Frieze Memorial Organ

Hill Auditorium

The famed E. M. Skinner/Æolian-Skinner organ in Hill Auditorium is available to University of Michigan students and faculty for teaching, practice and performances. The organ, named in honor of Henry Simmons Frieze, Professor of Latin and first president of the University Musical Society, is the focal point of the auditorium’s unique parabolic interior.

Behind the façade of non-speaking pipes are 120 ranks plus an additional 4 ranks in the Echo division above the central skylight, totaling 7,599 speaking pipes.


Twelve of these ranks date back to the organ built by the Farrand & Votey Company in 1893 for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and moved to University Hall at the University of Michigan in 1894. Hill Auditorium was designed by architect Albert Kahn and constructed in 1913 through the bequest of University of Michigan Regent Arthur Hill. Shortly after its completion, the Hutchings Organ Company rebuilt the Frieze Memorial Organ and moved it to Hill Auditorium. In 1927, Professor Palmer Christian directed a major reworking of the organ by the renowned American organbuilder Ernest M. Skinner, who created a characteristically “orchestral” tonal design. The aesthetics of organ design changed radically in the ensuing decades, and in 1955, G. Donald Harrison of the Æolian-Skinner Company was commissioned to rebuild the organ to reflect the “American classic” ideal.


The colors and configuration of the non-speaking façade pipes have been changed several times over the years. The current façade design dates from a major renovation of the auditorium in 2003-04. Former university organ technician Samuel Koontz conducted a restoration of the organ’s mechanism in 1985. Further restoration by Nelson Barden and Company was necessary after the organ sustained water damage from a leaking roof in 1990. Former university organ technician Jerroll Adams rebuilt the console in 1995 to incorporate digital circuitry and solid-state components and directed a multi-year project beginning in 2014 to replace aging leather. Stephen Warner is the current University Organ technician, and Prof. James Kibbie serves as Curator of the Frieze Memorial Organ.

Prof. James O. Wilkes has conducted extensive research into the Hill Auditorium organ and has published a detailed account in Pipe Organs of Ann Arbor, available from the Organ Historical Society. “Merrily on Hill,” a compact disk of Christmas organ music, has been recorded on the instrument by Prof. James Kibbie.

Organ Specifications

Farrand & Votey Organ Company, 
Detroit, MI, Op. 700, 1893 (FV)
Hutchings Organ Company,
Boston, MA, 1913 (H)
Skinner Organ Company,
Boston, MA, Op. 664, 1927 (Sk)
Æolian-Skinner Organ Company, 
Boston, MA, Op. 664-A, 1955 (A-Sk)

Great (61 notes):

Principal 16′ (A-Sk)
Bourdon 16′ (Pedal)
Principal 8′ (A-Sk)
Rohrflöte 8′ (A-Sk)
Octave 4′ (A-Sk)
Spitzflöte 4′ (A-Sk)
Octave 2′ (A-Sk)
Rauschquint II (A-Sk)
Mixture IV-VI (A-Sk)
Scharf IV (1961)
Posaune 16′ (Sk)
Trumpet 8′ (Sk)
Clarion 4′ (Sk)
Trompette 8′ (1959)
Clairon 4′ (1959)

Swell (61 notes, enclosed):
Bourdon 16′ (Sk)
Dulciana 16′ (Sk)
Principal 8′ (A-Sk)
Rohrflöte 8′ (A-Sk)
Flûte Harmonique 8′ (A-Sk)
Quintadena 8′ (FV)
Viole de Gambe 8′ (A-Sk)
Viole Celeste 8′ (from CC) (A-Sk)
Voix Celeste II 8′ (Sk)
Flauto Dolce 8′ (Sk)
Flute Celeste 8′ (from TC) (Sk)
Octave 4′ (A-Sk)
Flûte Harmonique 4′ (A-Sk)
Unda Maris II 4′ (Sk)
Octavin 2′ (A-Sk)
Mixture VI (A-Sk)
Cornet IV (from TC) (A-Sk)
Bombarde 16′ (A-Sk)
Trompette 8′ (1955)
Oboe 8′ (Sk)
Vox Humana 8′ (FV)
Clairon 4′ (A-Sk)

