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MMD > Archives > April 2003 > 2003.04.30 > 01Prev  Next

Lewis Graham Museum of Music in Scarsdale, NY
By Jere Ryder

Luuk Goldhoorn wrote:

> Recently I came across a catalogue from 1967, copyright by Lewis
> Graham, entitled "The Museum of Music presents a pictorial outline
> of the history of mechanical music."

It was a bit before our day, and our late father, Hughes Ryder, may
well have known much more of the story here, but here's what I can
tell you.

If I recall correctly, Lewis Graham was involved as an early and
successful TV show producer, working out of New York City and living
in the Westchester, New York, region.  He was an early enthusiast in
all forms of mechanical music, collecting during the early 1950's,
possibly earlier.

He was so taken by the field that by 1955 he had created and chartered
the "Museum of Music", a "non-profit educational organization, with
purpose to initiate a national museum devoted entirely and exclusively
to music, in all of its many varied aspects" (a direct quote from an
exhibition pamphlet of his, presenting "an Exhibit of Musical Instruments
Which Play By Themselves", June 27 - Sept. 8, 1967, Kensico Dam Plaza,
Valhalla), straight from a previous showing at the State Museum in
Albany, NY.

Mr. Graham had the ingenious concept of designing and creating a
"traveling caravan museum collections", where multiple trailers (each
30 to 40 feet long) would be specially outfitted with interior displays
of mechanical music (all forms and ages) with entry and exit at
opposite ends.  This one exhibit that I mention, consisted of not two
or three, but seven display trailers!

The inventory/display list includes a variety of cylinder and disc
musical boxes as well as Tonophone, Tel-Electric, Bacigalupo's
automatic accordion, Aeolian Orchestrelle, a full selection of automata
(including Herr Blessings Life-sized Robot Band), an automatic harp,
automatic banjo, Mills single and a double Violano, a Hupfeld
Phonoliszt, Cremona, Link, ... on and on the list goes!

We have only seen these two exhibit notices or catalogs, the above for
Westchester County and the other of which you have a copy.  On the rear
cover of the latter, you will notice a few black and white photos of
another exhibit site at which Mr. Graham had these trailers, and that
was in Washington, DC.

There likely a few other long standing collector/dealer's out there
who know much more of the details of what had transpired before or
afterward, leading to the sale and distribution of this collection.
Quite a few of the rare instruments listed and/or pictured are readily
recognized and have long been part of other major collections here in
the States.

Of special note: the early (c. 1640?) Augsburg Musical Compound
Automata Clock, by Bidermann-Langenbucher, which is pictured on page 9
of your catalog, is the very same instrument depicted in "Automata" by
Chapuis & Droz, (ref. Ganz coll.), as well as in "Musical Clocks" by
Ord-Hume (ref. Atwood/Rockford Time Museum coll.).  As far as we know,
this instrument may well be the earliest example of mechanical music
existing in the USA, if not the entire continent.  When the City of
Chicago (National Time Museum) recently included this instrument in
their latest de-accessioning (Sothebys, NYC) sale, it was purchased
by the MET here in NYC!

After some needed, minor repairs and conservation to both the cabinet
and mechanism, this rare instrument, we understand, will be scheduled
for video and sound recording, then public display, so that the public
as well as scholars can have access to and enjoy the original period
music as well as see it in motion.  A truly extraordinary instrument,
in remarkably good original condition considering its 350+ year age!

Best regards,
Jere Ryder
Jere & Steve Ryder - AutaMusique, Ltd.
Summit, NJ

(Message sent Wed 30 Apr 2003, 03:33:04 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Graham, Lewis, Museum, Music, NY, Scarsdale

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