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Thread: Wangerin organs

  1. #1

    Wangerin organs

    I recently saw a couple of Wangerin organs for sale on E-Bay, but I was reluctant to bid on them because I've never seen or heard a Wangerin so I'm not sure what I would be getting. I know that the Wangerin organ company was in Milwaukee, and also built some organs at one point for one of the theater organ companies. That sort of made me hesitate sinceI'm not really looking for the theatre organ sound. So, I wonder, what would a Wangerin sound like? Would it be sort of like a Pilcher or an Austin, or maybe a Moller...or what?

  2. #2

    Re: Wangerin organs

    I had a chance to buy a 6 rank Wangerin theatre organ months ago. Sadly it was too far away to go get and I have no place to put it. I asked a few of my pipe organ builder friends about them and they said they made VERY good organs. Of course their theatre organs didnt sound like Wurlitzers but were built by very good craftsmen and built to last.

  3. #3

    Re: Wangerin organs

    Don't know anything about Wangerin theater organs.

    Had much day to day experience with an old III/24 Wangerin church organ.* This will sound worse than any of the makes listed.* I wouldn't expect much in terms of quality construction, either.* It was nightmare in the chamber, with the 16' Pedal Bourdon of 32 pipes divided into five locations!* The Great Tuba pipes were too close to each other, the ladder to the second level was so tight I could barely squeeze through and then only with the master shades closed (I'm 145 lbs.), and the shades were permanently removed from the Swell (!) because they had to be removed for any access.* That's just for starters...OK, the tech and I agreed that one rank would be worth saving, the 8' Great Gemshorn.

    Cardina Mundelein, the first Cardinal in Chicago, apparently liked these.* They still have the III/24 at the seminary and the Johnson at Holy Name Cathedral had been redone by Wangerin but was dispersed after the installation of the Flentrop.* It is claimed that Wangerin retained the Johnson pipework at Holy Name, realizing that they couldn't possibly produce anything close to the same quality.* I believe that Wangerin made their own wood pipes but bought the metal ones from a supplier across the street in Milwaukee.

    The windchests were likely a pouch ventil similar to Kilgen.* I haven't played a Wangerin console.* The one at the seminary was replaced by the old Reuter console that had replaced the Wangerin console at the cathedral!

    In the late 70's I heard constant complaints from Milwaukee organists about Wangerins, suggesting they were as bad as it gets.* I found out soon enough.

  4. #4

    Re: Wangerin organs

    Well I am just going by what people have told me. I have never encountered one up here in New England.

  5. #5

    Re: Wangerin organs

    I heard a large Wangerin in at St Viviana's inLos Angeles several years ago. I was very impressed with the concert/Romantic sound,especially of an independent string organ division of about 10 ranks. I had only a brief oppotrtunity to play it and no experience with servicing etc.

    I recall an article in TAO about 15 years ago on the company's history, which included lots of small mechanical instruments with aGermanic tonalityat the turn of the last century, andEP instruments into the Depression.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Menschenstimme's Avatar
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    Aug 2006

    Re: Wangerin organs

    Hi Lee,

    You probably heard the Wangerin at St. Vibiana's (yes with a "B") Cathedral afterit was beautifully restored by Austin in the 1980's. I heard Thomas Murray give a delightful Sunday afternoon concert on it.I am virtually certain that most of the Wangerin pipe workhas now been incorporated into the new Dobson in the newCathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. I think that one rank of Wangerin pipes was incorporated into the Manuel Rosales/Austin/Schlicker rebuildof the Murray Harris/Kimball organ in St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.


  7. #7

    Re: Wangerin organs

    I would have guessed that the Austin at St. Vibiana went somewhere with all pipework intact.

    Well, a local builder did include a Wangerin wood Flute Celeste in a four manual and it sounded good...much better than the one at the seminary.

    While jogging this morning I was thinking about some of the horror stories of that Wangerin during the two years I played the ciphering at the 75th Anniversary rededication of the Chapel with the Cardinal and numerous bishops there.* (Cardinal George is an organist and happens to like the sound of this instrument, at least I like to think it was when I played it!* One go at the console or chambers is enough to change anyone's mind.)* Or the relays that wouldn't "make" the first time so one had to play it a while--and the poor unaware seminarians who would come rushing in, flip it on, and start playing the processional hymn for Masses, with more notes missing than sounding!!* (The music director would start conducting violently and give them dirty looks;* I couldn't help but laugh.)**

    The seminary had a long-abandoned 8 rank Kilgen in a meeting room that still worked pretty well, except for pipes vandalized over the years by seminarians.* That has been removed.

    Also, there is a IV/20 theater organ in the Auditorium.* The console was Jesse Crawford's console at the Chicago Theater, while the one remaining at the Chicago Theater was the one played by his wife.* (So goes the legend.)* Wouldn't you know, the last time I played that for a convocation (complete with Cardinal and bishops) it had multiple ciphers before the program.* I was able to clear them by turning it off and on, making it through the convocation without a single honk or whistle.* The Brass Trumpet made a nice solo reed against the Great, just as a Tuba or en chamade would.* I was tempted to use the vorsetzer (on an old Baldwin L) to accompany the choir on the Psalm, obviating the need to climb off the console.

    When I would return to the seminary there was one place I felt at home--at the 1924 Wangerin!!

  8. #8

    Re: Wangerin organs


    Back in the theatre pipe organ era they built organs for Dan Barton Pipe Organ Company. Bartons were very well made instruments and had a sound close to Wurlitzer. Very orchestral.


    Craig Johnson

  9. #9

    Re: Wangerin organs

    Bartons are highly respected around here, considered sweeter-sounding than Wurlitzers.* Weren't they in Oshkosh?

    I have a student on the ATOS board.* He'll give me the skinny.

  10. #10

    Re: Wangerin organs


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