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Music in the Marketplace: A Wanamaker Organ History


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At last! The complete story of the colossal pipe organ and the fabled Philadelphia retail palace that has been its showcase for 90 years.

The Reigning Monarch of All Instruments was built in California and exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair as the world’s largest pipe organ.

In 1909, millionaire merchants John and Rodman Wanamaker made it the centerpiece of their magnificent new store. Dozens of store artisans enlarged the organ over 18 years to maintain it as the world’s largest—a virtual symphony orchestra in pipes. Wanamaker’s showcased its unparalleled cultural achievement in brilliant after-hours concerts featuring Leopold Stokowski, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the world's foremost musicians. Ray Biswanger’s riveting presentation, which unfolds like a great novel, includes intriguing store lore, the fascinating history of the 17-ton Wanamaker Founder’s Bell, and never-before-published insights into the private lives of the Wanamaker family and the famous artists whose lives were intertwined with this world-acclaimed historic treasure.

Written for the general public and organ enthusiast alike, this sumptuous, highly readable book is published in a hardbound coffeetable format with 18 chapters, 5 appendices, complete specifications, the current console layout, and comprehensive endnotes. Informative and intriguing, the 302-page work features more than 270 illustrations, many of them full-page prints. Includes entire chapters on the St. Louis World’s Fair and the Wanamaker Founder’s Bell, much never-before-published material from newly unsealed archives of the Wanamaker Store, the Henry Willis organ factory, and other fascinating sources that reveal the complete, personal story behind the creation of one of the great artistic achievements of man.

"This is a book one will proudly display and surely enjoy reading again and again."
---Ralph Beaudry

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