C.B. Fisk, Op. 55

The Charles Fisk organ in Old West Church is one of America's most influential and beloved pipe organs. 


The instrument, one of the more modest three-manual organs made by C. B. Fisk, has proven to be remarkably flexible for the interpretation of a wide range of musical styles. Economy dictated re-use of several sets of rebuilt pipes, largely in the Swell and Pedal, from a previous Cole instrument.

The main case is a re-working of a mahogany case built about 1830 and attributed to Thomas Appleton. The case, which had been painted, was salvaged from a church slated for destruction in Ipswich, Massachusetts. A new second tower was added to what had been a central tower design, and the Choir case, mounted on the gallery rail, is entirely new. The Great Trumpet 8' was the first set of reed pipes to be made in the then newly-established Fisk pipeshop. As in many Fisk organs from this time, there is a strong French classic influence in the basic tonal design, essentially Alsatian, and most closely related to the Andreas Silbermann organ in Marmoutier, France.

For decades, this instrument served as the chief teaching and recital organ for the New England Conservatory of Music and is among the most beloved of Charles Fisk's works. 

Old West Church

Occupying higher ground than Old North Church, the original church of 1737 was razed by British troops fearful its spire would also be used to send signals across the river. Not until 1806 did Asher Benjamin complete the present Federal-style building. With the 18th-century Otis House next door it is the sole survivor of the West End neighborhood that vanished during Boston’s brush with urban renewal. The proportions of the front tower are especially harmonious, shallow pilasters leading the eye upward to two floors of windows surmounted by clock, swag, and cupola. Congregationalist at its founding, converted into a public library at the end of the 19th century, Old West has housed a Methodist congregation since 1964. - Ross Wood

Photo by Len Levasseur

Photo by Len Levasseur

Access a specification of Op. 55 here

Listen to the organ