Sunday, May 14, 2006


A while back I had posted a whole bunch of books and music I had found at my doorstep (come to find out, it came from my upstairs neighbor, but how he got it is still beyond me).

How about this one - THE OFFICIAL CATHOLIC DIRECTORY, 1925. Yes, 1925!!! Now, the pages are a lot smaller than the editions you see now, though the book is not much thinner at all. And, just like the current big books, you have a good chunk of advertising on either end of the book. In this edition, about 200 pages! Everything from books to vestments to furnishings (some really nice high altars back then) to schools to organs!

Page 141 - E.C. Malarkey, Girardville, PA (imagine that - in 1925 someone actually used a two-letter state abbreviation - COOL!). The console pictured is a funky looking three-manual - stops controlled via the "sore tooth" method (stop tabs that toggle up/down).

Austin has a full-page ad on page 152.

Kilgen has a full-page ad on page 153, and this ad includes a picture of Professor Remigio Renzi, who was Vatican Organist at the time, at the three-manual Kilgen console at St. John Cantius in Chicago. (BTW, Ma Beck, does that Kilgen still exist there?) This letter from Prof. Renzi to George Kilgen himself also appears in the ad (originally in Italian, but translated in English in the ad):

Chicago, Illinois
September 2nd, 1924

Esteemed Friend Mr. Kilgen:
I wish to congratulate you on the magnificent organ of the St. John Cantius Church, Chicago, Ill. The tone qualities are marvelous, the mechanical action answers to every emergency of the modern technique.
No doubt you are doing the church a great service on furnishing them organs of such quality and durability.
Will always be a great pleasure for me as for every other organist to play on organs of your construction.
With the greatest esteem and with the best of wishes of always better success, believe me

(Signed) Remigio Renzi
First Organist of Vaticum Basilic
Teacher in St. Cecilia's in Rome.

Blogger's note: by "First Organist", I think the good professor meant "Principal Organist".

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis was listed as one of its latest builds (printed simply as New Cathedral, St. Louis, Mo.)

Now, when you cruise on to this page, you'll discover that this was the original 1915 organ. The new organ, also a Kilgen, was built in the late 1940's, and rebuilt by M.P. Moller in 1984. More ranks were added in 1997 and in 2002, bringing the new rank count to 118. Nice!

And talk about longevity - Dr. Mario Salvador saw the re-dedication concerts of 1949 AND 1984! His tenure at the Cathedral-Basilica was 52 years (1940-1992)!!!

Other ads include Hall Organs of West Haven, CT, Schantz, Tellers-Kent, Hinners, Henry Pilcher's Sons, and Odell. Odell has a gorgeous case (and gorgeous church) pictured on page 157, but no indication of which church this is.

Votteler-Holtkamp and M.P. Moller also have ads, as does Mudler-Hunter, Shaefer, and even Reuter.

What surprises me is that there are no ads listed for Aeolian-Skinner or Casavant Freres.



PhiMuAlpha2681 said...


"PA" has been around longer than the postal codes. While "Penna." is the old long abbreviation, "PA" is nothing new. In conversation, a quick way to tell a visitor/transplant from a born-and-raised-resident is if he/she says "Pennsylvania". Residents just say P-A.

As in...

"Where do you live?"
"Central PA."


Cathy said...

I'm sorry, I don't know.
I assume so - our organ is a huge, pipe-laden affair.
But as for the brand, I couldn't say.