French Organ Finds New Home at Townsend


MACON – Mercer University's Townsend School of Music will host a weekend-long dedication and inauguration of its newly installed Giuseppe Englert Memorial Organ, April 12-15. Originally built in 1953 by Victor Gonzalez in Paris, France, the organ is a gift of Michel Snethlage, nephew of Giuseppe Englert, with additional support provided by the Townsend-McAfee Institute of Church Music, as well as private gifts.

The celebration will begin on Friday, April 12, at 5 p.m with a Ceremony of Dedication and Inaugural Concert at the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer's Macon campus. Dr. Jack Mitchener, director of the Townsend-McAfee Institute of Church Music, associate professor of organ in the Townsend School of Music and Mercer University organist, will perform with guest organists Robert Martin, Ralph Tilden and Maritouca Vernières. Then on Saturday, April 13, French organ builder Robert Martin will give a lecture, titled “César Franck and the Great Cavaillé-Coll Organ at Ste. Clotilde,” at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary of Christ Episcopal Church, located at 582 Walnut St. Saturday's celebration will conclude with an open house in the Englert Organ Studio, located in Room 145 in the McCorkle Music Building. Finally, on Sunday, April 14, from 2 until 4 p.m. Mercer students will demonstrate and perform on the organ and local organists may try it as well. All three events are free and open to the public. For more information call (478) 301-2748.

“The Englert Organ has great historical value, but it also will serve the daily needs of our students,” Dr. Mitchener said. “It will be used for teaching lessons, classes, and practicing. And it will always be exciting to know that we have a little bit of Paris right here in the music building.”

Giuseppe Englert was a noted composer of electronic music in Paris, but his early studies were in organ with renowned performer and pedagogue, André Marchal. He was Marchal's assistant organist at the Church of St. Eustache in Paris and also was married to Marchal's only daughter,


In 1953, Englert asked the most famous organ builder in Paris at the time, Victor Gonzalez, to build an organ for his large apartment across the street from Les Invalides, the site of Napoléon's tomb. The organ is an exceptional example of the neoclassical style of organ building in the

20th century. It represents a revival of organ building techniques from the 18th Century, yet it has modern features that are reflective of the mid-20th Century. The organ has nearly 1,400 pipes, almost all of which are enclosed in separate sound chambers. It is possible to vary the volume of the sound, thus making the organ versatile and appropriate for almost any composition in the six centuries of repertoire available to organists. Englert's organ was known to many renowned musicians in Paris in the 1950s and after and was played by such notables as Maurice Duruflé, Jean Langlais and Olivier Messiaen.

About Townsend School of Music

Mercer University's Townsend School of Music, the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings and the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Studies offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. Townsend is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. The McDuffie Center, a special institute within Townsend School of Music, is a highly selective program that prepares string students for success in the real world. Students study with some of America's most renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while earning an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university. For more information and a complete listing of this season's concerts please visit or call (478) 301-2748.