Murray M. Harris and Organ Building in Los Angeles, 1894-1913

Murray M. Harris and Organ Building in Los Angeles, 1894-1913
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Murray M. Harris and Organ Building in Los Angeles, 1894-1913
Murray M. Harris returned in 1894 from his Boston apprenticeship with organbuilder George S. Hutchings to a booming Los Angeles where only eight pipe organs existed. Six years later, Los Angeles would have 154 churches in it and scores of new pipe organs. Harris and organ tuner Henry C. Fletcher became business partners and founded the city’s first organbuilding firm, Fletcher & Harris.

Several new firms sprang from this beginning and many more than 100 organs were built by 1913, including the world’s largest for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (better known as the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair). That organ would become Philadelphia’s famous Wanamaker Organ after Alexandre Guilmant had played 40 recitals on it at the Fair, repeating no pieces.

David Lennox Smith carefully gathered the history of Harris and his contemporaries and the organs they built for his doctoral dissertation that was all but complete when Smith was murdered by an unknown assailant on March 5, 1979. For this publication, Orpha Ochse has updated Smith’s research with the help of colleagues Jack Bethards, Kevin Gilchrist, Jim Lewis, and Manuel Rosales.

The book includes an annotated opus list, listings of organbuilders from the Los Angeles City Directories, many stoplists and photographs, and technical details. 344 pages, hardbound