Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ
Built and installed by the firm of Fratelli Ruffatti. The organ was not in place when Spivey Hall presented its first concerts in 1991, but was well under construction several thousand miles away, in Padua, Italy.
Spivey Hall’s organ was the vision of Emilie Spivey, an accomplished church organist, philanthropist and friend of famed organist Virgil Fox. Mrs. Spivey, who was enamored by the instruments created by Italian organ builders, Fratelli Ruffatti, commissioned the firm to design the organ for Spivey Hall.
The company responded with a masterpiece: a 79-rank, 3-manual, 4,413-pipe organ housed within a faux marble and gold leaf casework standing 50 feet high and 37 feet wide. Designed for maximum versatility, the organ’s ranks flatter the modest, straightforward tunes of the great Baroque masters, flamboyant colors favored by 19th-century French organists and the subtle shadings of the modern repertoire.
The instrument was disassembled and shipped piece-by-piece from Padua. Supervised by Piero Ruffatti, Widener and Company installed the organ between November 1991 and April 1992. Tonal adjustments continued right up until its official dedication in May of 1992 with three concerts: two by the highly acclaimed British organist Gillian Weir, and the finale which joined the great talents of Robert Shaw and his Festival Singers with organist Norman Mackenzie.
In 1998, when The Royal Bank Calgary International Organ Festival & Competition chose Spivey Hall as the site for its North American Selection Rounds, Spivey’s stature in the organ world fully came in prominence. The event was a great success, so much so that the quadrennial event returned to Spivey Hall in May of 2002.
In 2005-2006 Spivey Hall joined the Riverside Church in New York City in commemorating the 25th anniversary of the death of Virgil Fox. His friendship with Emilie Spivey and unique performance style influenced the design and voicing of Spivey Hall’s magnificent Fratelli Ruffatti organ. The Legacy Series showcased distinguished artists whose talents as concert organists befit the reputation of Virgil Fox, one of the instrument’s legendary virtuosos: Hector Guzman, Paul Jacobs, Richard Morris and Hector Olivera.
The Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ is maintained by Tommy McCook of Widener & Company.
The vision of Emilie Spivey and Virgil Fox
The organ is a masterpiece: a 79-rank, 3-manual, 4,413-pipe organ housed within a faux marble and gold leaf casework standing 50 feet high and 37 feet wide.