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Comments 1996 (Archives)

1996, a good vintage for Mechanical Music!

First, it was the year of the bicentennial of the invention of the music box (by Antoine Favre, in Geneva, in 1796).
This bicentennial was celebrated by several events:

In Sainte-Croix (Switzerland), several exhibitions and a festival in August;


In Zürich (Switzerland), a large exhibition of music boxes from July to October


In the USA, during the annual convention of the MBSI (association of american collectors of mechanical music)


This convention gathered 750 people (a record), of whom 100 foreigners, exhibitions, visits of collections, numerous workshops and conferences.

Several new Web sites (Musica Mecanica is one of them) appeared for Mechanical Music. Proposed by individuals, associations, dealers.
Numerous street organ festivals took place in America and in Europe, especially in France (20 of them!).
In public auctions, prices of standard pieces stagnates, but the price of exceptionnal pieces takes off.
Several important collections changed hands these last years:

After the French Musée d'Instruments de Musique mécanique de Paris departed to Belgium,


The huge Reuge collection went from Switzerland to Japan,


And the largest dance organ in the World, the Mortier Taj Mahal, left Switzerland to Australia.

No really new instrument appeared on the market, but more and more automatic organs are driven with computerized systems (Midi), more versatile than the usual paper rolls or books.
Several courageous builders go on making in small numbers reproductions of prestigious old instruments, sometimes with small improvements:

In the USA, Ramey produces his banjo Orchestra.


The German Siegfried Wendel, after issuing several 6 violins Hupfeld instruments, brought this summer to the USA a reproduction of the big orchestrion Weber Maesto.



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