Kotzschmar Memorial Organ

Merrill Auditorium, at City Hall in Portland Maine, is home to the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, "one of the largest and most versatile organs on the East Coast". It's a wonderful instrument, indeed, and as you can see from these pictures, is somewhat bigger than the organ at High Street.

Every summer the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) present a concert series, bringing truly world-class organists to Portland. I have been priviledged to hear such artists as Diane Meredith Belcher, John Weaver, Jane Parker-Smith, Thomas Murray, Gillian Weir and Thomas Trotter give inspiring performances.

Here are some photos taken after a recent concert. I used my Kodak DC4800 digital camera fitted with an accessory wide-angle lens which brings its focal length to the 35 mm camera equiv of about 17mm. You can click on the photos for bigger versions.
A wide-angle view of Merrill Auditorium, taken from the lower balcony. The main organ itself is behind the facade pipes, and measures some 60' wide, 40' high, and 15' deep, with two addition divisions high in the ceiling near the back of the auditorium. Pipes range in length from 32 feet, to about an inch.

The organ was built by the Austin organ company in 1912, and given as a gift to the city.

In October of 2000, the new organ console (shown here) was dedicated. It controls the 6,862 pipes via five manuals, a pedal board, 229 stop-knobs, 135 pistons, 29 "rocking" tablets and more.

By way of contrast, the High Street organ has about 853 pipes, 16 stop-knobs, 6 pistons, and 9 "rocking" tablets.

A view of the facade pipes from the stage.
All those keys!

All those pedals!

All those buttons and knobs!

And the organist controls it all with only 10 fingers and two feet. That glorious music comes forth from all this, through thousands of metal and wooden pipes is amazing. But organists are like that.

Visit the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO), for pictures inside and out, a stoplist, detailed history, and more.

© 2002 by Chip Ross
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Bates College
Lewiston, ME 04240
email: sross@bates.edu (note: the first letter is an "s"!)