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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The Organ in the Temple of Music and the Organists Who Performed at the Pan-American Exposition

When it was initially proposed that daily organ recitals be held at the Temple of Music over the course of five months at the Exposition, the reaction of the directors was not enthusiastic. However, principally through the efforts of Simon Fleischmann, a member of the Committee on Music, a successful plan was developed to invite more than seventy organists from the United States, Canada, England, Belgium, and Germany to perform. The committee made a special effort to include noted American women organists as well, and six women were listed in the preliminary guide, Music at the Pan-American Exposition: Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo 1901, [Buffalo, N. Y.: The Pan-American Exposition Company], 1901.

Interior of Temple of Music

Interior of the Temple of Music, Showing the Position of the Organ. Artist(s): Esenwein & Johnson, Architects. Source: Kerry S. Grant. The Rainbow City: Celebrating Light, Color and Architecture at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901. Buffalo, N. Y.: Canisius College Press, 2001. From the Collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

The history of the organ installed in the Temple of Music is less than clear. It has been reported that the organ was originally ordered from builder Emmons Howard by the St. Louis Church on Main Street, but how it came to be used at the Exposition is not clear. The original cost of the organ was $18,000.

organ in the Temple of Music

Temple of Music Organ. Photo Credit: Unknown. Source: The Tracker, v. 14, no. 2 (Winter 1970). Courtesy of Stephen Pinel.

Temple of Music interior

Candid photograph of the Interior of the Temple of Music. Photographer: Unknown Source: Music Images from the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901, Music Library, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Collection Number: Mus. Arc. 8: Item PA12. Courtesy of Brenda Battleson.


After the Exposition the organ was installed in the Elmwood Music Hall, where it was in use until 1938 when the old hall was replaced by Kleinhans Music Hall. The organ was put into storage in the barns on Cassy Street where it deteriorated beyond repair. An article in the May 19, 1942 issue of the Buffalo News reported that the remains of the organ had been sold for $165.


Emmons Howard

Emmons Howard

Descriptions of the 4-manual organ exist in the Exposition's booklet, Music at the Pan-American Exposition, Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo 1901, (p. 4-5) and in Emmons Howard's own pamphlet, The Great Organ in the Temple of Music, Buffalo, N.Y. : built by Emmons Howard & Son, Westfield, Mass., and Buffalo, N.Y. The specifications state that the organ contained a total of 3228 organ pipes, a moderately large organ for its time. Howard utilized the latest in contemporary technology in building the organ, including sforzando and crescendo pedals, an enclosed Choir division, adjustable combination action, and tubular pneumatic action. He was awarded a gold medal at the Exposition for his design.

William J. Gomph

William J. Gomph

Emmons Howard was born in Brimfield, Mass. October 1, 1845 and died in Westfield, Mass. on March 18, 1931. After working for noted organ builders William A. Johnson and John Steere, Howard opened his own organ building business in 1883. Although Howard had hoped to parlay the success of the Exposition organ into more business contracts, this did not occur and he continued operating a fairly small business until his retirement in 1929.

One of the tangential questions regarding the organ in the Temple of Music regards which piece of music was being played by official Exposition organist William J. Gomph at the time Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley. Most sources state that Gomph was performing a Bach sonata at the time. However, according to an interview by organist Dr. David Bond with Gomph's daughter Martha Gomph in June 2001, he was quietly playing Robert Schumann's Träumerei from Kinderscenen.


Clarence Eddy

Clarence Eddy

According to the Final Report to the Director-General in the Pan-American Exposition Company Papers, seventy-one organists performed at the Exposition at a cost of only $7000. The Report refers to the five months of concerts as "the most extensive and artistic series of organ recitals ever given in the world." According to the daily programs, 197 organ recitals were given at the Temple of Music by the end of the Exposition.

Henry Gordon Thunder

Henry Gordon Thunder

The roster of organists that performed at the Exposition was an extraordinarily rich one. Brief biographies and portraits of the organists, including those listed on this web page, can be found in Music at the Pan-American Exposition: Organists, Orchestras, Bands, Buffalo, 1901. The list includes famous American organists, such as Clarence Eddy and Henry Gordon Thunder. It also includes eight organists who were either from or residing in Buffalo: Seth Colgrove Clark, William J. Gomph, who at 23 years of age was appointed official Exposition organist, Henry Stuart Hendy, William Sheridan Jarrett, Emily Loucetta Maynard, Mary Florence McConnell, Gerrit Smith, and Andrew T. Webster.


Buffalo Organists at the Pan-American Exposition

Seth Colegrove Clark

Seth Colegrove Clark

Henry Stuart Hendy

Henry Stuart Hendy

William Sheridan Jarrett

William Sheridan Jarrett

Emily Loucetta Maynard

Emily Loucetta Maynard

Gerrit Smith

Gerrit Smith

Mary Florence McConnell

Mary Florence McConnell

Andrew T. Webster

Andrew T. Webster