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Orchestrion

These were large barrel organs with pipes, reeds, and percussion designed for imitating a real orchestra. They were developed in Germany in the late 18th century and were driven by weights. Large orchestrions, such as the Panharmonican in Vienna, included “automata” playing instruments. For this instrument, Beethoven wrote “Wellington Sieg” in 1813. The Dutch Componium, built in 1821, was capable of composing its own variations on a given theme! And we thought samplers and sequencers were something new!

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