Philipps Model 12
Pianella Paganini "Monstre" Orchestrion

Restoration and New Casework, Circa 1998- 2000,
by Siegfried Wendel, Rüdesheim, Germany

Original Model 12 (Monstre) Catalogue Specifications:

61 Note Musical Scale:

Pipework Specification
(from generalized description in Paganini catalogue, no details available)

Specifications for the Restored Monstre Paganini:

61 Note Musical Scale:

Pipework in Center "Solo Melodie Violin" Section
(Total of 405 pipes -- ranks are listed from front to back)

Pipework in Right Side "Bass Accompaniment" Section
(Total of 160 pipes -- ranks are listed from left to right side). The "bass-accompaniment" pipe chest located in the right (side-wing) cabinet is essentially a multipurpose chest. The five 12-note deep bass ranks in the left side cabinet (see the "Deep Bass" section below) extend upward in scale into this chest's 14-note ranks, giving a 26-note compass to the "bass/accompaniment" pipework. Confusingly, the five 18-note ranks also part of this chest are very different from the aforementioned 26-note ranks, although a further extension upwards of the musical scale. These 18-note ranks have their own register controls, and while defined by the builder as accompaniment, they could also serve the musical purpose of a "Melodie Violin" division (these accompaniment/Melodie Violin ranks are highlighted in yellow below for easy recognition).

Pipework in Left Side "Deep Bass" Section
(Total of 60 pipes -- ranks are listed from left to right side)


Chronological History:

Circa 1910-1912

The Pianella Paganini series of machines were considered to be the ultimate in technological achievement by Philipps. Introduced commercially circa 1909-10, the Paganini line soon unseated its top-of-the-line predecessor, the Philipps Pianella Caecilia (P.C.) series, which were known in the U.S. as Wurlitzer Concert PianOrchestras. Nonetheless, in spite of the touted superiority of the Pianella Paganini machines, Philipps continued to manufacture updated versions of its much older (introduced circa 1903-04) and far less complicated and expensive line of Pianella Mandoline (P.M.) keyboard and cabinet style pianos and orchestrions, which continued to be very popular and were manufactured up into the early 1930s. This ongoing commercial attractiveness of a lesser product was probably due in large part to the fact that the P.M. line of machines relied on know-how developed a generation earlier, and that had long ago proven itself to be very durable, easy to understand and maintain. Moreover, servicemen out in the field fixing and tuning the older machines probably understood the established technology very well, but may have resisted the new and highly complicated Paganini series machines, preferring and selling the old over the new. All in all, these was a lot to consider when thinking about buying a pricey and very complicated Paganini instrument.

Here is what Philipps had to say about their Paganini Violin Pianos and Orchestrions (as taken from the original English introductory page) in the 1911-1912 Paganini catalogue:

Philipps logo from the 1911-1912 Paganini catalogue.PHILIPPS

Frankfurter Musicwerke-Fabrik

ORCHESTRION-CONSTRUCTION owes its existence to the principle of supplanting manual technique with mechanical appliances. The first instruments constructed by individual inventors did not sufficiently satisfy the requirements demanded by critics then consulted, but the road to a perfection of the new undertaking was eventually smoothed by patience and industry. Ideas succeeded ideas, new inventions superseded obsolete systems, the mechanism itself suddenly experiencing a radical change. Air, both suction and pressure, being enrolled in the service of the Orchestrion, and pinned rollers abandoned in favour of pneumatic construction throughout, one was able to employ paper notation-rolls for musical performance. But even this new acquisition displayed considerable unproficiency, for concurrent with the ardour for mechanical improvement the ethics of music were somewhat lost sight of, resulting in instruments being placed on the market, which, to a sensitive ear, very often left much to be desired. The manufacturers, however, without intermission, endeavoured to remove these drawbacks which are unavoidably connected with an industry then in its infancy, with all possible speed, their undivided attention long being devoted to the capabilities of the instrument from a musical standpoint.

The era of inharmonic and noisy instruments ought to be really characterized as merely a transitory period extending up to the time when the success which attended unremitting labour and diligence, raised the capabilities of the orchestrion to its present undoubted high standard of excellence and artistic merit.

Great demands are now made on orchestrions, their task being to exemplify complete orchestration, and although at the present time the best instruments meet all requirements in this respect, the spirit of invention in industry accepts of no restriction. It has always set itself higher ideals, the same being successively achieved.

For instance, the violin possessing the noblest and most melodious qualities as solo instrument, has hitherto been beyond the range of possibility for mechanical, artistic reproduction.

But this, the most soul-inspiring of all instruments, which, in the hand of the master, laughs and weeps, ought and must be successfully exorcised into the repertoire of the pneumatic instrument. Many attempts were made to obtain this end, but very few met with any degree of success. The equipment with real violins, which is worthy of every recognition owing to the beauty of the instrument itself in the hands of a virtuoso, suffers from the great disadvantage that violins, like all other instruments, remains but a very short time in tune. The thing that stands in the way of friends and purchasers of these instruments is that either one must be at the trouble of continually tuning the violin oneself or engage a professional man for that purpose.

Having obtained such extraordinary success with our "Duca Reproduction Piano" we attempted to try a combination which should represent performance on a real violin. We considered this instrument from a truly artistic standpoint, and spared no pains to obtain a corresponding musical performance, which with the aid of a first-class staff of artists we eventually succeeded in accom­plishing in a most satisfactory manner.

