Gebr�der Bruder 94-Keyless
Model "Selection" Fair (Band) Organ
from the Bowers Collection

Recorded in October of 1985 by Tim Westman

Gebr�der Bruder 94-keyless model "Selection" Fair Organ.
Animated automaton band that simulates the playing of musical instruments while the band organ is playing.
Close-up of the miniature mechanically operated ensemble at the upper front of the organ.

As with almost any Gebr�der Bruder Fair Organ (often referred to as a Band Organ in the U.S.), this brilliant and visually stunning Bruder 94-Keyless model "Selection" Fair Organ is no exception. Quite apart from its wonderful array of pipework and the percussive trapwork used to maintain cadence, it features, as part of the facade, a functional and unique automaton band of miniature musicians that simulate the playing of musical instruments while the organ is playing.

To start and stop the playing of the orchestra, each tune on the music-book had an "animation on" hole at the beginning of a tune, and an "animation off" hole at the end, which operated a clutch device for the cam-work that controlled the actions of the individual musicians. The only "puppets" in the animated orchestra actually tied to the timing of the music are the bass drummer, snare drummer and cymbal player. Some of the players would lift their instruments when a register would turn on, with all other motions provided by a large set of cams driven off of the crankshaft for the feeder bellows. While playing, the heads of the musicians would turn slowly left and right, and they would blink their eyes! The figures were fitted with very realistic glass eyes and had delicate eyelids made out of very thin pouch leather, providing a remarkable effect.

Originally this organ was one of four used on the famous Feltman's Carousel of Coney Island, New York. Thus, it had an illustrious career and delighted millions of people that thrilled to Coney Island during the last turn-of-the-century. The following note from Art Reblitz sheds some fascinating light on this historic instrument, as well as providing some additional references for obtaining more information:

According to Fred Dahlinger, Feltman's carousel featured four band organs:
  • A 65-key Gavioli [whereabouts currently unknown].
  • A large Frati [whereabouts currently unknown].
  • A Bruder 80-keyless, Style 104, currently in the Sanfilippo Collection.
  • And the Bruder 94-keyless "Selection" restored by Mike Kitner for the Bowers collection.

A picture of Feltman's carousel appears on page 128 of Fred Fried's book "A Pictorial History of the Carousel." All four organs sat inside the huge platform, facing outward in four directions. The picture shows either the Gavioli or Frati facing the camera, and the right end of the Bruder Style 104, with its animated dance pavilion sitting atop the cabinet. The Style 104 eventually found its way to Max Nowicki of Milford CT, then Howard Hynne of Oak Creek WI, then Jim Carroll of Chicago, and finally Jasper Sanfilippo. Howard Hynne also had the Bruder 94-keyless "Selection," which may be where Dave Bowers bought it.

Charles Feltman started the hot dog craze in Coney Island in the 1870s. According to Edo McCullough in his book "Good Old Coney Island," (Charles Scribner's Sons, NY; 1957) Feltman installed a Looff carousel circa 1880 in his beer garden facing Surf Avenue. "Later, his sons added a roller coaster... And there were German bands and Tyrolean singers....There was no more delightful place to eat than in Feltman's gardens, under low-swinging boughs of maple, surrounded by a prospect of lawns and neatly trimmed hedges.... 200,000 patrons a year during the 1880s; 370,000 a year during the 1890s; 900,000 a year in the first decade of this century; and in the second decade, more than 2,000,000 a year. The endless dining rooms were geared to serve eight thousand at a time, and Feltman's was justified in taking for its slogan "Caterers to the Millions."

[Within the gardens amidst fancier dining]... "the hot dog was not utterly ignored. Scattered about the Feltman premises were seven sizeable grills, and they were all kept busy. And in 1920, when extension of the subway put Coney Island within a nickel of all New York City's millions, these grills began to work overtime. In 1921, Feltman's served more than 3,500,000 customers; in 1922 more than 4,100,000; in 1923 more than 5,230,000 --- and of this staggering total the majority bought the hot dog, for a dime apiece."

The cabinet for the Gebr�der Bruder organ was repaired and refinished by Ron Cappel, with the internal mechanical apparatus and pipework carefully restored, circa 1985, by Mike Kitner for the Bowers Collection. It was recorded in October of 1985 by Tim Westman, soon after restoration had been completed. Upon hearing the instrument, Mr. Kitner commented to Art Reblitz that it was the loudest European fairground organ that he had ever heard, describing it as deafening in his small workshop space. As for myself, having heard many Bruder organs, I can vouch for the fact that they are generally very "bright," which is exactly what was needed for the average noisy carousel environment, and to compete, in this case, with the five-million people eating hot dogs nearby.

The musical layout of the organ, according to Mr. Kitner, is unusual in several respects. In addition to the standard wooden trumpets encountered in German organs, this one is also fitted with a set of powerful brass trumpets, which angle up through an opening in the top of the cabinet and are pointed forward. These beautiful brass trumpets are not visible when the organ facade is assembled and are combined with a rank of stopped flutes, which comprise the only pipe registers in the counter-melody section. The melody section of the organ contains a very small set of wooden reed pipes that look like trumpets, and that appear to have been used to bolster the melody section's basic violin sound. Otherwise, the organ is consistent with the usual German construction, with a bass section of stopped flutes, violoncellos and a rank of trombones; an accompaniment section made up of stopped and open flutes and violins, and an alto violin section acting as a bridge between the accompaniment and melody sections. There are a total of 426 pipes, with percussion that consists of a bass drum and cymbal, snare drum and a set of orchestra bells (located as part of the melody section).

The musical selections on this compact disc are all marches, and comprise the total music-book library available while Mr. Bowers owned the instrument. Only very minor noise reduction technology was necessary in the preparation of this CD, and was used mainly to eliminate tape hiss from the old source tape recordings. For band organ enthusiasts, or anyone ready to enjoy the midway sounds of old Coney Island, this CD ought to please.

Currently, this magnificent example of a Gebr�der Bruder band organ is located in the country of its origin, and can be seen displayed in the Museum Mechanischer Musikinstrumente, in Bruchsal, Germany (

Gebr�der Bruder 94-Keyless Fair Organ (Band Organ)
5 Tracks -- Total Time: 28:06

1.March Medley arranged by Kevin Mears
2.Luna Park March
3.In The Good Old Summertime
4.Stars And Stripes Forever
5.Entry Of The Gladiators

Listen to a sample.....




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