The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the largest functioning musical instrument in the world, located within the magnificent 7-story Grand Court, at Macy’s Center City (formerly Wanamaker’s department store). Originally built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, it came to Philadelphia when retail pioneer John Wanamaker purchased the instrument for his new store. The Grand Court Organ made its debut in 1911 and has given concerts no less than twice a day Monday through Saturday, since then.
When the organ arrived in 1909 it had over 10,000 pipes. Between 1911 and 1930 Rodman Wanamaker (John’s son) had the instrument tripled in size and today the instrument has 28,677 pipes in 463 ranks. The console consists of six manuals with an array of stops and controls that command the organ, and features the instrumentation of 3 symphony orchestras.
The instrument requires constant care and maintenance to be able to give the twice-a-day free concerts by renowned organist Peter Richard Conte. This summer, curator Curt Mangel will take it off line for three weeks to install a new “brain” into the organ and refurbish the console area, which will be the organ’s first official "vacation" during business hours in its 103 year history.