O'Malley Organ Reyes Organ and Choral Hall

Designed and built by Paul Fritts and his colleagues in Tacoma, Washington, the University of Notre Dame's magnificent Fritts organ took fifteen months and 18,000 hours to build. Inspired by the great north German organ builder Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), this thoroughly modern instrument that was designed on a computer, built with modern machinery, and placed in a new, architecturally stunning space.

The organ is unique among musical instruments because its environment is an essential element of the instrument's sound. The organ also has to fit comfortably in its architectural setting, and here the natural fir case harmonizes with the fir ceiling trusses of the hall.

The intricate carvings on the organ case-designed and executed by Jude Fritts-reflect a rich history of case design. The design of the organ case traditionally reflects the geography of the surrounding area. Accordingly, the Fritts organ case includes carving of many plants and animals indigenous to northern Indiana, amplifying the theme of God's creation praising the Creator.

The case carvings express the notion of living things that make sounds, stopping just short of the human since the organ itself works from the breath of life. The images progress from simple to increasingly sophisticated motifs, beginning in the lowest parts of the case and moving upward.

At the bottom of the Rückpositive division are mollusks (symbol of baptism), waves, water lilies, seaweed, and a starfish (a reference to Ave Maris Stella, or Mary Star of the Sea). Moving upwards, the carvings include roses (symbol of Our Lady, the patron of the University), rabbits, owls (representing knowledge), herons, cardinals (the state bird of Indiana), and a sun burst (light, fire). Local plants, including ivy, cattails, prairie grasses, and the leaves of the tulip tree, fill the upper case, and the sun, the moon, and the clouds are at its center, demonstrating the way that all life strives toward the divine. The case carvings include the four elements of creation-air, earth, fire, and water. Air is critical to the organ, of course, since it creates the wind instrument's sound, and the other elements make music of their own: earth and water interact in the rippling brook or in the waves that pound the ocean's shore, and fire crackles and sputters as it supplies heat and light.

Even when the organ is silent, the beauty and detail of these case carvings express the need that humans feel to praise God in everything that they do. The artistry of Jude Fritts and all those who worked on this organ have made a significant contribution to musical and artistic life on Notre Dame's campus.

Images of the O'Malley organ built by Paul Fritts


Stop List




Principal 16

Principal 8

Principal 16*

Octave 8

Gedackt 8

Octave 8

Rohrflöte 8

Quintadena 8

Octave 4*

Viol di Gamba 8

Octave 4

Nachthorn 2

Octave 4

Rohrflöte 4

Mixture V-VIII

Spitzflöte 4

Octave 2

Posaune 16

Quint 3

Waldflöte 2

Trompet 8

Nasat/Cornet III
(half-draw Nasat)

Sifflöte 1 1/3

Trompet 4

Octave 2

Quint/Sesquialtara II
(half-drawn Quint)

Cornet 2*

Mixture IV-VI

Scharff III-V


Trompet 16

Fagott 16


Trompet 8

Trichterregal 8


Baarpfeife 8

Schalmey 4


*Shares some pipes with another stop
Compass: Manual 58 notes; Pedal 30 notes
Variable Tremulant
Wind Stabilizer
Normal couplers
Temperament: Kirnberger, modified