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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Music adventures in Waldkirch

The organ festival in the Black Forest town of Waldkirch takes place every 3 years, usually in June.  I've blogged about it before in 2011 and 2014.  This year, we only had 2 full days in the town as we didn't want to drive overnight as we've done in the past all across France in the dark.  So we arrived at 4pm on Friday afternoon after setting out from home in the middle of the UK soon after 2am (11 hours of car and ferry). 

Waldkirch sign

Emily, Jenny, Lexie, Annie and their dolls with the miniature music box organs we'd brought with us, in our hotel room
 On Saturday morning we went into the town with Laura and Edmund who discovered the most amazing Steampunk organ and scene they had ever encountered - the Orgelmeuh 'Muh Orgel'.
What is a Muh Orgel?

Laura and Edmund stared in amazement at the Muh Orgel

The Muh Orgel pipes and drum - steampunk at its musical best

Muh orgel head

The Muh Orgel plays the pipes by cardboard book music

Milking the Muh - this was linked to the carousel ride

The Muh Orgel carousel - every ride creature was cow themed - steampunk fun for children
In the square by the Muh orgel was a collection of lots of mechanical musical instrument toys - teaching the science and physics of sound in various ingenious ways.  We loved the welly boot organ!  It played the recorders (each of which was playing one note) by pushing up the welly toes and pushing air through the recorder.

Playing Ode to Joy on the Welly boot organ

organ pedals being used to play different length pipes by direct action
In the street a Dutch street organ called De Harmonica was being played - it is on its traditional handcart and is hand turned.  Street organs are wheeled up and down the street on the cart so only play in one place for a short period before moving further along to play in another place.
De Harmonica

DollMum's younger daughter, Laura and Edmund with De Harmonica in Waldkirch

Laura and Edmund with De Harmonica

Laura and Edmund with De Harmonica

DollMum's younger daughter handturned De Harmonica!  quite a feat as it is a big instrument.

During the afternoon Laura and Edmund visited the organ workshop of Achim Schnieder.  Some automata were on display - these monkeys were rather intriguing.
Monkey musician

Monkeys playing violin and cello

Large organ figure in Achim's workshop
Later an old fairground organ played while a monkey cuddled the traditional collecting tin (we have one of these tins for our little street organ).

Very old Limonaire fair organ with monkey

Edmund put some money in the tin for the monkey
In another organ workshop they saw some organ figures being restored, with their arms off!  The arms are animated so they move - usually to conduct the music or ring bells.  The animation mechanism is usually a small leather covered 'motor' with a spring which is operated by a puff of wind from the music.  Setting up the animation is always a fun, technical challenge to get it right.

Organ figures waiting to go back on an organ - bell ringers and bandmaster.
In the museum that evening Laura and Edmund discovered some fascinating instruments which were sometimes also furniture - this beautiful writing desk was also a barrel organ!

The barrel organ writing desk

Dancing figures in this organ

These miniature figures in this organ are musicians

Another organ with miniature figures in a scene
Upstairs in the museum is this incredible diorama of a procession to the nativity.  The figures are so detailed and filled with character and the whole scene is about 3 metres long.

The incredible procession of figures visiting the nativity in the Elzal museum

The front of the procession approaching Bethlehem

The Nativity

Such wonderful figures in the procession
Miniature nativity scene

Another miniature nativity scene

This 19th century automata was called Perriot l'Ecravain, he was made in Paris in 1875 and writes with his quill pen
Outside the museum there was a stage with a modern fairground organ made by the organ builders of Waldkirch, in front of this various groups performed throughout the day.  The last group of the day was an old favourite - Organo Caribe (Latin American style music played with a street organ).

Organo Caribe
On Sunday Laura and Edmund discovered a fun organ for children outside the organ workshop of Jager and Brommer.

Edmund and Laura squeezed the rubber bulbs to make different percussion instruments play on the street organ

The organ bell ringer on the fun organ with lots of interactive percussion for children to operate via the long hoses and rubber bulbs

Laura and Edmund with the organ they helped play
In the main street of Waldkirch there were lots of small street organs, this one had one of those animated monkeys which have levers to make them do various actions, including squirting water at the crowd.  This one also lifts his hat and makes a scary face.

Animated monkey on a street organ
The festival was over so quickly.  The following morning the smallest dolls joined us for breakfast as we enjoyed the view down the valley to Waldkirch.

Annie, Lexie, Jenny and Emily in Altersbach

Annie, Lexie, Jenny and Emily with a tiny music box and a Waldkirch biscuit

Beautiful Altersbach in the morning sunshine
Goodbye lovely Altersbach and Waldkirch