[ This article by Gerry Bay includes much material from Ron Bopp which
[ will appear soon in the MBSI Bulletin. Thanks to Gerry and Ron for
[ the report. When I get my photos scanned I hope to place a
[ complementary photo page at the MMD web site. -- Robbie
When I heard that Ron and Mary Jo Bopp were organizing a "Bumbling
Bruder" tour of Holland, Germany and Switzerland to attend two organ
festivals and to visit numerous mechanical music museums and private
collections, I couldn't wait to join in the fun. The idea of seeing as
many fairground organs (and other related instruments) as possible
during the day and partying at night proved irresistible.
The highlights of the trip were to be the Dutch Street Organ Festival
in Arnhem, Netherlands and the celebration of the 200th anniversary of
organ building in Waldkirch, Germany, the site of the Bruder and Ruth
fairground organ manufacturers as well as the Gebr. Weber firm, maker
of cafe pianos and orchestrions. Also, some Limonaire and Gavioli
organs were made in the Waldkirch branch of those companies.
Dr. Hans van Oost, Secretary of the Kring van Draaiorgelvrienden (KDV),
the Dutch Street Organ Society, helped with arrangements in Arnhem, and
Wolfgang Brommer, of the Jaeger and Brommer organ building firm, hosted
us in Waldkirch.
On June 4, 1999, 44 band and fairground organ enthusiasts arrived at
Kennedy airport for the trip to Amsterdam. It didn't take long for
the trip to live up to its name as we bumbled into the air, flew nearly
half way across the Atlantic and then headed back to Kennedy when the
pilot detected a slight amount of smoke in our plane. We had trouble
getting out the next night as well and some of our group could only
get to Amsterdam via Paris. Once in Arnhem on Sunday, June 6th, we
were transported to the Openluchtmuseum (a Dutch historical village
displayed as an "open-air museum") where an extensive array of Dutch
street organs, as well as several Ruths and Bruders, were displayed in
a park-like setting.
There were nearly 20 fairground and Dutch street organs playing,
including White's huge, 121-key Grand Gavioli that was transported
across the English Channel for this event. Another favorite was the
89-key Lange Gavioli, an 1898 Gavioli fairground organ owned by the
Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement and mounted in a trailer
for display use. My personal favorite was a hand-cranked Limonaire
that was imported by Perlee.
Monday, June 7th, we visited the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok
tot Pierement. We were guided by Dr. Jan Jaap Haspels, one of few
people worldwide having obtained a doctorate in mechanical music.
This museum was spectacular and should be a "must see" for anyone
traveling to Europe. After an introduction into the flute-playing
clocks of Holland, Dr. Haspels guided us into a room that contained
ten or more examples of fairground and Dutch street organs.
The most spectacular organ in this room, and perhaps the entire
collection, was the largest organ made by the Ruth firm, the "Double
Ruth" or Style 39. Playing 96 keys this book-operated organ is adept
at playing classical as well as popular German folk music.
Other organs encountered were the Dubble Biphone, a 90-key Carl Frei
made in 1935; the Sipkema Richter, a 79-key Gebruder Richter fairground
organ; the Golden Limonaire, a 50-key Limonaire Freres Dutch Street
Organ; the 89-key Van Deventer Wellershause; a 72-key Gebr. Wellershaus
fairground organ; a 52-key de Gasparini, circa 1910; and the Rollen-
speeler, a 52-key Gebruder Bruder fairground organ made in 1926. Most
of the Dutch street organs were hand-cranked by KDV members Jan Kees de
Ruiter and Rene Schenk.
The large dance hall contained the awesome sight of five perfectly
restored, large organs including a 105-key Carl Frei (The Schuyt)
street organ, a 101-key Mortier dance organ, a 65-key Gavioli (Aalster
Gavioli) made in 1905, an art-cased 90-key Hooghuys dance organ, and
a newly restored 1923, 65-key Carl Frei (Huyskens) street organ. The
Frei organ was the first Dutch street organ made by Carl Frei (for the
Huyskens family to be used in their dance hall).
We then traveled to Ruedesheim, Germany and visited with Siegfried
and Gretel Wendel. Siegfried's workshop is busy making new Hupfeld
Phonoliszt Violinas and Weber Maestos. Siegfried's museum, Mechan-
isches Musikkabinett, has an extensive variety of mechanical musical
instruments, distributed throughout a 15th century castle.
One room is devoted to mechanical instruments that produce the violin
sound. The room includes a Hupfeld Phonoliszt Violina, a one-of-
a-kind Hupfeld Phonoliszt Violina Orchestra, a newly-made Hupfeld
Phonoliszt Violina with six violins; the only example of a Poppers
Violinovo (piano, percussion and a single violin with one bow that
bounces back and forth between two playing strings) and, last but not
least, an unrestored Mills Violano (double).
