Text and photos: Uwe Gernert

From Friday, 30th June to Sunday, 2nd July the 38. International Drehorgelfest Berlin took place in the capital of Germany. Thanks to the "Internationale Drehorgelfreunde Berlin" and especially to Christa Hohnhäuser ("Jubel-Jette") for the perfect organisation of this paramount event of the German "Barrel-Organ-Year"!

The programme this year differed a little bit from the years before, because Axel Stüber, the last remaining builder of original Berlin street organs in the hometown of the street organ tradition, celebrated his 40th anniversary of the founding of his business. So on Friday from 11:00 h the stage was open to all organ players who were available from that time. The celebration of Axel´s jubilee was ended shortly before the players had to break up for the next event.

Since his anniversary was reason enough for Axel to invite the organ players on Saturday for lunch, the well-known "get-together" in the Berlin Zoo´s restaurant was on Friday evening after the sign-in. For that reason the opening of the festival by the mayor of Berlin-Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf was not on Breitscheidplatz in front of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church but in the Zoo´s restaurant. That Friday in Germany was characterized by a historical decision of German´s parliament: the complete equality of same-sex partnerships is reality in Germany from that Friday on. Since the mayor Reinhard Naumann lives in legal partnership with his friend, the laudatio was not only organ-related and a lot of the auditory had a ball for that decision.

As all of you will know, Breitscheidplatz was the place of a terrorism attack before Christmas. Thilo-Harry Wollenschlaeger and his team as the long-term organisator of the podium and the beer and wine stands on place did the best to secure the surroundings and we all hope he will do that in future. It´s not self-evident someone´s doing the things as usual after an attack like that standing for the additional costs.

The grand parade on Saturday morning when the Kurfürstendamm is reserved for all kinds of barrel organs was prepared from 10:00 h in the morning, when the participants started their walk from Breitscheidplatz to the gathering point for the defile at Bleibtreustreet. Since this year's festival saw more than 180 participants (and some 170 organs of all proveniences) the way forth over the Ku'damm was a party for itself - the way back was a public attraction as usual. The defile was held from 11:00 h to 12:00 h and was headed traditionally by a horse coach where Reinhard Naumann and Margot Wolf, the eldest playing 'organ grinderess' in her 102nd year, found their way to participate. Margot is still with us and I can´t imagine a festival without her beeing part of it - as long as I can tell Margot again invited the smallest grinderess, Barbara Bürgler from Switzerland to share her using the coach.

Text and photos: Uwe Gernert

Like every year (the participation of barrel organs at the festival goes back for 23 years and Bruno didn´t tell me how long he is in charge for the festival), Bruno Leoni invited some twenty organ players to the LUGA festival. This fair/trade fair is held annually and as a tradition of the fair the last Saturday is the day of the barrel organ. Bruno invited 20 players of which 19 were on site. Unfortunately weather conditions weren´t very good: the organs had to be unloaded during heavy rain, but from the beginning of the show at 10:00 h up to 15:00 h the weather cleared up and the organs could be presented to the public in open with great resonance. As usually on those occasions in Switzerland the organ players were split up into groups moving around over the whole area to give the public the chance to listen to different kind of organ styles and music at one place.

The players usually meet after their daily work at 16:00 h at the festivals beer tent ("Dorfplatz-Beizli") for the "z`vieri" but due to weather conditions this year the meeting of the players began a little bit earlier. Esther, the landlady of the Dorfplatz-tent was kind enough to invite all of the players before 16:00 h and Hans Ueli Lehmann and Markus Bölsterli (http://www.oergelimaa.ch/) played some pieces for barrel organ synchronously (Famous: "Die Post im Walde" http://www.oergelimaa.ch/var/m_1/16/168/24301/993800-20%20Post%20im%20Walde.mid?download - click "open" to listen) for the whole public in the tent.

Since my partner and I played beside the "Dorfplatz" all day through we were also invited to play some of our tunes in the tent. In spite of the weather conditions we had a lot of fun and if you´ll be in the area at the time of LUGA being held, drop by - beside the rest of the show there are a lot of interesting organs and players waiting for you.

Marcel Teugels (1923-2016)It is with great regret that we inform you about the death of Marcel Teugels (19-03-1923 – 24/11/2016).

For decades, the Teugels brothers were important figures in the world of dance organs. Together with his brother Georges (1925-2008) and their wives, they entertained thousands of people with their dance organs.

We extend our sincere condolences to the family. May Marcel rest in peace.

Text: Uwe Gernert / Photos: Bruno Leoni

My friend Bruno Leoni is responsible for organizing the organs presented on that festival for 28 years now. The participants are invited personally. hela is a mixture of traditional fair, volksfest of the local assocations and trade fair with regional exhibitors. The old town of Laufenburg is blocked for traffic throughout the festival and a pedestrians paradise. Traditionally on the market on Sunday there will be shown barrel-organs throughout the old town-center. Bruno invited around 35 organplayers of which 33 where present. After a good brunch the players were divided into groups of 3 or 4 organs and were sent out to their places. I already told You about that concept on other Swiss occasions: it gives wide room to talk to people interested in the organs and for the public it´s great to have the chance to listen to more than one organ at a certain place. The grinders did their best to entertain the public even if the weather conditions were not as good as expected. The shown organs reached from small American reed organs up to a late Raffin-organ built in 2015. Peter Bürgisser and Cyril Schulthess were invited to accompany the holy mass at the townchurch. Just in time for the planned presentation of all organs on the marketplace it began to rain heavily at 16:00 h. Sadly this presentation had to be cancelled but we hope for the next years event to present the organs to the public again. The usual get-together was held afterwards in a restaurant on place.

