Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ

Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ

Infobox Instrument
name=Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ

Pipe organ

Midmer-Losh Organ Company

*List of notable pipe organs

The Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ is the pipe organ in the Main Auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall (formerly known as the Atlantic City Convention Hall) in Atlantic City, New Jersey, built by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company. As it is located in the Main Auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall, it is usually called the "Main Auditorium Organ".

The Main Auditorium Organ is a municipal pipe organ and has to fill the Main Auditorium, larger than convert|15|Mcuft|m3, and therefore it requires high volume, achieved through high wind pressure. Entire divisions stand on 20 - 35" of wind pressure, which in itself is already more than 6 - 10 times the normal pressure for an organ stop. The organ has four entries in The Guinness Book of World Records including "Largest pipe organ ever constructed", "Largest musical instrument ever constructed" and "Loudest musical instrument ever constructed", and holds several records in the organ world.

Construction and layout

Construction of the organ took place between May, 1929 and December, 1932. The organ was designed by state senator Emerson L. Richards, and was built by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company of Merrick, New York. Most of the pipes were built by Midmer-Losh, some special reed stops (e.g. Brass Trumpet, Egyptian Horn, Euphone, Musette Mirabilis) were made by Anton Gottfried. The German firm of Welte provided the Bassoon with papier-mâché resonators [ [ Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society ] ] and wooden Tuba d'Amour for the Echo division.

The organ is built around the Main Auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall. The organs divisions are divided across 8 organ chambers, as follows:


The organ's console is the biggest in the world. It has 1,235 stop tabs controlling 587 flue stops, 265 reed stops, 35 melodic percussions, 46 non-melodic percussions, 164 couplers, 18 tremolos, and 120 swell pedal selectors for the 7 swell pedals controlling 15 swell boxes. The console is also the only one in the world with 7 manuals, of which the lower ones have been extended to 6 and even 7 octaves, opposed to the normal 5. The manuals from top to bottom are:

The Great and Choir manuals have both been enlarged to seven octaves so that specially extended stops in the pedal can be played throughout the 85 note compass of both manuals. These stops can be selected in two divisions in the right stop. The Grand Great (for the Great Manual) controls stops from the Pedal Right and the Grand Choir (for the Choir Manual) controls stops from the Pedal Left. For example, the Grand Ophicleide can be played from the pedalboard, but also from the Great manual by means of the Grand Great.

Also, some divisions are playable on two manuals. For example, the Choir-Swell division is usually played from the Choir manual, but it has been duplexed stop key for stop key to the Swell manual, so that all the stops can also be played from there as the Swell-Choir, no matter what stops are drawn on the Choir manual. The same is true for the Great-Solo, which is usually played from the Great manual, but can also be played as the Solo-Great from the Solo manual.

The four Gallery Organs are normally played from the Bombard manual. This is because these four divisions are the only ones playable from the seventh manual. They are coupled to the Bombard manual thrugh four couplers on the third row of stopkeys on the right stopjamb: Gallery I Reeds to Bombard, Gallery II Flutes to Bombard, Gallery III Diapasons to Bombard, and Gallery IV Orchestral to Bombard.

Grand Ophicleide

The Grand Ophicleide in the organ Pedal Right division, speaking on 100" wind pressure, is recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest organ stop in the world. It is described as having "a pure trumpet note of ear-splitting volume, more than six times the volume of the loudest locomotive whistle". In fact, the Grand Ophicleide produces 130 dB at 1 metre distance.

Because of the enormous pressure the pipes stand on, they have to be secured to the ground, and the individual parts to each other. If any wind leaks, it can generate a whistle almost as loud as the tone of the pipes. Securing the pipes became a problem with the smallest pipes, so these were replaced with special flue pipes, that sounded very similar.

The reed pipes all have a weighted tongue, and the tuning wires are held firmly in place, just to maintain the correct tuning.

The Grand Ophicleide rank has been extended, so that the 16′, 8′ and 4′ registers can be drawn from the rank, but it also allows the Grand Ophicleide to be played through the entire 85 key compass of the Great manual.


The organ possesses a unique stop in the organ world, the 64′ Diaphone-Dulzian in the Right Stage chamber (Pedal Right division), one of only two true 64′ stops in the world. (The other 64′ stop is the Contra-Trombone reed stop in the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ.) The stop is unique because it is a reed and diaphone stop hybrid.

When the construction of the organ began, it was planned to have two 64′ stops in the pedal, a Diaphone stop called the Diaphone Profunda and a Dulzian reed stop. Later, the design was revised, and the Diaphone was cut, because it was feared it would crowd the Left Stage chamber (due to the width of the pipes), and the Dulzian was moved to the Right Stage chamber to have two pedal reed stops in both Stage chambers. However, the sound of the lowest octave of the Dulzian stop did not meet the criteria. It was then decided to use Diaphone pipes to produce the 12 lowest notes. The remaining pipes are the original Dulzian reed pipes. Because of the low frequencies involved, and the diaphone being specifically tuned to imitate a reed stop, the transition from reed to diaphone cannot be heard.

