A Wonder Morton 4/23 for Hauptwerk in Wet and Dry versions

The Robert Morton Organ Company was a producer of theater pipe organs and church organs, located in Van Nuys, California. Robert Morton was the number two volume producer of theatre organs, building approximately half as many organs as the industry leader Wurlitzer. The name Robert Morton was derived not from any person in the company, but rather from the name of company president Harold J. Werner's son, Robert Morton Werner (thanks Wikipedia for this information!).

The Robert Morton company had its origins in the Murray Harris Organ Company of Los Angeles. The company passed through various owners, business names and locations between Murray Harris and Robert Morton, including the Los Angeles Art Organ Company, the Johnston Organ Company, and the California Organ Company. Despite all the corporate change and upheaval, the output in terms of high quality and tonal character was remarkably consistent. Several Robert Morton key personnel were veteran organ builders who had served as apprentices with major English organ building firms. Tonally, Robert Morton organs had a reputation for being powerful, while at the same time refined and "symphonic" in character.

Five Wonder Morton consoles were built for the "Wonder Theaters". These theaters were the top of the line in terms of looks and functionality, and hosted a 4 manual 23 rank Robert Morton Theatre organ. In producing this sample set we have kept this specification as our base, and so hope to present an authentic re-creation of the sound of these wonders.

Also see the websites of some of the surviving Wonder Mortons:

The majority of the samples used for this set come from the Robert Morton Opus 2401 that now graces the home of David Billmire, a beautiful 3/17 instrument. David was kind enough to make sample recordings of his theatre pipe organ and make those recordings available to me in order to create a VTPO version.  The samples were recorded in 16-bit 48khz Stereo, and uses recorded tremulant samples. The organ samples are quite dry and will benefit from added reverb.  You can play a virtual reproduction of David's Robert Morton Opus 2401 by ordering the Robert Morton Opus 2401 Series for HauptwerkA couple of ranks used in the Wonder Morton come from another Robert Morton organ (the owner wishes to remain anonymous).

The hours and hours of work that go into something of this size mean that the Wonder Morton 4/23 sample set for Hauptwerk is released as a commercial sample set. The samples have been encrypted, and will work with any edition of Hauptwerk. We recommend that you purchase the Advanced Edition of Hauptwerk for this sample set. The Wonder Morton 4/23 Wet download version is US$249.00, the Wonder Morton 4/23 Dry download version is US$199.00. Add US$50 to that for the DVD version. A Wet + Dry special deal is available for download at US$399.

Thanks go to Tom Hoehn for the use of his photos (with his permission) to create the console view, to Olivia Nagioff - for her programming work on the Left/Right screens, the crescendo, and the final incorporation of the combinations, and to Misha Stefanuk - for creating the base combinations that were then tweaked a bit, and for providing the demo MIDI file for this release.  Thanks also to the Alpha and Beta testers, for your feedback and comments that have improved the final product!

The semi-dry version benefits from adding external reverb. See the following links for some ideas on how to add reverb to your Hauptwerk system:

Images: Click on the image to load the full size
Stops View:
Left View:
Right View:
Right View
Crescendo View:
Crescendo View

Sound Demos:

Wet Version

Les Deutsch's arrangement of The Peanut Vendor, a Cuban son-pregón composed by Moisés Simons. Les lodges a pencil under a high key on the top manual to represent the peanut cart’s whistle in the style of the silent theater organists. This piece was a favorite at that time because of this gimmick.

Stephen Ades brings us his rendition of La Mer. Not to be confused with the work by Debussy, La Mer was a hit in the 1940s for French singer/songwriter Charles Trenet. One of those bitter sweet wistful French melodies.

Ray Carnovale gives us a great demonstration of the Wonder Morton 4/23 Wet by having fun with Santa Clause is coming to town in the style of George Wright! It's a classic :) Written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, it was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934.

And the all time classic A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, also played by Stephen Ades. This is a romantic British popular song written in 1939 with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin.

Dry Version

Iain McGlinchey plays "March from King Kong!" In Iain's words "I last played a big Morton at the Saenger New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina damaged the organ. This set really does have the feel of the real thing. I've only had it a few days and it was crying out for the full Clark Wilson at The Ohio treatment - so here is the March from the 1934 RKO movie King Kong, written by the master of the genre - Max Steiner". Iain adds reverb on his mac.

Kiss by Kiss (I'm Falling in Love With You), by Vincent Rose / Ray Klages / Jack Meskill. Played by Don Springer. You can hear him having fun at the console with this excellent performance.

Everything's Coming Up Roses, from Gypsy, performed live by Misha Stefanuk. This recording is straight out of Hauptwerk with no added reverb. 

ABBA - I Have a Dream, performed live by Stephen Ades. Stephen has added reverb using Reaper.

Tango - Misha Stefanuk showing what the Wonder Morton can do! This recording is straight out of Hauptwerk with no added reverb.

ABBA - Dancing Queen, performed live by Stephen Ades.  Stephen has added reverb using Reaper.

Advanced Options:
If you are running a MIDI console, or have some spare MIDI controllers that you can use with your VTPO, there are some extra hidden Stops that have been added to the Wonder Morton 4/23. You will find the list of Xtra Stops in the Organ menu.