A life devoted to musical boxes.
Dear MMDs, With the passing a few days ago of Etienne Blyelle, aged
80, we lost one of the most internationally acknowledged experts in the
field of musical boxes. We also lot a friend and, for many years, one
of our French AAIMM vice-presidents. (Of which, with Claude Marchal,
he was one of the founding members in 1976).
I have known Etienne for forty years; not always an easy character,
but always ready to share his knowledge with specialists and
non-specialists, even the youngsters whom he was able to instill
with passion for exceptional musical box movements (and it is so
important to interest the new generations to our hobby !).
He organized several beautiful exhibitions, the largest one being in
1997 in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva. He knew everybody
in the field of musical boxes, and every enthusiast knew him. For
example, he established friendly links with Murtogh Guinness, spending
much time studying his fabulous collection, and with the Ryder family,
now in charge of the Guinness collection at the Morris Museum.
He published many articles in the specialized journals -- MBSI,
MBSGB and AAIMM -- and alas too few other personal publications, his
sense of perfection preventing him to publish imperfect articles.
His articles opened sometimes strong controversial discussions but
that's how we go forth in knowledge.
He attended many conventions, often delivering talks. With a few
enthusiastic friends, he founded in Geneva a very closed society,
the CABAM (Conservatoire autonome des boîtes à musique), to collect
the rare mechanisms he was so fond of, and published a very technical
I stop here, because so much could be said about Etienne Blyelle.
We are sad -- he leaves a tremendous gap in our small world of musical
boxes. His passing at his home was rather unexpected, as, after strong
health alerts a few years ago, he seemed to have correctly recovered,
and many of us saw him or called him these last weeks.
To his family, to his friends, we send our affectionate thoughts.
The next issue of our journal MMV (Musiques Mécaniques Vivantes) will
publish an extensive article about him, probably in April. See
Philippe Rouillé - Vice president,
Association des Amis des Instruments et de la Musique Mécanique