The Diaphone-Dulzians low C pipe stands 64′9″ (19.7 m) tall, weighs 3,350 pounds (1,675 kg), and produces a frequency of 8 Hz (the sound of the vibrating pallet is described as "a helicopter hovering over the building"). The pipe stands upright for about convert|40|ft|m, the remainder is turned towards the Right Stage chambers grill, like an upside-down L. All the pipes taller than convert|32|ft|m stand like this.

The Diaphone-Dulzian rank spans from C3 to g², which means that it is extended so far that the 64′, 42²/3′, 32′, 211/3′, 16′, 10²/3′, 8′ and 4′ stops can be drawn from the same rank. No extension rank in the world spans that far. Also, when the 64′ and 42²/3′ are combined, the resultant tone would simulate a 128′ stop, which would sound a 4 Hz tone on low C.

The Diaphone-Dulzian is not often used. First, it is to be used in registrations of moderate volume. When all the stops are pulled, it is drowned out, and when few stops are pulled, it is too loud. Secondly, the vibrations can cause damage to the building.

During the installation of this rank, a worker who was the last member of the installation crew to die was very nearly the first. When he ascended up the Right Stage Chamber in a basket to help install something at the top of the low C pipe, the pipe came crashing down in front of the basket. When George Losh came by later that day, the worker in the basket showed him the pipe still hanging on the basket's line.

Current state

Unfortunately, the organ has declined and is now in poor condition, and is no longer functional.

The upper chambers (Fanfare, Echo, and String III divisions) have long been inaccessible due to the presence of asbestos (which has recently been removed), which left the pipework decayed and out of tune. The Gallery chambers have suffered water damage due to roof leaks. Also, the remote combination action of the main console, housed in the Auditorium basement, was flooded and rendered unusable due to a hurricane in 1944, and it took several years before another mechanism could be integrated into the main console. [The Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ (Hess/Smith, Peter E. Randall Publisher)]

Because of this, and the overall decline of the rest of the organ due to lack of repairs, the organ hasn't been playable for a long time. There isn't enough money to employ three required technicians to provide the constant maintenance required, let alone to restore the organ to its original state. [ [ American Theatre Organ Society ] ]

In September 1998, a part of the organ (the Right Stage chamber) was restored to playable condition. Afterwards, a recording session took place, which captured the organ's recordholders (the 64′ Diaphone-Dulzian, and the 100″ Tuba Imperial and Grand Ophicleide). This was made possible by a $1.17 million grant from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which was used to return the Right Stage Chamber of the Main Auditorium organ and the entire Ballroom (Kimball) Organ to playable condition. [ Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society ] ]

Unfortunately, due to lack of planning and oversight and the carelessness of workmen during the renovation of the Boardwalk Hall, much damage has been done to the organ. Pipes were removed, bent, and stepped on. Windlines to various pipe chambers were cut, with no effort to identify the lines nor any plans to re-route or repair them. The relay for the left stage chamber was cut out without regard to its restoration, and various switching and control cables were cut. Also, cement dust has entered the switching contacts, magnets and the organ pipes themselves. All this has left the entire organ damaged and the Right Stage chamber, which was 98% operational in 1998, is now disabled. The relay of the Ballroom Organ was also removed in a careless way, which means both organs are unplayable. []

The organization in charge of the organs, ACCHOS (Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society), is still looking for ways to raise the funds necessary to restore both organs to working order.

On June 11th 2007, ACCHOS announced that, under the supervision of a new curator, work is underway to restore the entire Ballroom Organ, and the Right Stage chamber of the Main Auditorium organ back to working order, as they were around 1998.

Thanks to the efforts of ACCHOS, the 64' Diaphone Dulzian is now operational. In addition, new fire suppressant systems and chamber lighting have now been installed in all 8 chambers including the Echo and Fanfare chambers.

Largest organ debate

It has been debated that the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ is bigger than the Main Auditorium organ. The Wanamaker Organ has more ranks (462 opposed to 449 of the Main Auditorium organ) and weighs almost twice as much (287 tons opposed to the approximated 150 tons of the Main Auditorium Organ).

The Auditorium organ on the other hand, has almost 5,000 more pipes and has four entries in The Guinness Book of World Records.

Because the Auditorium organ has these entries, the Wanamaker Organ is usually called "the largest operational pipe organ in the world" as the Auditorium Organ isn't operational and needs restoration (see "Current State" above). The Wanamaker Organ is entirely playable and in very good condition, as it has been restored very recently.

ee also

*List of notable pipe organsFlickr Photo Set of the Midmer Losh Can Be viewed by clicking on the link below.


[ The Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society]

External links

* [ The Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society]
* [ The entire stoplist of the Auditorium organ]

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