Boston, Massachusetts, late 1940s; St.-Hyacinthe, Québec, 1958-71; Erie, Pennsylvania, 1970s.
Lawrence Phelps was born May 10, 1923 in Somerville, Massachusettes. He married organist Gillian Weir in August of 1972. He died February 22, 1999, in Boston Massachusetts. Phelps studied conducting and performance at the New England Conservatory of Music, and engineering at Northeastern University.
Phelps served an apprenticeship with Aeolian-Skinner in Boston, where he trained as a voicer and tonal finisher; he worked briefly with the Holtkamp Organ Company, Cleaveland Ohio; before returning to Boston to design the Aeolian-Skinner organ for the extension of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and to supervise its installation in 1951. He was appointed consultant by Casvant Frères Limitée, and became Casavant's Artistic Director and eventually its President 1958-1972. After leaving Casavant, he established his own company, Lawrence Phelps & Associates, in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1973. The firm was housed in the factory which had belonged to the Tellers Organ Co., and several former Tellers' staff members stayed on with the new firm.
Phelps experimented electronic sound production; he was with Allen Organ Company as Director of the Custom Organ department. He moved back to Boston to supervise refurbishment of the organ in the extension of The Mother Church, Christ Scientist.
He wrote extensively, and lectured on various topics related to his vision of musically excellent instruments. He was awarded an Honorary D. Litt. by Colorado State University in 1993. His archives is held at CSU, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Source: Obituary at Lawrence Phelps and Associates
The following notes are from previous versions of this entry; they have been superseded by the note above, which contains new information or corrects errors or inaccuracies.
Note from the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va., Organ Historical Society, 1991). Edited for the revised OHS Online Database website, 2017. —
With Aeolian-Skinner late 1940s, Casavant 1958-1971. Owned his own firm, 1970s.
There are no entries in the database that describe organs by Lawrence Irving Phelps.
We are always interested in adding to our information about builders and correcting any errors that our Database may contain. If you can provide us with corrections or additions to the information presented here, please click the Update button and use the online form to send us details.
Your cooperation and support are greatly appreciated.
This page was opened in a secondary window or tab. To return to the list of builders, simply close this tab.
Some of our entries are names that might never appear on a nameplate or nameboard.
On the other hand, there are both individuals and firms who are responsible for conserving historic organs through location, or preserving the usefulness of pipe organs through rebuilding or making modifications to existing instruments. In these cases, we are proud to acknowledge their contributions to the ongoing artistic tradition of the pipe organ in America through individual entries in our online database.