Pipe organ donated to Mercer’s Townsend School of Music

Beginning on Friday, April
12, and concluding on Sunday,
April 15, Mercer’s
Townsend School of Music
hosted a weekend-long dedication
and inauguration of
its Giuseppe Englert Memorial
Organ. The University
received the organ as a gift
earlier in the school year,
and recently fi nished installation
at the McCorkle Music
Building.
The Townsend School of
Music received the organ as
a gift from the nephew of
Giuseppe Englert, Michel
Snethlage. Victor Gonzalez
constructed the organ in Paris,
France, for Giuseppe Englert
in 1953. Dr. Mitchener
also mentioned that the organ
had been played by several
famous composers.
Gonzalez was a famous
organ builder in France,
known for the style called
“Neo-Classical,” according
to Dr. Jack Mitchener, associate
professor of organ in
the Townsend School of Music,
as well as director of the
Townsend-McAfee Institute
of Church Music. “Gonzalez
was the most important
builder of the style in the 20th
Century,” said Dr. Mitchener.
According to Dr. Mitchener,
the organ had been sitting in
an apartment in France for 60
years before Snethlage gave
it to Mercer. French musician
and organ builder Robert
Martin dismantled the organ
in France and reassembled it
here at Mercer after it arrived
in Macon in October.
The organ’s size required
transportation in about 15
large crates, according to
Martin and Dr. Mitchener.
Martin arrived in Macon in
November and started reassembling
the organ, comparing
it to a “big puzzle.”
Martin also said that
many of the students at the
Townsend School of Music
helped with the reassembling
process saying, “They
give a lot,” and that “Everyone
wanted to see the organ
rebuilding.” Dr. Mitchener
also mentioned how much
help the students provided.
“The students were very involved,
they were here very
late many nights,” said Dr.
Mitchener.
Dr. Mitchener mentioned
how lucky they were to
receive the organ saying,
“We’re very grateful to Michel
Snethlage.” He also
mentioned that apart from
being valuable as a historical
item, the organ also had
many practical uses for the
school.
“Because it was built so
well that it still plays very
well and will serve the needs
of our students very well,”
said Dr. Mitchener. “Just for
student practice and lessons
and classes and so on, it’s really
a great thing for us.”
Apart from being an organ
builder, Martin has also been
the organist of the Principle
Church of Marseille for 38
years. He mentioned that
while he was at Mercer, many
music students came to speak
with him about music. “They
ask a lot of questions about
French music, because I am
an organist,” said Martin.
Martin and Dr. Mitchener
also participated in the inauguration
and dedication
events held to celebrate the
organ’s donation. Both of
them were amongst the organists
that performed on
Friday, April 12 along with
two other guest organists,
Ralph Tilden and Maritouca
Vernières.
Martin also gave a talk
on Saturday, April 13 titled
“César Franck and the Great
Cavaillé-Coll Organ at Ste.
Clotilde.” The dedication
concluded on Sunday, with
performances from Mercer
students and local organists.