W0047. GRAND FORMAT MUSICAL BOXES play Operatic Overtures & Grand Arias. incl. Rossini, Bellini, Auber, Hérold, Gounod, Balfe, von Flotow, Meyerbeer, Verdi, Mozart & von Weber. [Positively enchanting! This long out-of-print CD is now available in a limited number of sealed copies which have just been discovered from the now defunct Musical Wonder House of Wiscasset, Maine. On the internet the very occasional copy of this rarity is offered for c.$300!] Privately produced by The Musical Wonder House of Wiscasset, Maine. Sealed.
"GRAND FORMAT MUSICAL BOXES plays Opera Overtures and Grand Arias. This was the first Musical Wonder House recording in 1985 to feature the fine Swiss Grand Format Musical Boxes. These exquisite boxes feature large diameter cylinders with stunningly complicated arrangements. The delicacy and sophistication of these boxes presents a formidable challenge to capturing their true sound on tape. The recording was begun in late 1985, after several of the pieces had received the attention of Michel Everett, the talented restorer who joined the Museum staff in 1982. This is the only recording ever produced anywhere to feature solely the ‘Swiss Grand Format Musical Boxes’. If you love Overtures and Grand Arias from the pens of Rossini, Verdi, von Flotow, Meyerbeer, Auber and von Weber, you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the sound of these marvelous mechanical masterpieces. This will undoubtedly become one of your most treasured recordings and you will thrill to the unique and impressive sounds whenever you listen!"
- The Musical Wonder House of Wiscasset, Maine
“The Musical Wonder House, a museum of automated mechanical musical instruments, featured a vast collection of music boxes and was more than a museum. It was a business that restored, bought, and sold antique music boxes, player pianos, and talking machines. The gift shop offered recordings of several of the melodies played on the tour [the above included].”
- Ellen Albanese, BOSTON GLOBE, 24 Oct., 2004
“The Musical Wonder House was, at one time, a gem of Wiscasset. Opened by Danilo Konvalinka, Lois Ernst Konvalinka, and Douglas Henderson in 1963, the business achieved international acclaim for its collection of antique music boxes and instruments that filled the 32 room mansion on High Street, Wiscasset. After the death of Danilo Konvalinka in 2014, the collection was sold off and the house was abandoned.”
- The Lincoln County News, 30 Nov., 2014
"Mechanical music is the first attempt at musical recording. Mechanical music was popular before the phonographic era when it was possible to listen to music only with a pianist or by going to a concert in a theatre or at a municipal bandstand. Man was already seeking to record music in order to spread it more widely.
Not having the ability to preserve the sounds of the actual performances, their first efforts were directed towards the automation of the instruments themselves. We find the beginnings of mechanical music in the bell towers of churches with automatic carillons from about 1490. A cylinder covered with pins controlled the mechanism of the instrument, carillons and organs were the first instruments to be equipped in this way. Café pianos and barrel organs used this system over a long period.
The second époque came in in the middle of the nineteenth century when Jacquard invented the loom that bears his name which used perforated cards to reproduce series of simple motifs. In an adapted form this system was used from then onwards for the fair ground organs (Limaire, Gavioli, Gasparini, Marenghi) and mechanical pianos (pianolas). These musical devices - cards, discs and cylinders – are all that remains of music dismissed as 'genre' music (waltzes, polkas).
The invention of the phonograph and the development of electric recording between the wars resulted in the disappearance of these automatic instruments. Though the marginalisation of these instruments came about through the recording disc, today the disc allows us once again to hear recordings of the earlier mechanical type."
“A music box or musical box is an automatic musical instrument that produces sounds by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc so as to pluck the tuned teeth (or lamellae) of a steel comb. They were developed from musical snuff boxes of the 18th century and called ‘carillons à musique’. Some of the more complex boxes also have a tiny drum and/or small bells, in addition to the metal comb. For most of the 19th century, the bulk of music box production was concentrated in Switzerland, building upon a strong watchmaking tradition. The first music box factory was opened there in 1815 by Jérémie Recordon and Samuel Junod. There were also a few manufacturers in Bohemia and Germany. By the end of the 19th century, some of the European makers had opened factories in the United States. Collectors prize surviving music boxes from the 19th century and the early 20th century as well as new music boxes being made today in several countries.”