In 1940, the Ruffatti brothers of Padua, Italy set out to create the world’s finest organs. They constructed every possible component by hand, including the pipes and the woodworking. One of their organs resides on the BYU-Idaho campus.
2023 marks the 40th birthday of the Keith Martindale Stefan Memorial Organ. It was dedicated Nov. 6, 1983 by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Perry declared that the organ would be “played to increase our talents as sons and daughters of God.”
Every Ruffatti organ is custom-made for the building in which it sits. Fratelli Ruffatti undergoes a lengthy consultation process with each customer to ensure the instrument meets every need.
“We custom design Ruffatti pipe organs to the specific needs of each situation,” said Piero Ruffatti, one of the owners of the company. “A careful evaluation of the building, from architectural and acoustical standpoints, and sharing of information and opinions with our prospective customers are the starting point for a comprehensive study of a new instrument.”
While the cost of BYU-I’s Ruffatti organ is not disclosed, some of the company’s instruments have gone for as much as $3 million. This particular organ features 68 ranks, 3,821 pipes, seven divisions, four manuals, 46 stops and 125 registers.
The cost of the Eliza R. Snow Performing Arts Center, the building in which the organ resides, went over budget in 1980. The school didn’t have the money to pay for the instrument.
Dr. Darwin Wolford, the director of organ studies at Ricks College in 1980, and his wife, Julie, are credited with raising the funds to build the Ruffatti organ.
A large portion of the funding came from George and Lilas Stefan. Their son, Keith, a promising young musician, died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1977. The organ was named after Keith Stefan.
Today, students studying music at BYU-I — specifically the organ emphasis — use the Keith Martindale Stefan Memorial Organ and other organs on campus for required performances. David Djambov is one of those students. Djambov demonstrated the BYU-I Ruffatti organ for Scroll, as seen in a video on the Scroll Instagram page.