Charles Krigbaum

March 31, 1929 ~ April 30, 2020 (age 91)



Charles Russell Krigbaum, age 91, of Beverly, Massachusetts passed away peacefully from covid-19 on April 30, 2020. Charles was born on March 31, 1929 in Seattle, Washington to Clarence Russell Krigbaum and Louise Sanders Krigbaum. He and his younger sister Carolyn Krigbaum (deceased in 2016) grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. Charles was a prodigious student of piano and organ, which would encompass his professional career.


Charles attended Princeton University and received his Bachelor’s (1950) and Master’s (1952) degrees in music, where he studied organ and conducting with Carl Weinrich. During college, he served in the Naval ROTC and after graduate school, enlisted in the Naval Air for three years. He married Virginia Lee Crist in 1955 (later divorced), and earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study organ with Helmut Walcha in Frankfurt, Germany.


In 1958, Charles joined the faculty of Yale University’s School of Music and became fifth University Organist in 1965, where he held that position for 25 years. In 1995, Charles retired and continued to perform and served as Organist and Choirmaster at Watch Hill Chapel in Rhode Island. 


Charles was a consummate performer and teacher, who was gracious and kind to colleagues and dedicated to his graduate students.  He is best known for his recordings of Bach, Widor, and Messiaen. During his tenure at Yale, he was a champion of quality organs and organ builders. In 2007, Charles was honored with the unveiling of a Taylor & Boody organ (Opus 55) in his name, installed in Marquand Chapel at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music.


Charles loved to hike and was a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s “Four Thousand Footer Club.” He also had an insatiable curiosity for learning about different cultures, having travelled to six continents in his lifetime. He is survived by his children, Ruth (Herb) Rich, and Mary Krigbaum of Beverly, Massachusetts and John Krigbaum (Denise), of Gainesville, Florida. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Sam Rich of Brooklyn, New York, and Ben Rich, of Boston, Massachusetts, Jennie Krigbaum of Beverly, and Clara Krigbaum, of Gainesville, Florida.



An online service for friends and family will take place on May 20th at 4:00 EDT. For information please email


In his memory, donations can be made to the Charles Krigbaum Memorial Organ Fund at, or to the Appalachian Mountain Club at


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