These instruments, which, on account of their splendid rendering of violin music, we have named after the greatest and most fascinating of violinists, "Paganini." The period between the earliest forms of instruments in mechanical combination, and the capabilities at the present time of instruments of the greatest artistic perfection and beauty, now placed on the market by manu­facturers, is full of importance in the history of pneumatic instruments.

The greatest difficulties in this respect have been overcome, the real violins being abandoned on account of their sensitiveness and the consequent work and vexation entailed upon their owner, the problem being solved in another way: our Paganini Instruments not only give a representation of violin-playing, but even perform the finest nuances, the slightest vibrato, and a crescendo and diminuendo, full of soul, being represented in a perfection of beauty.

As in the case of our Duca-Piano, our first object has been to produce music of an artistic nature, no expense being spared to achieve this end. The wonderful performances of duettes on violin and piano by virtuosi in the concert hall as well as in private circles have ever been a source of great joy and satisfaction: these renderings may now be reproduced in absolute perfection of tone, expression, and brightness on our Paganini Pianos.

We were aware that this problem would meet with the sharpest criticism on the side of musical celebrities, and therefore did not omit to submit our first model, immediately on its completion, to a thorough and critical examination at the hands of the foremost professional experts.

The recognition of a startling beauty of reproduction in violin-tone together with a highly artistic accompaniment on a Duca Piano was unanimous. We place the Paganini model on the market with the consciousness that we are offering an instrument of a very high-class order.

As in the past our principle has ever been to evolve the best from the good, so it will be found that the models submitted in the following pages, not only meet the highest musical demands, but also in quality and workmanship will keep up our old reputation for turning out first-class instruments only. We have not a moment's doubt that our faithful circle of clients, who have ever taken an active interest in all our novelties, will also give our Paganini Pianos and orchestrions a sympathetic welcome. Our endeavours to eradicate the old prejudices against mechanism meets with considerable support, in that only the very best instruments are placed on the market, thus proving that the era of loud and noisy models has entirely passed away. On the other hand, our Industry can look back with pride upon really artistic achievements, one of the greatest of which is called:


In contrast to the glowing praise given to the Paganini in both the Philipps and Wurlitzer catalogues, behind the scenes, at least in the United States, the reality of the Paganini was not so good. Wurlitzer had its problems selling the expensive Paganini machines, as amply illustrated below in the excerpt taken from the August, 1914, issue of the Wurlitzer Booster, an internal publication sent out to Wurlitzer dealers, which, in this case, extols dealers to push the Paganini due to seriously lagging sales:

Masthead for the August, 1914, Wurlitzer Booster.

How's your Paganini?

Surely every office has a Paganini on the floor, but the other styles sell so much better that you've all sort of forgotten it.

Now this is absolutely wrong--in Germany (you know they are progressive there in the automatic line) instruments of the Paganini type prevail--all the really good places, cafes, theatres, etc., use them, and an instrument filled with drums, cymbals, and crash devices is not in evidence.

The possibilities of the Paganini are different, its musical interpretation is superior to anything else we have, and there must be some trade in your vicinity--trade that would not consider an automatic instrument--that can be interested in a Paganini.

You know the music rendered by a Paganini is soft, sweet, and refined. The expression devices are so keenly adjusted that it is almost impossible to recognize its playing as anything but the actual performance of skilled musicians, skilled to an extreme, for the Paganini never makes any mistakes.

Don't Don't Don't overlook this beautiful instrument. Get your interest in it refreshed, see that yours is in good shape; give it a good place on your floor; then go at it again.

Be careful during your demonstration of it that you have quiet in your warerooms. Let everyone in your employ know that when the Paganini starts its an invariable sign for quiet. See that this rule is carried out absolutely. This you must do, unless your warerooms are such that you can have yours in a separate room.

While the above does make a strong plea for the Paganini, it refers mainly to the cabinet styles 1, 2 and 3, which constituted the majority of Wurlitzer Paganini imports. The derogative references to drums, cymbals, and other crash devices is curious, because it not only belittles the Wurlitzer PianOrchestra, which was made by Philipps and was also Wurlitzer's best selling import, but it also suggests that the very expensive Wurlitzer Paganini Orchestrions, the elite of the Paganini line in the U.S., ought to be avoided, since it contained drums, cymbals, and "noisy" crash devices.

Siegfried Wendel and the Paganini Monstre Violin Orchestra

From the above Philipps catalogue writings it ought to be obvious that the company considered the Paganini instruments, named in honor of the famous Italian violinist, Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), to be glorious musical devices. But while it may not seem to some devout purists that an orchestrion with a completely new furniture case ought to be included alongside tributes for classic original specimens, such as described elsewhere in this web site, the replica casework that encloses the huge Philipps Pianella Paganini orchestrion is, in this author's opinion, an achievement worthy of inclusion alongside its earlier Philipps constructed brethren. A lot of attention to detail was paid by Siegfried Wendel, his son, Jens, and the entire workshop team during the year and one-half long time period that was required to both restore the Monstre Paganini and to build the new case for it, the craftsmen always keeping in mind the traditional appearance and methodology behind Philipps techniques and layout. This meticulous attention to detail was maintained so that this instrument -- while perhaps not a perfect replica of a Monstre Paganini (for which no complete specimen survives for comparison) -- does, nonetheless, look to be as mechanically authentic as a "real" Monstre might have looked.

