remembering the pianola

The inspiration for this post came from this pianola I saw in the Charters Towers Zara Clark Museum. I’m guessing the holes punched out in this pianola roll play a ballad of the slow variety given the visible lyrics …. through the long, dark hours. No knee slapping round the piano with this one! I’m sorry to say that my searching hasn’t uncovered the likely song on this roll. Perhaps someone can inform us.

pianola

The pianola or player piano was a popular home entertainment unit in the early and middle twentieth century if you could afford it, preferred perhaps if your piano playing skills were limited or non-existent.

From The Adelaide Chronicle of 30 March 1929 is a mouth operated mini-version. A few steps up from the kazoo don’t you think?

Pocket Pianola

Head over here to The Pianola Institute for a comprehensive summary of the history of the pianola. This catalogue was created 3 years after Edwin Scott Votey produced his pianola. Many player pianos had come before, but this one seemed to kick off their popularity.

historyjpgs_plabrochure

Cover of the first Aeolian Company Pianola Catalogue – New York, 1898.

This theatre advertising slide is from 1929 and is in the collection of the John Oxley Library at the State Library of Queensland. (out of copyright). Coincidentally, given the Charters Towers connection above, this slide was likely projected in a theatre either in Charters Towers or nearby. Perhaps the player in the museum was bought through W F Greenhoulgh.

Player pianosAnyone old enough to remember a few sing-songs around the pianola, and the boxes of piano rolls stored neatly away in specially designed timber furniture?


an accidental death

On 13 March 1922, this funeral notice for Steven Polkinghorne appeared in the Charters Towers press.

Steven Polkinghorne

A month later, this respected member of the Towers Concert Band was remembered by his fellow players.

Steven Polkinghorne photograph

One of these framed photographs is now housed in the Zara Clark Museum in Charters Towers.  It is accompanied by this story.

bass drummer

“At a picnic at the weir, Steve was boating with friends when a lady’s hat was blown into the water. Steve tried to rescue the hat but when he swam back his friends, as a prank, rowed away. It is believed that Steve tired, or had a cramp, and drowned.”

Both articles are from The Northern Miner via Trove Australia – 13 March 1922 and 13 April 1922 respectively.


19th century songs for little children

I keep going back to Project Gutenberg’s e-books to discover the new treasures regularly added to their collection.

Take, for example, this 1883 French book of children’s songs – Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants.

The better known Frère Jacques and Sur le pont d’Avignon are included in the selection of over 30 songs.  I’ve selected three of the rhyme illustrations.  The original book would be wonderful to see as many of the images were coloured wood engravings. The first is a simple rhyme about a dance in single file. The second is about a mean person in possession of good quality snuff (ground tobacco leaves) and not sharing it.  The third is a sad tale of Michael’s mother who lost her cat only to discover that it has been kidnapped and sold for a rabbit.

Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfantsLa queueJ'ai du bon tabacLa Mere Michel

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants, by 
Charles Marie Widor

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants
       avec accompagnements de Ch. M. Widor

Author: Charles Marie Widor

Illustrator: Louis Maurice Boutet de Monvel

Australians all – on your feet for this anthem

The Queenslander – 18 October 1890 – printed this music by A McBride to accompany words by the poet James Brunton Stephens as a potential composition of his Australian anthem.  Seems catchy enough.  Yes?

Anthem - 18 Oct 1890