Helen Gould Shepard Residence at 579 Fifth Avenue - New York City (photo from Mrs. Johnston Stewart)

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Helen Gould Shepard Residence

579 Fifth Avenue at 47th Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
           
Helen Gould Shepard  



           

 

Aeolian Organ, Op. 1280 (1913) in Helen Gould Shepard Residence - New York City (photo from Mrs. Johnston Stewart)

Aeolian Company
New York City – Opus 1280 (1913)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 40 stops, 34 ranks


In 1913, Helen Gould ordered two pipe organs from the Aeolian Company, one for her Fifth Avenue residence in New York City, and one for "Lyndhurst", her country home in Tarrytown.  The city organ, Opus 1280, was the larger of the two, with three manuals and 34 ranks plus harp and chimes; it was installed in 1914 and cost $21,750. The Lyndhurst organ, Opus 1281, had two manuals and 23 ranks, plus harp and chimes, and was installed in 1914 at a cost of $16,000. Also in 1913, Helen Gould married Finley J. Shepard.

Opus 1280 remained at that location, unaltered, until 1948. At that time, the home was being readied for sale, and the organ was bought by Johnston Stewart of Convent Station, New Jersey.

Johnston Stewart had been an aficionado of Aeolian Organs for years,  from about 1920.  As a young man, he had won entrance to many mansions in which Aeolians were installed. He accomplished this by establishing a friendship with Archer Gibson who was personal organist to several wealthy Aeolian patrons. Gibson was an important figure at Aeolian. He made many rolls (75)  for the Aeolian player organ and helped with selling several large Aeolian organs.

It was Archer Gibson who alerted Johnston Stewart that Opus 1280 was available for acquisition.  Following the installation in the Stewart residence, Gibson frequently played Opus 1280 as a guest.

Aeolian Organ, Op. 1280 (1913) in Helen Gould Shepard Residence - New York City (photo: courtesy Robert W. Taylor)  
The organ remained in the Stewart residence  until purchased by Robert W. Taylor in 1998. Included in the purchase was a large collection of 116 note rolls and a smaller collection of Duo Art rolls accumulated by Johnston Stewart. Stewart had acquired the rolls from the Garwood, New Jersey Aeolian factory, and various patrons of Aeolian. Notable in that group was John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and his daughter Alta, and his son, John D., Jr.  

Opus 1280 could only play the non-automatic, 116 note rolls.  But like all Aeolian organs, upgrade to the fully automatic Duo-Art roll system could be accomplished easily. Johnston Stewart planned the upgrade by acquiring a Duo-Art  roll playing Concertola. Concertola #232, a ten roll changer, initially owned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and subsequently owned by Alta Rockefeller Prentice, was gifted to Johnston Stewart in 1960 in memory of Archer Gibson. Concertola #232 was included, with the entire roll collection, when Taylor purchased Opus 1280 from Margaret Stewart, widow of Johnston, in 1998.

Aeolian Opus 1280 has been fully restored. The restoration tasks were started in 1998 and have continued through 2005. In addition to replacing all worn components and wiring, a MIDI interface has been added to the organ. Now, the MIDI can record a performance into computer files, and the process may be  reversed as those files are used to play the organ. Most of the rolls, now stored in MIDI files, can be heard through the MIDI system while the fragile rolls are safely stored.

Four methods of playing the organ now exist. It may played by hand, it can play the non automatic 116 note rolls, it can play Duo-Art rolls from the Concertola, and it can play from the MIDI system.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed (4" wind pressure)
8
  Diapason
61
8
  String PP
61
8
  Flute F
61
4
  Flute (high)
61
8
  Flute P
61
8
  Trumpet
61
8
  String F
61
8
  Clarinet [free reed]
61
8
  String P
61
  Tremolo
               
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed (4" wind pressure)
16
  Flute (deep)
61
4
  Flute (high)
61
8
  Diapason
61
2
  Piccolo
61
8
  Flute F
61
  String P (Mixture, 5 ranks)
305
8
  Flute P
61
8
  Trumpet [capped horn]
61
8
  String F
61
8
  Oboe
61
8
  String F Vibrato [TC]
49
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  String P
61
  Tremolo
8
  String PP
61
     
               
Choir Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes (duplexed from Great)
8
  Diapason
GT
8
  String PP
GT
8
  Flute F
GT
4
  Flute (high)
GT
8
  Flute P
GT
8
  Trumpet
GT
8
  String F
GT
8
  Clarinet
GT
8
  String P
GT
   
               
Echo Organ (playable from Manual II or III) – 61 notes, enclosed (3½" wind pressure)
8
  Flute
61
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Flute Quintadena
61
  Tremolo
8
  String
61
     

     

     
Pedal Organ – 30 notes (4" wind pressure)
16
  Flute F (deep)
30
16
  String F (deep)
30
16
  Flute P (deep)
SW
8
  String F
30
               
Percussions
Harp – 49 bars, augmented to 61 notes, playable from Swell or Choir [Loud and Soft]
Chimes – 20 tubes (21st note added by Deagan), playable from Swell or Great [Loud and Soft]
               
Expression
from left to right:          
    Tonal [Crescendo]          
    Swell Tonal          
    Great and Choir          
    Swell          
    Echo          

           

Sources:
     Kintrea, Frank. "The Realms of Gould", article in American Heritage Magazine online: http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1970/3/1970_3_46.shtml
     Smith, Rollin. The Aeolian Pipe Organ and its Music. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1998.
     Taylor, Robert W. Specifications, photos and historical information on Aeolian Organ, Op. 1280 (1913). website: http://members.socket.net/~rtaylor/aeolian_pipe_organ.html

Photos:
     Taylor, Robert W.

           
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