I have recently returned from 3 wonderful months travelling in Europe
and would like to share some MM experiences with other members.
The first visit was to the "Musikautomaten-Museum" in Seewen in the
northwest of Switzerland, close to Basel. This museum has a good
selection of music boxes (surprisingly uncommon in Switzerland) as
well as player pianos, organs, orchestrions and a Hupfeld Phonoliszt.
The tour description was in German but other languages might be
available by arrangement. My wife loved an automaton music box with
a jolly gent pouring a drink (real liquid!) then smiling and rolling
his eyes before emptying the lifted beaker.
Next was a folk museum in Triberg in the heart of the "Black Forest"
which had a great display of clocks as well as orchestrions and clever
musical automata. No tour was offered but most of the instruments were
coin operated and would play at a cost of 1 or 2 DM. The operating
displays included a magnificent, huge 1885 Gewerbeverein barrel
orchestrion and a "Blesing Robot Band" which had an accordian player,
drummer and lady singer in a Black Forest setting. A separate player
piano accompanied the trio but was in a different part of the room!
After a very scenic drive winding through the Black Forest, we arrived
at Waldkirch where Wolfgang Brommer (MMD) treated us to a personal tour
of the organ museum and the Jaeger-Brommer organ works. The museum has
a very good collection of organs from early drehorgels to large dance
organs with automata. Wolfgang was a wonderful host, sparing us his
valuable time from preparations for the "Orgel Fest" a few days later
(which we had to miss, unfortunately).
By this time, I had used up my "museum credits" and had to wait until
we got to the UK before "discovering" the "Rye Treasury of Mechanical
Music" in Sussex where I heard my first pedal/electric grand. The tour
included music boxes, early barrel organs, player pianos and a Mills
Violano. Next MM stop was "Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music"
in the beautiful Cotswolds. This museum had a good selection of music
boxes as well as an 18c English barrel organ, an Orchestrelle player
organ and a red Welte Steinway.
The final visit was the Musical Museum, Brentford near London, with a
guided tour lasting nearly 3 hours -- still covering only a fraction
of the extensive collection! More pedal/electric players, including
an ex-royalty Steinway Duo-Art and everything from singing birds to a
Wurlitzer theatre organ. A very entertaining afternoon!
Lastly, thanks to the generosity of MMDers Julian Dyer, Ian McLaughlin
and Dan Wilson, I must mention two visits to UK private "collections",
where my "ears were opened" to some sparkling performances through
enthusiastic footwork and deft fingering on some fine pedal grands.
A highlight was Denis Hall and Rex Lawson performing a splendid
impromptu "two pianola" duet of Pineapple Poll (Sullivan/Mackerras),
betraying much dedicated practice and pianola skill. The player piano
as serious musical instrument is alive and well in England!
Clarke's Corner, Adelaide