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Street Organs
Street Organs in Belgium and The Netherlands
by Adam Ramet (000124 MMD)


I have had a short hunt through my bookshelves this weekend and have found a few photos of organs.  I took all the pictures whilst on vacation in Holland and Belgium; they date from 1987-1989.   The street organs from these countries fall into a unique category of their own, both from a point of the harmonic layout of the organ and the general style of facade and music.

1.  The Dubbeldik, a Carl Frei street organ (at Katwijk, Netherlands)

ramet_organ1.jpg (56kb)

2.  The Amazone, a large Mortier street organ (at Leyden, Netherlands) -- you can see it's just pulled up playing in the street outside a shoe shop!

ramet_organ2.jpg (54kb)

3.  A large Carl Frei street organ (at Scheveningen, Netherlands)

ramet_organ3.jpg (54kb)

4.  Veronica, a small street organ, maker unknown from the facade (at Katwijk, Netherlands)

ramet_organ4.jpg (61kb)

5.  Hooghuys (Dance) Organ in Belgium on a carousel, featured in a recent MMD report; this is a small colour picture I found.  The organ proscenium has a cloth over it to keep dirt out and allow music through clearly.  Beneath this you can see the glockenspiel hammers (it's mounted flat, not vertically.) The sound of this instrument when I heard it was absolutely the best of its genre without any doubt -- it knocks spots off organs double it's size any day!

ramet_organ5.jpg (37kb)

6. Book music cases for the Hooghuys organ in the above picture.  The cases hold a continuous stack of music that plays for a considerable period without needing changing.  Each case opens both ends.  The operator places one to the left in-feed end of the organs keyframe.  The music case stands on the floor and the music is fed through the key frame from the top open end of the case.

ramet_organ6.jpg (43kb)

The music exiting the keyframe falls straight into and folds up again into an empty identical case on the right hand side.  When the music case is empty and all the book has passed through the keyframe the operator closes the lid on the full hopper and turns it upside down ready to play again, puts the empty case on the right hand side and opens a new case of music.

You can get some idea of the vast amount of music that accompanies the organ from looking at the amount of cases there are.  From recollection there were also a few more standing around by the organs keyframe.  Each case was about 3-1/2 foot high (1 metre) or thereabouts.  The repertoire accompanying this organ is a real wonder: it shows off the organ to its absolute limit.  In this respect most of it (I guess) was probably cut by the late Charles Hooghuys but I don't know; does anyone know more about this instrument?

Whilst on the subject of Hooghuys, on the pictures recently submitted to the MMD the large 100-key Hooghuys (the "Condor") depicted in the gallery has a facade that appears completely identical to the 100-key Hooghuys in the Thursford Collection in Norfolk, UK, right down even to the cuddling young couple in the painting in the top panel and the complete colour scheme!

Best regards

Adam Ramet
Sun, 23 Jan 2000 22:03:15 -0000


25 January 2000

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