Last Updated: 10/8/2008


"Joseph Haydn and the Mechanocal Organ," by Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume. Published in 1982 by University College Cardiff Press. First Edition. Hard cover with dust jacket, 185 pages with with 55 Plates (black-and-white photographs, with descriptions) and 36 Line Illustrations (drawings). The book measures 9-7/8 inches (25 cm) high by 7 inches (19 cm) wide.

Text from the dustjacket is as follows:

"Within the extensive corpus of music which Haydn left posterity was a set of thirty-two pieces of music written for mechanical organs. While some of the original manuscript scores for these little works survive, most have been lost. However, three of the tiny clockwork barrel organs for which the music was written are still in existence and these unique mechanisms not only preserve for us Haydn's lost compositions, but they are priceless time capsules of enormous musicological importance. They tell us positively that Haydn wanted to hear in the way of interpretation and they play today exactly the way they did when they were built under the auspices of Haydn's benefactor and employer, Prince Nicolaus Esterházy. The story does not end there, however, for the mechanical instruments were built by an extraordinarily talented priest, Father Primitivus Niemecz, who was also employed by the Prince as librarian to look after his great library which contained a copy of every book published. Father Niemecz as also a musician and composer and played 'cello in Haydn's orchestra.

This book is written by a world authority on mechanical music and mechanical musical instruments, charts the origins of this organ-building priest, describes his meeting and close friendship with Haydn, relates how the music came to be written and then goes on to describe in great detail the first and the third of the three instruments. The author also corrects a long-standing error in dating the earliest instrument, a situation which has led earlier writers to draw incorrect conclusions as to the origins of the music.

A detailed examination of the thirty-two pieces of music with suggestions as to their derivation is followed by some new revelations regarding the first mechanical orchestra called the Panharmonicon. Always attributed to Wolfgang Mälzel, the author produces evcidence to show that the name was given by Haydn to an instrument made by Father Neimecz's assistant, a man called Joseph Gurck.

In uniting the skills of the historian in horology, Ccentral European organ-building, and musicaology, the author presents a book of interest to collectors, historians and musicians alike."

List of Figures
List of Plates
  1. The Mechanical Organ
  2. Haydn, Niemeccz and the Princes Esterházy
  3. The Three Organs
  4. The Music Played
  5. The Creation of the Organs
  6. Contemporary Haydn Clocks
Appendix 1: Haydn and the Panharmonicon
Appendix 2: Making Mechanical Organs and Arranging Music
Select Bibliography

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