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MMD > Gallery > Tech > alterman_GebrBruder

65- & 69-key Gebruder Bruder Organs in America
by Jeff Alterman (001213 MMD)

Elite Apollo Orchester

Early Wurlitzer 165
{Illustrations courtesy Tim Trager)

History of 65 & 69 Key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" Organs
by Jeff Alterman

Probably the best known organs in the United States built by the firm
of Gebruder Bruder are the 65- and 69-key Gebruder Bruder "Elite
Orchestra Apollo".  They were designed by Gustav Bruder in Waldkirch
about 1912, and production probably started the same year or the year

Some of these organs were used in Hungary on attractions that were
called "Car Rides", and which were the forerunner of the modern
"Go-kart" rides of today.  The owners of these rides probably felt
that the organs were necessary in order to attract people to these
rides, since the songs played by these organs were usually familiar
tunes of the day, and in those days electrically amplified music wasn't

It seems as though the "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs were aimed more
for the amusement industry in the United States rather than in Europe,
as evidenced in the popularity of these organs on carousels built by
C.W. Parker and W.F. Mangels at the time that the "Elite Orchestra
Apollo" organs were manufactured.

C.W. Parker of Leavenworth Kansas was a major amusement outfitter
during the early 20th century, and manufactured many carousels which
were often equipped with imported organs, usually built by Gebruder
Bruder.  There is some evidence that C.W. Parker imported as many as
half a dozen or more of the 65- or 69-key "Elite Orchestra Apollo"

At least two companies in the eastern part of the United States imported
many Gebruder Bruder.  The first one was Louis Berni, of 219-221 West
19th Street in New York.  He imported many Gebruder Bruder organs into
the United States while he was in business, including a 65-key "Elite
Orchestra Apollo" organ that is presently in the collection of Jerry

Louis Berni also imported organs manufactured by numerous other
European firms, including Gavioli.  It is estimated that roughly 60%
of the European organs imported into the United States were imported by
Louis Berni, who was also known in the trade as the "Band Organ King".

The second company that I'll mention was W.F. Mangels & Company, a
major carousel manufacturer based in Coney Island, New York.  This firm
built nearly all of the carousels that ever operated at Coney Island,
including the B&B Carousell which still survives.  According to the
"Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments", by Q. David Bowers,
page 884, a W.F. Mangels catalog said:

"Gebruder Bruder organ has a reputation for beauty of design, splendid
tone, and durability that stands unexcelled.  We have in the past
imported a number of these instruments to the greatest of satisfaction
to our customers."  This is not surprising, given the quantity of
Gebruder Bruder organs that were used on carousels built by W.F.

In 1912 Wurlitzer started to offer the famous Style 165 band organ in
their catalog, although music rolls for it were generally not available
until a few years later on.

 [ Matthew Caulfield notes that the earliest date known for shipping
 [ a Wurlitzer 165 organ, presumably with music rolls, is April 1914.
 [ -- Robbie ]

The first one or two of these Wurlitzer 165 organs were actually 69-key
Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs that were imported into
the United States by Wurlitzer, but without the keyframe.  Duplex music
roll players were installed by Wurlitzer so that the organ could play
paper music rolls instead of cardboard books.

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 it soon became impossible for
Wurlitzer (or anyone else, for that matter) to import any more band
organs into the United States.  With their experience in building band
organs Wurlitzer decided to build the Wurlitzer 165 in their own
factory to satisfy the demand for a large and powerful organ for use
mostly on large carousels.

From 1914 to 1925 Wurlitzer shipped at least one style 165 organ each
year save for 1923.  Two more style 165 organs were shipped after 1925,
one in 1931 and the last one in 1939.  A total of at least 24 style 165
organs were made, and at least 10 complete examples survive to this
day.  Eight style 165 organs are in private collections, one is on
display in a museum and there is still a style 165 organ on the
carousel at Glen Echo Park in Maryland.  There are rumors that more
Wurlitzer 165 organs may still survive but no one knows where they are.

Several replicas of the Wurlitzer 165 organ have been built, including
the one at Seabreeze Park that was built by Johnny Verbeeck to replace
the original Wurlitzer 165 organ which was unfortunately destroyed by
fire on March 31, 1994.  As for surviving examples of Gebruder Bruder
65- and 69-key "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs, there are very few of
them and I know of only two that remain in the United States.

The organ that is on the B&B Carousell at Coney Island has one of the
known 65- or 69-key "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs in the United
States.  This organ was probably built circa 1913 and was converted by
the B.A.B. organ company to play 66-key B.A.B. rolls.  It appears that
B.A.B. made very few changes to the organ when they converted, because
their 66-key roll scale fit the organ perfectly save for one note.

