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Organ Sounds and Fun Facts

  • The tallest pipe is 32 feet tall, and made of Sugar Pine, the tallest pine trees in the world
  • The largest pipe creates a very low sound of 16 hertz, creating an earthquake sensation
  • In 1930, the cost of the custom-built Aeolian organ was $122,700, equivalent to $1.5 million today
  • Organs were the most complex machines invented before the Industrial Revolution
  • 5,360 of the 10,010 pipes can be viewed through the special glass walled chambers in the Organ Museum behind Longwood’s Ballroom
  • The Aeolian Company was founded in 1878 in New York City. Aeolian’s customers read like a Who’s Who of America: Carnegie, Ford, Mellon, Rockefeller, Tiffany, Vanderbilt and especially, du Pont
  • Pierre du Pont purchased two organs from the Aeolian company, including the largest and most expensive for a residential setting
  • The thousands of individual parts of the Longwood Organ weigh a total of 55 tons all together
  • The console weighs 2,800 pounds
  • Counting all of the controls on the console, there are 244 keys and 492 controls for the hands, and 32 keys and 50 controls for the feet. This totals 818 electrical switches on the console that the organist commands!
Hear the amazing range of sounds of the Longwood Organ
Diapason chorus 16’ through V: The Diapason is pure organ tone, not imitating any orchestral sound.

Flutes 8–4–2-2/3–2–1-3/5–1-1/17: These flute stops create synthetic effects by duplicating the natural series of overtones.

The Full Swell: All the ensemble voices of the Swell organ combine to evoke the grand tone of the English Cathedral.

Vox Humanas: Vox Humana stops imitate a chorus of human voices.

French Trumpet: This is one of the organ’s snappier Trumpet sounds.

Orchestral Oboe: These narrow pipes imitate their orchestral counterpart.

Tuba Mirabilis: This Tuba is the loudest single stop in the Longwood organ, playing on 30" wind pressure.

The Full Fanfare: The four stops in this section sound like a brass band.

Pedal Bombarde: These powerful pipes, playing on 25" wind pressure, take trumpet tone down to the deepest 32ft C.

Glockenspiel: This device duplicates the orchestral instrument, having metal bars struck by hammers.

Celestial Harp: This instrument is a Celesta, having metal bars struck by hammers over tubular resonators.

Chimes: These tubular chimes are struck by metal hammers.

Cymbals: For percussions in an organ, a pneumatic striker takes the place of the human hand.

Gong: Separate actions allow the gong to be both struck and rolled.

The Full String Organ: The String section comprises twenty sets of pipes emulating the effect of massed orchestral strings.