Plzeňské sympozia

Antonín Švejda

Automatic Musical Machines in the Bohemian Lands in the 19th and in the Early 20th Centuries

The article describes the production of automatic musical machines in the Bohemian Lands in the 19th century and in the early 20th century. Successful producers included František and Gustav Řebi?Lček, whose workshop made comb music boxes. For his products, František Řebi?Lček was awarded medals at world expos in London and Paris. The most popular automatic musical machine in the Bohemian Lands – barrel organ – was produced by multiple workshops; Riemer’s company in Chrastava, Kolb’s workshop in Pekařov in the Jeseníky Mountains and Kameník’s workshop in Prague were among the famous ones. At the turn of the 20th century, orchestrion production developed, where Hynek Klepetář became established with his piano automata. The most perfect music mechanism was the pianola (player piano), which was the closest to the performance of a live musician. The centre of pianola production in the Bohemian Lands was Liberec and its surroundings. Most automatic musical machines ceased to be produced between the two world wars. The machines significantly influenced the entertainment of the widest social classes in the period concerned.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, music machines

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