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Pipe Organs at Vassar

Vassar College has possessed a pipe organ since its opening in 1865. Counting the new Paul Fritts, the college currently has seven such instruments. The largest, built in 1967 by Gress-Miles, resides in the Chapel. It occupies the same space as the original chapel organ of 1904, which allowed for the retention of the hand-carved façade designed by the architects of the Chapel, Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge of Boston. The Gress-Miles organ has four manuals and pedal, 99 stops and 5,710 pipes. It has mainly direct electric action.

Next in size comes the Paul Fritts organ, with two manuals and pedal, 34 stops and 2,418 pipes. It can be pumped by pedal (though it also has an electric blower for everyday use) and possesses mechanical stop and key action (“tracker action”). This means that the keys are connected to the pipe valves mechanically, without pneumatic or electric assistance. The Fritts organ replaces a 1964 three-manual instrument with 69 stops, about half of which was newly built by the firm Gress-Miles. The other half consisted of revoiced pipework from the original instrument built by Kimball in 1931. This hybrid organ has been acquired by the United States Military Academy at West Point and is installed in the Old Cadet Chapel there.

Thekla Hall, on the fourth floor of Skinner Hall, houses an organ built by Thomas Hall early in the 1820s. It possesses one manual and five stops. This is considered to be one of only two Hall organs in existence. It was restored to playable condition by Susan Tattershall, then of Rhinebeck, NY, in 1994.

In frequent use as an accompanying instrument in the baroque repertoire is the Taylor and Boody continuo organ made in 1987. This instrument was designed and built by Bruce Shull. It has oak pipes (Gedackt 8′ and Blockflöte 4′).

The smallest organ in our collection is the Memling Portative, which was fashioned by Phil Levin in 1981 to resemble the instrument frequently depicted by the Flemish painter Hans Memling. It is used in performances of medieval and Renaissance music.

Two practice organs complete the collection: from 1910 by Estey Organ Co. of Brattleboro, Vermont; and from 1964 by Gress-Miles of Princeton, New Jersey. These are located in practice rooms 226 and 126 of Skinner Hall.

Specifications of the Paul Fritts Pipe Organ in Skinner Hall of Music

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Hauptwerk Oberpositiv Pedal Couplers
Principal 16′
Octava 8′
Rohrflöte 8′
Viol di Gamba 8′
Octava 4′
Spitzflöte 4′
Nasat/Cornet II *
Superoctava 2′
Mixture IV-VI
Tierce (Mixture)
Trompet 16′
Trompet 8′
Geigenprincipal 8′
Gedackt 8′
Quintadena 8′
Octava 4′
Rohrflöte 4′
Octava 2′
Gemshorn 2′
Quinte 1 1/3′
Quint/Sesquialtera II *
Mixture IV-VI
Fagotto 16′
Dulcian 8′
Principal 16′**
Violon 16′
Subbass 16′
Octava 8′**
Bourdon 8′**
Octava 4′
Mixture V-VIII
Posaune 16′
Trompet 8′
Trompet 4′
Oberpositiv-
Hauptwerk
Hauptwerk-Pedal
Oberpositiv-Pedal

Manuals: 56 notes
(C-g′′′)

Pedal 30 notes (C-f′),
flat pedal board
Foot pumping option on wind system
Temperament: Kellner
Pitch: A=440
Tremulant

Tracker playing action
Mechanical stop action

* Double draw
** Bottom octave transmission from Hauptwerk
*** Transmissions from Pedal

