Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rollography

Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rolls
for the Wurlitzer Hope Jones Unit Orchestra with Roll Attachment

Rollography Project Goals

The purpose of the Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rollography Project is simply to present what little music roll information is currently known for Concert Organ rolls and to provide a resource that can be added to and verified as a result of ongoing reader interest. Wurlitzer Concert Organ rolls are little known amongst mechanical music collectors today, more than likely due to the rarity of this roll type and that its use was limited to only a few of the smaller residential and theater organ styles. According to non-consistent listings of this type of roll in the Wurlitzer Monthly Roll Bulletins the Concert Organ Rolls were made "For the Wurlitzer Hope Jones Unit Orchestra With Roll Attachment." The smallest of several types of Wurlitzer pipe organ player rolls manufactured over the years, this type of music roll seems to have been used mainly on the related Wurlitzer Style L and Style J organs. One highly publicized example of such an instrument was Cecil B. DeMille's Wurlitzer residential organ installation in his Little Tujunga Canyon, California home.

According to Art Reblitz, some of the same basic music arrangements were used for Wurlitzer Mandolin and Concert PianOrchestras, as well as for the Wurlitzer Concert Organ rolls, at least for light classical or salon music. Some arrangements were clearly imported from PianOrchestra series rolls. Assuming the PianOrchestra scales came first (circa 1902-03), elements copied into the Concert Organ scale include the percussion (except that the Concert Organ roll only has one tympani perforation) and the 61-note range. This made it possible for Wurlitzer’s arrangers to start with existing Philipps Pianella/Wurlitzer PianOrchestra arrangements and add registrations, with little that had to be subtracted. The 98-Note Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rolls were also known as RS organ rolls and 97-Note Concert Organ Rolls.

The following scale (which is included on page 421 of Treasures of Mechanical Music by Art Reblitz) is from an original Wurlitzer factory arranger’s scale stick marked “R.S. – 98 Note Organ.” Registrations in parentheses were taken from an original Wurlitzer blueprint marked “98-note tracker bar.” Holes 4 (bourdon) and 87 (salicional) are marked “player only” on the blueprint. The 97-note scale omits hole 1 (sforzando).

Wurlitzer Concert Organ Tracker Scale
1. Sforzando (swell quick)
2. Hammer rail
3. Sustaining pedal
4. 16’ tibia clausa on (bourdon)
5. 16’ diaphone on (bass)
6. 16’ tuba on
7. 8’ open diapason on
8. 8’ tuba on
9. 8’ viola on (salicional)
10. 8’ flute on
11. 4’ flute on
12. Snare drum
13. Tympani
14. Bass drum
15. Castanets
16. Tambourine
17. Drum expression loud
18. Triangle
19. Cymbal
20. Rewind
21-81. 61 playing notes, C to C
82. Swell open, 10 steps
83. Swell closed, 10 steps
84. General cancel
85. Piano on (piano and accent)
86. 8’ tuba on
87. 16’ cello on (salicional)
88. 16’ clarinet on
89. Bells on
90. Chimes on
91. Xylophone on
92. 4’ violine on (salicet)
93. 8’ oboe on
94. 8’ violine on (salicional)
95. 8’ flute on
96. 4’ flute on
97. 8’ vox humana on
98. Tremolo on
Note Range for Register Control Holes:
Register holes 4 to 6: 12 notes, range CCC to BB
Register hole 7: 61 notes, CC to C
Register holes 8 to 11: 31 notes, CC to F#
Register holes 86 to 96: 30 notes, G to C
Register hole 97: 61 notes, CC to C

The RJ and R Series Wurlitzer Organ Rolls

The next jump up from the Concert Organ scale was to the RJ series. This was a significant jump going from the hybrid concert organ/orchestrion roll to a music roll actually arranged for a pipe organ. More elaborate than the Wurlitzer RJ series was the R series. It is thought that RJ stood for "Residence Junior," or smaller 2-manual organs. The RJ player tracker bar, according to Junchen Vol. III, had 105 holes, while the style R player had a 165 hole tracker bar. The more expansive R scale was used on residence organs of 3-manuals and up. Wurlitzer's largest residence organ was/is a style R-20 especially built for 20th Century Fox mogul, J. J. Murdock, for his Beverly Hills mansion.

The Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rollography Database

A copy of the hand-typed source material for this offering is thought to have been obtained by Q. David Bowers sometime about 1970 and during the heyday of Hathaway & Bowers, Inc. The material is presented as compiled by Bill Traver, an organ enthusiast in the San Francisco, California, area, but little else is known about the original source of the information and there is currently no way to easily corroborate most of what is contained within the Wurlitzer Concert Organ music roll report made available below. Some spotty Wurlitzer Concert Organ roll information has turned up in Wurlitzer Monthly Roll Bulletins, which in most instances has confirmed what is in the Traver list, while in a couple of instances there seems to be a direct conflict. Thus, confusion over the absolute accuracy of the list continues. Anyone having Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rolls, Wurlitzer Monthly Roll Bulletins, and/or other verifiable information about such rolls is invited to submit corrections and/or additional roll information.

Submitting New Music Roll Information

Please note that partial information from damaged roll labels can be very useful, and can often be used to match up and complete otherwise incomplete tune title and/or composer information.

If Sending a Hand-Typed List

If Sending Photographs of Roll Labels

Thank you for any assistance you may provide. Information submitted will be added to the music roll database and/or will be very helpful in confirming that data already collected is correct.

Distribution of Database Information
Last Updated February 6, 2018

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Download the Wurlitzer Concert Organ Rollography Report.
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Tom DeLay; Art Reblitz and Q. David Bowers; List compiled by Bill Traver; Database by Terry Hathaway.
Wurlitzer scale stick and blueprint information courtesy of Doyle Lane.

Photographs / Graphics:

Terry Hathaway