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MMD > MMMedia > EMP > EMP01

EMP_banner.gif (4 kb)
(L'Edition Musicale Perforée)
& Piano roll firms of France
by Lorraine Aressy (020125 MMD)
Perforons la Musique Society

Lorraine wrote to me in English (very good, indeed!).  I have made a few small corrections to her text in order to remove ambiguity in English (I hope !).  Please forgive me if I made errors.  -- Robbie

Dear Robbie,  There will be several emails to send you: JPEG images scanned from rolls, advertisements and catalogs.  So this message is number one.

Toulouse, where I live, is too far away from Paris to make research easy. When I was interested in toy theatre, I spent a full day taking notes in the city library in Paris from their "Mon Théâtre" collection, and it was only 24 newspapers.  Writing the story of such an important commercial firm as Aeolian Company will take several weeks and much money for the hotel!  Surely Douglas Heffer is the right man to do the job, as he is in the locale and is said to have a lot of archive material.

So, during past two days I did research only from the collection of rolls and catalogs owned either by me or Perforons la Musique which has a large library.  First about the Ravel l'EMP/Aeolian roll:

AeoFrEMP1792.jpg (14 kb)AeoFrEMP1796.jpg (14 kb)
John McClelland found piano roll RA 1792 inside the box for RA 1796.
He says someone in Texas must have the opposite combination!

As I mentioned in a previous email, the two rolls of Ravel, RA 1792 X and RA 1796 X, are from L'EMP. They are listed on page 143 of the "Catalogue de Musique pour Instruments Autopianistes 88 notes" of January 1925.  See the 3 JPEG files (EMP catalog, cover, introduction) and 2 pages with Ravel rolls.

I think the introduction is interesting as they claim to follow exactly the sheet music (what we might complain about today).  Also, you'll see that Ravel rolls are numerous.  L'EMP had a massive production with a large range of choice.  They made rolls for Odeola and Aeolian, and so it is time now to have a look at the image file, "EMP rouleaux alignement":

EMP_rouleaux_alignement_1.jpg (17 kb)

You can see from right to left: L'EMP roll ("Nuits de Chine") with its typical label, next is two rolls of "En caravane", one with the Odeola red sticker at the top, the other one with the Aeolian red sticker you already know.  There is no difference!

At the far left side is an Aeolian roll ("Aeolian", Fox-trot) sold in France from a French dealer.  Such Aeolian rolls are very common here and are UK production. The only difference is an added small green sticker at the bottom covering the UK address, with the name The Aeolian Company and the address 32 avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, and the mention "Importé d'Angleterre", meaning imported from England.  Inside, the roll is an original UK product and any markings are in English.

[] EMP_cat_cover.jpg (103 kb)
[] EMP_cat_intro.jpg (348 kb)
[] EMP_cat_ravel.jpg (378 kb)
[] EMP_rouleaux_alignement.jpg (136 kb)

A nos Clients ...
Nous avons pour principe absolu de reproduire les partitions telles qu'elles ont été écrites par leurs auteurs, sans nous 
permettre aucun arrangement introduisant des motifs étrangers à l'oeuvre même. 
To our customers ...
We have as our absolute principle the replication of scores as they were written 
by their authors, without us permitting any arrangement introducing foreign motifs to the work itself.
"What we might complain about today!"

[] EMP_rouleau.jpg (389 kb)

If we have a look at a typical and beautifully designed L'EMP roll (here "Nuit de Chine" [China Nights]), we'll discover exactly the same mention "fabrication française" that is printed on the Ravel roll -- the lettering and punching are the same.

AeoFr_cat_table.gif (9 kb)Was the French customer obliged to get Aeolian rolls from England in 1925 ?

No.  French retailers did that for him, and he was given an Aeolian catalog in French to choose from among hundreds of rolls he could listen to at his local retailer in big towns in France (see "aeolian vendeurs" image), or in Paris, at the Aeolian hall, where concerts were also given (as Aeolian did in other capitals in Europe, and as did other firms like Pleyel in Paris).

From 1904 on, advertisements in newspapers were so numerous that the customer bought a lot of rolls, a reason why they are so plentiful today!   (1904 is the oldest advert I have, maybe there were some before.)

