Articles - Medieval

Articles - Baroque

Articles - General

Articles - Welte/Seewen

Articles - Eugène Gigout

CD tracklistings

WordPerfect Corner



Purely anecdotal


Articles - Seewen/Welte

Items relating to the Philharmonie organ in the Hall of Auditory Arts

Museum der Musikautomaten, Seewen (Solothurn/Switzerland)

together with its collection of around 1,600 historic early 20th century recordings

and the remarkable world of M. Welte & Söhne and organ roll recordings


The Britannic Organ and Geisterhand continue ... an award winning CD series ...

Volume 3 (Music on the high seas) Volume 3 corrigenda

Volume 4 (Gigout and Bonnet)

Volume 5 (Wagner)

Volume 6 (British organists) Notes Volume 6

Volume 7 (Swiss organists)

Volume 8 (Reger) Notes Volume 8

Volume 9 (US organists and Lemare)

Volume 10 (German organists and music)

click on CD tracklistings (left) for more detail and some important links

Complete Seewen- Britannic series details and samples from the Oehmsclassics web-site

wie von Geisterhand continues with Swiss National Funding

The finalizing of a catalogue of all known Welte rolls and major research projects by Dominik Hennig (Gigout) and Nicola Cittadin (Bossi) are among the highlights of Geisterhand between now and 2017.

Two articles by David Rumsey, "The Speed of Welte's Organ Rolls" and "Welte's Philharmonie for Turin 1911 - the evidence of the rolls", should be available by late 2014. This will be a publication of the Museum der Musikautomaten, Seewen (SO) and contain other articles from participants at the "wie von Geisterhand" conference held at Seewen during March 2013

Two musical examples from the article "Welte's Philharmonie for Turin 1911 - the evidence of the rolls"

474: Franz Philipp playing Canzonetta ("star vicino al bel idol") which is wrongly attributed to Salvator Rosa

482: excerpts from Rossini's William Tell ("Trio" Potpourri)


The issue of roll speeds and the vagaries of the Welte "three-phase" pneumatic motor is currently a topic of discussion and research in the context of Geisterhand. The motor needs to be carefully controlled so that its speed does not vary - a common failing with this pneumatic device. In a Swiss TV program from 13th February 2014 pianist Manuel Bärtsch presented this problem in relation to a Mahler song. The accompaniment is played by Gustav Mahler himself from a piano roll he made of it over 100 years ago. It is sung by Jeannine Camenzind. The discussion revolves around the tempo of the music when the correct speed of the motor is set and maintained - now somewhat faster than previously thought. (In Swiss German)

click to watch


Montgomery Rufus Karl

(Carl) Siegfried Straube

and his cousin, Gertrude Palmer

Selected aspects of two distinguished musical careers

article by David Rumsey, Sydney Organ Journal - December 2013

(Click here for an on-line copy)

The Britannic Organ

Volume 5: Wagner played on the organ

Celebrating the 2013 bicentennial of Wagner's birth, Volume 5 of the OehmsClassics series, The Britannic Organ, appeared in November 2012. The series presents historic recordings and demonstrations of the Seewen Welte organ and its unique collection of early masters, and - especially in the case of the Wagner volume - "drawn" rolls. Also called "designed" rolls these are not recordings of live performances but are hand-made by skilled musician-technicians transcribing notes and musical expressions from scores and their own experience to make a perforated player-roll. All performances present a fascinating insight into the performance paradigms around early 20th century Freiburg.

OehmsClassics "Britannic Organ" website

An extended set of program notes to Volume 3 can be found on this web-site (in German, French and English): Extended program notes to Volume 3

Bonnet's In Memoriam Titanic - additional information

Of the many pleasures in working with the historic Welte rolls at Seewen one of the greatest is the constant stream of interesting visitors and correspondence that it generates. While the recordings of Gigout and Bonnet were being produced (The Britannic Organ Volume 4), one of our most treasured contacts in this connection suddenly came out of the blue: the daughter of Joseph Bonnet, Mme Francoise Brown-Bonnet, made herself known to us. In a letter of 29th November 2012, one of a number of communications between us, she touchingly thanks us for the gift of the CDs of her father's performances and provides some fascinating additional information about "In Memoriam Titanic". At the time of the sinking Bonnet had not yet crossed the Atlantic, but within the following 3 decades he had spent some years in North America and recorded this work twice, once in Germany for Welte in February 1913 (The Britannic Organ Volume 3) and again for Victor Records in 1941 on 78s (Album 18213-18216 - recorded on the organ of the John Hays Hammond Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts USA).

