Indiana University Auditorium Organ

Indiana University Auditorium Organ

An especially fine example of the art of organ building, the organ now in the Indiana University Auditorium has a history which goes back to 1889, when Hilborne L. Roosevelt of New York built it for installation in the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. In 1942, when the Auditorium Theatre was being converted to a USO center, the organ was sold at auction to organ enthusiast, author, and businessman, Dr. William H. Barnes of Evanston, Illinois. Dr. Barnes, in turn, donated the organ to Indiana University where it was installed in 1944 in the IU Auditorium by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company.

In 1961 the console was damaged by water, making the organ unplayable. Later, a small fire damaged portions of the pipe work. In 1967, the Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio was commissioned to redesign and rebuild the entire organ and reinstall it in the IU Auditorium. Working with members of the organ faculty of the IU School of Music and the university architects, the company developed specifications for the instrument to meet the special requirements of the Auditorium and the varied activities which take place in the venue.

The instrument was completed in 1969 and is illustrative of one of the finest installations of a large recital organ in the world. A special alcove was built as a permanent location for the console so that the organ is instantly available for use regardless of what is set up on the stage. The organ can be played from four different stations in the house—two different locations on-stage, in the orchestra pit, or in the first few rows of the seating area house-left. The console is, of course, connected to the organ electrically.

A total of 4,543 pipes are controlled from the console which has four manuals and pedals. There are 88 stops and 76 ranks. The thumb and pedal pistons (which look like button below each keyboard and above the petals) make possible the presetting of 56 different combinations of stops. Thirty-eight couplers enable the player to play one or more stops belonging to one manual or division on another manual and at a pitch other than the original pitch of the stop.