The Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, built in 1912 by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut, was given to the City of Portland, Maine, by Cyrus H. K. Curtis, a publishing magnate. When it was installed in Portland City Hall Auditorium in 1912, it was the second largest organ in the world.
In 1908, an idea came about to include a grand organ in the City Hall Auditorium like the instrument in the Sidney, Australia, town hall. When the dream was realized, the organ was installed and named in the memory of Hermann Kotzschmar, an extraordinary musician who generated several musical contributions. He was a native German who was lured to Portland in mid-1849 by Cyrus Libby Curtis, the father of Cyrus H. K. Curtis.
Since 1912, the organ has been housed in Merrill Auditorium, formerly known as City Hall Auditorium. Will Macfarlane was the first organist to perform on the instrument.
Nine outstanding organists followed Macfarlane, the last being Ray Cornils, appointed in 1990. Thousands of people were attracted weekly to enjoy free concerts.
Silent movie nights on Halloween and Valentine's Day; Christmas with Cornils, Johann Sebastian Bach's Birthday Bash in March; and a major concert by a world-renowned organist from the World's Great Cathedral Series, are some of the concerts hosted by the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, Inc. (F.O.K.O.).
The summer concert series begin in mid-June and include a Tuesday Classics Series and a Thursday Pops Series.
Presently, the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ boasts 102 ranks, 6,862 pipes in eight divisions: Swell, Great, Solo, Orchestral, Antiphonal, Echo, Pedal and Percussion. The FOKO is the caretaker of the memorial organ.