Mme. Brown-Bonnet provided us with some most interesting additional information about just how the work developed. This is summarized at the end of the "Titanic's final Concert" article on this web-site. We are extremely grateful for this information. She also provides up-dated information and corrections regarding the "78" recordings that Bonnet later made (more information is available on the Association Joseph Bonnet web-site).

link to dedicated Gigout material on this web-site.

Link to the article Titanic's final Concert Adobe Acrobat format (.PDF)

Link to the article Titanic's final Concert WordPerfect format (.WPD)

Link to the web-site of the Association Joseph Bonnet

Two articles courtesy of the Museum der Musikautomaten, Seewen (SO-CH)

David Rumsey deals with aspects of Welte's roll-recordings and the procedures he uses to rescue, edit and play them again - a background to the transfers used in producing the recent CD recordings released by OehmsClassics under the banner of "The Britannic Organ".

The big picture - Welte's instruments, rolls, recording, digital editing (PDF)

Pearls and rarities of the Welte organ roll collection (PDF)

from "Wie von Geisterhand. Aus Seewen in die Welt. 100 Jahre Welte-Philharmonie Orgel" Ausstellungskatalog/Exhibition Catalogue, Seewen 2011 ed. Christoph E. Hänggi. .


The Seewen roll collection contains around 20 improvisations. A large number of these will be recorded as Volume 11 of The Britannic Organ series, due for release in late 2015. Ramin and Hofner's improvisations are among the earliest recorded that we know of: Hofner's from about 1911 (will appear in Volume 11), Ramin's 1925-26 (in Volume 2). A remarkable improvisation by Marcel Dupré from 1926 (Volume 1) is also already included. For recordings of the Ramin and Dupré improvisations see OehmsClassics Seewen-Britannic releases.

Other recordings

(these are samples only, some await further editing)

Welte # 1106 - Harry Goss-Custard (1871-1964) playing Elgar's Imperial March Opus 32

Welte # 1004: M. E. Bossi playing his own work Fatemi la grazia

(Note: sound levels are sometimes very low in the Bossi recording)

Welte # 1041 - Alfred Sittard playing Franck's Grande Pièce Symphonique (part II).

Most of the above sound samples are an adjunct to David Rumsey's article, "Welte's Philharmonie roll recordings 1910-1928: My afternoons with Eugène Gigout" - which appeared in "The Diapason", March 2011.

Click here for an on-line version of this article.

Others formerly listed here - amongst many others - are now available on The Britannic Organ CDs

Please note that, as recordings appear in the OehmsClassics "The Britannic" Organ" series in better-edited versions with full CD quality, .mp3 sample versions above are removed from this site.

OehmsClassics "Britannic Organ" website


The Britannic Organ on Swiss TV

in dubio pro regio Telebasel program of 7th December 2012 (in Basel German - preceded by a short advertisement)

Click here for a link to the Telebasel program (For the Welte/Britannic Organ segment start at around 18 Minutes; David Rumsey appears at around 20 minutes).

The Britannic Organ

Volume 4: Eugène Gigout and Joseph Bonnet

Click here for the Volume 4 track-listing (pdf)

The Britannic Organ is an OehmsClassics series: historic recordings, demonstrations of the unique Seewen Welte organ, the earliest organ recordings played "live": Volume 1 was released in June 2011, Volume 2 ("Christmas aboard ship") in October 2011, Volume 3 ("Music on the High Seas") appeared in early 2012, and now Volume 4 in August. For the 2013 bicentennial of his birth an all-Wagner disk (Volume 5) appeared in late 2012. This will be followed in 2013 by another two CD-pairs, one of early-20th century British organists (Volume 6 due mid-year) and the other of Swiss organists (Volume 7 due end of year).

