||The Aeolian Company built its last and largest church organ for Duke Chapel in 1932.
The organ, one of the last examples of the Symphonic style of American organ building,
survived three replacement attempts by the ideologues of the Neo-Baroque organ movement
that swept the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. This organ reform
movement apotheosized the mechanical-action organs of 17th and 18th century Europe,
at the expense of early and mid-20th century American organs – many of which were
heavily altered or entirely replaced. Fortunately, the Duke Aeolian was largely spared
from such atrocities and was fully restored in 2009. This paper examines the rich
cultural history of Duke’s Aeolian organ, including the efforts of those who sought
to replace it, others who fought to preserve the organ, and the cultural and historical
significance of the Aeolian as an American musical instrument. It is a fascinating
and important story that needs to be told.