In 1957, the Wurlitzer style 30A Mandolin PianOrchestra featured on this Archive CD was discovered in abandoned condition in the upstairs ballroom of the old Martin Hotel in Skaneateles Falls, New York. Forlorn and in deplorable condition, with many critical parts missing and no music rolls with it, the derelict machine passed through the hands of several collectors before it landed in Terry Hathaway's collection in 1965. After erecting the majestic looking orchestrion and taking inventory of exactly what needed to be replaced and/or reconstructed, the first order of business was to clean off the coating of sticky grime that covered it, inside and out. Next, it was time to begin the daunting task of painstakingly restoring the huge instrument to its original perfection. Later, when Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., moved into its new and spacious concrete tilt-up building in late 1967, the restored PianOrchestra was moved into the luxurious showroom, where it was for several years an integral part of the group of orchestrions and coin-in-the-slot pianos that happily performed for many private and public tours. If you were a visitor to Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., you probably remember seeing and hearing this very instrument, and enjoying the very same tunes featured on this Archive Series compact disc.
According to Farny Wurlitzer, the style 30A Mandolin PianOrchestra was one of the most popular Wurlitzer PianOrchestras sold, probably because it seemed a good value with its imposing size and appearance, as well as for its varied and full-bodied musical instrumentation. Along with the basic piano, and its mandolin attachment, the xylophone, bells, drums and other percussive effects play in concert with four ranks of superbly crafted wooden pipes, which provide violin, viola, violoncello, flute and piccolo voices. But no matter how popular the style 30A might have been in its heyday, keep in mind, at the time this Wurlitzer 30A PianOrchestra was restored in 1966 virtually nobody knew how a large, fully restored PianOrchestra actually sounded. The commercial viability of such machines had completely vanished some forty or more years earlier. Thus, with the capabilities of these large machines basically long ago forgotten, many collectors of the 1950's and 1960's dismissed the large orchestrions entirely, mistakenly thinking that they were not worth the effort to restore, instead spending their time and money on the relatively small coin-in-the-slot pianos. Exactly how the idea took hold, thinking that the big instruments were not as fascinating and enjoyable as their smaller brethren, is unknown. But what is known is that once this Wurlitzer 30A PianOrchestra was functional and playing, and installed in the H&B showrooms, collectors of all sorts suddenly began paying attention to the large machines. When Larry Givens -- who was a notable collector at the time and is the man who discovered the PianOrchestra in Skaneateles Falls -- heard the 30A PianOrchestra for the first time he exclaimed, "Oh, that is what they sound like," as Larry suddenly realized his mistake in not previously wanting to keep the huge instrument.
Click here for pictures and additional historical details about this instrument.
When recorded in the H&B showroom, the PianOrchestra case access doors were closed, with the microphones placed so as to acquire a balanced sound, while simultaneously capturing the loudness expression provided by the swell shutters located in the top of the instrument. However, since the original 1/4 inch analog stereo tapes for the music on this Archive CD were destroyed more than twenty years ago the audio had to be captured from two mint condition vinyl LP's. These LP's were originally issued by Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., circa 1967-68, and were offered for sale up through the early 1970's. Once the audio material from the source LP's was digitized, it was carefully processed to remove any impulse noise, such as pops and ticks, a commonplace problem for old lateral recordings. Next, the "cleaned" audio signal, free of impulse disturbances, was again processed to remove low frequency rumble, vinyl surface noise components, residual 60 Hertz hum introduced by the original recording equipment and the PianOrchestra's loud motor noise. Lastly, the audio signal was equalized to remedy any bias introduced by the vinyl LP recording process itself. The result of all this painstaking effort, using professional quality audio restoration software, is a clear and very enjoyable PianOrchestra listening experience.
The selection of music is of popular tunes, using both Wurlitzer Mandolin PianOrchestra rolls and Symphonia P.M. music rolls (manufactured by Eugene DeRoy, Antwerp, Belgium). This mixing of early American (Wurlitzer music from 1910 to 1925) and late European musical styles (Symphonia music rolls circa 1930 - 1950) provides a pleasing contrast, and it gives the listener an opportunity to appreciate the differences between the two very different artistic approaches to music layout.
Wurlitzer Style 30A Mandolin PianOrchestra
|Wurlitzer Mandolin PianOrchestra Rolls (circa 1910 to 1925)|
|2.||Most Anything Rag|
|6.||California Here I Come|
|7.||I'm a Jazz Vampire|
|8.||Tuck Me to Sleep (In My Old Kentucky Home)|
|13.||Who's Sorry Now|
|14.||Me and My Shadow|
|15.||They Needed a Song Bird in Heaven (So God Took Caruso Away)|
|16.||Wake Up Little Girl, You're Just Dreaming|
|17.||Whenever You Are Lonesome, Just Telephone Me|
|Symphonia P.M. Rolls (circa 1930 to 1950)|
|21.||Weer Ben -- Cafe|
|23.||Deep in the Heart of Texas|
|24.||Cokey Cokey Dance|
|25.||Kiss Me Again|
Listen to a sample...
"DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS"
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