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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: Louis Plummer Auditorium Wurlitzer

December 11, 2005

Dear Michael:
Thank you for your November 28th program and the Jelani Eddington selections on the Louis Plummer Auditorium Wurlitzer. That was the first instrument that I studied on in the 1950s. It originally had a beautiful 4-manual walnut “waterfall” horshoe console which was “chopped” and painted black because it stuck up above the level of the stage from the left side of the orchestra pit and was deemed to be a visual distraction. Later, the pedal diaphone was disconnected because it could be heard and felt in the administration office during school hours.

At some point in the late 50s, the key to the fire door leading into the dallery echo was lost and the division became unuseable because of the neglect and lack of tuning.

The last time I played it was for my wife’s graduation ceremony from nursing school in 1975 and the ‘G’ relay on the solo division stuck with all five big reeds sounding during the processional. I had to turn the blower off during the ceremony and quickly scrap plans for the Widor Toccata for the recessional. I improvised a “toccata” with a G pedal point which got us through the ceremony.

It is such a pleasure to hear the old girl sounding so good. It was designed as one of two “concert models”, the twin of which was destroyed in a fire in the 1940s in Chicago, if I remember correctly. It was remarkably suited to 19th century French repetoir and did a decent immitation of a Cavaillé-Coll.

Pat and I are retired and living in SLC now and are blessed by the music programs at the Cathedral of the Madeleine and Saint Mark’s Cathedral. The Jones at the Madeleine is by far SLC’s best instrument.

Many thanks for your broadcasts.
Jim Ryland
Salt Lake City, Utah


Dear Jim:
Thank You for sharing this with us.



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