By the 1970's the University of Michigan organ faculty and students had been expressing a need for a Baroque recital and teaching instrument for many years, an organ that could authentically play the monumental organ compositions of J.S. Bach and his contemporaries. The organ became possible through a generous gift from Judith Barnett Metz in honor of Organ Professor Marilyn Mason. Opus 87 was built for Blanche Anderson Moore Hall, a recital hall in the newly completed Margaret Dow Towsley Center, an addition to complete Eero Saarinen’s 1964 School of Music Building.
As a result of extensive research and consultation among members of the School of Music organ faculty and our firm, it was mutually agreed that the instruments of Gottfried Silbermann would be models for the Michigan organ. Charles Fisk had long admired and studied the work of Silbermann, and Marilyn Mason had made five research trips to East Germany since 1981, one with Fisk principals Steven Dieck and David Pike. Without replicating any single Silbermann instrument, Opus 87 offers the best of his work and is entirely within his aesthetic spirit and mechanical capabilities.
The casework most closely resembles that of Silbermann’s 1721 instrument in the Georgenkirche in Rötha, in the former East Germany. The façade pipes are of burnished tin, and the gilded, polychromed pipe shades and case decorations were hand carved by Morgan Faulds Pike. The organ is equipped with two winding systems, a human-powered double wedge bellows system, and an electric blower system using one wedge bellows. The temperament is one-fifth comma modified meantone.