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MMD > Archives > September 2005 > 2005.09.07 > 01Prev  Next

The "Winston Band Organ"
By Matthew Caulfield

I received off-list replies about the Winston Band Organ from Fred
Dahlinger, Bill Soper, Dana Johnson, and Bruce Pier.  This is a
conflation of some additional facts gleaned from their emails and not
mentioned in the last two MMDs.

The jacket of the "Winston Band Organ" LP recording describes the organ
as being built in Paris around 1904 by Gavioli & Co. and featuring five
automated hand-carved figures, two twirling dancing girls, two harpists,
and a bandmaster.  It states that the organ has over 400 pipes, plays
90-key book music, and was restored by Carl Frei & Sohn, Waldkirch,

The work in the Frei shop in the late 1940's involved extensive
modification.  Fred Dahlinger believes the organ is more a Frei
creation than a modification of any Gavioli.  Its first owner may have
been Emil Fetscher of Karlsruhe.  It was reportedly sold in 1968 to
Rudolf Robrahn.  In 1974 Bill Soper placed ads in the German showmen's
paper "Der Komet" seeking to buy a band organ.

One of the responses was from Werner Robrahn offering a "98-key
Gavioli."  Bill passed the information to G.W. MacKinnon in Charlotte,
N.C., who eventually purchased the organ and had it shipped to
Winston-Salem to the R.J.  Reynolds Tobacco Company, whose advertising
gimmick the organ briefly became, until Reynolds sold it to the
Reithoffers.  R.J. Reynolds did not own the organ very long, although
the date the Reithoffer web site gives for their acquisition of the
organ (1973) obviously cannot be correct.

As Bill Luca mentioned, a Wurlitzer 165 roll system was added to the
mechanism, although the key frame remained in place.  Fred Dahlinger
reports on the Reithoffer organ trailer being rear-ended by another
tractor-trailer, resulting in some substantial rebuilding/alteration.
Issue no. 8 (July 2001) of the COAA's "Carousel Organ" contains
a tribute to Reithoffer's Gaviman, "Frenchy" St. Germaine, written
by Fred.

Nobody has suggested who in the U.S. arranged the Winston jingle which
is heard intermittently on the LP.  Who was arranging for the Wurlitzer
165 scale in 1974?  Jonathan Jensen, Art Reblitz, David Stumpf?  Ralph
Tussing died June 29, 1974, so it was probably not his work.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Wed 7 Sep 2005, 15:40:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, Organ, Winston

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