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MMD > Archives > November 1996 > 1996.11.14 > 10Prev  Next

Re New Street Organs
By Philippe Rouillé

Paris, Nov 13th 1996

From what I read in some recent digests, I am astonished at the prejudices and ignorance of so many American and English people towards the historical achievements and the actual events and fabrications taking place now in several countries of continental Europe, Germany and France for example. It is not because so many American or English people do not speak other languages that nothing has happened or happens in other countries !

I actually thought about sending to Jody this contribution to the MDD in French or in German, just to remind some members of this list that most of the people on this earth do not speak English, and nevertheless are not totally ignorant savages ...

So let's examine some recent surprising opinions :

- 96.11.09, The article by Jan Kijlstra made me jump to the ceiling ! He writes about Street organs makers :

> > From France: Ludion. There are at least 6-8 other makers, plus
> > another dozen or so organs that can be custom ordered.
> It will be hard to negotiate with French builders: they will not be able
> to speek any other language but french, most of them do not offer a street
> organ in the true "draaiorgel"-tradition. However, accepting the
> differences in sound, you might find nice organs in France.

I wonder if Jan Kijlstra knows anything about France (where are you living, Jan ?), where there are each year about 20 international street organs festivals (with a lot of German, Belgian, Dutch, Swiss attendants, but alas very few English people), and several good makers who export a large part of their production to other countries than France : I gave a list with their adresses and phone numbers in digest 96.09.24. Le Ludion was in Chicago, Erman sells many organs to Switzerland, Japan, etc. and Fournier (who owns now the trade-mark Limonaire) to many countries.

And what is the "true" draaiorgel-tradition : is it only Dutch ? German, French, Swiss, and many other people will not be very pleased with that ...

For Organ grinding in France, and its festivals, see my contribution to this digest : 96.06.13

- 96.11.06 : I read with interest the very well-written text by Stephen Bicknell about Orchestrions and Fairground Organs, but how should one react to the following :

> The punch-card playing street organ and its close relatives the
> showman's or fairground organ, the carousel organ, and the dance organ
> are most commonly associated with the Netherlands and Belgium, and it
> was there that many of the most famous makers flourished, especially in
> the 30 years either side of 1900. In fact the species probably
> originated in Italy, and many of the names often associated with these
> instruments are obviously Italian in origin (Gavioli, Marenghi).

What about France : Limonaire, Gavioli, Marenghi, Gasparini, Gavioli were established in France ; Mortier began as an agent for Gavioli-Paris ; and Germany : Ruth, Bruder, Carl Frei, without speaking of numerous Austrian or Czech makers ?

In the others passages of Stephen Bicknell article, it is true that, in England, the Great Dorset Steam Fair is an incredible and extraordinary event, well worth the journey, but it is alas no more true that many Belgian or Dutch people are interested in Street or Dance organs, as the places where they were playing are disappearing very quickly these last few years, and it becomes even difficult to listen to a Street organ in Holland ...

- In the same digest, Hilmar Krause gives a few names of makers, and adds :

> If anyone prefers the french sound (Gavioli/Limonaire):
> Manufacture de Limonaires
> Marc & Christian Fournier
> Chemin de la Gardi=CBre, Seyssuel
> F-38200 Vienne
> For they changed Phone-numbers in France, I`ve no number which is up to
> date, sorry...

I gave the addresses of the main French organ makers, with their phone numbers in Digest : 96.09.24

And I gave the hints to the new phone-numbers in France in Digest : 96.10.24 (just add to the old 8 digits number 1 if you are calling to the Paris area, 2 for NW France, 3 for NE France, 4 for SE France (Fournier) and 5 for SW France).

There would be much more to say, but I shall be accused of starting a war, when I only ask for some more attention and respect for countries and traditions other than your own.

Shall I add nevertheless that, of course, I am very happy to be a member of this MM mailing List : through it, I am able to correspond with and to know several very nice people, some of them I actually met, and read very interesting articles. With probably more than 400 digests now from the begining in 1995, totalling probably about 2.000 pages, and some pieces of music, the litterature of these digests give invaluable information on mechanical music (Thank you so much, Jody). That is not a reason to publish sometimes very false or very incomplete things. Why people do not read first the articles of the "Bible" of mechanical music, I mean the Bowers Encyclopedia of Automatic music instruments, which remains an invaluable source of information with its 1100 pages, even if it was published 20 years ago ? And there are all the books about mechanical music, and all the litterature published by the American, English, German, French, Dutch societies, etc. We are several people (Arthur Ord-Hume, Jergen Hocker, myself and several others in Europe and America) trying to establish a general bibliography of mechanical music : already more than 1000 entries ! And a recent bibliography published in Vienna by Helmut Kovar (present at the Chicago MBSI convention) goes up to 1500 entries ... and each bibliography has a lot of entries which do not appear in the others ...

So we have together a lot to learn, discover and discuss in the future, as long as we do not systematically underestimate what we do not know.

Philippe Rouille (Paris, France)

(Message sent Thu 14 Nov 1996, 23:04:47 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  New, Organs, Street

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