Finally you get to the giant model “Super O” (Figures 29 and 30), which in Italy had been installed at the new “Odeon Cinema” in Milan in the year 192936, cinema which had a huge auditorium with 3,800-seater (Figure 31). The room was so great to have twice the size (a house double the size) than the famous “Teatro alla Scala” in Milan! This organ is probably the largest organ in Europe and has five manuals on two consoles, including piano, enabling two organist to produce effects hitherto unattainable by even the most accomplished of modern performers. Owing to the simplicity of its construction and entirely electrical operation, it would be possible to install such an organ in Great Britain at a considerably lower figure than has been paid for any of the more important recent installations in this country.37
the organist, giving effects hitherto unobtainable. [……] Second console comprises two manuals, consisting of a piano with an extra set of keys. This arrangement allows two persons to play the organ at the same time and permits the use of the piano keyboard as a piano or an organ keyboard. The upper register of the piano keyboard can be divided from the lower half, so that any combination can be made; and with two operators effects can be obtained and combinations produced which on any other organ are impossible.38
Figure 30. Specifications of model “Super O” of “Barbieri Perfect Unit Organs”, taken from the catalog of pipe organs of “Barbieri Organs (Great Britain) Limited” company (courtesy AMMI, Italian Association for Mechanical Music)
According to Angelo Barbieri, his organ model “Super O” was probably the largest organ ever installed in Europe. The other organ models of the time, of which we know, which could compete in size with the “Super O” are: Figure 29. The two consoles of “Super O” model of “Barbieri Perfect Unit Organs”, taken from the catalog of pipe organs of “Barbieri Organs (Great Britain) Limited” company (courtesy AMMI, Italian Association for Mechanical Music).
As can be seen from Figure 30, “Specification of the Barbieri Double Grand Organ as installed at the new Odeon Cinema, Milan” (it’s the model “Super O”), it was a five manuals, 32 ranks, and 21 effects organ. It is operated on five manuals and one 88-note piano keyboard on two consoles, which enable the piano to be played separately or in conjunction with the organ at the wish of
1. Wurlitzer pipe organ installed in 1930 for the grand opening of the 3,500-seater Trocadero cinema, at the Elephant and Castle, London, the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ ever installed in an European cinema. It was four manuals on one console, 21 ranks. 2. Compton pipe organ installed in 1937 at 2,116-seater Odeon cinema, Leicester Square, London. It was five manuals on one console, 17 ranks. The following table highlights better the different technical characteristics between the Barbieri “Super O” and these other two huge organ models (Table 1).
AMICA Bulletin - Nov/Dec 2013