This site will give you a glimpse into the past.  Featured here is the 1914 Player Pipe Organ that provided home entertainment in Jay Gould’s 5th Avenue New York home.

Aeolian,  once the largest music company in America, built residence, self playing organs as well as many other instruments..  During an era that had no radio or television, and only primitive record players, home music came in the form of several self playing devises.  Pianos and reed organs were the more common forms.

Robert W. Taylor has restored and installed this historic Aeolian Organ known as Opus 1280 ( history and specification)  in a specially constructed music room.  The organ console has three manuals that control 34 ranks of pipes, a 20 note set of chimes, and an organ harp.  Paper rolls that can play the organ are placed in the spool box which is located above the keys on the console.

The organ player rolls require user participation.  As the paper roll passes by, printed instructions are seen on the roll.  The stop selections and other controls are set according to these instructions.  This is simplified by using non technical nomenclature for some stop names.  As an example, the “Salicional” is called “String P”.

In 1915, Aeolian started selling player pipe organs that were fully automatic in which the user no longer had to set the stops.  These organs are known as Duo Art Reproducing Pipe Organs.  The system was designed to be backward compatible with  organs built prior to 1915.  The upgrade process could be accomplished is several ways.  The most elaborate upgrade was to attach a fully automatic roll player, called a Concertola,. located in its own cabinet 

The Concertola came in two general styles, the single roll, manual load, or the fully automatic ten roll changer.  The ten roll changer Concertola now attached to Opus 1280 has a remote operators’ tablet with a push button for each roll.  Pushing a button causes the roll changer mechanism to select one of the rolls to load and play.  The user need  only to listen as the roll will set all stops and other controls, and at the conclusion of the music, the roll rewinds and the mechanism shuts off.

Now, the obvious question is, "What does this organ sound like?"  In its current setting, the separation of the two main divisions in front with the echo in the rear offer a "surround" sound experience as good as any modern theater.   The pedal division can shake the room and the trumpets in two divisions can offer resounding  power and clarity.  In more delicate passages, the strings can sound distant yet clear.  The full organ has an overall sweet sound that is powerful, yet refined.  This organ has the Aeolian blend, which is heavily romantic in nature. The free reed clarinet is awesome.  The orchestral oboe is unique.  And the vox humana blends with the multiple string ranks.  Effective swell shutters can reduce the softer stops to an almost inaudible level while the louder stops seem to be attenuated by at least 50%.  The numerous transcription rolls bring forth orchestral music that must have totally overwhelmed the patrons in 1915 since  today the effect, competing with modern electronics, is no less.  Without question, The Aeolian Pipe Organ was the ultimate home music system of the early twentieth century.  It still is.

Visit the pictures on this site to learn more.  Many of the pictures have explanatory notes.  The pictures are:

1.   Original installation showing organ under stairway                       17.   Unrestored relay pouches
1a   Gould House, 47th Street and 5th Avenue, New York                   18.  Tracing main junction and relay wiring
2.   Current music room                                                                  19.  Tracing jackbox wiring (player stop control unit)
3.   Opus 1280 restored                                                                    20.   Rewiring jackbox
4.   Echo chest interior                                                                     21.  Completed jackbox toggle junctions
5.   Unrestored keyboards                                                                 22.  Restored jackbox being installed
6.   Restored keyboards                                                                    23.  Installing new silver key contacts
7.   Aeolian Harp                                                                             24.  Looking inside the compound chest bottom
8.   Diapason in front                                                                    
9.   Diapason behind harp                                                                  
10. Echo being installed
11. Burnishing toe holes
12. Punch down wiring
13. Recording Laboratory
14. Concertola
15. Archer Gibson sends Greetings
16. Leather Bound Aeolian Sales Brochure

There is another site which offers "Sights and Sounds" of the Aeolian Organ
to visit that site, click here

or visit
You Tube and search for Aeolian Opus 1280


The rolls are read into a computer MIDI file.  The roll reader is from another Aeolian Console and has dual roll size capability.   Pictured is the smaller 116 note roll.  The larger Duo Art roll covers all the holes in the tracker bar (picture 13 )

Details of the tracker hole assignments for Duo Art Organ rolls.

In 1963 a group of enthusiasts formed an organization promoting the preservation of mechanical music machines that are operated by paper rolls..  That group is known as AMICA, Automatic Musical Instrument Collector's Association.  A Web site maintained by that group explains more and gives details on becoming a member.  Visit

Miscellaneous Related Subjects

Duo Art Rolls not listed in known catalogs

For an example of new Ampico roll coding, see the Podolsky Master Roll 72083 (for the Ampico Reproducing Piano)

Do you have Aeolian Duo Art rolls for sale or trade?  Click here for my want list.

Over 200 Duplicate Rolls are available

For a listing of all Duo Art pipe organ rolls, click here

Here is a link to another Aeolian home installation
Visit YouTube for a quick look of this restoration

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contact for Robert W. Taylor
September 20, 2007