Over several decades it built up a skilled workforce, both for the construction of the instruments and for the arrangement of the music rolls which caused them to play. So, at the turn of the 20th century, it was ideally placed to develop an experimental piano playing device, with the aim of reproducing the recorded performances of the finest pianists of the day.
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The original Welte-Mignon was neither of these, or at the very least it was a most unusual player piano, since it had no keyboard, and looked for all the world like an ornate sideboard, often decorated in ways to complement the owner’s own furnishings. Nevertheless, it was rightly regarded as the first true reproducing piano, in that it automatically replayed the tempo, phrasing, dynamics and pedalling of a particular performance, and not just the notes of the music, as was the case with other player pianos of the time. Its main introduction to the public took place in Leipzig, Germany in early March 1905, at the showrooms of Hugo Popper, a manufacturer of roll-operated orchestrions. However, it had been demonstrated, with a limited number of recordings, at the Autumn Trade Fair in that city in September 1904. It was launched in the USA in 1906, and in due course the Mignon mechanism was installed into normal pianos, especially the Steinway and the Feurich.
|Dimensions||121 × 150 × 60 cm|