Player Piano Group Annual Dinner

2002

Some 80-odd player piano enthusiasts from Britain (79) and the US (1 - that's you, Richard!) gathered together at the St. Albans Organ Museum in Hertfordshire on 5th May, 2002 for the Annual Dinner of the Player Piano Group. I took along my trusty Mavica to capture some images of the event which you can see below. It was certainly highly appropriate that the event should be held this year in a setting where we were surrounded by such magnificent instruments. All the instruments (large and small) have been restored to working order and before the dinner began we were treated to a demonstration of them all by Bill and John of the Museum staff.

 

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Welcome to the 2002 Player Piano Group Annual Dinner!
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I begin the tour with the Decap mechanical cafe organ.
The Mighty Three-Manual Wurlitzer - formerly of the Granada Cinema, Edmonton (North London)
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A rare British theatre organ; the three-manual Rutt literally glows in the dark!
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A wider view of the stage setup including the mechanical music machine's nemesis: the Gramophone.
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Pipe-work inside the massive 1920 Th. Mortier band organ.
Another view of the multitude of pipes in the Mortier.
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Decorative detail from the front of the Mortier.
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The console of the Spurden Rutt theatre organ is surrounded by illuminated glass panels which change colour while playing.
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Evidence that the accordion on the Bursens cafe organ are functional, not purely decorative!
Close-up of one of the two beautiful accordions built into the 95-key Bursens.
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The accordian and a friend!
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The bass drum: centrepiece of the Bursens percussion section.

The Symphonion musical box used metal discs, very like gramophone records, back in the 1880s!
Can you believe it - a self-playing violin (with built-in piano accompaniment)! This beautiful creation is a Mills Violano-Virtuoso.
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The inner workings of the Violano are jam-packed with ingenious linkages...
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... to play the violin...
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...including a set of four bow wheels that are designed to imitate horse hair and are kept continually rosined while playing.
Amongst all the organs and musical boxes there was one out-and-out player piano!
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Inside the piano.
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Hot diggity!
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A small sampling of the player piano rolls.
And you thought they only played ragtime!
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A beautiful Victorian-era musical box. The basic design centred around the disc is familiar to those of us of "a certain age"!
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Close-up of a musical disc.
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They weren't just for listening to...
... detail of the inlay-work that made the boxes as beautiful to behold as they were to listen to!
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The museum has several of these disc-driven musical boxes.
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Decorative work was as important in organ-building as the musical reproduction engineering.
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The composer's barrel was used to produce the books that drove the band organs.
The Decap in action; this kicked off the demonstration part of the evening.

One of the Decap's accordians in action.
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Bill, one of the museum staff, hosted the demonstration of the organs and musical boxes.
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Bill demonstrating the the exchangeable discs in disc-driven musical boxes.
The Symphonion was the Big Daddy of the museum's musical boxes.
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The Symphonion's discs are massive - the biggest discs of all.
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What a lot of holes!
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The music boxes and Violano are operated by spring-driven motors.
Inside the player piano before it's loaded with a roll. The piano provided background music during dinner.
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The Violano in action.
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Like the musical boxes the Violano is housed in a beautiful lacquered wood cabinet.
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Make your own pipe organ! This John Smith (Flitwick, UK) can be built from a kit for under 100 using basic DIY skills and readily available parts.
The Mortier in action. By far the most impressive of the museum's band organs.
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Close-up of the Mortier's incredibly detailed decoration.
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A cluster of members of the tuned percussion section of the Mortier.
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By the light of the Mortier.
The central section of the Mortier.
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A view of the Wurlitzer console, which controls 13 ranks of pipes plus extensive percussion...
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...which is all cleverly kept out of sight!
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A besotted fan getting an autograph from Julian Dyer, pianolist on the recently released Shellwood CD of Jelly Roll Morton piano rolls.
The Rutt in action - after dinner we were treated to a concert given by Len Rawle on the museum's two theatre organs.
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Funky colours!
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Shades of blues.
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The English Rutt has a very different, perhaps grittier, sound than the 'Mighty Wurlitzer'...
...a projected view of the three manuals of the Wurlitzer.
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The mighty Wurlitzer...
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The museum's audiovisual facilities enabled us to see Len's hands in close-up on screen.
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Go Len, go!
 
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  Bye-bye! See you next year!

 

All images are copyright 2002, Lisa A. Fagg. Please do not reproduce them without my permission.

This page created on a Macintosh using PhotoPage by John A. Vink.