The major and immediately obvious difference between this instrument and the Monstre Paganini pictured in the Philipps catalogue is the casework, which does not bear any architectural resemblance at all. But even this striking difference is only a catalogue page deep, since Philipps advertised that it would build cases to suit at extra cost. So, who knows what other case designs might have once existed to house the innards making up such an immense orchestrion. Still, to this author, advertising and promoting the premier Paganini orchestrion in what looks to be little more than a big, ungainly, and unimaginative box is puzzling, especially considering that other Paganini machines, although smaller and less expensive, were almost without exception beautiful examples of artistic casework design and craftsmanship. Moreover, in several outstanding instances the casework could be considered to be a spectacular work of art. Comparatively, then, the Monstre Paganini casework, as illustrated by Philipps in their catalogue, was architecturally bland and quite un-impressive, except perhaps for its stupendous size and weight. Thus it is that the newly restored Monstre Paganini captures the musical magnitude of the original instrument, while its outer casework embraces the styling of one of the more elegant of the Paganini case designs -- the magnificent white and gilt trimmed Model No. 7 Paganini. This inspired blending of architecture and music then makes this Monstre Paganini not just a behemoth, but a sensual visual delight, as well as a musical masterpiece.

The new Monstre Paganini cabinet, with all of it baroque charm, is without question a fine example of woodworking artisanship. It pulls together a unifying matrix of structural components and carefully fitted access panels that are finished in glimmering white enamel, and liberally decorated with stunning high-relief gilded trim pieces. At the corners are massive gilded wood carvings that extend along the vertical lines of the case. Dominating the architecture is a central cartouche of impressive size and design, upon which rests a bust of Beethoven -- a fitting tribute to a legendary master of musical arranging and composition. In the upper quadrant of the casework are three large brass grillwork panels, each adorned with delicate carvings encompassing their border, with added carvings of musical motifs in the two side panels, the combination of which generates a sense of refined elegance that cannot be adequately conveyed in mere words. To glimpse upon this magnificent creation is enough to enjoy it, letting the eye skip and dance over the massive casework and its delightful architectural baubles, not to mention its richly endowed musical enticements hiding within. Once seen and appreciated it is no wonder that the Philipps Paganini Model 7 case style is considered by many collectors today to be the architectural zenith of orchestrion case design. No doubt, it was the astonishing beauty of the Paganini Model No. 7 cabinet that first attracted James Krughoff to it, since he later suggesting to Siegfried Wendel that he should construct such an imposing instrument, and accomplished this task by adapting and enlarging the original style 7 casework design to accommodate the larger mechanical and musical requirements of a Monstre Paganini orchestrion.

Circa 1992
Begins the Story of the Paganini Monstre Violin Orchestra

Jim Krughoff, and his wife Sherrie, were fascinated by the violin playing and violin imitating salon orchestrions manufactured in Germany by Hupfeld, Weber, and Philipps. Moreover, the Krughoff's already had a couple of small Philipps Paganini model 3 sized violin piano instruments in their collection, and enjoyed the elegant and refined music they rendered immensely. But studying the wide Paganini music rolls and noting all the unused register controls and trapwork perforations (not used by the small violin piano type instruments) led Jim to eagerly speculate as to what the largest Paganini orchestrions might have sounded like, just as did this author in the late 1960s when working with various model 3 Paganini machines. Exactly what could be expected from such a big and musically adept machine, one that used each and every musical nuance coded into the music rolls? Thus, it is no wonder that Jim and Sherrie yearned to discover and own a large Paganini orchestrion, and learn first hand what it could accomplish musically. But where was such an instrument hiding, if it existed at all?

It was about 10 years ago (circa 1991-92) when Jim Krughoff first mentioned to Siegfried Wendel that he had long wondered what a large Paganini orchestrion might sound like? Jim had already heard the only known surviving original Paganini orchestrion (located in the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, Utrecht, Holland), which, unfortunately, was playing very poorly at the time, it being essentially unrestored. Nonetheless, it was impressive machine, leaving Jim wondering and speculating even more so as to how a finely restored top-of-the-line Paganini orchestrion might sound. Siegfried Wendel had had a similar experience and commented that he, too, had felt the same way. The subject was more or less dropped, but a lingering inquisitiveness remained. Then, about four years ago, Siegfried Wendel offered Jim Krughoff a copy of his new Hupfeld Violina Orchestra, whereupon Jim told Siegfried that he would be interested in a big Paganini, but not the Violina Orchestra.

Several months later Siegfried Wendel once again contacted Jim Krughoff, this time to say that he had acquired about 60% of the original Philipps parts necessary to re-build a Monster Paganini, and that he was going to do so for his museum, Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett. He further offered to build a replica of it if Jim was interested, who responded by saying that he would buy it if he could get it in a style 7 case. Thus, the Monstre Paganini project was commenced. Then, as the two new Paganini orchestrions were taking shape (one made up of original Philipps parts and the other a replica) Jim Krughoff was able to purchase the one containing the newly acquired Philipps components, instead of the reproduction copy he had originally agreed to buy.

