The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1375

Builder Identification

B. 1886 Belgium; Oswego, New York, 1905-1914; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1927-1929; South Beach, Connecticut, 1930-1931; St. Louis, Missouri, 1931; New York City, 1943-1970.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991). —

    Born in Antwerp, Belgium, 1886; organ recitalist; with St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church of Oswego, New York, 1905-1914; with theater in Buffalo, New York, 1914; built practice organ, 1915; with Wanamaker shop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1927-1929, superintendent; with Welte-Tripp Organ Corp. of South Beach, Connecticut, 1930, vice president, in charge of factory by 1931; to Kilgen firm of St. Louis, Missouri, April 1931, vice president; died 1973.

    Sources:

    • The Diapason November 1914, 11.
    • The Diapason September 1915, 13.
    • The Diapason January 1922, 7.
    • The Diapason January 1930, 17.
    • The Diapason June 1931, 28.
    • The Diapason November 1932, 1.
    • The American Organist September 1988, 61.
    • The American Organist October 1988, 64.
    • The American Organist November 1988, 63.

  • See also:
    Wanamaker Organ Shop
    Welte-Tripp Organ Corp
    Geo. Kilgen & Son, Inc.

     

  • From Organ Database Builders editor Charles Eberline, December 8, 2019. —

    Charles Marie Courboin was born on April 2, 1884 (or possibly 1886), in Antwerp, Belgium.1 He studied with Alphonse Mailly at the Brussels Conservatory and in 1902 succeeded Mailly as organist of Brussels Cathedral. In 1904 he immigrated to the United States, where, on the recommendation of Alexandre Guilmant, he became organist of St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Oswego, New York, succeeding another Belgian-American organist, Auguste Wiegand, who had assumed the position in 1902 but had died suddenly in 1904. In 1915 Courboin moved to the First Baptist Church in Syracuse, New York, where he remained for seven years. In 1917–18 he also served as municipal organist in Springfield, Massachusetts.2 On March 27, 1919, Courboin made his first appearance at the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia, in an organ-and-orchestra concert with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra organized by Alexander Russell, music director of the Wanamaker Stores. Courboin played several works for organ solo, but the major work on the concert was the American premiere of an arrangement for organ and orchestra of Charles-Marie Widor’s Organ Symphony no. 6.3 In the early 1920s Courboin was involved in the rebuilding of the organ in the New York City Wanamaker store, and from the fall of 1924 he played a role in the enlargement of the Philadelphia Wanamaker Organ. In 1926 Rodman Wanamaker put Courboin in charge of the Wanamaker Shop, a position he held until his resignation in 1929.4 In the early 1930s he was associated with the Welte-Tripp Organ Company, and in October 1932 he became vice president in charge of tonal design of the Kilgen Organ Company. In September 1935 he began a weekly Sunday-morning coast-to-coast radio broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System, playing the Skinner organ at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. After the program was picked up by NBC in November 1940, he played the Skinner organ in NBC’s Radio City studio.5 In 1942 he was appointed head of the organ department of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and in 1943 he became organist and music director at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, succeeding Pietro Yon and holding that post until 1970. He died in New York City on April 13, 1973.6


    1. The year date is 1884 in Vernon Gotwals and Charles Krigbaum, “Courboin, Charles (Marie),” in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed., edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 2:449, and “Dr Charles Marie Courboin,” Find a Grave, accessed November 24, 2019, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36914918/charles-marie-courboin, but 1886 in Rollin Smith, The Aeolian Pipe Organ and Its Music, 2nd ed. (Villanova, Pa.: OHS Press, 2018), 196. Ray Biswanger, Music in the Marketplace: The Story of Philadelphia’s Historic Wanamaker Organ, from John Wanamaker to Lord & Taylor (Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, 1989), 266n11, stated, “Some sources give Courboin’s birth year as 1884; 1886 is the year on his tombstone,” but the statement “At 18 he became organist of Antwerp Cathedral (1902)” on page 78 implies the 1884 birth year. There is no photograph of the tombstone at the Find a Grave website. A search for first name “Charles” and last name “Courboin” at censusrecords.com, accessed November 24, 2019, https://www.censusrecords.com/search?firstname=charles&lastname=courboin, yielded four results: 1910 census: Charles M Courboin, birth year 1884, age 26, New York, Oswego County, Oswego Ward 6; 1920 census: Charles M Courboin, birth year 1884, age 36, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County (no city); 1930 census: M Charles Courboin, birth year 1884, age 46, Connecticut, Fairfield County, Greenwich; 1940 census: birth year 1885, age 55, New York, New York (county), New York City, Manhattan.
    2. Biswanger, Music in the Marketplace, 78, 266n13; Smith, Aeolian Pipe Organ and Its Music, 196 (Smith stated that Courboin was appointed municipal organist of Springfield in 1919 and held the post for two years).
    3. Biswanger, Music in the Marketplace, 85–88; Smith, Aeolian Pipe Organ and Its Music, 196–97.
    4. Biswanger, Music in the Marketplace, 85–88, 96, 98, 115, 135–36, 140, 142–45, 148–50, 153, 169, 171–80, 185–86, 189.
    5. Smith, Aeolian Pipe Organ and Its Music, 197.
    6. Biswanger, Music in the Marketplace, 212–13; Gotwals and Krigbaum, “Courboin, Charles (Marie),” 2:449; Smith, Aeolian Pipe Organ and Its Music, 197–98. Biswanger (212) stated that he occupied the post at St. Patrick’s until his death; according to Smith (198), he held the post “almost until his death.” Gotwals and Krigbaum, “Courboin, Charles (Marie),” 2:449, however, stated that “he served until 1970,” and at “The Cathedral Organs,” St. Patrick’s Cathedral, accessed November 24, 2019, https://www.saintpatrickscathedral.org/the-organs-of-st-patricks-cathedral, he is said to have been “Director of Music (1943–1970)” and to have been succeeded by John Grady, “Director of Music & Organist (1970-1990).” A more detailed biography remains a desideratum.

    Sources:
    • Ray Biswanger, Music in the Marketplace: The Story of Philadelphia’s Historic Wanamaker Organ, from John Wanamaker to Lord & Taylor (Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, 1989).
    • “The Cathedral Organs,” St. Patrick’s Cathedral, accessed November 24, 2019, https://www.saintpatrickscathedral.org/the-organs-of-st-patricks-cathedral.
    • “Dr Charles Marie Courboin,” Find a Grave, accessed November 24, 2019, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36914918/charles-marie-courboin.
    • Vernon Gotwals and Charles Krigbaum, “Courboin, Charles (Marie),” in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed., edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 2:449.
    • Rollin Smith, The Aeolian Pipe Organ and Its Music, 2nd ed. (Villanova, Pa.: OHS Press, 2018), 196–99.

Database Entries

There are no entries in the database that describe organs by Charles M. Courboin.


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