The Knicker carillon -- Main Building, University of Texas, Austin TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 30° 17.143 W 097° 44.365
14R E 621235 N 3351118
Quick Description: The Knicker Carillon at the University of Texas serenades students and faculty sevreal times a week with beautiful music, and, of course, The Eyes of Texas
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 2/20/2014 7:54:31 AM
Waymark Code: WMK6ME
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 3

Long Description:
The Knicker carillon is the largest carillon in the state of Texas. It is therefore appropriate that it should be located at the state's flagship university, one of the best school in the country, the University of Texas.

Mama Blaster is a proud graduate of the University of Texas - can you tell? HOOK 'EM HORNS!!!

As you go up the steps to the south entrance to the Main building (also known as the UT Tower) where the carillon is located, a large bronze plaque tells you about the carillon at the top of the UT Tower. It reads as follows:

"The Knicker Carillon

In memory of
Hedwig Thusnelda Knicker

The carillon in the Tower of the Main Building consists of fifty-six bells ranging four and one-half octaves, from a low of A# weighing 7,385 pounds to a high of G weighing 20 pounds. The original seventeen bells were installed upon completion of the building in 1936, the Centennial of the State of Texas. The remaining thirty nine bells are the generous bequest of the late Hedwig T. Knicker, (B.A. 1916, M.A. 1917), and were cast in 1986, the State’s Sesquicentennial. One of the University’s first female graduates in Geology, Miss Knicker was a pioneer in the field of Micropaleontology and a long-time practitioner of her profession, serving the petroleum industry in Texas, the southwest, and South America. She gained international recognition for her work and was honored by her peers in 1955 for her contributions to geological science. Her love for the University knew no bounds.

“Ring out the old; ring in the new;
Ring out the false, ring in the true”

From the University's website:

"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 experience.

Playing the Carillon: Tom Anderson

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 carillon.

After the observation deck was closed in the early 1970’s, a police officer escorted Tom to the carillon room each time he played. In 1972, an electronic keyboard and speakers were installed in the practice room so Tom could hear the bells, and play without even going to the top of the Tower. When Tom played the electronic keyboard, the new set of outside clappers struck the outside of the bells. The outside clappers did not change the tone of the bells; however, playing the carillon with an electronic keyboard does not allow direct contact with the bells. The carillonneur cannot utilize the dynamics that can be applied when playing the bells directly. In 1987, a new console with pedals was installed and Tom can now again play at the top of the Tower.

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.

Tom plays the carillon with his hands and feet. Each handle and foot pedal pulls a cable that is attached to the clapper inside each bell. Occasionally, Tom plays duets on Friday with Chris Humphrey, which adds to the number of bells that can be played.


A carillon is a set of at least 23 fixed, chromatically tuned bells sounded by clappers controlled by a keyboard and foot pedals. The bells that chimed in the Old Main Building's tower are now displayed in front of the Performing Arts Center and are known as the Burleson Bells. The bells are named for Albert S. Burleson, Postmaster General and 1884 UT Law School graduate, who donated them to The University in 1929. After the razing of Old Main, the bells stayed in storage until the 1983 centennial celebration.

The design of the new Main Building’s 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.

Shortly after the carillon’s 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."

The current carillonneur is Thomas W. Anderson. Tom first played the carillon from 1952 until 1956, while a graduate student in music. His brother, David Anderson, preceded him, playing from 1950 until 1952. Former carillonneurs, Charles Hunter (1956-57), Proctor Crow Jr. (1957-59), James Moeser (1959-1961), Gordon King (1961-1963), and Lee Kohlenberg, Jr. (1963-1965), carved their names into the wall of the room where the carillon is played. There was no carillonneur from 1965 until 1967, when U. T. President Harry H. Ransom suggested that Tom Anderson start playing the carillon again.

He’s been playing it ever since."
2701 MAI
Main Building, 27th Floor, University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

Who controls the carillon?: The University of Texas at Austin

Number of bells: 56

Schedule of regular public performances:
12:50 PM Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays

Year of construction: 1/1/1936

Structure: At the top of the UT Tower, the Main Building

Location web page: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
An original photograph of the carillon is required. One of you and your crew doing your very best imitation of Quasimodo and/or Esmeralda will be most appreciated.
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