The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1901

Builder Identification

New York City, New York, ca. 1813-1861.

Additional Notes

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

    Peter Erben was born c.1770; he was the father of Henry Erben. He was active in New York City, New York, by 1817 (1813?). Peter Erben died April 30, 1861, in New York City.


    • Stephen Pinel.

  • From the OHS Database Builders Listing Editor, October 13, 2015. -

    Peter was a church musician, serving as organist in several New York City churches, and ending his career at the prestigious Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, where in 1846, his son Henry was to install perhaps his most famous instrument.

    Peter Erben's experience as an organ builder seems to have been limited to a single instrument, the 1813 John Lowe organ at St. John-s Episcopal Chapel in New York. This was also the young Henry Erben's first experience in organ building. It occured during the war of 1812: The British had blockaded the harbor, but an effort was made to ship the organ anyway using a fast sloop. The sloop was unable to run the blockade, it was captured and the organ impounded. After negotiations, the organ was ransomed for 2000 Spanish dollars.

    "Meanwhile, John Lowe rushed to New York [from Philadelphia] by stagecoach, but the December journey was damp and cold; he contracted pneumonia en route and died in New York on December 13, four days after arriving." His apprentice Thomas Hall erected the organ in the church, with the help of Peter Erben and Peter-s 13-year-old son Henry. Following the completion of the instrument, Hall returned to Philadelphia where he took over Lowe-s business.


    • Robert C. Delvin, "A Tale of Two Organs: Henry Erben and Apalachicola, Florida" (2000). Scholarly Publications. Paper 3. Accessed October 13, 2015

Database Entries

There is one entry in the database that describes an organ by Peter Erben.

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