The castle's wine cellar housed the fairground organs of the collec-
tion. The highlight of this group of organs was the 80-key Gebruder
Bruder with a rare Oriental style facade. Also present were a Style
107 Gebr. Bruder fairground organ and a 57-key Gebr. Wellershaus
fairground organ. These powerful organs were contained in very small
rooms so it was helpful to have a pair of earplugs along!
After a boat trip down the Rhine, Siegfried led the group to an
underground wine cellar where we enjoyed a wine tasting party. The
tasting seemed to loosen things up and our intrepid group bumbled into
a classic German beer hall and restaurant called Schloss. After
schlossing a few beers, we were joined in the restaurant by a group of
about 50 young Saab salesmen from Sweden, out for a retreat of some
kind. They entered single file behind a trumpet and accordion player.
Before long, the Swedes were over asking several of our ladies to dance
and this led to a line dance which wound its way around the street in
front of the restaurant. Then, our fearless leader and several members
of our tour were hauled up on the stage where they were seated in a row
and played musical cowbells with the help of one of the band members as
conductor. Edelweiss never sounded better! As the evening continued,
about six Swedes took up permanent residency at one of our tables and
the partying was terrific.
Wednesday morning (June 9th), we visited the Museum Mechanischer Musik-
Instrumente in Bruchsal, the former collection of Jan Brauers. Again
we enjoyed listening and seeing many organ-playing clocks as well as
several examples of the Gebr. Weber orchestrion works of Waldkirch
including Grandezza, Unika, Styria and Maesto models. The organ room
included examples of a 56-key Wilhelm Bruder housed in a gypsy-style
trailer, a Limonaire rebuilt Gebruder Bruder organ (work done in
Waldkirch) and the 94-key Gebr. Bruder organ with an automated military
band initially sold for use on Coney Island.
After arriving at our hotels, we were welcomed to Waldkirch and the
Orgelfest by Wolfgang Brommer and Waldkirch's Burgermeister (mayor)
Richard Liebinger. Following this festive dinner, which was
accompanied by many glasses of excellent, locally made beer, we went
to the Elztalmuseum for a private tour, conducted by Jaeger & Brommer
craftsman Michael Hiss.
The Elztalmuseum is a unique museum in that it is devoted solely to
the history of fairground organ and orchestrion building in the town
of Waldkirch. Fairground organs represented in the museum inventory
include a 52-key Gebruder Bruder (Model 107); a 52-key A. Ruth (Style
33); a Style 35 A. Ruth; a 50-key Limonaire Freres made in Waldkirch;
a large, 90-key A. Ruth barrel organ (Model 24) and a 87-key Gavioli
The museum also had a room devoted to the orchestrions made in
Waldkirch by Gebr. Weber. Displayed were a Weber Unika and one of
six (or maybe seven) extant Weber Maestos. Included also in this
orchestrion room is a fine 78-key Weber pipe "Automatic Orchestra"
which plays from a cardboard book (the only surviving cardboard-playing
Weber instrument). Having no piano this orchestrion can, at times,
sound much like a fairground organ. Housed at the top of this massive
case is a mechanical band with seven figures, each being controlled by
its own key in the music book.
Thursday, June 10th found the Bumbling Bruders heading toward Lichten-
steig, Switzerland, to visit with Fredy Kuenzel and his Mechanisches
Musikmuseum. Lichtensteig is a small town nestled in the Northern
Swiss hills and looks just like what you would picture a Swiss village
to be. Fredy's home and museum consists of a small room upstairs with
many musical boxes and other mechanical musical devices; a new, large
room in back of his home which houses large European orchestrions and a
basement full of small and large organs. Included in the orchestrion
room are a Hupfeld Helios piano orchestrion with a moving picture
scene; a Style C Hupfeld Phonoliszt Violina; a Weber Otero orchestrion;
a Popper Swanee Jazz orchestrion; and a large Imhof and Mukle barrel
The highlight of his collection is the Style 31A Helios Orchestrion.
Fredy told an incredible story about how he found it in Spain many
years ago and then chased around the world to find parts for it. His
five-year-old restoration produced an incredibly beautiful instrument
and we listened to many selections! In his basement he had a roll-
playing Style 107, 52-key Gebr. Bruder fairground organ; a Style 35
A. Ruth fairground organ and a large Decap dance organ.
We then hopped on the bus for a trip to see fairground organ enthusiast
and carnival showman, Romy Maier in Diepoldsau, Switzerland. Many of
us wondered why we traveled so far just to hear three organs. Well,
we sure weren't disappointed as we saw and heard three of the finest
organs I have ever heard. First a nice playing 52-key Gebr. Bruder
fair organ started off the concert. Then not one but two organs which
would be the best of show at any rally!
