New Organs

August 7, 2012

M. P. Rathke, Inc., 

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona  

During autumn 2008 we were contacted by Kimberly Marshall, director of the Arizona State University School of Music, who spoke of a museum that would be unlike any other: the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), then being built on the northern edge of Phoenix, would showcase instruments of virtually every nation, culture, and musical style. Dr. Marshall had been retained as consultant to the museum in the planning of its pipe organ exhibit, for which she suggested a working chamber organ, with its interior parts completely visible to interested eyes, yet protected from curious hands.

This see-through instrument, dubbed “The Visible Organ” at the time of its commissioning by donors Floyd and Marie Ganassi, is the product of our intriguing and rewarding collaboration with Kimberly Marshall and William DeWalt, MIM’s president. It features mechanical key and stop action and is housed in a case of quarter-sawn white oak with walnut accents and panels of ¼-inch tempered glass. The winding is via a weighted wedge bellows, which may be fed either by a rotary fan blower or by hand pumping in the traditional manner.

The organ was designed with a total of five stops, all divided treble and bass, of which the Twelfth and Seventeenth are currently prepared. The manual naturals are grenadil with arcaded key fronts; reverse-skunktail sharps are made from ebony flanked by holly. The pedal keys are maple with walnut sharps. The iron drawknobs and bellows handle were fashioned by Louise Pezzi of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; walnut pipe shades were designed and carved by Morgan Faulds Pike of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The dedicatory recital was played by consultant Kimberly Marshall on August 8, 2010. (More information on the museum is found in the “Here & There” column of this issue; see page 4.)

—Michael P. Rathke


8 Stopped Diapason

4 Principal

223 Twelfth  (prepared)

2 Fifteenth

135 Seventeenth (prepared) 


Permanently coupled to manual


Photo credit: Emil Dria


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