Faszination Player Piano

On these pages we will present some books and web links on the subject of Pianolas that we consider recommendable. We are always grateful for more information about interesting literature or websites.

We can highly recommend the book Faszination Player Piano by Jürgen Hocker, published by Edition Bochinsky Verlag. In a very evident way it gives an overview on the development of the self-playing piano and interesting insights into the details of various aspects. The book is an ideal introduction to this subject.



One of the probably best and most detailed books on the subject is Pianola by W.J.G. Hume. In English you can learn everything about the development, variations and historical backgrounds of pianolas. The author grants insight into many less known details, quotes from many rare documents and shows very clear photos, graphics and illustrations.


AGHume Automatic Pianos

The extensive book Automatic Pianos was published by the same author (Arthur W.J.G. Hume) in 2004. Also in English, it gives even more details about pianolas, barrel organs and the Aeolian orchestrelle. The author is one of the worldwide renown experts. He gives many details, very clear photos, graphics and illustrations. A very recommendable book.


Im Aufnahmesalon Hupfeld

When a series of historical photo recordings was discovered by chance, this wonderful book Im Aufnahmesalon Hupfeld was published. It describes the development of the Hupfeld company in Leipzig and of pianolas and the piano roll manufacture. It contains exceptionally beautiful pictures of great pianists in the Hupfeld recording studios where the piano rolls were recorded.


100Jahre Welte-Mignon

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Welte & Söhne, Freiburg, this book or rather exhibition catalog, 1100 Jahre Welte-Mignon, was published by the Augustinian Museum. The book contains lots of detailed information and articles on the production of the Welte company. This book probably gives the most comprehensive insight into the Welte company that launched the global sensation - the Welte-Mignon cabinet, the first reproduction instrument of this quality - in 1904.


Gesamtkatalog Welte-Mignon Notenrollen

Gerhard Dangel and Hans W. Schmitz have written an impressive book, the Gesamtkatalog der europäischen Aufnahmen 1904-1932 für das Welte-Mignon Reproduktionspiano. Beside detailed information on piano rolls, it includes many background details on the piano roll production. Because Welte never published a general catalog of all its rolls, this book is even more valuable - not only for collectors, but also for those who are interested in the reproduction titles of Welte.


Player Piano Servicing and Rebuilding

Player Piano - Servicing and Rebuilding by Arthur Reblitz is a perfect book for all those who want to better understand the function of the pianola and possibly want to maintain or even refurbish a pianola. The function of the individual parts is very clearly explained and instructions for maintenance and repair are given. Each step is described with many photos.


Das Mechanische Musikinstrument DMM

The Gesellschaft für Selbstspielende Musikinstrumente e.V. (Society for self-playing musical instruments) publishes every three months a journal, Das Mechanische Musikinstrument. Although it mostly discusses barrel organs, music boxes etc., there are also interesting articles about pianolas. This journal is sent to members of the society - you can acquire the issues individually or as pdf files on CD. Some of the older issues are very interesting.


Technical History of the Player Piano

John MacTammany is considered one of the inventors of the pianola. In this book Technical History of the Player Piano he discusses the technical development of the self-playing pianolas. He describes, explains and compares all important patents that contributed to the origin and improvement of the pianolas. This book is an exciting read for technology buffs and offers a better understanding of how pianolas operate.


Ampico_Re-Enacting the Artist

Ampico B is the latest and best developed reproduction system. In his book "Re-Enacting the Artist", published in 1970, Larry Givens gives many details of Ampico's piano roll production - and of the development and technical details of the Ampico B system. The Ampico B had overcome many of the inherent weaknesses or technical limitations of other reproduction systems, due to interesting technical solutions.


The Pianolist

Many books about the way of pianola playing were published around 1910. Only a few remain. The Pianolist by Gustav Kobbe describes step by step the most important aspects of pianola playing in English - so that you can develop your abilities from beginner to virtuoso. An exciting book, giving insight into the fashion of the pianola era.


Hints to Autopianists

Kastner & Co. Ltd, London, formerly Leipzig, published this wonderful book to describe the functionality and possibilities of the Autopiano Pianola in all details. Hints to Autopianists includes topics specific for Autopiano, incl. Kastonomes and Ertronomes - and quite basic aspects of pianola playing. A fantastic book. You can acquire a pdf copy of this book from me.