Circa 1998 - 2000
The Philipps Paganini Monstre Project

As a constant reminder of his goal, Jim Krughoff hung a copy of an original 8 x 10 inch Wurlitzer photograph on the wall of his music room. Jim labeled the photograph the "Most Wanted." The machine pictured was a large Wurlitzer Paganini orchestrion (made by Philipps) in the classic Model 7 baroque white and gold case. Scrolled gracefully across the glass panel in the music-roll access door were the words "San Francisco." This photograph was proof that at least one Model 7 had at one time existed, this one sold by Kohler & Chase, who were prominent and highly respected dealers in San Francisco, California, selling all kinds of musical instruments, including automatic musical instruments. The original photograph (from which the copy had been made) had once been part of a leather bound Wurlitzer "Salesman's Catalogue" (currently part of the Trager Archives), which, in this case, had once belonged to the Bacigalupo Company, a San Francisco sales agent for Wurlitzer coin pianos and orchestrions. These special catalogues consisted of very high resolution sepia colored 8 by 10 inch photographs glued to a linen backing. This durable cloth backing then extended beyond the left side of the photograph and was punched with three small holes, which were used to loosely bind an album of similar photographs together into a cohesive book.

But the simple task of hanging the "Most Wanted" picture was the easy part. For Siegfried Wendel, and especially for his son, Jens, who was in charge of the Mechanisches Musikkabinett crew of craftsmen, there were, for certain, a host of difficult problems to be carefully thought out and then resolved. Foremost, there was no surviving example of what they wanted to recreate, nothing to use as an exact pattern. Moreover, no one remains alive who remembers seeing or hearing a Monstre Paganini, so nobody knows what one is supposed to sound like either. Very few tangible clues remained regarding the giant machine, but even so, enough could be gleaned and interpolated from studying the Philipps circa 1911-12 Paganini catalogue; the smaller Model 14 Paganini orchestrion in Utrecht, Holland; an original Wurlitzer photograph showing a Model 7 Paganini (that was once located in San Francisco); a Philipps Paganini scale stick and a collection of hundreds of Paganini music rolls. But even careful scrutiny of the existing information still left many unanswered technical questions that were critical to faithfully recreating the gigantic machine. For instance, exactly how were the register controls multiplexed to accommodate the extensive pipework placed throughout the huge Monstre Paganini, pipe voices in excess of what were designated by the existing Paganini scale sticks?

Pipe chest layout for the new Model 12 Monstre Paganini Orchestrion.Each voice (i.e., a particular pipe rank, the xylophone, chimes, or piano coupler) in the Paganini has its own register control, and for small to medium sized Paganini violin pianos or orchestrions each voice has its own designated control perforation in the music roll to turn it on, along with a common cancel (off) perforation. However, a problem arises with the largest Paganini orchestrions, because they have more voices than the music roll was originally intended to support. So, to be able to correctly switch on and off all the registers in these few exceptionally big orchestrions Philipps built register control mechanisms that, in addition to all the standard control functions, had multiplexing capabilities, meaning that for some ranks of pipes a specific combination of two or more control perforations turned the pipe rank on, with a normal cancel perforation turning it off. Thus, multiplexing makes it easily possible to control extensive instrumentation beyond what the music roll was originally designed to command. For instance, a “Forte" (loud) rank of violin pipes, then, could be activated if and when the single perforation calling for a normal rank of violin pipes was used in combination with tracker-bar hole 7, a hole that when used singularly did nothing more than set the hammer rail position to ff (or loud).

The Paganini tracker scale at best, even without considering the special register multiplexing used in the largest orchestrions, is fairly complex, although the fundamental, non-multiplexed, use and intent of each tracker-bar hole can be clearly understood by looking at any extant Philipps or Wurlitzer Paganini scale stick. But there are some frustrating mysteries when it comes to understanding exactly what register control perforations might or might not have been used in various combinations for multiplexing. Knowing precisely the intricate multiplexing subtleties used by the music roll arrangers was a critical issue, because it would be, sooner rather than later, necessary to construct a complex pneumatic register switching apparatus that would tie together and interconnect all the different register control ventils scattered about the huge machine, thereby bringing masterful control and expression to the entirety of the musical ensemble. But not only had this to be done, and in the style of manufacture originally used by Philipps itself, but the register control unit had to accommodate unique multiplexing schemes encoded in the Paganini music rolls that were not yet clearly understood, or that may not yet even be recognized. Since there was no original Monstre to study and trace out the tubing schematic in order to determine the necessary multiplexing functions, a large collection of music rolls was one of the keys available for unlocking multiplexing mysteries. However, this meant scrutinized a lot of music rolls, looking for logical control perforation patterns, hoping to detect logical multiplexing combinations that heretofore had gone unnoticed.

Complicating the whole matter, not all Paganini music rolls were arranged with multiplexing in mind, and certainly not the earliest Paganini rolls arranged and cut before orchestrions such as the Monstre were envisioned. This problematic use of multiplexing in the music rolls suggested that a lot of rolls need be carefully examined in order to fathom what the music arrangers were thinking and using in regards to multiplexing. Happily some other useful aids in deciphering the multiplexing schemes have turned up. Music roll arrangers often augmented the markings on their personal scale stick to remind themselves of the multiplexing combinations, and scale sticks and test rolls were commonly carried and used by service personnel traveling about the country working on orchestrions. A few of these annotated scale sticks have been found with scribbled notes and faded markings that helped to clear up multiplexing mysteries. And both Philipps and Wurlitzer test rolls have been found that contain useful markings, too, denoting the function of control perforations that further cleared up multiplexing ambiguities. On one Philipps test roll Jens Wendel discovered the terms "Barriton" and "Quintaton," with the tracker holes for controlling these voices appropriately marked. Thus, in the restored Monstre Paganini the pipe rank corresponding to Barriton is built as an open wooden flute, while the Quintaton designation was built as a stopped wooden flute (some Pianellas/Wurlitzer PianOrchestras contain what is now commonly termed a Quintadena, a stopped metal flute that possesses a beautifully rich and full tone).