The other existing 65- or 69-key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra
Apollo" organ in the United States that I know about is in the
collection of Jerry Doring.  This organ was previously in the
collection of Jim Wells and prior to that it was used on the Stubbman
carousel at Coney Island for many years.  This organ was also built
circa 1913 and, according to Jerry Doring, it was imported into the
United States by Louis Berni.

I also think that the carousel presently located at Rye Playland,
built by W.F. Mangels circa 1915, was probably supplied with a Gebruder
Bruder organ, possibly an "Elite Orchestra Apollo", but the original
organ was exchanged for a Gavioli organ later on when the carousel was
at Savin Rock in West Haven, Connecticut.  It is also possible that
when the carousel began to operate at Rye Playland for the first time,
in 1929, the organ was exchanged again for another Gavioli.

A 69-key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organ still exists
in Canberra, Australia.  The organ has been separated from its facade,
but both the organ and the facade still exist.  This particular example
is the only remaining organ of its type that still plays book music.

Since C.W. Parker imported a fair number of 65- and 69-key Gebruder
Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs, and W.F. Mangels imported a
fair number of Gebruder Bruder organs in addition to Louis Berni,
I have reason to believe that more examples of 65- and 69-key Gebruder
Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs are still in existence but they
have not been located at this time.  It is entirely possible that one
or more of these organs may have been stored away in some misbegotten
place waiting to be discovered.

If anyone has the slightest thread of information regarding the
whereabouts of a 65- or 69-key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo"
organ, or a Wurlitzer style 165 band organ, please let me or any
reputable collector know, because if any of these organs can be found
it would be to the delight of collectors and hobbyists alike.

The 65-key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organ that is
still on the B&B Carousell at Coney Island is probably the best
surviving example of this style Gebruder Bruder organ in the United
States.  Although the organ was converted to play 66-key B.A.B. rolls,
most of the pipes inside the organ are still original, to the best of
my knowledge.  The 14 trumpets that were in the organ originally were
replaced with saxophones, according to Larry Villano.  The wind chest
may have been also changed or the original one enlarged.  The organ
also uses a blower rather than a bellows for the wind supply.  The roll
frames are located on the side of the organ case and are placed one
above the other.

The sister organ of this type which is in the Jerry Doring collection
has had more changes made to it than the one at Coney Island.  The roll
frames on this organ are located in the back of the organ placed side
by side rather than on the side.  When both these organs were
originally built they had at least 256 pipes, and there is evidence
that they originally had at least 300 or more pipes to begin with.

After studying the photos that I have of Jerry Doring's 65-key Gebruder
Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organ, and examining on-site the organ
at Coney Island, I think there is very good reason to believe that the
Wurlitzer 165 was definitely derived from these organs, because after
I looked at a photograph of the interior of the Wurlitzer 165 organ at
Glen Echo I noticed that the pipework of these organs were very similar
to each other.  There were only small differences in the pipework of
the Wurlitzer 165 and the 65-and 69-key Gebruder Bruder "Elite
Orchestra Apollo" organs.

I will give some of the specifications of these organs that I have
knowledge of.

The pipes are broken down into 4 sections**

Bass*           6 notes
Accompaniment  10 notes
Countermelody  14 notes
Melody         22 notes

*Note: The 69 key "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organ may have had 8 bass
**Note:  Each section of pipes will have at least two ranks of pipes.

The note scale is as follows.

Bass          C,D,E,F,G,A
Accompaniment G,A,A#,B,C,C#,D,E,F,F#
Countermelody F,F#,G,G#,A,A#,B,C,C#,D,E,F,F#,G
Melody        G,G#,A,A#,B,C,C#,D,D#,E,F,F#,G,G#,A,A#,B,C,C#,D,E,F



6, 8-foot stopped pipes; 6, 8-foot open pipes; 6 wood trombones.
10 stopped pipes; 10 open pipes.
14 wood trumpets; 14 wood bassoons; 14 wood viola pipes.
Melody; 22 flute pipes; 22 piccolo pipes; 22 flageolet pipes; 22 open
piccolos; 44 loud violin; 44 soft violin; 22 bells.

The two 65 key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo" organs that
I have knowledge of would have likely had a very similar pipe
configuration to the Wurlitzer 165 when that came out of the factory
since the Wurlitzer 165 is derived from these organs. The additional
pipes that these organs might have would be some mixture pipes in one
or more sections of the organ. The tracker bar scales of these organs
have very few differences between each other when you study them
closely. The 66 key B.A.B. tracker bar scale is virtually identical to
the 65 key Gebruder Bruder scale. The only difference is the
positioning of the notes on the tracker bar and the 66 key B.A.B.
tracker bar scale has one note fewer in the melody.

I'm going to list the tracker bar scales of these organs below 
starting with the 65 key Gebruder Bruder "Elite Orchestra Apollo".