Piano Mastery

When dealing with piano rolls - in particular artist's and reproducing roles - it is rewarding to read books that discuss views, performance methods and especially characteristics of the great pianists. Piano Mastery by Harriette Brower tells in short sections details about various great pianists from around 1900 that help to enjoy the preserved piano roll recordings in a different way.


Piano Playing

A very special and almost forgotten book was written by the famous pianist Josef Hofmann: Piano Playing. J. Hofmann gives insights into his view of piano playing - and he answers the standard questions of his pupils very specifically. An interesting book for music enthusiasts and pianists - written by a pianist who was considered one of the most successful ones and known for his perfection.


Liszt Piano Sonata Monographs

There are individual piano rolls that contain recordings of great historical value. Liszt Piano Sonata Monographs by Gerard Carter and Martin Adler was inspired by the finding of two special Hupfeld piano rolls with recordings of Liszt's pupil Arthur Friedheim. Liszt himself declared the performance of his B minor sonata by his pupil Arthur Friedheim as the best one, it is said. The book discusses these recordings and the piece in details and gives a better understanding of this title by Liszt.


Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance

There are individual piano rolls that contain recordings of great historical value. After the Golden Age - Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by Kenneth Hamilton was inspired by the finding of two special Hupfeld piano rolls. He wrote a fantastic book about the playing of great pianists and composers from Romanticism to the Modern Age. He has studied numerous sources and describes in detail the different views and performances of the pianists. The book is written in English, includes many citations and anecdotes, reads very vividly and gives a lot of insight for a better understanding of the recordings preserved on piano rolls.


Die Grundlage der Methode Leschetizky

Malwine Brée, pupil and later assistant of one of the greatest pianists and teachers, Theodor Leschetizky, wrote Die Grundlage der Methode Leschetizky in 1902 "authorized by her master" despite the refusal of theoretical piano schools. It contains essential elements of the so-called "Leschetizky School" including many pictures of the master's hand positions. There are interesting insights into the Theodore Leschetizky's positions on music and performance practice. The section about treading contains notes on specific features of his way of playing the piano. T. Leschetizky has fortunately become very old, and his piano playing could even be recorded in a movie, found on the DVD "The Art of Piano". This book's German edition is very rare.


Pianola Links

In addition to these books there is of course numerous literature on this subject that is worth reading. Some of the above-mentioned Books are still available (specialized stores or Amazon) - but most of them only at antique markets. Come back now and then - and please let me know if you can recommend certain book titles.

Here are some links about the subject of Pianolas. Browsing, reading and developing is worth doing - because much valuable information on the subject of Pianolas is found here.

One of the best websites on the subject of Pianolas is in my view the English page The Pianola Institute. Here you will find a lot of background information, pictures and sounds of Pianolas in general and of the different manufacturers and systems.

The English Player Piano Group offers on its pages a lot of information, music examples, midi files, articles etc. Since England was always one of the most important markets for pianolas, there are a great collectors' community and interesting contacts.

Also this English website, The Player Piano Page offers a lot of interesting information about pianolas. Many sources, books, CD recordings and original ads are found here, and some may be bought.

The American Society for Mechanical Musical Instruments AMICA offers a lot of information on its pages. You can also buy the bulletin AMICA and get it sent.

The forum of the Mechanical Music Digest has many contributions of different collectors, restorers and pianola owners. There are also extensive pictures and documents and you can get in touch with other pianola lovers from all over the world.

The video-forum YouTube has become a fantastic fund for image and sound-recordings all around the subject. Enter various keywords, and you will find a lot of nice videos.

The Centre for Performance History gives extensive information about the performance practice of pianists in the 18th - 20th century. These insights permit a clearly better understanding of the piano roll recordings - the book „The Golden Age“ is the best one to shed light on this subject.

On this American Internet site QRS Music Rolls you may find and order the new QRS rolls that are available even today. You can find interesting information about the long history of QRS and the video on piano roll production.

Based on the already mentioned book „Faszination Player Piano“, this website adds information but also excerpts and pictures from the book. It is worth browsing: Player-Piano-Konzerte.

The Gesellschaft für Mechanische Musikinstrumente GSM e.V. (Society for Mechanical Musixc Instruments) offers information and articles on its webpages, too. Details on the society and membership are included.

The Augustinian Museum set up a nice website on M. Welte & Sons, Freiburg, in 2004. A very nice possibility to get information on the Welte piano rolls was recently added - das Verzeichnis der Welte-Mignon Notenrollen.