But while the music roll investigation resolved some old mysteries, a new one was created at the same time. At some stage in the research regarding the register multiplexing dilemma, painstakingly studying hundreds of feet of punched paper, it was discovered that the Paganini scale actually contains 131 tracker positions (or holes), and not just the 130 holes as was previously thought to be the case. All the known Philipps or Wurlitzer Paganini scale sticks and test rolls examined to date do not infer, mention, or make use of this newly discovered tracker-bar hole 131, and no existing Paganini machines have a tracker bar with more than the "standard" 130 hole scale. Nonetheless, on some Paganini music rolls this mystery hole 131 is definitely punched, but what function it was meant to serve remains a complete mystery, and there is no way yet known to begin establishing any kind of clear answer regarding its possible use. Nonetheless, even though nobody currently understands the function of this newly discovered tracker hole, or whether it was even used in a Monstre Paganini, the mystery hole is included in the newly constructed tracker-bar, so that it will always be possible to add whatever function was intended if and when such is ever determined.

Interior vew of the Monstre Paganini orchestrion.Overall, the inner chassis arrangement and placement of major components in the Monstre Paganini can be summed up somewhat easily:

Compass of the Bass and Accompaniment Scale

The 26-note bass-accompaniment through the 18-note accompaniment/Melodie Violin musical scale (not inclusive of the "solo Melodie Violin" section) is chromatically laid out and extends from tracker hole 35 (F) to tracker hole 80 (c2), excluding tracker holes 44 and 67, which are used for swell expression purposes. A major portion of the Paganini's instrumentation falls within this range of tracker hole positions, as follows:

Compass of the Solo Melodie Violin Scale

Tracker holes 81 through 119 are designated for use by the centrally located solo Melodie Violin section, which consists of Violin soft, Violin strong, 2nd Violin, Flageolet, Violoncello, Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, and Trumpet pipes. The musical division is entirely enclosed by a swell chamber fitted with swell-shutters that can be controlled both as to position and speed of operation, thereby permitting delicate shades of expression in the volume of the Melodie Violin pipework. Moreover, the solo Melodie Violin section is not just 11 ranks of pipes in a box, as might appear at first glance, but is actually two separate, minor divisions that form a continuous musical scale. Each division operates in a nearly identical fashion, except for one feature, the piano, which is not connected in any way with the lower division (tracker holes 81 to 98), but does plays in unison with the upper division (tracker holes 99 to 119) when the piano coupler register is turned on. Additional details are as follows:

A Cache of Original Philipps Parts

The dream to have and enjoy a Monstre Paganini Orchestrion is nothing new, although any post Philipps success in accomplishing such a feat has remained essentially unrealized until very recently. One such dream began over 40-years ago in Budapest, Hungary, for a devoted lover of mechanical music. Although his attempt may not have reached ultimate perfection, his efforts provided the crucial materials needed to catalyze the project that did finally bring into reality a Monstre Paganini orchestrion. But to back up a bit, probably sometime during World War II or soon thereafter, a man named Heinrich Voigt (of Frankfurt, Germany) bought from the J. D. Philipps and Söhne company an unknown quantity of leftover automatic musical instruments and parts that remained from its long defunct mechanical music business. Sometime later, Voigt sold at least some of what still remained of the acquired Philipps residue to a couple of collectors in Budapest, Hungary, probably Rezsö Weiser and Janos Toth, who had been longtime friends and lived close to each other.

1911-12 catalogue illustration of a Philipps "Duplex" Paganini Model 10a Violin Orchestra for cinema use.Whatever the timing, two dedicated and ambitious fellows in Budapest, Hungary, apparently bought up from Heinrich Voigt whatever yet remained of the Philipps automatic musical instrument business, with Rezsö Weiser, as the story goes, wanting to build a Monstre Paganini Orchestrion. But both men, especially Janos Toth, managed to amass a lot more than just a huge pile of valuable parts, acquiring over time such items as two complete Philipps Paganini Model 10a Violin Orchestras for cinema (movie theater) use, both with duplex (two side-by-side) roll changers; a Philipps Model 3 Paganini with two side-by-side roll changers; a Welte style 6 orchestrion; a large Bruder fairground organ, and more, all of which were intact with the furniture casework and all. Happily, the vast collection of Paganini parts survived, along with the assemblage of orchestrions, all of which had been so carefully accumulated, with some of them enduring many long years in storage, only to be eventually discovered and purchased by Siegfried Wendel after the men who had collected the horde of machines and parts were dead and buried.

