Beckerath Organ at Stetson Chapel
The focal point of Stetson University's DeLand Campus is the H. Douglas Lee (formerly the Benjamin S. Stetson) Memorial Chapel in Elizabeth Hall. The chapel contains a pipe organ built in 1961 by the firm of Rudolph von Beckerath of Hamburg and recently renovated by Beckerath's student, Hans-Ulrich Erbslöh. Retired Professor of Organ, Paul Jenkins wrote a brief biography about Beckerath, and more historical information may be found at the Beckerath firm.
In 1961, Stetson University’s new organ by Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg represented a revolutionary departure from the generally accepted norms in American organ building. It foreshadowed and strongly influenced a re-birth of classic organ design in the U.S. The Paul R. Jenkins Jr. Beckerath Organ has profoundly affected the lives and thoughts of countless musicians and craftspersons. It is a marvelous example of the period regarded by many as the apex of Beckerath’s creative efforts. It speaks today with a voice as fresh as ever.
Stetson’s Beckerath Organ was named for Paul R. Jenkins, Jr., Organ Professor Emeritus, following his retirement. The distinguished, mechanical-action concert instrument is capable of authentically performing a wide range of organ literature. Internationally recognized, the Beckerath organ has had seminal influence on organ building in America and has been featured on the cover of Orgel Internationale.
The first modern European tracker-action organ of its kind built in an American college or university performance space, it was shipped piece-by-piece via boat from Hamburg, Germany, to DeLand, Florida, where it was installed in 1961. It includes 2,700 pipes, ranging from 18 feet in length to the size of a pencil. In 1992, a new case was built by Charles Nazarian to complement the chapel’s traditional look. In 2004, the organ was arduously cleaned, and many improvements were made, including a new console and pedal board.
“It is an historically significant instrument,” comments Price Professor of Organ Dr. Boyd Jones ’75. “It was the forerunner of a type of instrument that came to be recognized as superior and more historically informed than what had been previously found in America. Yale University, for example, acquired a Beckerath in 1971. At Stetson, the Beckerath Organ has become a symbol of the institution.”
An observance of the 50th anniversary of the Beckerath Organ began in February with a performance by Dr. Jones. A two-day celebration, November 4-5, 2011, will include:
- An organ recital by German organist Harald Vogel;
- Visits by organ builders who apprenticed with Beckerath, including Fritz Noack (Massachusetts) and Hans-Ulrich Erbslöh (Hamburg), who restored Stetson’s Beckerath Organ in 2004, as well as Charles Nazarian, who built the new case for the Paul R. Jenkins, Jr., Organ in 1992;
- A paper delivered by Stetson graduate Dr. Russell Stinson ’78, Professor at Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas;
- A joint recital by recent alums Josiah Armes ’07 (MM Yale School of Music), currently pursuing doctoral work at the Eastman School of Music, and Silviya Mateva ’08 (MM Eastman School of Music), now enrolled in doctoral study at the University of Oklahoma;
- New music by Stetson’s Almand Chair of Composition Dr. Sydney Hodkinson, performed by Dr. Boyd Jones.
For a schedule of events, click here.
A limited block of rooms has been reserved at the University Inn (386-734-5711). Mention the School of Music Organ Celebration for a special rate. If the University Inn is full by the time you are seeking rooms, you may wish to download this list of information about lodging options in the area.