Weber Maesto Orchestrion

The Weber Maesto in Ron Cappel's workshop, ready for shipping to the Yaffe Collection (October, 2001).The magnificent example of a Weber Maesto Orchestrion featured on this Archive CD was discovered in Belgium, in about 1968 by Eugene DeRoy. It was then bought and imported into the U.S. by Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., and soon after its arrival here sold to George and Susie Coade, who were forming a stunning collection of orchestrions at the time. This example is a late style Maesto, with a large box type feeder pump, instead of the older type bellows, and it was in absolutely pristine condition throughout. Moreover, with only some minor work the instrument played beautifully. Then, after passing through the hands Doyle Lane, and then Siegfried Wendel, the instrument became part of the Yaffe collection, whereby it was shipped to Ron Cappel for a complete and painstakingly thorough restoration. This monumental task freshly completed, the Maesto was recorded on October 22, 2000, in Ron Cappel's large workshop, resulting in the session #1 recording.

Interior view of the Weber Maesto orchestrion (October, 2001).Soon after the first recording session, the Maesto was shipped to Florida, and then installed in Mr. Yaffe's newly constructed and spacious music room. After some re-regulation and re-tuning, to offset any irregularities suffered from shipping and handling, the Maesto was again recorded in its new home, resulting in the session #2 recording. Both sessions were recorded using Minidisk technology, thus the audio is exceptionally clear and accurate, making both of the compact discs offered here the next best thing to actually being present and hearing the Maesto perform in person.

Anyone who has ever heard a nicely playing Weber Maesto will probably agree that it is like no other orchestrion, and that it is superbly realistic in its musical renditions, which range from popular tunes to the classics. It is no exaggeration to say that the Maesto, in the Weber Company's own words, is an "unequalled concert orchestra, dance and jazz band. An incomparable electro-pneumatic artistic orchestrion comprising a piano of the first order (by Feurich), violin, violoncello, flutes, clarinet, trumpets, saxophone, lotus flute, jazz trumpets, complete xylophone, and assorted percussion instruments including bass drum, snare drum, tambourine, triangle, castanets, wood block and cymbal." Although the listing of instrumental effects mentioned here are indeed quite impressive, the Maesto actually contains only four ranks of pipes, one of which, the clarinet rank, is enclosed in its own set of cleverly controlled swell shutters. The four pipe ranks are as follows: violin/violoncello; flute (with lotus flute effect using a tremolo), trumpet/saxophone; and clarinet.

Close-up of the trapwork (drums and other striking effects) in the Weber Maesto.The session #1 compact disc (WEB-MOMY-D1) favors popular selections of the day, with a few classical melodies included to round out the musical program. The session #2 compact disc (WEB-MOMY-D2) favors classical music more than it does popular tunes. Both discs together provide a pleasant, well rounded sampling of the type of music that thrilled listeners in the 1920's and early 1930's, and these CD's amply demonstrate the outstanding ability of the Weber Maesto to render a memorable and surprisingly lifelike performance.

Much of the music for the Maesto was arranged and plotted on master rolls by Gustav Bruder, and a co-worker, Otto Kern. It is no wonder that the Maesto arrangements are so enticing and so superbly musical, when one considers the tremendous amount of effort that went into producing each music roll. According to Gustav Bruder, it required three to four weeks time to create a single four-tune music roll. Much of the inspiration for the popular music arrangements came from listening to phonograph records of celebrated bands and orchestras. Once all the basic music notes were plotted on the master roll, about half of the work was considered to be done, with an equal amount of time to be devoted to adding in the complex register changes and expression details that made the Maesto so unique. No other automatic musical instrument manufacturer ever put this kind of meticulous and time consuming effort into its music roll library, which is one of the reasons why the Weber Maesto was the most realistic sounding orchestrion ever to be made commercially available. However, there one possible exception, and that is the much larger and more elaborate Weber Elite. Unfortunately, however, no Elite orchestrions are known to exist. Thus, it is tantalizing to imagine what they may have sounded like, a dream made even more alluring with the knowledge that the Weber Elite was reportedly so good that one of them was used for the background music in a German radio show of the early 1930's. In the meantime, unlike the model Elite, the Maesto is not just a vaporous dream, but a reality that can be easily enjoyed by buying any of the Maesto CD's offered at this web site.

Weber Maesto Orchestrion
WEB-MOMY-D1 (Session 1)
23 Tracks -- Total Time: 68:11
1.Bleu Baby1.Xylophone Solo
2.Sag Du Miu Blues2.Narcissus
3.I Ain't Got Nobody3.Salome
4.unknown4.Millions of Clowns
5.Can't Help Loving (That Man of Mine)5.In a Persian Market
6.unknown6.Si J'estais Roi Overture
7.A Cup Of Coffee, A Sandwich And You7.Bye Bye Blackbird
8.Cecelia8.High, High, High Up in the Hills
9.Ukulele Lady9.So Blue
10.Ain't She Sweet10.Was Macht Der Maier
11.Russian Lullaby11.unknown fox trot
12.Figeunsrshies Xylophon Capria12.unknown one-step
13.Heut War Ich Bei Bei Fride13.Unknown Popular Tune
14.12th Street Rag14.Ev'ry Little Moment
15.Angela Mia15.Chanson Paienne - Boston
16.Colombo16.Hold Everything
17.You're In My Heart17.New Kind of Love
18.unknown (ingonnue)18.Livin' in the Sunlight
19.Bim Bam Bulla19.My Song of Nothing
20.Kys Mig Du Ouse20.Cavelleria Rusticana Fantasie
21.Serenade De La Flotte21.Gardas Vorstin
22.Potpourri Gypsy Baron22.La Boheme Fantasie
23.Orpheus In The Underworld  


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