Positiv (61 notes):

Principal 8′ (A-Sk)
Gedeckt 8′ (A-Sk)
Octave 4′ (A-Sk)
Koppelflöte 4′ (A-Sk)
Octave 2′ (A-Sk)
Blockflöte 2′ (A-Sk)
Quint 1 1/3′ (A-Sk)
Mixture IV-VI (A-Sk)
Cymbel III (A-Sk)
Trumpet 8′ (A-Sk)

Choir (61 notes, enclosed):
Gamba 16′ (FV)
Diapason 8′ (Sk)
Concert Flute 8′ (FV)
Gamba 8′ (FV)
Gedeckt 8′ (A-Sk)
Dulcet II 8′ (Sk)
Kleine Erzähler II 8′ (Sk)
Gemshorn 4′ (FV)
Flute 4′ (FV)
Nasat 2 2/3′ (A-Sk)
Blockflöte 2′ (A-Sk)
Terz 1 3/5′ (A-Sk)
Sifflöte 1′ (A-Sk)
Bassoon 16′ (Sk)
French Trumpet 8′ (Solo)
Bassoon 8′ (Sk)
Cromorne 8′ (A-Sk)
Rohrschalmei 4′ (A-Sk)
Solo (61 notes, enclosed):
Stentorphone 8′ (FV)
Flauto Mirabilis 8′ (Sk)
Gamba 8′ (Sk)
Gamba Celeste 8′ (Sk)
Octave 4′ (H)
Orchestral Flute 4′ (Sk)
Contra Tuba 16′ (Sk)
Heckelphone 16′ (Sk)
Tuba 8′ (Sk)
French Trumpet 8′ (Sk)
Orchestral Oboe 8′ (Sk)
Corno di Bassetto 8′ (Sk)
Heckelphone 8′ (Sk)
Clarion 4′ (Sk)
Tuba Mirabilis 8′ (Sk)

Echo (61 notes, enclosed):
Gedeckt 8′ (FV)
Muted Viole 8′ (FV)
Unda Maris 8′ (FV)
Vox Humana 8′ (Sk)

Pedal (32 notes):
Diapason 32′ (FV)
Violone 32′ (Sk)
Principal 16′ (A-Sk)
Diapason 16′ (FV)
Violone 16′ (FV/Sk)
Principal 16′ (Great)
Bourdon 16′ (?)
Gamba 16′ (Choir)
Bourdon 16′ (Swell)
Dulciana 16′ (Swell)
Principal 8′ (A-Sk)
Diapason 8′ (FV)
Cello (Violone) 8′ (Sk)
Gedeckt (Bourdon) 8′
Bourdon 8′ (Swell)
Octave 4′ (A-Sk)
Gedeckt (Bourdon) 4′
Gedeckt (Bourdon) 2′
Rauschquint II (A-Sk)
Mixture IV (A-Sk)
Scharf IV (A-Sk)
Bombarde 32′ (Sk)
Ophicleide 16′ (Sk/A-Sk)
Posaune 16′ (Great)
Bombarde 16′ (Swell)
Bassoon 16′ (Choir)
Heckelphone 16′ (Solo)
Trumpet 8′ (Sk/A-Sk)
French Trumpet 8′ (Solo)
Clarion 4′ (Sk/A-Sk)
Bass Drum (Sk)
Tympani (Sk)
Chimes (Echo)

61st Annual Organ Conference: Passions and Visions October 3-6, 2021 

Works of Widor, Hancock, Bizet, Conte, and Reubke Todd Wilson, Visiting Professor of Organ and Sacred Music, University of Michigan