History of the Kitesovs dynasty under the heading "Audio stories"

By the end of the 18th century, barrel organs became popular among strolling musicians in Europe, and a little later, they appeared in Russia. The instrument did not require deep knowledge in music and at the same time aroused the constant interest of the public with its melodramatic repertoire.

The history of the creation of portable mechanical organs dates back several centuries. The first models played only one melody, and it began to annoy quickly, so the instrument was constantly improved. Paper music rolls replaced pinned wooden barrels and pinned metal cylinders; the models with reed mechanisms appeared, which changed potentiality of sounding. Since the end of the 19th century, cardboard or metal discs, which allowed recording a wide variety of melodies, from traditional polkas and marches to operatic parts and urban romances, have become increasingly popular music storages for portable organs.

The museum Collection section “Barrel Organs” (Portable organs) enumerates about 200 instruments. Listen to the tunes that they play and admire the variety of their decor and design. A story about the dynasty of barrel organ builders - the Kitesovs family  is in the "Audio Stories" section.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, barrel organs built by Ivan Nechada organs and orchestrions factory were especially common in the Russian Empire, Georgia being a part of it. Shortly, a follower of Ivan Nechada appeared in Georgia – his name was Oganez Kitesov, who founded a whole dynasty of barrel organs builders. Oganez Kitesov left Tiflis for Odessa to study art of organ building from the prominent master for several years. The new apprentice aptitude and ambitions appealed to I. Nechada, and he revealed to Kitesov his main secret - the principle of encoding melodies on a wooden barrel with the help of metal pins. Returning to Tiflis, Oganez Kitesov started his own production.

Barrel organs built by the Kitesov artisans are known far beyond their native Georgia. Their production is highly valued in the United States, Germany, France and other countries. At the World Festival of Organ Music in Berlin, their portable organ won the first place.

Rather few barrel organs skillfully created by the Kitesov dynasty have been preserved to our days. Moreover, barrel organs are not as popular in Tbilisi nowadays as they were 150 years ago. The tradition is slowly disappearing; hence, it remains an integral part of many celebrations and festivities. The Kitesov dynasty is deservedly considered the chroniclers of old Tiflis. The Georgian soul sings in their barrel organs.

Dear friends, you can read about the successful business model of street organ grinders in the material prepared by the museum Collection for «Выберу.ру».
ou will learn even more about the art of barrel organs (portable organs) building while visiting the museum Collection exposition in Moscow, at 16 Solyanka after lifting of restrictions.