Hupfeld Phonola Rolls
By Wayne Stahnke
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Many thanks to Michael Waters and others for providing me with information about the Hupfeld Phonola roll I am currently scanning for Larry Karp. I have learned enough to be able to proceed with the task at hand, which is to convert the disk image of Larry's roll, the "Academic Festival Overture" of Brahms (Roll No. 12481), to a form that can be perforated by Janet and Richard Tonneson of Custom Music Rolls. The final roll made by them will conform to the American standard (11-1/4 inches wide, 9 ports/inch) and will play on American-made instruments, allowing Larry finally to hear his roll after a 15-year wait.
The roll I have at hand measures 296 mm in width; its intended width is not known. There are 77 port positions across the roll. Of these, 5 are set aside for operating expression devices. (These 5 ports alternate with speaking notes near the center of the roll, so the speaking notes do not appear chromatically in the roll.) The remaining 72 ports operate the speaking notes. The compass is low F to high F, for a total of 73 notes within the compass. Probably for this reason, many people have referred to the rolls as "73 note" rolls. However, since only 72 ports are available to operate these 73 notes, only 72 of them can be played from the roll; low F# is omitted. Of the 5 expression ports, 4 are not used at all in Larry's roll; the remaining one is used rarely. In the translation to an 88-note roll, it will simply be ignored.
Larry's roll is very long (in excess of 30 meters) and the tempo on the roll is called out as 50-60. At Tempo 60 the playing time is in excess of 15 minutes, after adjusting for the buildup of the paper stack on the takeup spool.
The performance on this roll is particularly important for its musical and historical value. It is a four-hand transcription, played by Weiss and Stefaniai. Josef Weiss was a pupil of Feruccio Busoni, and this roll therefore connects us directly with the Busoni tradition of transcribing and performing large works on the piano.
I could not have completed this effort without the help of the MMD respondents. Thank you for your help, gentlemen, and let me also thank you on behalf of Larry Karp.
(Message sent Fri 15 Nov 1996, 17:38:28 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)