See the cover of "Catalogue de Musique pour Pianola et Pianola-Piano" (the push-up player device and the player piano, respectively) of October 1925, which indicates the concert hall address and the library address:

The content is important: in the table of contents we discover in the first and second points that music listed is "Edition anglaise" (English edition), and points 4 and 5 are French editions printed on pink pages (pages roses) in the catalog.  It is concerned especially with dance music and piano part music.  No need to insist on the Ravel music pages, whose references are the same as the English originals but with French text.

Pages 144 and 145 show there is also classical music in the French edition and draws your attention to a special type of numeration with letter P before the number.

What about this series P?  Is it truly French Aeolian production?

[] AeoFr_cat_ed_fr.jpg (471 kb)
[] AeoFr_cat_ravel.jpg (449 kb)
[] AeoFr_cat_cover.jpg (123 kb)
[] AeoFr_cat_table.jpg (280 kb)
[] AeoFr_vendeurs.jpg (532 kb)

(see image AeoFrP40225.jpg - 52 kb)
AeoFrP40225_1.jpg (8 kb)Yes, the series P label is an original creation : no red sticker on it, entirely in French, with the Aeolian logo and the name of  The Aeolian Company Paris.  Here I chose a fox trot sung by the famous Maurice Chevalier, "Quand j'entends c't'air des Dolly Sisters" (When I listen to this Dolly Sisters song ?); "c't'air" is a contraction of "cet air", imitating the popular accent used by street people in Paris.

(see image AeoFr_attache.jpg - 521 kb)
The roll begins with a leader of the usual gray Aeolian design. The title is not printed but the same Aeolian label is used as is on the box. Under this label is seen another lovely label from Francis Salabert editor, owner of the music copyright.  There is also the Edifo stamp label found on every mechanical reproduction of music, such as phono records or organ book music.

(see image AeoFr_fab_franc.jpg - 126 kb)
Now, have a look on the perforated roll : these words "fabrication française" on the left and the tempo design are not unknown. You are right : this roll has been made by L'EMP !

[] aAeoFr_fab_franc.jpg (126 kb)
[] AeoFr_attache.jpg (521 kb)
[] AeoFrP40225.jpg (52 kb)

Aeolian Paris
P. 40225 A
Quand j'entends c't'air des Dolly Sisters
Chanté par Chevalier
Harry Cahill
Editions Salabert
The Aeolian Company
 "When I hear the Dolly Sisters' song"

Chevalier and the Dolly Sisters appeared together in movies;
the song is probably from a film of the 1940s.
I'd like to locate sheet music of this song --
I hope it has both French and English text!
-- Robbie

At this time, I have more questions than information. Aeolian sold in France rolls imported from England and had a local commercial agreement with l'EMP for more music.  As we saw, the two firms were in competition to sell the same classical music in the 'twenties.  So, more enquiry is needed to date the L'EMP rolls bearing a red label sticker for Aeolian or Odeola.

As early as 1921, there appears in advertisements an address for the Aeolian library at 64 rue La Boëtie (AeoFr_32_64.jpg), and these addresses appear also in the Aeolian roll catalog of 1925.

From the newspaper "Musique et Instruments", which is the official organ of the music making syndicate, two advertisements are interesting: the first one (EMP_16Hanovre.jpg) is one of the many published and tells us the address used by l'EMP during the entire nineteen twenties, and it lists new music rolls with their usual references (the letter from the composer's name plus a number).

Later in November 1930 the address for L'EMP is the Aeolian library address, 64 rue de la Boëtie, and codification has changed to the usual Aeolian system.  We know that Aeolian has purchased music from Pleyel when their player piano activity was falling.  Is it the same situation here?  Or is there another explanation due to commercial links between the two firms?

I am waiting with impatience for more information from MMD members !

Lorraine Aressy
Perforons la Musique Society
Wed, 23 Jan 2002 16:45:07 +0100

[] AeoFr_32_64.jpg (332 kb)
[] EMP_64Boetie.jpg (361 kb)
[] EMP_16Hanovre.jpg (361 kb)

See also

25 January 2002, 30 January 2002

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