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MMD > Archives > August 2007 > 2007.08.14 > 03Prev  Next


Welte's Largest "Orchestrion"
By Art Reblitz

For pipe organ enthusiasts, it's wonderful that Sir David Salomon's
Welte has been restored back to playing condition, joining the ranks of
other Welte Philharmonic roll-playing pipe organs.  For avid orchestrion
enthusiasts, the restoration is even more important, because it finally
gives us the opportunity to hear what 120-hole Welte orchestrion rolls
sound like.

Welte Cottage orchestrions and all but the largest Concert orchestrions
play 75-hole orchestrion rolls.  The later Brisgovia series of piano
orchestrions and Welte Brass Band Orchestrions play 100-hole orchestrion
rolls, which have the same note scale as 75-hole rolls but with more
automatic registers.  Only the very largest Concert Orchestrions
originally played 120-hole orchestrion rolls, the only Welte orchestrion
roll style that includes an independent countermelody division in
addition to the main musical scale.  (Philharmonic rolls generally are
more oriented toward hand-played pipe organ music, while orchestrion
rolls are arranged to imitate an orchestra -- less like a human organist,
and with more countermelodies and ornamentation.)

When Sir David Salomon traded his Style 10 orchestrion in on the pipe
organ, he still wanted to be able to play his orchestrion rolls, so
Welte installed a 120-hole orchestrion roll spoolbox in the organ along
with the 150 key Philharmonic roll player.  Now that the organ and
player mechanism have been restored, Welte orchestrion enthusiasts are
in for a real treat when they hear the rare orchestrion rolls played on
a large orchestral Welte pipe organ for the first time.

Of course the organ is somewhat different from the largest orchestrion,
but it's close enough for us to imagine what a Style 10 sounded like.
What an exciting moment in mechanical music history!

Further information on the Style 10 and the 120-key scale can be found
in Durward Center's comprehensive article on Welte orchestrions article
in the September/October 2006 issue of Mechanical Music, the Journal of
the Musical Box Society International.  Also, to see a picture of the
immense style 10 Welte orchestrion with its built-in stairs leading up
to the roll mechanism, refer to the August 28, 1999, article, "Welte
Orchestrions at Atlantic Garden," by Tim Trager, in the MMD Archive
Photo Gallery: http://mmd.foxtail.com/Pictures/welte1.html

Art Reblitz


(Message sent Tue 14 Aug 2007, 02:32:17 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Largest, Orchestrion, Welte's

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