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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Pipes, What Pipes?”

July 13, 2009

Dear Michael,

Why is it that (increasingly, it seems to me) you are adulterating your programming with non-pipe boom-box stuff? However elaborate, and with whatever label (Wurlitzer, Hammond etc.) no dreams are engendered by these spurious imitations. In my case, just irritation.




Though you may not realize it, the Wurlitzer (and Barton, and Morton, and Kimball) theatre organs are the real thing, all pipes. Also, many people who listen to PIPEDREAMS enjoy hearing them. If you think about what is going on, the theatre organist is at least as adept as the classical organist…responsible not only for getting the notes down correctly but, usually, also creating the arrangement, manipulating multiple combination changes, often performing from memory, keeping good rhythm…they are to be lauded for their own special artistry. Also, the theatre organ is, perhaps, the only distinctly American contribution to the art of the King of Instruments.
Classical organ music will always be the primary content, overall, of PIPEDREAMS broadcasts, but the theatre organ will appear with some regularity.
I encourage your patience and collegiality. It's ALL organ music… :-)




Glenn responds,

THANK YOU! for your thoughtful response. I am slightly confused about “theatre” organs, given:
a) I know that some of the “organs” in theatres (and Churches) are not pipes, and
b) I can usually identify the instruments which you assure me are pipes by the character of their sound.

In any event, I remain a committed listener to, and admirer of, your program.



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