An quick inventory of the acquired Paganini parts, as shown below, led Siegfried Wendel to estimate that he had at least 60% of what he would need in order to complete the Monstre Paganini project:

  1. Philipps piano harp and action.
  2. Main pneumatic stack (includes primary and secondary valves and motor pneumatics that play the piano).
  3. Revolver Mechanism (Roll-changer), 6 station.
  4. Wind-motor for music roll forward direction, including governor.
  5. Reed organ (harmonium), including pneumatic stack.
  6. 1 rank of clarinet pipes, 39 pieces (Melodie Violin section).
  7. 2 ranks of soft violin pipes, 39 pieces (Melodie Violin section).
  8. 1 rank of loud violin pipes, 39 pieces (Melodie Violin section).
  9. 1 rank of piccolo pipes.
  10. 1 rank of flute pipes, 27 pieces (Melodie Violin section).
  11. 1 rank of flageolet pipes, 27 pieces (Melodie Violin section).
  12. 1 rank of fagot (bassoon) pipes, 26 pieces (bass-accompaniment section).
  13. 1 rank of violoncello pipes, 26 pieces (bass-accompaniment section).
  14. 1 rank of stopped flute (gedackt), 26 pieces (bass-accompaniment section).
  15. Bass drum.
  16. Bass drum / tympani action.
  17. Snare drum, complete with reiterating action.
  18. Tambourine, complete with reiterating action.
  19. Castanets, complete with reiterating action.
  20. Triangle
  21. Cymbal
  22. Xylophone bars, 30 pieces.
  23. Electric motor.

Philipps six-station automatic music roll changer (revolver mechanik), with wind-motor drive for forward music roll motion.With the cache of original Philipps parts firmly in hand, the next step to be taken by Jens Wendel and the Mechanisches Musikkabinett crew, was bring the idea of the monster orchestrion into grand reality by transforming the casework measurements given for the Model 7 Paganini (in the circa 1911-12 Philipps catalogue) into a case design that not only retained the same architectural balance, symmetry, and beauty, but that also fit the expanded space requirements of the Model 12 Monstre Paganini. Once this goal had been met, a furniture case of impressive size was the result, measuring 12 feet, 4 inches high; 11 feet, 10 inches wide and 5 feet, 11 inches deep. Moreover, once the Monstre instrument was completed, with all the interior components installed, the huge machine would weigh in at nearly 6,400 pounds (approximately 2.9 metric tons)!

Then, once the casework construction had begun, it was time to begin planning and building the bass, accompaniment, and Melodie Violin pipe chests, so that each chest would perfectly fit into the new case, as well as accommodate the necessary pipework. Getting this done without suffering needless rework later required some careful forethought, because the pipe chests are of complicated construction, with a glued up main structural board that is riddled with internal "wind" channels necessary for supplying wind-pressure to the individual pipes and control pouches. Complicating this, the pipe chests had to fit within the chassis' spatial limitations, as well as properly accommodate the oftentimes vastly differing space and "breathing" requirements for the individual pipe ranks, and do so in ways that resembled the methodology and style originally used by Philipps craftsmen. Additionally, it was critical that the new Paganini sounded like a real Philipps made instrument, too, thereby possessing all the musical qualities so elegantly described in the catalogue.

The versatile pipe chests used in the larger Philipps machines were quite simple in theory, very efficient and fast, but more challenging to build than the rather simple pallet valve type chests used in the small keyboard and cabinet piano-orchestrions containing only one or two ranks of pipes. These adaptable "advanced technology" pipe chests are basically pouch-chests, because underneath each pipe there is a leather pouch (valve) that normally closes the pipe off from any wind-pressure residing in that particular pipe's wind-feed channel. Using this method, a pipe is only allowed to sound if and when both its pouch is lifted and the register controlled wind-feed channel underneath it is simultaneously pressurized.

The various pipe ranks are switched on or off by register controlled wind-feed channels that run under each rank of pipes. These wind channels are individually pressurized or vented by ventil type valves, which "vent" the channel when the pipe rank is turned off, and conversely feed wind-pressure into it when the pipe rank is turned on. To control which notes play on a particular pipe rank there are individual pouch valves located between a wind channel and the associated pipe. For a particular chest, the pouches for all notes of the same pitch work simultaneously. For instance, the pouches corresponding to the note middle C would all be allowed to open at once, but, of course, only those pipes whose wind-feed channel is also pressurized would actually speak.

The pouches for each note are controlled by a small stem valve activated by a tiny pneumatic, which is in turn connected to the main valve stack (or chest). When at rest (the note pitch it represents is not playing), the little stem valve conducts wind-pressure to a chamber surrounding the outside of the pouch, thereby pushing it into the closed position. Conversely, when the stem valve vents and there is not force holding the pouch valve closed, the pouch is allowed to lift (or open), and does so if there is any wind-pressure simultaneously in the wind-feed channel beneath it, thus allowing the pipe to speak. Then, when the stem valve returns to rest and wind-pressure is again restored to the outside area of the pouch, it closes, causing the pipe to stop speaking.

As an example, in the solo Melodie Violin chest each pouch corresponding to a pipe representing the note C3 will lift simultaneously. But let us say that only the flute and piccolo pipe registers are turned on, with wind-pressure filling the wind-feed channels for these two ranks. In this case, the wind-feed channels for all other pipe ranks will be vented, so that although all the pouches representing C3 will be allowed to open, only the two C3 pitched flute and piccolo pipes will be able to actually speak, with the C3 pipes in the violin, clarinet, and other Melodie Violin ranks remaining silent.

