Cover Feature

Glück Pipe Organs, New York, New York

Marble Collegiate Church, New York, New York

Marble Collegiate Church, known for its dynamic ministers and internationally acclaimed music programs, is most often associated with Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking. The landmark building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, shelters a structurally flexible interior that poses acoustical challenges compounded by the fact that this vibrant congregation often fills its pews to capacity. When Kenneth V. Dake, director of music since 1996, asked that the church approach me about a new pipe organ, the mission was to design, build, voice, and tonally finish an instrument that could perform the established solo repertoire and serve the church’s broad music ministry that includes multiple choirs (both in-house and visiting), solo instrumentalists, and orchestras that are seen and heard worldwide through MarbleVision. 

The Dutch Reformed Church, in Nieuw Amsterdam (now New York) since 1628, had commissioned a larger organ for each generation, until the 1984 organ contained twice as many pipes as the 1854 organ. Having previously built organs in spaces with little or no reverberation, I knew that the organ had to generate more sound energy than the building could absorb. I chose broad scales, markedly varied pipe forms and materials, appropriate wind pressures, and a warm, vivid voicing style in what was to be the congregation’s largest instrument in their history. I designed two complete organs at either end of the building, creating a bowl of sound in which to experience the music. Each organ has its own identity, but they fuse in a manner that envelops the listener.


Cultural Antecedents

The tonal blueprint is the child of two lines of scholarly inquiry: what do pipe organs in all cultures and eras have in common, and what do each of those nations provide during each stylistic period that is their musical signature? As with all Glück pipe organs, the selection and location of every voice in Opus 20 is prescribed by the composers’ scores and the instruments for which they wrote, working toward a rational design. One cannot build a fanciful organ with hope that it might accommodate the music, or inspire some imagined future school of composition. This is an American organ, but certainly not of the “American Classic” style, which was a somewhat flawed, albeit necessary and at times elegant part of our organbuilding history.

The Great bears a broadly English stamp, yet includes its share of the fonds d’huit (a concept embodied by an entire organ, not just its main manual); the 8 Violoncello is a particularly wonderful stop. In lieu of a Grand Cornet, the jeux de tierce appears as constituent components, lending flexibility of registration and the luxury of two 2 stops. The broad, warm English Trumpet can fuse with the Cornet and Clarion in the Grand Jeu, or simply serve as the chorus reed for hymnody. The Mixture and Cymbal are additive, but the Cymbal is effective on its own in sprightly gap registrations, authentic or not.

The 18-rank Choir is a modified late Classical Positif under expression, in which voices important for Marble’s worship style displaced some late 18th-century elements. The pair of warm Violas, a Gottfried-copy English Horn, and a 16 extension of the Clarinet contribute more to anthem settings than an extra 8 Trompette or Dessus de flûte.

The Swell chorus is founded upon one of the organ’s six 8 manual Open Diapasons. The 8 Open Wood Flute has proven invaluable for its character and carrying power in this dry acoustic, and it completes the choir of open flutes found in later French Récits. The choice of principal-scaled mutations was based on the theory that in early northern literature, they would be used as an Oberwerk Sesquialtera. For an English flavor, the Seventeenth can be folded into the Chorus Mixture.

The Solo manual extends the Pedal 8 Principal up to full manual compass, and a 4 of similarly woolly tone can be drawn with it as the Rinforzo I–II, with a rich, treble-ascendant drive. The Doppelflöte, the most unusual of the eight different forms of flute construction in the organ, has two mouths per pipe. The remainder of the division makes solo woodwinds available to play against their home divisions, and the commanding high-pressure Tuba Major uses the coved sanctuary ceiling as a reflector.

A flexible floor, ceiling, and balcony, coupled with art glass windows, padded pew boxes, and carpeted floors, demand that the Pedal energize the structure with powerful, complex color from fourteen stops at 16 pitch. A forest of open metal and wood at both ends of the room is there to shake things up. Budget and space constraints sometimes leave the Pedal incomplete, a disservice to the balance and texture of the music. Here, the variety of Pedal tone makes for a luxurious palette, with 16 strings, rather than muted stopped flutes, assisting with composite sonorities. 


The Front Organ

The front organ of twenty-five ranks is more classically disposed, and stands as a complete musical instrument. Nonetheless, in context of the entire instrument, the Apse section serves as both a “Chancel Swell” and an Echo division, and the Chancel section as a Rückpositiv, with its notably bold cherrywood Kirschholzkrummhorn.


The Upperwork

The absurd fad for decrying mixtures is waning. As organists listen to well-designed examples from many eras and ignore blanket condemnations based upon formulaic work of a half century ago, they acknowledge that most of the literature was written for organs with mixtures. It would have been irresponsible to exclude or suppress them here, where the absence of reverberation calls for harmonically rich, engagingly complex sounds in addition to the recombinant effects of meticulously finished unison voices.