OehmsClassics "Britannic Organ" website

Museum der Musikautomaten: "Shop" (in German, French, Italian, English)

Further samples of these historic recordings can be found on this web-site by clicking on the "Articles - Seewen/Welte" page.

An extended set of program notes to Volume 3 can be found on this web-site (in German, French and English): Extended program notes to Volume 3

Marco Enrico Bossi and Welte

MARCO ENRICO BOSSI AL "WELTE PHILARMONIE ORGEL" - an article in Italian by Nicola Cittadin (CH), published in Arte Organaria e Organistica, n.79, Anno XVIII, Aprile-Giugno 2011. See also the sound recording above

Click here for an on-line version of this article.


Titanic's final concert Published in the Sydney Organ Journal Vol 42, No. 1. Summer 2010-2011.

A German translation of "Titanic's last Concert" was published in the Swiss Titanic Society's magazine, TITANIC POST, Nr. 76 June 2011. It has some additional information including a number of memorials that quote the tune "Horbury".

Click here for the on-line German language version of this article


Database of scanned Welte organ rolls held at the Museum der Musikautomaten in Seewen (interim release - updated 30th April 2013). Available formats are Paradox (.db), QuattroPro (.qpw) and Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).

Database of Seewen's scanned Welte organ rolls (DB)

Database of Seewen's scanned Welte organ rolls (QPW)

Database of Seewen's scanned Welte organ rolls (XLSX)

Key to the database (PDF)

2010 - updated December 2012

A summary history of recording with special reference to historical organ recordings is available.

A brief history of organ recording (PDF)


Appearances by David Rumsey and other members of the "wie von Geisterhand" project team on Television:

Swiss Television SF1 "Einstein" Programme of 14th January 2010 (link 1)


Swiss Television SF1 "Einstein" Programme of 14th January 2010 (link 2)


"Wie von Geisterhand" - ein Projekt zur Digitalisierung von Musikrollen (German only: description of the National Swiss project for the digitisation of music rolls with particular reference to Seewen's organ and its unique roll collection.)


The Origins of Seewen's Welte Philharmonie ("The Diapason" - published article, English version)

Herkunft der Seewener Welte-Philharmonie-Orgel (Deutsche Fassung)

L'origine de l'orgue Welte-Philharmonie de Seewen (version française, 2010)


L'orgue du Britannic de Seewen et ses rouleaux (Traduction par Guy Bovet pour La Tribune de l'orgue #60, 2008)

The Seewen-Britannic organ and its associated rolls (English version)


Appearance by David Rumsey and other members of the "wie von Geisterhand" project team on Television:

Swiss Television Cultural program of 31st October 2007

Press releases

Ocean Liner Britannic's organ found (press release 24th May 2007, English)

Orgel des gesunkenen Ozeanriesen Britannic entdeckt (Pressetext 24. Mai 2007, Deutsch)


Reger und die Aufführungspraxis seiner Zeit - die Welte-Aufnahmen u.a. Regers aus der Sammlung des Museums für Musikautomaten Seewen (Solothurn, Schweiz). Referat gelesen an den Internationalen Reger-Tagen, (Leitung: Brett Leighton), Bruckner-Univsersität, Linz, Österreich, Mittwoch 13. April 2005.

Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Deutsche Fassung

Reger and the Performance Practice of his Era - the Welte recordings, including Reger's own, from the collection at the Museum für Musikautomaten, Seewen (Switzerland). Paper given at the International Reger Symposium (Direction: Brett Leighton) Bruckner University, Linz, Austria, Wednesday 13th April 2005.

All rights reserved.

English translation

First published in German in 'Querstand II' (2006/7), house journal of the Anton Bruckner University, Linz, Austria. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the Museum für Musikautomaten, Seewen and Nelson Barden of Boston, USA, for permission to use the sound files.


"Organists on a roll" Conference paper delivered in 2002 in Arizona, "Organists on a roll - the Welte organ's mechanically-recorded performances" (updated 2010)

© David Rumsey 2009, 2010 and ongoing