Specifications of the Gress-Miles Organ in the Vassar College Chapel

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GREAT
Principal 16′ 58 pipes
Quintaton 16′ 58 pipes
Principal 8′ 58 pipes
Bordun 8′ 58 pipes
Violoncelle 8′ 58 pipes
Harmonic Flute 8′ 46 pipes
Octave 4′ 58 pipes
Koppelfloete 4′ 58 pipes
Gross Terz 3-1/5′ 12 pipes
Nasat 2-2/3′ 58 pipes
Superoctave 2′ 58 pipes
Waldlloete 2′ 58 pipes
Terz 1-3/5′ 58 pipes
Rauschquint 2′ II-III 162 pipes
Mixture 1-1/3′ V-VII 370 pipes
Scharf 2/3′ III-V 254 pipes
Trumpet 16′ 58 pipes
Trumpet 8′ 12 pipes
Trompette-a-Pavillon T.C. 16′ 46 notes
Trompette-a-Pavillon 8′ 58 pipes
Clairon-a-Pavillon 4′ 12 pipes
Tremulant (not affecting chorus)
Zimbelstern (rocking tablet)
POSITIV
Principal 8′ 58 pipes
Gedeckt 8′ 58 pipes
Spitzgarnba 8′ 46 pipes
Quintadena 8′ 58 pipes
Principal 4′ 58 pipes
Spiellloete 4′ 58 pipes
Octave 2′ 58 pipes
Spillpfeiffe 2′ 12 pipes
Quint 1-1/3′ 58 pipes
Sesquialtera II 116 pipes
Mixture I′ IV-VI 312 pipes
Scharf 1/2′ III-IV 220 pipes
Dulzian 16′ 12 pipes
Trumpet 8′ 58 pipes
Dulzian 8′ 58 pipes
Clarion 4′ 12 pipes
Tremulant
SWELL (Enclosed)
Rohr Bordun 16′ 12 pipes
Geigen Principal 8′ 58 pipes
Rohrfloete 8′ 58 pipes
Traversfloete 8′ 58 pipes
Viole de Gambe 8′ 58 pipes
Viole Celeste 8′ 58 pipes
Dolce 8′ 58 pipes
Unda Maris T.C. 8′ 46 pipes
Geigen Octave 4′ 58 pipes
Traversfloete 4′ 58 pipes
Unda Maris II Rks. 4′ 24 pipes
Nazard T.C. 2-2/3′ 46 pipes
Hohlfloete 2′ 58 pipes
Tierce T.C. 1-3/5′ 46 pipes
Larigot 1-1/3′ 12 pipes
Siffioete 1′ 12 pipes
Plein Jeu 1-1/3′ V-VI 336 pipes
Carillon 1/4′ III-IV 220 pipes
Bombarde (ext. of 8′ & 4′) 16′ 12 pipes
Trompette 8′ 58 pipes
Hautbois 8′ 58 pipes
Vox Humana 8′ 58 pipes
Clairon Harmonique 4′ 58 pipes
Tremulant
BRUSTWERK (Enclosed)
Holzgedeckt 8′ 58 pipes
Spitzfloete 8′ 58 pipes
Flute Celeste T.C. 8′ 46 pipes
Principal 4′ 58 pipes
Rohriloete 4′ 58 pipes
Spitzquint T.C. 2-2/3′ 46 pipes
Principal 2′ 58 pipes
Nasat 1-1/3′ 58 pipes
Octave 1′ 12 pipes
Tertian T.C. II 92 pipes
Zimbd I/3′ Ill-V 254 pipes
Singend Regal 8′ 58 pipes
Trompette-a-Pavillon (Great) 8′ 58 pipes
Tremulant
PEDAL
Sub bass 32′ 32 pipes
Contrebasse 16′ 32 pipes
Principal (Great) 16′ 32 notes
Violonbasse (Great) 16′ 12 pipes
Subbass 16′ 12 pipes
Quintaton (Great) 16′ 32 notes
Rohr Bordun (Swell) 16′ 32 notes
Quintfloete (Swell) 10-2/3′ 32 notes
Principal 8′ 32 pipes
Gedeckt 8′ 32 pipes
Rohrfloete (Swell) 8′ 32 notes
Octave 4′ 32 pipes
Nachthorn 4′ 12 pipes
Nachthorn 2′ 12 pipes
Rauschquint 2-2/3′ II 64 pipes
Mixture 2′ VI 192 prpes
Contre Bombarde 32′ 32 pipes
Bombarde 16′ 12 pipes
Posaune (12 from Great) 16′ 20 pipes
Contre Trompette (Swell) 16′ 32 notes
Trumpet 8′ 12 pipes
Clarion 4′ 12 pipes
Siogend Regal (Brustwerk) 4′ 32 notes
Cornett 2′ 12 pipes
Trompette-a-Pavillon (Great) 8′ 32 notes
Clairon-a-Pavillon (Great) 4′ 32 notes

Couplers (Unison only; not affecting Trompette-a-Pavillon)
Pedal, Positiv, Great, Swell, Brustwerk Unison Offs (Knobs)
Brustwerk to Swell, Great, Positiv, Pedal
Swell to Brustwerk, Great, Positiv, Pedal
Great to Positiv, Pedal
Positiv to Great, Brustwerk, Pedal
Twelve general pistons
Eight pistons for each division
Sforzando I, II, and Ill