Virgil Fox's Original Black Beauty

New report posted August 22, 2007

Black Beauty is fine, alive, and well, I just saw her last week. The Black Beauty is now owned by a private individual that has a very extensive collection of keyboard instruments, including at least a dozen harpsichords, clavichords, fortepianos, several Mason and Hamlin Grand Pianos including a concert grand, reed organs, and a tracker pipe organ. And Black Beauty. I delivered and installed Black Beauty for him at his mountaintop retreat in Palomar Mountain, San Diego County.

BB is the HEAVIEST dang organ I've very moved, and I've moved some big ones! Rodgers really built her like a battleship. The owner is currently beginning a refurbishment program of Black Beauty with the goal of making a "Black Beauty Revisited" recording in the near future.

report from information provided by:
Robert Knight - Organ Builder San Diego CA

Photographs & Comments by Harry Littman.

The first is an early photo of Beauty with the original red carpet on the platform.
It was later replaced by Rodgers with a very nice grey which is how she came to me. Note that the music rack has been removed. This was a Fox trade mark. He never used music and insisted the rank was removed at all performances. It was easily accomplished. The wiring for the music rack lamp was part of the hinge mechanism. No wires hanging out and connections to worry about.

These 2 pictures are from a Fox performance in Great Bend, Kansas, May 1973. Note the hanky, no music rack and red carpet.

Here are two more pictures of Beauty at my home. The first is a day I will never forget. I am the assistant organist and GROOM. My wife to be is watching me. This is August, 1984. The second picture is organist, Mark Adams who was also the best man. Mark studied with Virgil and attended master classes at Virgil's home. He can be heard playing the Widor toccata with Virgil yelling and playing the piano at the same time. These tapes are available for listening at the Virgil Fox legacy site. Mark substituted many of Virgil's scheduled programs at the end of 1980 and early 1981 on the Allen. (Virgil died October 25, 1980.)

In 1992 my wife and I decided to move. I tried to loan/donate Beauty to the Denver Symphony Orchestra; they declined "organ music is not on our agenda....." I was able to loan it to a Catholic Seminary with a really beautiful chapel. The organ was moved... a few recitals played and everyone was happy.... In 1994 the Vatican decided to close down the Seminary. (Reorganize financially) I was given 60 days notice for removal. I had no choice but to put out a mailer to churches throughout the country and ads in the mags. In any event, I sold the organ to a church in San Diego. What has happened since escapes me. I have never heard a word.

The comments on this page are by Harry Littman.

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