 8 Diapason 73 I/II

3. 8 Cor de Nuit 73 II

4. 8 Viole d’Amour 73 I/II

5. 8 Dulciana 73 I/II

6. 8 Vox Angelica (tuned sharp, draws #5) 73 I/II

7. 4 Fernflöte 73 II

8. 8 Trumpet 73 I/II

9. 8 Oboe Horn 73 II

10. 8 Vox Humana 61 II

11. Chimes (Solo #20)

12. Tremolo

Choir Organ
Manual I    10
wind pressure

1. 16 Dulciana 73 I/II

2. 8 Violin Diapason 73 III

3. 8 Flute Harmonique 73 III

4. 8 Gedeckt 73 I/II

5. 8 ’Cello 73 I/II/V

6. 8 Dulciana 73 I/II

7. 4 Octave 73 III

8. 4 Flauto Traverso 73 I/II

9. 4 Viola 73 I/II

10. 2 Piccolo Harmonique 73 I/II

11. 16 Fagotto 73 I/II

12. 8 Corno d’Amore 73 III

13. 8 Clarinet 61 I/II

14. String Ensemble

15. Tremolo

Orchestral Organ 
Manual I and III (duplex) 
10
wind pressure

1. 8 Concert Flute 73 II

2. 8 Bois Celeste (tuned sharp, TC, draws #1) 61 II

3. 8 Viole d’Orchestre 73 II

4. 8 First Viole Celeste (tuned sharp, draws #3) 73 II

5. 8 Second Viole Celeste (double sharp, + #4) 73 II

6. 8 Muted Viole 73 II

7. 8 Muted Celeste (tuned flat, draws #6) 73 II

8. 8 Kleine Erzähler (2 ranks, sharp celeste, TC) 134 III

9. 4 Orchestral Flute 73 III

10. 4 Flûte à Cheminée 73 II

11. 223 Nazard 61 III

12. 2 Piccolo 61 III

13. 135 Tierce 61 III

14. 123 Larigot 61 III

15. 117 Septième 61 III

16. V Dulciana Mixture 223 H-2 305 III

17. 16 Bassoon (Orch #18) 12 III

18. 8 Bassoon 73 III

19. 8 French Horn 61 II

20. 8 English Horn 61 IV

21. 8 Corno di Bassetto 61 II

22. 8 Orchestral Oboe 61 II

23. Harp (C2 to C6, 8 pitch, from Orch #24)

24. Celesta (C1 to C6, 4 pitch) 61 bars III

25. Chimes (Solo #20)

26. Tremolo

String Ensemble (any manual or pedal) 10 wind pressure

1. 8 Orchestral Strings I flat/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

2. 8 Orchestral Strings II unison/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

3. 8 Orchestral Strings III unison/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

4. 8 Orchestral Strings IV unison/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

5. 8 Muted Strings I flat/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

6. 8 Muted Strings II unison/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

7. 8 Muted Strings III unison/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

8. 8 Muted Strings IV unison/sharp 2 ranks 146 III

9. IV Cornet des Violes 4 J-2 244 III

10. Tremolo

Pedal Organ 
6
wind pressure

1. 64 Gravissima (draws #2; #3 at 2113 pitch)

2. 32 Diapason 32 I

3. 32 Contra Bourdon (Great #3) 12 I

4. 32 Violone (Great #1) III/I

5. 16 First Diapason 32 I

6. 16 Second Diapason (1–12 Gt.; 13 up Ped. #2) 12

7. 16 Bourdon (Great #3)

8. 16 Gedeckt (Swell #1)

9. 16 Violone (Great #1)

10. 16 Gamba (Swell #2)

11. 16 Dulciana 32 I

12. 8 Octave (Pedal #5) 12

13. 8 Principal (Pedal #6) 12

14. 8 Flute Bass (Great #3)

15. 8 Still Gedeckt (Swell #1)

