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Diaghilev Festival - February 2005 in Groningen

The new Groninger Museum in northern Holland.
(Photo: Ralph Richter)

The Groningen Museum is a fine modern building with facilities not only for exhibitions, but for concerts and dramatic performances as well, and it forms a central part of the northern Dutch city's artistic life. In late 2004 and early 2005, a Diaghilev Festival and Exhibition was staged, and Valery Gergiev opened the proceedings with a new Kirov production of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride. As part of the Festival, Denis Hall and Rex Lawson presented Stravinsky ballets on two pianolas, and it was good to see a number of familiar faces from the Dutch Pianola Society in attendance.

Before the Concert in Groningen - Setting up for Stravinsky.
(Photo: Bert van den Berg)

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From Freiburg to the World - 100 Years of the Welte-Mignon

The Factory of Michael Welte und Soehne in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany.

From September 2005 to January 2006, the Augustiner Museum in Freiburg hosted a centenary exhibition in celebration of the firm of Michael Welte and Sons, makers not only of the Welte-Mignon reproducing piano, but also of fine orchestrions and pipe organs. The exhibition was opened on 16 September, with speeches from the Mayor, from the Director of the Museum, and from the man who organised it all, Gerhard Dangel.

Gerhard Dangel opening the Welte Centenary Exhibition.

After this official blessing, a short concert was given on a rare pedal-electric Welte upright piano, by Denis Hall and Rex Lawson. The piano part of the instrument was manufactured by the firm of Guenther in Brussels, and consists of two halves, the soundboard and frame assembly, and the keyboard and roll playing mechanism, bolted securely together when in normal use. This unusual piano plays either Welte green, or standard 88-note rolls.

Denis Hall playing the Welte pedal-electric Guenther upright piano.

It was a tribute to the occasion that Edwin Welte's daughter and granddaughter were in the audience: a reminder that although the instruments manufactured by Welte travelled the world, the firm was an essentially local one, and indeed remains a source of pride to the town of Freiburg.

Rex Lawson talking with Edwin Welte's daughter and granddaughter.

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