Over the summer, Concordia University Chicago was honored to receive the gift of a pipe organ from renowned composer, choral director, organist and educator Dr. Walter L. Pelz BA ’48. The organ was built by the Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company of St. Louis, MO, in 1984 for the Pelz home.
Several years ago, Pelz and his family decided that they would like to donate the instrument to the University. The organ has three manuals (keyboards) and five stops (registers of pipes).* Pelz composed many of his organ pieces on this instrument.
Pelz has composed several hundred compositions including verses and offertories, anthems, solos, cantatas, hymns, choral symphonies and organ works—many with instruments. His compositions have been performed in churches, colleges, and on radio and television in the United States and Europe. Pelz studied organ at the American Conservatory of Music while attending Concordia Teachers College (now CUC). He earned his master’s degree in organ and church music from Northwestern University, and his doctorate in theory and composition from the University of Minnesota. His full, impressive biography can be found on the Center for Church Music website.
The transporting of the organ to Concordia-Chicago was accomplished by Richard and Luanne Murphy, Murphy Music Service, of Highland, IL. Richard was on the staff of the Ott company and was one of the builders of the organ 40 years ago. The organ is now located in Kretzmann Hall, Room 214, which was designed for the inclusion of a pipe organ during its 1990 renovation.
“Music students will be encouraged to practice on this new organ,” says Dr. Steve Wente, distinguished professor emeritus of music. “We plan to use it for lessons and studio classes—where the students play for each other—as well as some small performances.”
*The upper manual has an 8’ Gedeckt and a 2’ Flute. The middle manual has an 8’ Rohrflöte and a 4’ Principal. The bottom manual is a coupling manual, by which the sounds of both manuals can be played together. The pedal has a 16’ Gedeckt that is unified at 8’ pitch; each manual can couple to the pedal.