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Organs at Michigan

The Frieze Memorial Organ, Hill Auditorium


The famed E. M. Skinner/Æolian-Skinner organ in Hill Auditorium is available to University of Michigan students and faculty for teaching, practice and performances. The organ, named in honor of Henry Simmons Frieze, Professor of Latin and first president of the University Musical Society, is the focal point of the auditorium's unique parabolic interior. Behind the façade of non-speaking pipes are 120 ranks plus an additional 4 ranks in the Echo division above the central skylight, totaling 7,599 speaking pipes.

Twelve of these ranks date back to the organ built by the Farrand & Votey Company in 1893 for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and moved to University Hall at the University of Michigan in 1894. Hill Auditorium was designed by architect Albert Kahn and constructed in 1913 through the bequest of University of Michigan Regent Arthur Hill. Shortly after its completion, the Hutchings Organ Company rebuilt the Frieze Memorial Organ and moved it to Hill Auditorium. In 1927, Professor Palmer Christian directed a major reworking of the organ by the renowned American organbuilder Ernest M. Skinner, who created a characteristically "orchestral" tonal design. The aesthetics of organ design changed radically in the ensuing decades, and in 1955, G. Donald Harrison of the Æolian-Skinner Company was commissioned to rebuild the organ to reflect the "American classic" ideal.

The colors and configuration of the non-speaking façade pipes have been changed several times over the years. The current façade design dates from a major renovation of the auditorium in 2003-04. Former university organ technician Samuel Koontz conducted a restoration of the organ's mechanism in 1985. Further restoration by Nelson Barden and Company was necessary after the organ sustained water damage from a leaking roof in 1990. Jerroll Adams, the university's current organ technician, rebuilt the console in 1995 to incorporate digital circuitry and solid-state components. In 2014, Mr. Adams and his associate Merrill Falk completed a multi-year project to replace aging leather in the windchests. Prof. James Kibbie serves as Curator of the Frieze Memorial Organ.

Prof. James O. Wilkes has conducted extensive research into the Hill Auditorium organ and has published a detailed account in Pipe Organs of Ann Arbor, available from the Organ Historical Society (www.ohscatalog.com). "Merrily on Hill," a compact disk of Christmas organ music, has been recorded on the instrument by Prof. James Kibbie. Recordings on the Frieze Memorial Organ by students of Prof. Kibbie are included in the Jehan Alain Centennial Recordings.

Organ Specifications:

Farrand & Votey Organ Company, 
Detroit, MI, Op. 700, 1893 (FV)
Hutchings Organ Company,
Boston, MA, 1913 (H)
Skinner Organ Company,
Boston, MA, Op. 664, 1927 (Sk)
Æolian-Skinner Organ Company, 
Boston, MA, Op. 664-A, 1955 (A-Sk)

 

Great (61 notes):
Principal 16' (A-Sk)

Bourdon 16' (Pedal)

Principal 8' (A-Sk)

Rohrflöte 8' (A-Sk)

Octave 4' (A-Sk)

Spitzflöte 4' (A-Sk)

Octave 2' (A-Sk)

Rauschquint II (A-Sk)

Mixture IV-VI (A-Sk)

Scharf IV (1961)

Posaune 16' (Sk)

Trumpet 8' (Sk)

Clarion 4' (Sk)

Trompette 8' (1959)

Clairon 4' (1959)


Swell (61 notes, enclosed):
Bourdon 16' (Sk)

Dulciana 16' (Sk)

Principal 8' (A-Sk)

Rohrflöte 8' (A-Sk)

Flûte Harmonique 8' (A-Sk)

Quintadena 8' (FV)

Viole de Gambe 8' (A-Sk)

Viole Celeste 8' (from CC) (A-Sk)

Voix Celeste II 8' (Sk)

Flauto Dolce 8' (Sk)

Flute Celeste 8' (from TC) (Sk)

Octave 4' (A-Sk)

Flûte Harmonique 4' (A-Sk)

Unda Maris II 4' (Sk)

Octavin 2' (A-Sk)

Mixture VI (A-Sk)

Cornet IV (from TC) (A-Sk)

Bombarde 16' (A-Sk)

Trompette 8' (1955)

Oboe 8' (Sk)

Vox Humana 8' (FV)

