Immense stalacpipe organ plays out haunting Beethoven ‘Moonlight’ Sonata in a dark cave

23 September 2021, 13:37 | Updated: 27 September 2021, 15:20

In a dark cave, the Great Stalacpipe Organ plays haunting Moonlight Sonata
In a dark cave, the Great Stalacpipe Organ plays haunting Moonlight Sonata. Picture: Alamy

By Sian Moore

This electrically supported lithophone can be found in the depths of the Luray Caverns in Virginia, and its sound will give you chills.

In a shadowy, otherworldly cavern in Virginia, United States, the Great Stalacpipe Organ echoes.

This curious contraption is actually a lithophone: an instrument whose sound is produced by pieces of rock being struck together.

With the help of electricity, a custom console is used to tap the Luray Caverns’ hanging stalactites with rubber mallets.

Listen as Beethoven’s gentle ‘Moonlight’ Sonata is played on the organ, and the haunting melody rings through the depths of Virginia...

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The Great Stalacpipe Organ was designed and installed in 1956 by organist Leland W. Sprinkle.

But why did he chose the caverns of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia for his instrument?

Apparently, Sprinkle was inspired after watching a tour guide tap the stone formations to produce musical tones.

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The Great Stalacpipe Organ was designed and installed in 1956, by organist Leland W. Sprinkle.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ was designed and installed in 1956, by organist Leland W. Sprinkle. Picture: Alamy

The project took a lengthy three years, as selecting the perfect stalactites and altering each one to produce the ideal tone was a rigorous process.

These days, the tremendous organ is most often played through an automated system, similar to a child’s music box.

But, it can certainly still be played manually... *books a flight to Virginia*