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On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:50 p.m.,
UT students, faculty, staff, and visitors are treated to the
sounds of beautiful music that floats from the top of the Tower
to the farthest reaches of campus. Every 15 minutes, they also
hear the pealing of the bells, and on the hour, the largest bell,
reminding them to scurry to class, return to work, or signaling
the end of the day. The Tower carillon is not only a part of the
UT tradition but also part of the UT community's everyday
Three times a week,
Tom Anderson prepares for his "concerts" in a practice
room in the Main Building. The room is the size of a
closet and contains a duplicate of the console located at
the top of the Tower. The duplicate is connected to tone
bars similar to a xylophone, rather than bells, but it
gives Tom an idea of how songs will sound on the real
After practice, Tom
takes the Tower elevator to the 27th floor. He then makes his
way through several locked doors and up 55 narrow steps
that wind inside the Tower and behind the massive clock
face. Tom plays the carillon in room 3002, but to
actually see the bells, he must continue up a ladder and
climb through a trapdoor.
The design of the new Main Buildings
belfry allowed for thirty-nine bells, but the university could
only afford to buy 16; Lutcher Stark, a member of the Board of
Regents, donated the 17th bell. However, UT still did not have a
full carillon, which posed a problem for carillonneurs. Not
having all the notes available limited the number of songs the
carillonneurs were able to play.
In 1985, Ms. Hedwig Thusnelda Kniker bequeathed money to buy 22
more bells for the carillon as well as the console and
installation. However, the C# and B bells would not fit in the
elevators. As a result, The University decided to put additional
bells in the upper register, acquiring 39 instead of 22. The
Kniker Carillon is 56 bells, making it the largest in Texas.
Tom Anderson at the carillon
console. Inset- Ms. Kniker
Installation of the new bells in
Shortly after the carillons original
instillation in 1936, Jane Yantis, a high school student and
daughter of H. C. Yantis, building contractor for the Tower,
played the first song on the carillon. Appropriately, the bells
rang out "The Eyes of Texas."
Hes been playing it ever since.