This antique machine plays three violins at once and we cannot stop watching

10 March 2017, 11:22

Automatic violin playing machine

This machine is called the Hupfeld Phonoliszt Violina and uses a complex automated mechanism to play three violins and a piano at the same time. We cannot stop watching it.

This violin player was included in the 1910 World’s Exhibition in Brussels and it’s been lovingly restored to its original glory by Dutch restorer Fred Bernouw.

A circular rotating bow made of 1,300 threads of horse hair produces the sound from the three violins, while keys – powered by small bellows – press down on the finger boards to change the notes produced.

It’s powered by an electric engine and looks straight out of a steampunk fantasy.

Watch the amazing violin-playing Phonoliszt-Violin

This machine was made in German and dates from 1910


It was made in Germany by Ludwig Hupfeld and the Hupfeld company also made automatic pianos, piano rolls and these machines, known as orchestrions.

According to Antique HQ, the company “sold this type of instrument for 20 years without any competitors”. Given the complexity of this machine, it’s easy to see why.

It can even do vibrato – clearly heard on this Chopin recording:

Find out more and watch more videos at WelteMax’s website and YouTube channel

Classic FM Apps

Get the Classic FM app for iPhone, iPad and Android - now with HD audio

Musical abbreviations quiz

You won’t get 20/20 on this quiz if you don’t know your musical abbreviations

musician would you rather

This musician edition of Would You Rather is completely excruciating

greatest best man speech

Everyone is saying this pianist gave the greatest best man speech of all time