Charles B. Fisk Organ

The Fisk Organ in Houghton Chapel, an extraordinary instrument.

The organ built by the late Charles Brenton Fisk (1925-1983) for Houghton Chapel at Wellesley College is one of the most extraordinary instruments in America. This is an organ designed specifically for the performance of north German organ music of the 17th century - a huge repertory of remarkable artistic quality.

The great interest of this music is best revealed, however, when the organ on which it is performed has certain historical features:

Historical Tone Colors - The Wellesley organ features an array of historical tone colors. These are particularly evident in the reed stops found on the Ruckpositiv and the Brustwerk, which are copied from the 1636 Ruckpositiv and Brustwerk created by Friedrich Stellwagen for the transept organ of the Jakobi Church in Lübeck. Similarly the four stops of the Brustpedal are copied from the 1610 Esaias Compenius organ in the Frederiksborg Castle in Copenhagen.

Historical Wind System - In 1969 Charles Brenton Fisk published a pioneering article, “The Organ’s Breath of Life,” in which he advocated a return to historical organ wind systems. Historical wind systems, explains Fisk, allow an organ to “seem to be alive.”