Clairon 4' (A-Sk)

Tremulant


Positiv (61 notes):
Principal 8' (A-Sk)

Gedeckt 8' (A-Sk)

Octave 4' (A-Sk)

Koppelflöte 4' (A-Sk)

Octave 2' (A-Sk)

Blockflöte 2' (A-Sk)

Quint 1 1/3' (A-Sk)

Mixture IV-VI (A-Sk)

Cymbel III (A-Sk)

Trumpet 8' (A-Sk)


Choir (61 notes, enclosed):
Gamba 16' (FV)

Diapason 8' (Sk)

Concert Flute 8' (FV)

Gamba 8' (FV)

Gedeckt 8' (A-Sk)

Dulcet II 8' (Sk)

Kleine Erzähler II 8' (Sk)

Gemshorn 4' (FV)

Flute 4' (FV)

Nasat 2 2/3' (A-Sk)

Blockflöte 2' (A-Sk)

Terz 1 3/5' (A-Sk)

Sifflöte 1' (A-Sk)

Bassoon 16' (Sk)

French Trumpet 8' (Solo)

Bassoon 8' (Sk)

Cromorne 8' (A-Sk)

Rohrschalmei 4' (A-Sk)

Harp

Celesta

Tremulant

Solo (61 notes, enclosed):

Stentorphone 8' (FV)

Flauto Mirabilis 8' (Sk)

Gamba 8' (Sk)

Gamba Celeste 8' (Sk)

Octave 4' (H)

Orchestral Flute 4' (Sk)

Contra Tuba 16' (Sk)

Heckelphone 16' (Sk)

Tuba 8' (Sk)

French Trumpet 8' (Sk)

Orchestral Oboe 8' (Sk)

Corno di Bassetto 8' (Sk)

Heckelphone 8' (Sk)

Clarion 4' (Sk)

Tuba Mirabilis 8' (Sk)

Tremulant


Echo (61 notes, enclosed):

Gedeckt 8' (FV)

Muted Viole 8' (FV)

Unda Maris 8' (FV)

Vox Humana 8' (Sk)

Tremulant

Chimes


Pedal (32 notes):

Diapason 32' (FV)

Violone 32' (Sk)

Principal 16' (A-Sk)

Diapason 16' (FV)

Violone 16' (FV/Sk)

Principal 16' (Great)

Bourdon 16' (?)

Gamba 16' (Choir)

Bourdon 16' (Swell)

Dulciana 16' (Swell)

Principal 8' (A-Sk)

Diapason 8' (FV)

Cello (Violone) 8' (Sk)

Gedeckt (Bourdon) 8'

Bourdon 8' (Swell)

Octave 4' (A-Sk)

Gedeckt (Bourdon) 4'

Gedeckt (Bourdon) 2'

Rauschquint II (A-Sk)

Mixture IV (A-Sk)

Scharf IV (A-Sk)

Bombarde 32' (Sk)

Ophicleide 16' (Sk/A-Sk)

Posaune 16' (Great)

Bombarde 16' (Swell)

Bassoon 16' (Choir)

Heckelphone 16' (Solo)

Trumpet 8' (Sk/A-Sk)

French Trumpet 8' (Solo)

Clarion 4' (Sk/A-Sk)

Bass Drum (Sk)

Tympani (Sk)

Chimes (Echo)

 

 

Hill_stage Hill_console
“Performing in Hill Auditorium is a unique and unforgettable experience. To sit down at that mighty organ and feel the floor shake with a touch of a pedal is more power than any undergraduate should be allowed to taste.”
John Beresford (MMus, 2011)
“As an organist, having practice time in Hill Auditorium was one of the greatest privileges of my academic experience.”
Dr. Edward Maki-Schramm (DMA, 1999)
“I have always been amazed at how the Hill organ seems to adapt itself to the style of the music and the personality of the performer. It can sound completely different depending upon the stylistic era of the music, and the nationality and personality of the player."
Dr. James Hammann (DMA, 1987)
"Ever since I first saw Hill Auditorium when I attended an organ recital there, I loved it. The sound quality of the organ and the beautiful architecture of the auditorium automatically drew me in, and I knew I'd want to study at Michigan one day."
Mary Zelinski (undergraduate organ major)

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower

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