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MMD > Archives > April 1998 > 1998.04.05 > 13Prev  Next

Sources for Classical 88n Rolls
By Dan Wilson, London

Harvey Chao asked:

> Can any of you folk suggest additional sources of 88-note
> (non-reproducing piano) rolls besides QRS?  Specifically I would be
> most interested in transcriptions of J. S. Bach, but also others.

Great Britain is the place to come for classical rolls.  In most
dealers' shelves and collections they greatly outnumber good jazz
rolls, though there are a good few 1920s and 30s dance rolls, nearly
all tamer than the American variety.  They're also mostly Themodist
rolls, since most of the players sold here had that or a similar

The Musical Museum and Steve Cox of Laguna Rolls (addresses in the MMD
resource) usually have good stocks, or if you want to enter postal
auctions, there are Post Bid Enterprise (Frances Broadway), Paul
Morris's Music or you can join the Player-Piano Group and get their
(roughly) three times yearly Post Bid list.  All in the resource or if
not, I can provide addresses etc.

After 1918 Aeolian in New York stopped making all except the most
popular classical rolls and simply got any special orders from London,
where the repertoire went on being expanded until 1929.  Even after
that some classical titles were issued by Universal Music Co., the
inheritors of the Aeolian plant, on the Meloto label.

England is also fairly good for the Ludwig Hupfeld Co. 88-note series
issued from 1909 and after 1918 labelled "Animatic".  These are all
very high quality, "themed", hand-played rolls with a dynamic
interpretation line, but have the sustain pedal perforation about
1/16th inch to the right of the 1908 international standard, some
people say to fit the extra Triphonola dynamic codes in, some say
because they did the conversion to metric wrong !

Bach is on the fringe of UK 1910s and 1920s classical interest, much as
Rachmaninov is.  Quite a lot was cut including the whole of "the 48",
but it doesn't surface regularly except for the Toccata & Fugue.

The Orchestrelle Company (Aeolian subsidiary) cut a big series for the
Choralion Co. in Berlin in about 1912 which included several of the
keyboard Suites -- I let all mine go to the recently deceased collector
Bent Mean who couldn't really control himself when it came to Bah
(though seeing he had 208 player pianos in 1985 perhaps that last
qualification is unnecessary).

Dan Wilson, London

Key Words in Subject:  88n, Classical, Rolls, Sources

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