The Marble Collegiate Church mixtures were very carefully composed and finished to bring intelligibility to the inner voices of polyphony and contribute a clean, silvery, and agreeable shine to the tout ensemble. The number of ranks increases toward the treble, although not to render the bass weak, but to avoid making the pitches so high that they confuse the exquisite voice leading of contrapuntal music. Strict formula is avoided so as to eliminate sub-harmonics in the right hand, and whenever the mixture contains an odd number of ranks, it favors the unison pitch.

The mixtures are indeed terraced in their block pitches and breaks, but never get so high as to separate from the chorus. The construct of the Werkprinzip was discarded in favor of the historical evidence of several 8 choruses of contrasting weight and balance point.


The Three Cases

The complex superstructure of the gallery organ occupies a good portion of Marble’s distinctive tower, the interior of which was rebuilt to my specifications. Stone side walls were matched in rigidity by a heavily braced rear wall and new ceiling in order to blend the sound and conserve and propagate the lower frequencies.

Henry Erben’s monumental Italianate case of 1854 had been altered three times, yet it retains its exotic ornamentation and visual rhythm. With the church’s permission, I removed some 20th-century additions in the spirit of historic preservation, and it now seems to hover above the gallery despite its husky mass.

The front organ is distributed between a pair of apse chambers and twin resonant cases flanking the chancel. The cases are inspired by the work of Mutin, and I designed them to appear as if they were always a part of the historic architecture. Behind the curved cornices are concealed canted wooden ceilings that blend and project the tone, sending it outward instead of up into the rafters.

The pipes that stand in all three façades are speaking pipes, and gold leafing of the moldings and pipe mouths was accomplished in the church. 

Three action types are employed. The Gallery fluework stands on electropneumatic slider and pallet soundboards, while electric valve action with expansion chambers was employed for the fluework in the front organ due to space constraints. All of the reeds in the instrument speak from electropneumatic pouch chests, as do offset manual basses, unit stops, and the 16 and 32 octaves of lower pitched ranks.


The Console

The console had to meet the requirements of unobstructed sight lines, elegant appearance, and silent operation for the church’s international broadcasts of outstanding quality and resolution. The artistic management of 101 ranks in eight divisions demanded a sumptuously equipped, technologically advanced mobile console. The concert works and significant anthem repertoire that complement the hymnody and spoken word at each service require a comprehensive control system to handle the divisional coupling, combination action, expression shutter engines, and playback functions. 


I am grateful to our partners in this organbuilding journey: OSI, AR Schopp’s Sons, Syndyne, Zephyr, and Peterson Electro-Musical Products. My gratitude is extended to the gentlemen of Glück Pipe Organs who labored with care to install my vision in the church: Albert Jensen-Moulton, general manager, who also served as my extra set of ears during tonal finishing; Joseph DiSalle, Robert Rast, and Dominic Inferrera, craftsmen; Gene Baker, Matthew David, Dan Perina, and John Kawa, technical assistants; and our volunteer assistants, Joe Clift, Mark Johnson, and Greg Lozier.

The organ was dedicated by three of our nation’s great organists, with recitals by concert organist Ken Cowan, principal organist of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Richard Elliott, and “First Lady” of the organ Diane Bish, in concert with the Marble Choir and Festival of Voices and Brass Ensemble under the direction of Kenneth V. Dake.

