Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Pump Organ hits the Big Time

Ok, I will start this post with an admission. I missed Victorian Christmas last night. Yes, for the first time in seven years I did not attend one of the evenings of Victorian Christmas. Back in the summer, my wife purchased tickets to the Neil Young concert at the Metro Centre in Halifax so I was "Rockin' in the Free World" instead of serving mulled cider.

I have learned with this blog that I do not always know where the next topic will come from. As I previously mentioned, sometimes topics just announce themselves. Today's post is an excellent example and I will make some connections between Annapolis Royal history, Victorian Christmas at the O'Dell House Museum and last night's Neil Young Concert. Call it an exercise in connecting the dots.

About a third of the way through the show, our singer in question decided to set aside his guitar and play a song using a vintage pump organ. Properly called a parlour organ, this instrument became popular in the years at the end of the nineteenth century. By pumping two pedals with your feet, the player operates a set of bellows which power the organ. The keys and stops operate like any other organ. While these are very attractive instruments, there is nothing about them which says rock and roll concert. These are more of an evening sipping tea and telling stories type of instrument.

For years, one of the central parts of Victorian Christmas has been carols sung around the museum's 1885 Annapolis Organ Company Parlour Organ. Our instrument is not nearly as well tuned. In fact, the b flat sticks creating an effect somewhat like a bagpipe drone. The company itself was located on St. George Street directly across from the Sinclair Inn Museum. I often joke with visitors that their flaw in the business plan was producing very heavy organs on the second floor of a building. This is why I was very interested to see this instrument in use. It was a bit of heritage on stage. The rock and roll pump organ, who knew.

At the bottom of this post I am including a couple of notes on the Annapolis Organ Company from the Annapolis Journal in 1882.

All for now,

Annapolis Journal, Saturday, June 24, 1882

The Co-Partnership heretofore existing between the subscribers under the name and style of the Annapolis Organ Company is this day Dissolved by mutual consent, Mr. HE Chute having sold his interest and good will to Mr. EF Beeler, who has assumed all liabilities and will collect all debts due the late firm.

This item was followed by this note

Referring to the above I hereby announce that the business heretofore carried on by the Annapolis Organ Company will in future be conducted by me under the same name.
EF Beeler

1 comment:

  1. I would love to hear a remake of "Rockin' in the Free World" on the parlour organ!!