As the number of piano roll initiatives all over the globe increases and achieves results, the time had been ripe to bring together institutions and experts interested in piano rolls. With the courtesy of the Grassi Museum hosting this meeting, invitations to a global round table meeting on July 25, 2018 in Leipzig were issued.

We were lucky to build on the valuable achievements of prior meetings like the 2017 Cremona “1st European Piano Roll Meeting” the 2017 Leipzig “Hupfeld Symposium” and similar efforts. This meeting had been a great opportunity for people who have attended these meetings to come together again and to become acquainted with more people working in this area. A great chance to share current research, perspectives, and aspirations for future work and collaboration. We first time also allowed for virtual attendance as well.

The meeting allowed for a wide-ranging exchange of viewpoints, expertise, and experience. The program and agenda invited for spontaneous contributions and suggestions.

We felt honored by the great success of this meeting. More than 50 participants (presence and virtual) from more than 13 countries.

Now we are trying to have the presentations online. Many ideas for cooperation and concrete steps got definied. This will be continued!

Thank you!

Josef Focht
Grassi Museum

Jerry McBride
Stanford University

Marc Widuch

The Attendees

One of the main objectives has been networking and sharing to foster collaboration and planning for a future larger conference. We surely had not identified everybody that should have been on the list, so please share this and propose further attendees. Here are some examples of he participating countries / institutions:

Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Czech Republic
Mechanical Music Machines, Technical Museum Brno
Mekaanisen Musiikin Museo
Deutsches Museum
Museum für Musikinstrumente der Universität Leipzig
Institut für Musikwissenschaft der LMU München
Augustiner Museum Freiburg
Musikwerkstatt Beeskow
Eisenmuehle Elstertrebnitz
Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main
FaszinationPianola Munich
University di Pavia
Nederlandse Pianola Sociëteit
Pianola Museum Amsterdam
Ringve Music Museum
Player Piano Group
Musical Museum Brentford
Stanford University
Biblioteca de Catalunya
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Biblioteca Nacional de España
Universitat de Barcelona
Bern University of the Arts

(italics are attending virtually)


The program

13:30 Arrival and registration

Concert Hall
14:00 Greeting (Josef Focht)
14:05 Player Piano Project (Jerry McBride)
14:20 MIMUL Tasten (Heike Fricke, Jakob Kusnick, Josef Focht, Martin Reckziegel)
– Overview (project goals, collection, preservation)
– Cataloging and digitization
– Data retrieval
– Data standards (identifiers, interfaces, thesauri)

14:50 Participant introductions
15:00 Participant brief presentations and updates
– Selected participants give highlights of their current work (10 minutes each)

16:00 Coffee break and Poster Presentations

16:30 Theater organ with MIDI interface (Dominik Ukolov)

Concert Hall
16:45 Round table discussion (Moderators: Marc Widuch and Kumaran Arul)
– Areas for cooperation
– Global database project
– Future conference
– Standards

17:45 Summary and conclusions (Jerry McBride)
18:00 Acknowledgements (Josef Focht)


Global Map of Activities

The objectives of the meeting were to
a. give updates on initiatives that are going on around the globe, and
b. to discuss and agree on how this can be a continuous process to better exchange information on great achievements,
to encourage collaboration, and to promote best practices.


Inspiration for a global database

Any lover of player pianos shares the dream, to have easy access to the huge repertoire of rare and valuable rolls. Museums, institutions, and collectors aim to preserve these rare original rolls. To date, there is no global database that allows a quick and relevant search by title, composer, artist, manufacturer etc. What if we could start a database containing valuable information on each title, including scanning data, audio files, musical piece information, links to further sources, etc.? Such a database could be a lively and globally networked cooperative effort with contributions from many individuals and institutions. This idea is subject to further discussion at the meeting. Great examples like the Welte-Mignon database exist - and we hope to built on these ideas and experiences.


Worth visiting...

Leipzig is a wonderful city. It was one of the leading European cities in the early 1900s - the center of music, culture, commerce, transportation, etc. Today it is a great example of a city combining both history and the future. Hupfeld and many other leading companies had their businesses in Leipzig. Even Welte had his recording studio with Popper in Leipzig, as this is where the most famous artists performed.

If you travel to Germany and Leipzig for the meeting, we highly recommend you take a few days more to see some of the wonderful places, not just for mechanical music, but for other important sights.

For accomodations you will find a superb choice of hotels of any taste. The well-known web tools will be helpful to find the hotel that suits you best. Public transportation is very comfortable. You shouldn't miss the fantastic Leipzig central station, even if you do not travel by train. If you are used to Uber, please consider that this service isn't available in Germany the way you might be experienced to in other cities such as in the U.S.

Naturally, we can't provide a complete list of must-see locations.

For Leipzig please visit their homepage.

Related to reproducing pianos in Leipzig area
...the GRASSI Museum
has a superb collection (the meeting will take place here)
...the Hupfeld area
is still extant (tours only on request and special allowance)
...the Eisenmuehle Elstertrebnitz
is a great place to visit - not just for the nice small collection

Related to reproducing pianos in Germany
...the Bruchsal museum DMM
(homepage in German) combines a great collection with a fantastic historic castle
...the Sinsheim museum Wilhemsbau
in Speyer surely has one greatest collections
...the SMMK museum in Rüdesheim
located right in the historic city centre
...the Deutsches Museum in Munich
(homepage in German) anyway is a must-see - and has a nice collection of music instruments
...the Beeskow Musikmuseum
(homepage in German) made of the former Monschau museum
...the Komponisten-Quartier in Hamburg
is a small but wonderful place to go (currently just one Welte cabinet)
...the Görlitz central station has a nice cafe with a DEA grand piano and a Phonoliszt piano

Related to reproducing pianos in Central Europe
...the Museum für Musikautomaten in Seewen is a must-see to any reproducing piano lover
...the Musicalia museum in Cesena also has a very nice collection
...the Pianola museum in Amsterdam is a unique place to visit

Please let us know if we should list another place here as well.