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Music Suits the Season On University Tower Chimes

From now until Thanksgiving, University students will hear Thanksgiving hymns mixed with other songs during the regular Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12:50 to 1:00 p.m. carillon concert.

Tom Anderson, carilloneur (bell ringer) extraordinary, tries to make the music suit the occasion whether it’s "The Marine’s Hymn" for Marine Corps birthday or "Old Black Joe" for Stalin’s funeral.

Tom started his University career in 1939 as an engineer, then switched to sacred music as a major. The war interrupted his education. He returned to the University in 1950 and started playing the carillon bells when his brother David left in the summer of 1951.

Tom has to transpose from one-third to one-half of his music, depending on what key it is written in. He selects his own program, except for an occasional request. One of his programs for special occasions caused quite a stir in several parts of the country. Tom played a special program at the time of Stalin’s death, consisting of Chopin’s "Funeral March," and "The Volga Boatman," "Old Black Joe," and "Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground."

The story of his unique program was printed in papers all over the country. Many people reading the story and not sensing Tom’s humor, wrote letters to state officials demanding an investigation of a university that is so pro-communist that it publicly mourned Stalin’s death.

The carillon bells were installed in November, 1935, before the Tower was completed. The 40,000-pound, $40,000 bells are arranged in three tiers in the section of the Tower enclosed by columns. The room containing the keyboard of the seventeen bells is located at the base of the columns on the northwest corner of the Tower. The organ-like keyboard is made up of seventeen wooden pegs and ten pedals. Five of the bells are equipped with extra outside clappers that are electronically controlled and strike the quarter hour. The hour peal is the famous Westminster peal, copied from the chimes in Westminster Abbey.

Daily Texan. November 18, 1953.
Article by: Unknown.

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3 May 1999
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