G. Donald Harrison

G. Donald Harrison

G. Donald Harrison

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George Donald Harrison (April 21, 1889 - June 14, 1956) crafted some of the finest and largest pipe organ in the United States. He started out in 1914 as a patent attorney but after military service he began to pursue an interest in pipe organ building working with Henry Willis & Sons of London.

After immigrating to America, Harrison joined the Skinner Organ Company in 1927 where he spent the remainder of his career. After the Skinner Company merged with the Aeolian Organ Company, forming the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company in 1933, he became the company's tonal director and president. While the bulk of his work was as a tonal designer and voicer, Harrison is most famous for his association with "American Classic" organ design. This design concept (its name coined by Senator Emerson Richards), was partly a reaction to the proliferation of romantic-orchestral "symphonic" organs that had been in fashion to that point. The symphonic organ sought to emulate the effects of a symphony orchestra with imitative solo reeds, colorful flutes and warm string-toned stops. The American Classic organ, on the other hand sought a return to design principles of the eighteenth century, particularly the development of clean diapason choruses topped by several brilliant mixtures. The organs also contained stops and expressive divisions evocative of the romantic organ writing of the 19th and early 20th-century French school. The voicing of these instruments, in...
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