The Villa Aurora Organ

Michael Mortilla playing the organ during Villa Aurora's Silent Salon. Photo: VATMH

Thanks to numerous donations from the U.S. and Germany, in 2010 we were able to restore the Villa’s historic organ which had not only been played regularly by Marta Feuchtwanger but also by Bruno Walther, Ernst Toch and Hanns Eisler.

On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Villa’s tranformation into an artists’ residence, the instrument was re-inaugurated within the frame of two concerts. UCLA organist Christoph Bull played compositions by exiled composers Erich Zeisl, Ernst Toch and Kurt Weill, and he accompanied Charlie Chaplin’s silent picture “The Immigrant”.

Villa Aurora has been built by the architect Mark Daniel in 1927/28 as a model house for the Los Angeles Times. Drafts show that the organ’s two chambers at both end-walls of the salon had been part of the original design already. Back in those days, it was not uncommon to have organs known from cinemas or theaters in your private sphere as an enriching factor of your social life.

The technical set-up of the organ is comparable to the organs in cinemas and theaters of the silent era, allowing a wide range of sound effects and giving the player almost unlimited possibilities.

The Villa organ was built in 1928/29 by Artcraft Organ Company of Santa Monica, CA.

The instrument is composed of eight ranks of pipes and 34 stops.

Technical Data:

Historic Picture: Woman playing the organ (Feuchtwanger Memorial Library / USC)

Great Organ: Diapason 16’ - 4’ 85 pipes
Tibia Clausa 16’ - 4’ 85 pipes
Gedeckt 16’ - 2’ 97 pipes
Flue pipe 8’ - 4’ 73 pipes
Voix Celeste 8’ - 4’ 73 pipes
Salicional 8’ - 4’ 73 pipes
Reed Pipe Register 8’ 61 pipes

Echo Chamber: Xylophon 49 wooden slabs
Bell Slabs 25
Vox Humana 8’ 61 pipes