In total, the new Monstre Paganini contains 625 pipes, 327 of them original pipes that were carefully restored, with all the missing pipes meticulously constructed to match the originals both in quality, appearance, and tone. To accommodate all these pipes, ranging from quite large bass pipes to tiny treble ones, three separate pipe chests were made that do the job admirably. In the left side of the case, sitting on the floor of the cabinet, is the “deep-bass-chest," supporting the lowest octave pipes for five ranks of pipes: Bass Violin, Violoncello, Gedackt (a large stopped flute), Trombone (Posaune or horn--reed pipes with wood boots and tapered wood resonators) and Fagott (Bassoon). In the upper right side of the case is the "bass-accompaniment chest," which serves as both as a continuation of the bass ranks and in addition it also supports five 18-note ranks that can be viewed as either an accompaniment or Melodie Violin division, consisting of 1st Violin, 2nd Violin, a stopped flute and the a piccolo rank.

In the center of the case is the “solo Melodie Violin chest," enclosed in its own swell box, with ranks (from back to front) as follows: Violoncello, Flute, 2 loud Violin ranks tuned celeste (slightly out of tune with each other, so that they produce a rich and light beating effect), soft Violin (1st of two soft violin ranks), Flageolet, soft Violin (2nd of two soft violin ranks), Trumpet, Clarinet, 2nd Violin, and Piccolo. On the back of the swell box is the Glockenspiel (bells -- Wurlitzer referred to these as chimes), the Harmonium (reed organ) and the pressure regulators for the pipework, including the vibrato mechanism.

Close up showing detail of the trapwork section. The percussion section in the right side-wind area is in front of the bass-accompaniment chest, and contains the large (bass) drum, cymbals (crash and regular), tympani, snare drum, triangle, tambourine, and castanets. Underneath the bass/accompaniment chest is the 30-note reiterating xylophone. The original Philipps piano is located at the backside of the instrument and it is removable for tuning and servicing.

In the Paganini the registers are divided into two distinct groups, each one with a separate tracker bar hole for cancel, which provides a great deal of flexibility for the music roll arranger. The roman numerals on the register plan drawing marks the register group each pipe ranks belongs to. Group "I" is switched off by tracker hole 22, while group "II" is canceled using tracker hole 6 (On the Wurlitzer tracker scale for the Paganini these groups are marked as X and Ø). For the forte registers that do not have their own unique assigned tracker hole, multiplexing is necessary, so that two holes acting in combination actuate a forte pipe rank, as follows:

Feeding the Monstre

Another important aspect of the Paganini restoration that required a lot of time, effort, and forethought was exactly how best to adapt the Philipps system of individual feeder bellows to power the massive new instrument. Not only did all the vacuum and pressure feeders and their respective reservoirs need to be manufactured from scratch, but all the intricate metal linkages had to be hand crafted, too. Many of these metal parts were originally made of cast iron, such as the rocker arms and their support brackets, the swivels for the feeder pump connections and the flat-belt pulleys, all of which required that wooden patterns be made before any metal could be poured, the castings cleaned and then machined to original Philipps specifications.

As a model by which to pattern the pump system, the large style of feeder bellows installed in several large surviving Philipps orchestrions were used, which included the Philipps Model 14 Paganini located in the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, Utrecht, Holland, and the three surviving Wurlitzer Concert PianOrchestras owned by American collectors (Nethercutt, Gilson & Milhous collections). In this particular pump design the pressure and the vacuum bellows are completely independent of each other, although powered from the same interconnected system of mechanical linkages. Three vacuum bellows are fastened to the bottom of the chassis and three wind-pressure bellows are affixed to a supporting shelf just above. Each vacuum bellow is vertically aligned with the pressure bellow directly above it, and each vacuum/pressure pair interconnected with linkages so that they operated in tandem. This kind of setup lends itself beautifully to large orchestrions such as the Monstre Paganini, where the instrument needs more pump volume flow than its smaller brethren. To make up for the additional wind volume needed in this case two additional vacuum/pressure bellow pairs were added to the design, one on each side of the three standard, interconnected vacuum/pressure pairs. To power the two additional bellow pairs, they were mechanically connected by an additional rocker arm that was linked to a neighboring bellow pair.

The reservoir for the wind-pressure is what Siegfried Wendel calls a “diaphragm bellow" in that it consists of a large wooden box, the topside of which is fitted with an airtight flexible leather membrane (or diaphragm). Resting on the topside of this diaphragm is a weighted or spring loaded board that “swims" on the compressed air produced by the feeder bellows (in Germany, where Philipps instruments were made, this type of reservoir is sometimes called a “swimming reservoir"). As air is forced into the reservoir, a certain air pressure is required to overcome the downward force applied to the topside of the diaphragm. The exact pressure developed by the reservoir depends entirely upon how much physical weight or spring pressure is applied, which in this case is a weight of about 280 kg (approximately 620 lbs), producing a wind-pressure of 140 mm water-gauge (approximately 5 inches). As the diaphragm continues to inflate its uppermost limit of travel is safely controlled by a spill valve, which serves to prevent the reservoir bursting, and also to maintain a nearly constant wind-pressure. The standby volume of pressurized air the reservoir holds is critically important, for instance, such as when a final crescendo with dozens of pipes playing can easily require a momentarily large volume of wind that temporarily exceeds what the pressure bellows alone can provide.

