Player Pianos

Orchestrion "Phonoliszt" with shadow play show

    Orchestrion "Phonoliszt" with shadow play show

    Germany, Leipzig


    Hupfeld, Ludwig, A.G., Frati & Co

    Wood, metal, plastic, glass; painting, casting, carpentry

    248 х 160 х 88 cm, 420 cm

    Marks: on cast iron frame: “19405”, “LH”, on nameplates near the tape drive mechanism: “Zurück”, “ff mzf pp”


    Piano with two pedals, in wooden case, decorated with dark brown varnish. Black and white plastic keys are closed with a hinged lid. The keyboard is supported by paired chiselled consoles standing on the beaked feet with support rollers. The case façade is covered with a top shield with three arched panels, between paired round semi-columns. The panels are decorated with copper and mother of pearl inlays in the Modern style.

    A window closed by the sliding door is in the central panel. Tape drive mechanism with the receiving coil and tracker bar with a row of 77 rectangular apertures are mounted behind the door. The playing piano plays music recorded on “Phonoliszt” paper rolls. 72 apertures are used to control hammers, 5 apertures are designed to reproduce the performance nuances.

    Volume control lever, rewind button, a play button and a tempo lever are inside the compartment of the tape drive mechanism. Wooden block with fittings for connecting an external orchestrion with percussion instruments is above the compartment.

    The instrument can be played like a regular piano. Electric bracket lamps with shades are installed on the right and left of the window. Wooden case with a theater of shadows is mounted on the piano top. Mechanically, the theater and the piano are connected by the belt drive and are driven by an electric motor installed at the piano bottom.

    A glassed painting that serves as a translucent screen forms the front side of shadow play show. The painting depicts the Alpine landscape with houses, water and windmills and mountain peaks in the background. While the music is playing, day and night time alternates with the help of backlight; the sun in the sky replaces the moon, the waterfall and mill wheel are lighted, and the windows of the houses are lit and extinguished. During the day, the zeppelin shadow floats across the sky.

    Originally, the shadow play show was a part of the orchestrion “Fratinola No 2” of the Berlin company “Frati & Co”.