Text Box: HISTORICAL MUSIC IMAGES
Text Box: HARMONIE AUTOGRAPHS AND MUSIC INC.

MUSIC AUTOGRAPHS & ANTIQUARIAN
Text Box: MUSIC AUTOGRAPHS AND EPHEMERA BOUGHT AND SOLD

Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247

 

Price: $80.00

EXCELLENT CONDITION

THE 1863 BOSTON MUSIC HALL ORGAN

Getchell & Brownell of Boston 2” x 4” carte de visite photograph of the then new E. F. Walcker concert organ, the first in the United States, c. 1864.

The organ and hall both have a celebrated history.  In the case of the organ, actually a bit tangled.  Boston Music Hall was built for $100,000 in 1852 at 1 Hamilton Place in downtown Boston.  The donation for the edifice came from the slightly older Harvard Music Association and it was Boston’s premiere music venue.  The initial hall did not have an organ, which at the time were relegated to churches.  Solo organ concerts at the time were very popular at the time and the regular use of the Hall by the Handel and Haydn Society who prior to this regularly performed in churches as many of the works they required an organ.  In 1857 plans were designed to add an organ to the hall at a cost not to exceed $25,000.  Franz Liszt among others was consulted about the project and he recommended the firm of Landegast.  In the end, the German organ builder, E. F. Walcker in the end was selected for the project.  Walcker was a venerable firm which had built major organs throughout Europe at the time and was founded in 1780.  The firm is still in business.  The magnificent organ in the German style and tradition was inaugurated in 1863 with a grand organ concert performed by: John Knowles Paine, Whitney Eugene Thayer, George Washbourne Morgan, Benjamin Johnson Lang, Samuel Parkman Tuckerman and John Henry Willcox. The hand carved case of American black walnut by the New York furniture builder Herter Brothers is perhaps the finest example of organ cabinetry in the United States. 

 

When the Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1880, they took residence in the Hall.  In 1881, in order to sure up their engagements, Boston Symphony Orchestra founder, Henry Lee Higginson bought a controlling stock interest in the hall.  With a growing orchestra in 1882 it was decided the organ had to go and in 1884 it was sold for $5,000 to New England Conservatory of Music board member William Grover.  The Conservatory at the time was housed in the Music Hall building.  There was talk about moving the conservatory and building a performance hall where Grover intended to donate the organ for the hall.  He had a storage facility built behind the building to house the organ.  When he passed away in 1895, his family decided to auction the organ to offset estate bills.  Edward Searles, the owner of the Methuen Organ Company bid at auction for the organ and was shocked when he was the winning bidder at $1,500.  He had the organ transported to Methuen, where he hired Henry Vaughn to design a hall to contain the organ for his personal use.  After his death in 1920, the organ bounced around from his assistant to his assistant’s niece and in 1930 was purchased by the organ builder earnest Skinner.  At that time regular performances began and today, the organ is featured in regular performances, many this year have been posted to Youtube.  Famous organists including: Lynwood Farnam, Marcel Dupre, E. Power Biggs, Virgil Fox, Keith Chapman, Diane Bish and Cameron Carpenter have played recitals on the instrument.

 

A most historical “organ” photograph!

 

The card at one time was mounted in a carte de visite album hence the cut corners.  The over-exposure at the bottom of the photograph was due to the close proximity of the chairs in the balcony of the hall and not damage to the image itself.