George Eastman loved orchestral organ music and it was central to his personal enjoyment and as well as a key factor in entertaining others in his home.
In 1905, George Eastman hired The Aeolian Organ Company in NYC to install the South organ in his home. In 1918 he added what we now call the North Organ chamber. Throughout the 26 years he lived here he continued to expand the organ adding more pipes and chambers and eventually created what was probably the first surround sound or stereo sound in a private residence. A fire occurred in this room (when the house was already a museum)and many of the pipes were destroyed.
There was no thought of ever restoring this missing organ chamber until 2012 when Dr. Richard Zipf of Sacramento, California decided to donate his Aeolian 1345 organ to the museum. This pipe organ is very similar to the one George Eastman had in this space. The console in front of you and the pipes in this chamber were packed & moved across the country and with the help of a team of dedicated volunteers and the staff at the Parsons Pipe Organ Company it has been reinstalled in Eastman’s home. When the project is complete 2,329 pipes will have been installed in this chamber and visitors will be able to hear what George Eastman heard many years ago- organ music that sounds like an entire orchestra is performing in his home.
David Higgs, Chair of the Department of Organ and Historical Keyboards, Eastman School of Music
Has said and I quote “It’s very exciting to know that the George Eastman House organ will be returned to the monumental size and scope that Mr. Eastman intended. Also, this project fits perfectly with the ambitious goals of the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative to bring to Rochester an unparalleled collection of pipe organs of the major national and historical styles. When completed, this organ will be the largest residence organ in the world, and it represents an important aspect of the role of great music in American life. This instrument will be a wonderful addition to the growing collection of internationally renowned pipe organs here in Rochester!”