— Sebastian M. Glück



16 Double Open Diapason 61 pipes

8 First Open Diapason 61 pipes

8 Second Open Diapason 12 pipes

8 Violoncello 61 pipes

8 Harmonic Flute (a) 49 pipes

8 Bourdon 61 pipes

4 Octave 61 pipes

4 Orchestral Flute 61 pipes

223 Nazard 61 pipes

2 Super Octave 61 pipes

2 Spire Flute 61 pipes

135 Tierce 61 pipes

IV–V Mixture 245 pipes

II Cymbal 122 pipes

8 Trumpet 61 pipes

4 Clarion 12 pipes


Chimes (in Apse) 20 tubes

Great Silent


16 Bourdon 12 pipes

8 Principal 61 pipes

8 Stopped Diapason 61 pipes

8 Viole de Gambe 61 pipes

8 Voix Céleste 61 pipes

8 Open Wood Flute (b) 49 pipes 

4 Octave 61 pipes

4 Harmonic Flute 61 pipes

223 Twelfth 61 pipes

2 Harmonic Piccolo 61 pipes

135 Seventeenth 61 pipes

III–V Chorus Mixture 237 pipes

16 Bombarde 61 pipes

8 Trompette 61 pipes

8 Basson-Hautbois 61 pipes

4 Clairons I–II (c) 80 pipes


16 Swell to Swell

Swell Silent

8 Swell to Swell


8 Principal 61 pipes

8 Viola 61 pipes

8 Viola Céleste 56 pipes

8 Unda Maris II (from Apse)

8 Stopped Diapason 61 pipes

4 Octave 61 pipes

4 Chimney Flute 61 pipes

223 Nazard 61 pipes

2 Fifteenth 61 pipes

2 Recorder 61 pipes

135 Tierce 61 pipes

113 Larigot 61 pipes

1 Fife 61 pipes

III–IV Sharp Mixture 225 pipes

16 Basset Horn 12 pipes

8 English Horn 61 pipes

8 Clarinet 61 pipes


Celesta (in Apse chamber) 61 bars

Celesta Sub


16 Choir to Choir

Choir Silent

4 Choir to Choir

Great and Choir Reversed

Solo Tubas to Choir


8 Diapason Major (d) 29 pipes

8 Doppelflöte (e) 49 pipes

8+4 Rinforzo I–II (f) 49 pipes

8 Unda Maris II (from Apse)

8 English Horn (from Choir)

8 Hautboy (from Apse)

8 Clarinet (from Choir)

8 Kirschholz Krummhorn 

    (from Chancel)

8 Vox Humana (from Apse)



Celesta Sub

Apse Tremulant

16 Tuba Magna (g)

8 Tuba Major 61 pipes

4 Tuba Clarion 12 pipes

Solo Silent

Swell Reeds on Solo


16 Infrabass (h)

8 Open Diapason (en façade) 61 pipes

8 Chimney Flute 61 pipes

8 Gemshorn (from Apse)

8 Unda Maris (from Apse)

4 Principal 61 pipes

4 Spire Flute 61 pipes

2 Fifteenth 61 pipes

II–IV Mixture 220 pipes

8 Kirschholzkrummhorn (i) 61 pipes

8 Trumpet (from Apse)

Chancel Silent


8 Gemshorn 61 pipes

8 Unda Maris 49 pipes

8 Flauto Dolce 61 pipes

8 Stopped Flute 61 pipes

4 Principal 61 pipes

4 Open Wood Flute 61 pipes

223 Quinte Conique 49 pipes

2 Recorder 61 pipes

II–III Acuta 143 pipes

16 Bassoon 12 pipes

8 Trumpet 61 pipes

8 Hautboy 61 pipes

8 Vox Humana 61 pipes



Celesta Sub

16 Apse to Apse

Apse Silent

4 Apse to Apse


32 Double Diapason (resultant)

32 Untersatz 12 pipes

16 Montre (en façade) 32 pipes

16 Open Diapason Wood 32 pipes

16 Open Diapason Metal (from Great)

16 Violone 32 pipes

16 Sub Bass 32 pipes

16 Bourdon (from Swell)

8 Principal 32 pipes

8 Diapason (from Great 16)

8 Violoncello 12 pipes

8 Bourdon 12 pipes

8 Stopped Diapason (from Swell)

4 Fifteenth 32 pipes

4 Night Horn 32 pipes

2 Koppelflöte 32 pipes

IV Mixture 128 pipes

32 Double Ophicleide (k) 12 pipes

16 Trombone 32 pipes

16 Ophicleide 32 pipes

16 Bombarde (from Swell)

16 Basset Horn (from Choir)

8 Trompette 12 pipes

8 Clarinet (from Choir)

4 Clairon 12 pipes

4 Rohrschalmei 32 pipes

Gallery Pedal Silent


16 Gemshorn 12 pipes

16 Bourdon 32 pipes

8 Principal (en façade) 32 pipes

8 Gemshorn (from Apse)

8 Bourdon (from Apse)

4 Fifteenth 12 pipes

16 Bombarde 12 pipes

16 Bassoon (from Apse)

8 Trumpet (from Apse)

8 Bassoon (from Apse)

4 Kirschholzkrummhorn (from Chancel)

Chancel Pedal Silent


(a) C1–B12 from Second Open

(b) C1–B12 from Stopped Diapason

(c) Trebles are 8+4

(d) Extension of Pedal 8 Principal

(e) C1–B12 from Pedal Sub Bass unit

(f) Independent 4 from C13, draws Diapason Major

(g) C1–B12 play the Pedal 16 Trombone

(h) C1–B24 Chancel Pedal; C25–C61 Apse Open Flute

(i) Cherry wood resonators on brass stems

(j) Resultant from 16 Open Wood

(k) Poplar boots with aluminum resonators



4 Gallery Organ

10 Gallery Pedal Reeds

12 Solo Tubas

312 Chancel Organ

414 Apse Organ



Swell, Choir, Apse, Crescendo


4 manuals, 101 ranks

Sebastian M. Glück is Artistic and Tonal Director of Glück Pipe Organs.

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