Italian Baroque Organ

In 1980, Gerald Woehl, a renowned German organ builder and instrument restorer, discovered a magnificent Italian Baroque organ in Florence, where it was on the verge of being sold as furniture. Twenty-five years later, the instrument has taken its place as the only full-size antique Italian organ in North America. Now owned by the Eastman School of Music, the fully restored and thoroughly documented organ now fills the Gallery’s Fountain Court with the sounds of the past.

Below, William Porter, Professor of Organ at the Eastman School of Music performs an excerpt from “Pavane Prymera”, a 16th century composition whose author is unknown.

Video: Matthew Mann | Video Producer, Communications | University of Rochester

Fountain Court

The Fountain Court

As beautiful, authentic sounds fill the Fountain Court, the work of period artists is a feast for the eyes as well. The organ—with its 600 pipes and lavishly carved, painted, and gilded 22-foot case—is the centerpiece of an installation that highlights over 30 major Baroque paintings and sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection.

Luca Giordano's The Entombment

The museum’s latest baroque acquisition, Luca Giordano’s monumental altarpiece The Entombment (1650-1653) is a powerful addition to this unique collaboration between the Eastman School of Music and the Memorial Art Gallery, both divisions of the University of Rochester. The Eastman organ, surrounded by major works of art from the Baroque period, immerses audience members and museum visitors alike in the rich and dramatic visual and musical culture of 17th- and 18th-century Europe.

View artwork on display in the Fountain Court


Each Sunday students from the Eastman School of Music give 25-minute mini-recitals at 1:30 and 3 pm (included in museum admission). This working historic instrument reflects not only the art, architecture, and science of Baroque Italy but the musical and religious culture as well.

Once a month from October to May, the organ is featured in Third Thursday evening showcase concerts with the Eastman School. Concerts are offered free with museum admission.

For details of upcoming organ recitals and concerts, check the museum’s online events calendar.

CD cover for Promenade: A Musical Procession through Paintings at Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New YorkCover of cd

Purchase or sample excerpts from these CDs of performances by Hans Davidsson, David Higgs, William Porter, and Edoardo Bellotti on the organ.