The first of these was a Style 46 A. Ruth fairground organ, all
restored and in a beautiful, highly decorative case (housed in a
well-designed trailer). Featuring counter melody clarinet pipes
instead of the usual trumpet pipes this organ had a great sound. It
was apparently a "special order" organ and is the only one existing.
Then we had a chance to see and listen to a Ruth, Style 38 fairground
organ. Playing with 96 keys this organ was spectacular. Our hosts
plied us with wine and beer and put on an incredible concert. You
haven't lived until you hear "Carmen" playing on one of these
By Friday, (June 10), some of the women were going stir crazy since our
schedule had not permitted any shopping. So they stormed Waldkirch in
the morning and probably spent the equivalent of a small band organ on
curios, gifts, etc. Then, we took a scenic drive into the Black Forest
to see the Schwarzwald-Museum in Triberg. The museum has a nice col-
lection of small bird boxes and about 25-30 barrel organs. It also
has a magnificent Heitzman barrel orchestrion. This orchestrion
reaches nearly 20 feet in height and uses a pinned wooden barrel
approximately six feet in length. Triberg is the cuckoo clock capital
of the world and more shopping was done here.
On the way back to Waldkirch we stopped and visited Roland Renner's
Kleines Mechanisches Musikmuseum, a small collection of mechanical
music housed in a railroad car. Such musical goodies as music boxes,
organettes, cafe pianos and a very nice Hupfeld Sinfonie Jazz
Orchestrion were shown. Outside was Roland's organs including a nice
Style 35 A. Ruth fairground organ, housed in a restored truck; a 1921
Style 33 Ruth fairground organ and a nice 92-key Decap dance organ
enclosed in its own special enclosure with a roll top door for protec-
tion from the elements. Beer, wine and pretzels with butter topped off
That evening we went to the Elztalmuseum where we were to attend
the opening ceremonies of the Orgelfest and the 200th anniversary of
building organs in Waldkirch. Five to six hundred people were there,
including all the dignitaries from Waldkirch, and many organ owners and
organ grinders as well as our Bumbling Bruders were present. Notable
attendees included Joseph Raffin, Franz Oehrlein, Rene Schenk, Hans van
Oost, Heinz Jaeger, Wolfgang Brommer, Martin van der Vlught and Jan van
Near the museum was the Lange Gavioli, an 89-key Gavioli owned by the
Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement (Utrecht). As we strolled
around with a beer in hand, the church next door emptied and then the
church bells rang for about 15 minutes. What an incredible experience!
On Saturday morning, the ceremonies to begin the Orgelfest commenced
with the unveiling of an organ made especially for the city of
Waldkirch, based on the design of a local artist. This book-operated,
43-key organ was produced by the Jaeger und Brommer firm of Waldkirch
with the help of several area organ craftsmen. The organ looks like
a modern art sculpture and was painted in bright hues of red, green,
blue, yellow and shades in-between.
Late Saturday afternoon, a concert was held in a nearby church. It was
really an unbelievable experience as there were several works that were
commissioned for the Festival. One involved interplay between the
church organ and a crank organ with each instrument taking its turn and
then playing together. Also, other pieces were for a string quartet
and crank organ and a string quintet and crank organ. The music was
superb and the novelty of hearing a crank organ playing with other
instruments was very special.
Everyone enjoyed strolling the streets of Waldkirch listening to the
Bruders, Ruths, Gaviolis and others as well as the numerous barrel
organs. There was a 70-key Wellershaus organ tucked away in a niche
provided by the original workshop of Ignaz Bruder (and now the workshop
of organ restorer, Stefan Fleck). A large Carl Frei Dutch Street
Organ, De Rosalinda, playing 90 keys, was brought in from Holland. Its
builder, Frederick Keller, also displayed a 56-key Keller organ (using
the 56-key Limonaire scale). Mr. Keller was the last apprentice of
Carl Frei, Jr., and continues on with the tradition of fine organ
One surprise was the appearance of an American organ brought by
Philippe and Eve Crasse of Toulouse, France (producers of the Le Ludion
brand of street organ). This was a Style 130 Wurlitzer Military Band
Organ in its specially designed case. This organ was made for
Wurlitzer by Eugene deKleist in 1906 and with the addition of drums,
would become the popular Wurlitzer Style 150. It played brilliantly
with the early 5-tune roll.
In addition to the large organs was a myriad of small crank organs,
both large and small. There were many Moritat singers with some in
pairs or even up to four at a time. These singers pointed to banners
that told the story being sung and played on the organ.
Finally, it came time to head for the airport and return to "reality".
I think we all wished that this fairy land week would last forever.
Our thanks go to Ron and Mary Jo Bopp for organizing this tour and to
all the people who traveled together and became a close knit, fun
group. Many friendships were made or renewed as we bumbled around
Gerry Bay (based on trip notes supplied by Ron Bopp)