16. 8 Salicional (Great #1)

17. 8 ’Cello (Solo #6 and #7)

18. 4 Super Octave 32 I

19. 4 Flute 32 I

20. VI Harmonics 513 K-13 192 III

21. V Mixture 4 K-11 160 III

22. 32 Bombarde (20 wind) 32 IV/I

23. 16 Trombone (Pedal #22) 12 IV/I

24. 16 Bass Tuba (Solo #23)

25. 16 Fagotto (Choir #11)

26. 1023 Quint Trombone (Great #26)

27. 8 Tromba (Pedal #23) 12 I

28. 8 Tuba (Solo #23)

29. 4 Clarion (Solo #23)

30. String Ensemble

31. Chimes (Solo #20)

Echo Pedal 
10
wind pressure

1. 16 Diapason 32 II

2. 16 Bourdon (Echo #1)

3. 8 Octave 12 II

4’ 8 Flute (Echo #1)

5. Chimes (Solo #20)

 

Combination Pistons

Great 1–12, 0

Swell 1–12, 0

Choir 1–12, 0

Solo 1–12, 0

Couplers 1–4, 0

Solo-Echo 1–5, 0

Great-Echo 1–5, 0

General 1–10, 00

Combination Set

Combination Toe Studs

General 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10, 00

Pedal 1–10, 0

 

Reversible Pistons

Great-to-Pedal Reversible

Swell-to-Pedal Reversible

Choir-to-Pedal Reversible

Solo-to-Pedal Reversible

All Swells to Swell (with indicator light) 

 

Reversible Toe Pedals

Great-to-Pedal Reversible

Swell-to-Pedal Reversible

Solo-to-Pedal Reversible

Sforzando I (with indicator light)

Sforzando II (with indicator light)

 

Couplers (by rocking tablets)

Swell to Pedal 8 – 4

Great to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 8 – 4

Solo to Pedal 8 – 4

 

Swell to Great 16 – 8 – 4

Choir to Great 16 – 8 – 513 – 4

Solo to Great 16 – 8 – 4

Swell to Choir 8 – 4

Solo to Choir 8

Solo to Swell 8

Swell to Solo 8

Great to Solo 8

Choir to Solo 8

Swell to Swell 16 – 4

Choir to Choir 16 – 4

Solo to Solo 16 – 4

 

Echo on Great off

Echo on Solo off

 

Balanced Pedals (Left to Right)

Choir Expression

Orchestral Expression

Swell Expression

Solo and Echo Expression

Register Crescendo (with indicator light)

The String Ensemble shades operate from the shoe of the manual upon which it is drawn; when engaged on the Great or Pedal, the String shades operate from the Orchestral shoe.

 

The present Orchestral English Horn and Solo unenclosed Trumpet Harmonique were installed by the Skinner Organ Company in 1931. At the same time, the 24 lowest resonators of the Bombarde-Trombone unit, originally large-scale and of wood, were replaced with new metal resonators.

 

On/Off Thumb Pistons

Pedal to Manual Combinations  Solo

Pedal to Manual Combinations  Swell

Pedal to Manual Combinations  Great

Pedal to Manual Combinations  Choir

Solo Stops on Crescendo 

 

Key

I: George S. Hutchings, 1902–03

II: Steere Organ Company, 1915

III: Skinner Organ Company, 1928–29

IV: Skinner Organ Company, 1931

V: Hook & Hastings Battell Chapel organ, 1875

VI: Skinner Organ Company, 1928–29 (removed 1931, located and reinstalled 1994)

 

Blowing Plant

Two 20-horsepower Spencer Turbine blowers, arranged redundantly, each powered by a 240-volt direct-current Westinghouse motor

 

Summary

167 speaking stops

197 ranks

12,641 pipes

 

Restoration by

A. Thompson-Allen Co., LLC

New Haven, Connecticut

203/776-1616

www.thompson-allen.com

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