The three tracker bar scales following are from the book 
Treasures of Mechanical Music, by Arthur A. Reblitz and 
Q. David Bowers, copyright (C) The Vestal Press, Ltd., New York, 
1981, ISBN 0-911572-20-1.  Reproduced with kind permission of the 


 1. Xylophone (or shutoff?)
 2. D (bass)
 3. F (bass)
 4. A (bass)
 5. Castanets: snare drum
 6. F (trumpet; lowest note)
 7. F (accompaniment)
 8. G (trumpet)
 9. D (accompaniment)
10. A (trumpet)
11. C (accompaniment)
12. B (trumpet)
13. A# (accompaniment)
14. C# (trumpet)
15. G (accompaniment; lowest note)
16. E (trumpet)
17. F# (trumpet)
18. Swell shades open
19. Baritone on
20. Flute on
21. General Cancel
22. F (2nd octave melody)
23. D (2nd octave melody)
24. C (2nd octave melody)
25. A# (2nd octave melody)
26. G# (2nd octave melody)
27. F# (1st octave melody)
28. E (1st octave melody)
29. D (1st octave melody)
30. C (1st octave melody)
31. A# (1st octave melody)
32. G# (1st octave melody)
33. G (1st octave melody; lowest note)
34. A (1st octave melody)
35. B (1st octave melody
36. C# (1st octave melody)
37. D# (1st octave melody)
38. F (1st octave melody)
39. G (2nd octave melody; lowest note)
40. A (2nd octave melody)
41. B (2nd octave melody)
42. C# (2nd octave melody)
43. E (2nd octave melody)
44. Violin pipes on
45. Piccolo on
46. Vox celeste on
47. Forte (trombone) on
48. G (high trumpet)
49. F (high trumpet)
50. A (accompaniment)
51. D (trumpet)
52. B (accompaniment)
53. C (trumpet)
54. C# (accompaniment)
55. A# (trumpet)
56. E (accompaniment)
57. G# (trumpet)
58. F# (accompaniment)
59. F# (trumpet)
60. Triangle; bass drum
61. G (bass)
62. E (bass)
63. C (bass)
64. Band leader
65. Bells on
Note: Some of these organs may have had no bells.


 0. Shutoff
 1. Bass drum
 2. Snare drum
 3. Snare drum
       4    to   9,   Bass  C,D,E,F,G,A
      10   to   19,   Accompaniment  G,A,A#,B,C,C#,D,E,F,F#
      20   to   40,   Melody  G-D,E
      41   to   54,   Countermelody  F-D, E-G (baritone, clarinet)
55. Band leader
56. General cancel
57. Trombone on
58. Play
59. Rewind
60. Bells on (M)
61. Celeste on (M)
62. Violin pipes on (M)
63. Flute on (M)
64. Piccolo on (M)
65. Trumpet or baritone on (CM)
66. Swell shades open
Note: This tracker bar scale closely resembles that of the 65 keyless 
Gebruder Bruder scale except for the positions of the of the notes and 
other functions on the tracker bar.


 1. Bass-bells on?
 2. Brass trombone and brass trumpet on
 3. Uniphone bells on (Melody)
 4. Triangle
 5. Swell shutters closed
 6. Chimes on (Melody)
 7. Crash cymbal
 8. Wood trumpet on
 9. Violin and viola pipes on (Melody; loud)
10. Piccolo and flageolet on (Melody)
11. Snare drum
12   to   17,  Bass C,D,E,F,G,A
18. Shutoff
19   to   28,  Accompaniment  G,A-D,E,F,F#
29. Rewind
30   to   51,  Melody  G-D,E,F
52. General Cancel
53   to   66,  Trumpet  F-D, E-G
67. Bass drum and cymbal
68. Flute on (Melody)
69. Violin pipes on (Melody; soft)
70. Trombone on
71. Swell shutters open
72. Castanets
73. Snare drum loud
74. Tympani
75. Violin pipes and prestant on (Melody)
Note: Holes #1,2,3,73,74,75 were not used on the 165 organ.

Sources of information:

Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments, by Q. David Bowers,
The Vestal Press, Ltd., New York, 1972, ISBN 0-911572-08-2

Treasures of Mechanical Music, by Arthur A. Reblitz and Q. David 
Bowers, The Vestal Press, Ltd., New York, 1981, ISBN 0-911572-20-1

The American Carousel Organ, Ron Bopp, 1998

"On Display", The Fair Organ Preservation Society, first printing 1999

Jerry Doring, Larry Villano, Ed Openshaw, Tim Trager, Matthew Caulfield

I also wish to extend great gratitude to Mike Saltzstein at the B&B
Carousel at Coney Island to allowing to have pleasure in riding his
carousel and allowing me to make tape recordings of his organ.  I
realize that I had some difficulties with him on May 28, 1999, but, in
spite of the difficulties I had with him that day he still deserves
credit for providing with enjoyment when I visit his carousel to hear
the organ and to ride the carousel.

Jeff Alterman

13 December 2000, 17 December 2000

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