The vacuum reservoir is comparatively unimpressive, and is little more than a square box with a movable top. Inside the reservoir are several powerful leaf-type flat springs that push upwards against the top board, thereby working to constantly expand the inside volume of the reservoir. When air is evacuated by the vacuum feeders the top of the reservoir is forced downward by the external atmospheric air pressure, and it continues downward until excess vacuum is relieved by a spill valve. This regulating action safely maintains a more or less constant internal volume of the reservoir, and very importantly a vacuum level of about 500 mm water-gauge (or approximately 20 inches).

Celebrating the Monstre Paganini

All in all, some one and one-half years of intense physical effort went into the restoration of the new Monstre Paganini, not to mention the time spent on research before the physical work actually began. And when it finally burst forth in resplendent song, Siegfried Wendel telephoned Jim Krughoff to let him hear it over the telephone. Jim was so impressed that he decided that the Monstre Paganini ought to be publicly shown and demonstrated. At the suggestion of Siegfried, the new orchestrion would be premiered at the upcoming 33rd Musica Mechanica. Thus, in April of 2000, more than 200 guests from all over Europe and overseas descended on Rüdesheim for the event, a festive party that included radio, television, and newspaper coverage, and an afternoon concert on the largest Philipps orchestrion in the world -- the Monstre Paganini. While the music played happy guests sipped bottled red and white wines (from nearby Rheingau) that had been prepared and christened "Paganini-Monstre-Trank -- Krughoff’s Special" just for this special occasion.

Then, once the celebration and successful premiere was over and the guests departed, the Monstre Paganini was disassembled and carefully packed in a sealed shipping container. Soon it would be on the high seas, making its way to Downers Grove (near Chicago, Illinois) and Jim Krughoff's music room.

Circa 2000
Original Location: Krughoff collection.

Unloading the Paganini's heavy main chassis with a fork lift.About four weeks after the Monstre Paganini's celebrated departure from Germany, the huge instrument was delivered by truck to Jim Krughoff's home on June 4, 2000. On hand to help with the task of unloading and re-erecting the Paganini were two fork lifts and the German crew that had worked so diligently to build the majestic instrument. The heavy main chassis was off-loaded from the container by fork-lift, and carried safely to its new resting place as a centerpiece in the Krughoff collection of automatic musical instruments. Then, one by one all the loose cabinet pieces and upper supporting structures were reassembled, so that the Melodie Violin swell chamber, disassembled trapwork, various controls, tubing junctions and pipework could be reinstalled, regulated, tuned, and then enjoyed.

With the Monstre Paganini freshly setup and gleaming in its new surroundings the "Most wanted" picture could still be seen hanging on the wall, but it was now behind the fabulous new Paganini. At last, the longtime dream of two nearly forgotten Hungarian men from the past had finally come to fruition, although not without disappointment, since the men largely responsible for ultimately making a long ago dream come true were no longer alive to see or enjoy its fulfillment.

Adding the Final Touches

Jens Wendel making minor adjustments to the Revolver-Mechanik (Automatic Music Roll-Changer) in the Monstre Paganini.Once the Monstre Paganini had time to settle in and acclimate to its new environment, Jens Wendel, master craftsman and head of the Mechanisches Musikkabinett workshop restoration team, again returned to the U.S. to check over and service the instrument. These touch-up sessions entailed checking for leaking gaskets, tightening screws, fixing any loose tubing connections, adjusting and regulating the mechanical mechanisms to insure accurate response times and fast repetition rates for all musical notes, and making certain that all pipes were speaking properly. This kind of follow-up servicing and regulation is an indispensable step in any complete and thorough kind of restoration project, and can only be accomplished after an instrument, such as the Monstre Paganini, has acclimated itself, a process that can take up to several months. This is so because over time the wood, cloth, and leather parts tend to shrink or expand slightly, depending upon the average humidity or dryness differences between diverse locations. This is especially the case for an instrument coming from Europe, where it is generally quite damp compared to the U.S. climate. Thus, not until the moisture content of the big machine's wooden chests and other massive components had gradually come into balance with the new environmental conditions in the Krughoff's music room could the final steps in the restoration process occur.

Inside the Krughoff's luxurious music room.Then, once the huge Paganini Orchestrion was stabilized and working properly, it was ready for the fine tuning stage. Now, it was time to call in Art Reblitz, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who is everything from a piano technician to an expert in the restoration of all kinds of automatic musical instruments, including the largest orchestrions and fairground organs. Mr. Reblitz is also an accomplished musician and has arranged music rolls for a number of U.S. made coin-in-the-slot pianos and orchestrions, and so he is well equipped to deal with any mechanical or musical problems that might be encountered. But before any artful tuning could truly begin he would first examine the big machine, looking for any mechanical discrepancies, such as the inevitable loose screws, leaking leather gaskets, control mechanisms out of adjustment and musical notes that were sluggish or non-functional, affectations caused by weather induced fluctuations in humidity. Then, once it was certain that the big Paganini was working perfectly, the piano and pipework could be skillfully tuned, thereby eliminating any remaining vestiges of the jostling and climatic stress suffered by the Monstre Paganini during trans-Atlantic shipping, unloading, and then re-assembly in the Krughoff's spacious music room.


Compiled by Terry Hathaway, with information provided by Siegfried Wendel, James Krughoff and Art Reblitz.


James Krughoff, Terry Hathaway.