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MMD > Archives > June 2003 > 2003.06.09 > 05Prev  Next

European Player Piano Makes & Player Actions
By Julian Dyer

John Tuttle's "850+ Player Piano Makes & Makers" list of piano brands
and their player actions is wonderful, a real achievement (as is his
whole web site).  However, there is one little problem for the global
era - it's all American! Luckily, the MMD is just the right forum to
fill in this slight omission.

Below are a few suggested additions to kick things off, but I'm sure
that European and Antipodean MMDers can easily add many time more
brands.  I've grouped this list by player actions rather than piano
brand because that's the way the information comes to hand, mostly
from UK Autopiano and Ampico literature and the PPG instrument listing.

The piano brands in this are either German or English, with a couple
of French entries and one Austrian.  At the time player pianos were
popular, the UK market tended to look to Germany for top-quality
instruments (and rightly so).  Some piano makes had many different
players fitted, particularly better brands, such as Broadwood, that
were not directly tied to a particular player maker.

1. Ampico (as fitted by Marshall & Co. in London, mostly using genuine
Ampico/Amphion parts, but reportedly sometimes using left-over Angelus

  English: Broadwood; Chappell; Collard & Collard; Challen; Hopkinson;
Marshall & Rose; Rogers; 'Marque-Ampico' stencil piano (probably by

  French: Erard (and at least one Gaveau is known).
  German: Grotrian-Steinweg.
  Austrian: Boesendorfer.

2. Angelus (as fitted by Marshall & Co. in London): Brinsmead;
Broadwood; Challen; Marshall & Rose / Sir Herbert Marshall.

3. APPA (Automatic Player Piano Actions, small-time successors to
Aeolian's UK operation in the 1930s): Danemann; Kemble; Kingston.

4. Autopiano (American-made actions fitted in the UK by sole agents
Kastner & Co.): Rachals; Lipp; Schiedmayer; Kaps; Kaim;
Grotrian-Steinweg; Ritmuller; Feurich.  (All of these German brands
are advertised in a ca. 1910 catalogue, but other than Rachals and
Lipp are rarely encountered.)  UK brands include: Broadwood; Kastner
(own-brand); Triumph (own-brand); Allison; Strohmenger; Challen;
Monnington & Weston.

5. Carola (made by Bluethner UK in the early 1930s): Bluethner;
Gors & Kallmann; Hopkinson.

6. Claviola - see Phonola.

7. Eastonola: W. H. Barnes; Eastonola.

8. Higel (presumably actions imported from Canada and fitted in Higel's
London works): Allison; Challen; Hopkinson; Offer & Son; Steinberg;

9. Phonola (Hupfeld): Bluethner, Roenisch, Grunert (the latter two
eventually becoming own-brands).  Many other brands were fitted with
Hupfeld players, either Phonola or Claviola -- a bit like a European
Standard.  I have records of instruments from Neumann, Niendorf.

10. Pianola (Aeolian, using imported or locally-manufactured actions):
Ibach; Ernst Munck; Broadwood (all early, before the familiar Steinway,
Weber, Steck, Stroud, Farrand and Aeolian brands were used as in
America - the Ernst Munck factory being purchased and renamed Steck).

11. Pistonola: Boyd

12. Welte-Mignon (original): Steinway; Bechstein; Feurich; Welte.

13. Welte-Mignon (licensee): Rushworth & Draper; Waddington.

As well as all these, the PPG list has loads of player pianos that
didn't give enough information to identify the player action in them,
so there's plenty of opportunity to fill out this list.  There are
also brands I don't have information at hand for, such as Pleyela,
that clearly ought to be added.

When it comes to details of player actions, the worst omission
from American-centred literature is probably Hupfeld, who produced
massively-engineered works of jaw-dropping build quality and
complexity.  The majority of the other player actions commonly
encountered were derived from American originals, some changed a bit.
For instance, Standard actions fitted in Europe were offered with
Themodist-like actions which do not appear in the original literature,
and special inserts were stuck into the UK versions of the service

Julian Dyer

(Message sent Mon 9 Jun 2003, 23:40:35 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Actions, European, Makes, Piano, Player

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