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 , 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.
The organ is built around the Main Auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall. The organs divisions are divided across 8 organ chambers, as follows:
Swell, String I
Gallery III (Diaph's)
Gallery II (Orch)
|The Upper chambers are located above the Center chambers||Right Upper|
Gallery I (Reeds)
Gallery II (Flutes)
The current lay-out of the organ was Emerson Richards' third design. The first design was to house 43,000 pipes in six chambers (all mentioned above without the two Forward chambers), but there just wasn't enough space to house all the pipes. The numbers of pipes was then reduced to 29,000. Later, when the Forward Chambers were also used, some stops from the original plan were reinstated, raising the numbers of pipes to the present official number of 33,114 (see also below).
Officially, the organ has 33,114 pipes, but the exact number of pipes is unknown. Even though the organ has had many inspections over the years, including a recent restoration estimate, the pipes have never been counted. Experts believe the actual number of pipes is closer to 32,000, based on facts such as the Major Posaune containing only 44 pipes instead of the expected 85, and some duplicate percussions were planned, but never installed. There have been claims that entire stops were never constructed or installed, but these claims have never been proven. It is very hard to determine exactly how many pipes the organ has, also due to the condition the organ is in (see "Current State" below).
The organ is the only in the world to have stops standing on 100" wind pressure. It is also the only organ to have two 32′ pedal stops on 50" wind pressure. There are two more organs in the world with stops on 50", but these are 8′ solo trumpet or tuba stops. 100" wind pressure (equivalent to 3.56 PSI or 0.25 bars) is about 30 times more than a normal organ stop (even high-pressure stops usually only stand on 10-12"). The organ has four stops on 100" (also known as the Big Reeds) and ten stops on 50" wind pressure:
|Grand Ophicleide 16′||Pedal Right||100"|
|Tuba Imperial 8′||Solo||100"|
|Trumpet Mirabilis 16′||Gallery I||100"|
|Tuba Maxima 8′||Gallery I||100"|
|Diaphone 32′||Pedal Left||50"|
|Tuba Magna 16′||Solo||50"|
|Bombard 32′||Pedal Left||50"|
|Major Posaune 16′||Pedal Left||50"|
|Diaphone Phonon 16′||Pedal Right||50"|
|Harmonic Tuba 8′||Fanfare||50"|
|Major Clarion 4′||Fanfare||50"|
Apart from the aforementioned stops on record wind pressure, almost every division stands on at least 15" wind pressure, except for the Choir which stands on 10", and the Unenclosed Choir stands on 3". Also, some individual stops stand on lower wind pressure, for example, the Diapason X of the Great division stands on only 4".
The organ's wind supply is the most powerful ever used in a pipe organ. The DC motors for the original eight blowers had a total power of . These were replaced with AC motors in the early 1990s, which have a total of and their seven blowers produce of wind per minute. The Right Stage chamber has two blowers, a 50 inch blower and a low pressure blower, which also provides wind for the Right Forward chamber. The same is true for the Left Stage chamber. The Left Center chamber and Left Upper chamber don't need high wind pressure, and therefore a shared blower suffices, which is also true for the Right Center and Right Upper chambers. The four 100" stops receive wind from an extra blower located behind the Right Stage chamber, coupled with wind from the 50 inch blower.
To provide all the power needed in the pedal, the organ has nine 32′ stops (ten if the extension of the 64′ Diaphone-Dulzian is counted), which are:
|Tibia Clausa 32′||Pedal Right|
|Bombardon 32′||Pedal Right|
|Diaphone 32′||Pedal Left|
|Diapason 32′||Pedal Left|
|Bombard 32′||Pedal Left|
|Fagotto 32′||Pedal Left|
|Sub Principal 32′||Great|
|(Diaphone-Dulzian 32′, extension of 64 ′)||(Pedal Right)|
|VII||Bombard||5 Octaves, 61 Keys, CC to c4|
|VI||Echo||5 Octaves, 61 Keys, CC to c4|
|V||Fanfare||5 Octaves, 61 Keys, CC to c4|
|IV||Solo||5 Octaves, 61 Keys, CC to c4|
|III||Swell||6 Octaves, 73 Keys, GGG to g4|
|II||Great||7 Octaves, 85 Keys, CCC to c5|
|I||Choir||7 Octaves, 85 Keys, CCC to c5|
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.
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.
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 , the remainder is turned towards the Right Stage chambers grill, like an upside-down L. All the pipes taller than 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flickr Photo Set of the Midmer Losh Can Be viewed by clicking on the link below. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossmcneillie/sets/72157602455998626/