Text and photos: Uwe Gernert (thanks!).

Ever since I’ve been going to "GDSF" on a regular yearly basis – I´m interested in any kind of old mechanic – this year I saw as many organs as I never saw before there. Apart from the steam engines that fact for me was one of this year´s highlights at the fair.

It would be impossible to describe all the organs I saw in our small news section of MechaMusica´s website in detail, so I invite you to have a look at the photo gallery below. I’ve tried to get all of the organs at least with one "shot" but made some photos from the backsides and descriptions also. This should do it for an overlook for you and I personally think you´ll find some well-known organs from Belgium and The Netherlands (even those sold to British owners) in my small collection of photos.

Ever since I visited GDSF I was used to rainy weather conditions but this year we had at least 2 sunshiny days, this year´s rain didn’t begin before Saturday night, which gave us two complete days listening and watching the organs uncovered. Next year´s visit is warmly recommended to you!

Text and photos: Uwe Gernert

 The 36. international Festival of the Barrel organ at Berlin is history! Beginning on Friday 01. July 2016 with the inscription and the official opening by the mayor of Berlin-Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorf at 18:00 h on Breitscheidplatz in the centre of Berlin at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It again was an extraordinary event. After the opening ceremony the fest started - without organs but a dance band playing songs of the fifties and sixties for the public. The "event of the event" part one is always the grand parade on Saturday morning when the Kurfürstendamm is reserved for all kinds of barrel organs. The defilé is held from 11:00 h to 12:00 h on 1 km of the "Ku´damm" with more than 120 organs. The defilé was headed traditionally by a horse-coach where the district-mayor of Berlin-Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorf Reinhard Naumann and Margot Wolf (Willy Jacops gave her the title of the eldest organ player of the world as you could read on MM´s website some time ago) in her 101st (!!!) year. She is still grinding her organ and is still going strong.

All organ grinders got a lot of public this year and fortunately during the hour of the defilé it was not raining. The rest of the Saturday the organs played on and around Breitscheidplatz for the public but weather conditions could have been better. "Jubel-Jette" Christa Hohnhäuser as the organizer of the festival introduced organ players from all over the world on stage the whole Saturday and Sunday and explained the different organs. Christa this year welcomed about 150 organ grinders from 13 countries. Amongst those was Shibaraku Asakusa from Tokyo and two grinders from Chile with "chinchinera" Olga Carrasco who did an amazing job on her drums to the sound of Manuel Ivan Melo´s barrel organ. Manuel still manufactures barrel organs in the style of Frati from Berlin in Santiago. All other players had more than enough listeners until late in the evening. On the evening the whole grinders-family - at the Berlin fest You may take the word "family" for real - had a dine-out at the Berlin zoo.

Text and photos: Uwe Gernert - thanks, Uwe!

The 12th international organ festival at Einsiedeln in Switzerland took place on 14th August 2016. As usually it was perfectly organized by Peter X. Bürgisser (www.drehorgel-schweiz.ch) who had invited 28 organ grinders way before the festival. We gathered at hotel "Drei Könige", facing the world famous monastery, at 09:00 h and Peter asked the grinders to vote for one of the places where as usual 4 to 5 organs play together. For the visitors this grouped setup makes it a nice experience to walk through the streets of the town while having the opportunity to listen to more than one instrument at a place and for the grinders it´s a lot more fun because they don´t have to wait too long to play another piece of music again. The groups of grinders spread out to be at their places at 10:00 h.

Peter also organized a service in the monastery´s church "Maria Assumption" with two organs playing classical and religious music at 11:00 h – as Einsiedeln is a widely known pilgrims’ site, the church was crowded not only by the organ grinders but by an international public. Shortly before the lunch break at 13:00 h Frater Basil blessed the organs in a short ceremony in front of the basilica. Lunch and beverages where sponsored by hotel "Drei Könige" and offered for free to the participants. From 14:00 h to 16:00 h the organs spread out again throughout the town playing for the public.

By Uwe Gernert

Hupfeld VorsetzerSince I got some of the old mechanical instruments made between 1880 und 1930 at Leipzig, Dr. Birgit Heise, curator of the Grassi Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig invited me on the occasion of the opening of the thematic exhibition "music.mp0 - Selfplaying Instruments from Leipzig" to those ceremonies. The exhibition was presented to the public on last Saturday. Birgit asked me to play one or two of my Tanzbärs at the get-together-party after the opening ceremony.
I personally can recommend to visit that exhibition. More than 15 of the instruments are presented "life" - the students of the university of Leipzig volunteraly present some of the most remarkable instruments to the public each day from 13:00 through 17:00 h. Birgit herself has profound knowledge of those instruments as she provided a detailed online-catalogue of the history of the mechanical instruments built at Leipzig - an unbelievable good source for the collector:


A catalogue to the exibition can be bought at the museum and online. From that catalogue it is possible to obtain impressions of nine instruments playing by QR-code. But also You can watch them play by following the link below:


And here the link to the museums own page for that special event:


The photographical impressions You see below are given by courtesy of Grassimuseum, Dr. Birgit Heise. And this is not even the best You will find there! The exhibition will be continued to 31. January 2016.

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