Filomela Italian
Philomela Greek

These names mean �nightingale�, from the woman of ancient Greek myth who was transformed into a nightingale. They have been used for a number of very different stops. Audsley says:

In the first place, it has been applied, appropriately, to a small-scaled wood stop voiced to yield an extremely refined and soft flute-like tone, suggestive of the voice of the Nightingale. Clarke, in his �Structure of the Pipe Organ�, describes the Philomela, 8 ft. as a flute-toned stop formed of �Small scale stopped wood pipes, voiced with the sweetest and most delicate quality.�
In the second place ... the name is given to wood stops of large scale and powerful intonation. The Philomela, 8 ft., in the unexpressive Solo of the Organ in the Cincinnati Music Hall, built by Hook & Hastings in 1878, is thus described by the builders: �Open pipe of wood, having two mouths. Tone full, rich and mellow.� This stop speaks on wind of ten inches pressures. As a large-scaled, open, double-mouthed stop, the Philomela has been styled a wood Stentorphone.

Wedgwood and Maclean corroborate the second description, as does Sumner, who adds an alternate definition: �a sweet-toned flue stop of small scale and high pitch�. Irwin description is also consistent with the others:

An open wooden Flute of 8' on the manuals, always voiced with a clear, penetrating and particularly bright tone, but not necessarily a loud tone. It is never string-like in timbre. Occasionally this stop is formed as an open Doppelflöte. It can also be an inverted-pyramidal shape (square or rectangular in cross-section) with either inverted or beveled lips. Metal Philomelas are also heard.

Skinner, however, provides a rather different definition: �An extension of the Pedal 16' Open Diapason used as a manual stop at 8' pitch. Now obsolete.� Given the other descriptions of this stop, one may surmise that Skinner must have based his definition on a very small sample of actual examples.


Philomela 8', Solo; Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA; Hook 1864. (This is the earliest known example.)

Philomela 16', Great; First United Methodist Church, Middletown, Ohio, USA; Moller 1916 (removed 1974).

Philomela 2', Kronwerk; Luitpoldhalle, Nurnberg, Germany; Walcker 1936 (destroyed). (This is the only known high-pitched example.)

Philomela 8', Choir; Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA; Midmer-Losh. (This is probably one of the examples known to Irwin.)

Philomela 8', Fernwerk; Elisabethkirche, Bonn, Germany; Klais 1911/90.


Audsley[1]: Philomela. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Philomela; II.XXXIV Doppelflöte. Irwin[1]: Philomela. Maclean[1]: Maclean. Skinner[1]: XII Philomela. Sumner[1]: Philomela. Wedgwood[1]: Philomela.
Original website compiled by Edward L. Stauff. For educational use only.
Philomela.html - Last updated 28 June 2004.
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