This antique machine plays three violins at once and we cannot stop watching
10 March 2017, 11:22
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.
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: