What is a cabinet pipe organ?

1785 Johannes Strumphler Cabinet Pipe Organ
1785 Johannes Strumphler Cabinet Pipe Organ

Recently, Ted and I attended the Paul Jacobs pipe organ concert at the Toledo Museum of Art. The concert was in the evening so we decided to spend the afternoon walking through the museum.

We were very surprised to find a cabinet pipe organ on display. A cabinet pipe organ is a small organ that is built inside of a cabinet. This particular cabinet organ was made around 1785 and is credited to organ builder Johannes Strumphler. The cabinet doors can be closed to hide the pipes when not in use. There is a foot pedal to pump air into the bellows. There is not a bench for this organ. The organist stands while playing presumably with one foot pumping the foot pedal. I am assuming the drawers are fake, but we didn’t try to open them!

Details on Cabinet Organ
Detailed work on the Cabinet Organ

The cabinet was beautiful with detailed scroll work and claw feet. In the description next to the display, it says that Johannes Strumphler worked with a fine cabinetmaker. The materials used for the cabinet include mahogany, oak, glided maple, glided bronze, ivory, ebony, and mother-of-pearl.

The cabinet itself is art, yet no recognition for the cabinetmaker. Very similar to the many paintings in the museum that had elaborate hand carved wooded frames. We didn’t read every plague but we didn’t notice any that mentioned the the frame maker. The names of the cabinetmakers and frame makers forever lost to history.

Can you imagine of this cabinet organ in your living room? What a surprise it would be for someone who opened it thinking it is a regular cabinet!

Paul Jacobs Pipe Organ Concert at the Peristyle - February 22, 2014
Daniel Roth Concert - Ypsilanti, MI March 2014
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Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

7 thoughts on “What is a cabinet pipe organ?”

  1. In Holland, we have a lot of these organs. Even smaller models as a secretaire organ or a bureau organ. The drawers are fake. Behind the drawes is a small bellow en lies the windchest.
    Have a look:




    A friend of my has restaurated this small one with 2 1/2 stop


    Wieger van Asperen
    Dalfsen, The Netherlands

  2. This is very interesting. An organ of this type would fit nicely in your
    living room. You are getting an education while attending organ concerts.

  3. It is interesting that the maker of suck beauty.. the cabinet… is not remembered. This is often the case for those in support roles… they go unnoticed. We should work to make sure when the moment allows us we can sing the praise of those that support efforts of others.


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