‘Stop’ and listen: Yale’s historic Newberry Memorial Organ

In a video, Thomas Murray, professor emeritus of organ, discusses what makes Yale’s renowned instrument at Woolsey Hall a musical treasure.

12,641 pipes, 142 stops, 30,000 pneumatic valves — one incredible sound.

Perhaps there is no one better suited to demonstrate the power and versatility of Yale’s historic Newberry Memorial Organ than Thomas Murray, Professor Emeritus of Organ at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. For 38 years, Murray taught graduate organ performance majors on this world-renowned instrument at Woolsey Hall.

The Newberry Organ was built in 1903, renovated in 1915, and rebuilt and expanded in 1928. While other similar pipe organs from that era fell into disrepair or were replaced, Yale’s remains in original condition, thanks to a dedicated team of expert curators.

“We are hearing the same sounds that the crowd heard when this was dedicated for the third time,” said Murray, who joined the School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music faculty in 1981 and became university organist in 1990. Though he retired in 2019, Murray’s connection to the university — and to its magnificent organ — endures to this day.

“The world needs to know how special it is, and Yale is very fortunate to have it,” he said.

Learn more about the history, restoration, and maintenance of the Newberry Organ.

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