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Prince George Theatre, Brighton

 

Little is known of the history of the instrument installed in the Prince George Theatre, Church Street, Brighton. It was a Cremona photo-player, built by the Marquette Piano Company, of 2421-2439 Wallace Street, Chicago. From the surviving details, it would appear that the instrument was a Cremona Style M3 photoplayer. According to David Bowers:

 [Bowers, David Q., Encyclopędia of Automatic Musical Instruments, Vestal Press, Vestal, N.Y., 1972, p. 503]

These were versatile instruments:

 [Bowers, David Q., Encyclopędia of Automatic Musical Instruments, Vestal Press, Vestal, N.Y., 1972, p. 503]

They were also built to last:

[Roehl, Harvey, Player Piano Treasury, Vestal Press, Vestal, N.Y., 1961 (1st edition), p. 123.]

Again:

Bowers goes on to say that "Cremona photoplayers had their heyday in the 'teens", [Bowers, David Q., Encyclopędia of Automatic Musical Instruments, Vestal Press, Vestal, N.Y., 1972, p. 503] and states elsewhere that Cremona instruments were mainly marketed from 1905 to 1920, [ibid., p. 498] so it would be safe to assume that this instrument was probably installed in the late 1910s or very early 1920s.

 The Prince George instrument contained four full-compass (61 notes) ranks: Diapason, Flute, Cello, and Violin, and a treble-only Vox Humana. These were all available at 8ft pitch only, but Sub and Super-Octave couplers were provided. The only tonal percussion was a Xylophone.

 The console had a single 88-note manual, which enabled the piano to be played full-compass; this could be set onto the bass and/or treble portions of the keyboard as required. There was a comprehensive array of traps and effects, which were controlled by push buttons and piano pedals. The roll-playing option was the second listed above, with duplexed 88-note and 134-note "S" orchestrated mechanisms.

The Style M3 "was over sixteen feet in width, from the extreme edge of the box on the left of the piano containing various drums and traps, to the right edge of the other external box which contained sets of organ pipes." [Roehl, Harvey, Player Piano Treasury, Vestal Press, Vestal, N.Y., 1961 (1st edition), p. 125.]

 It is believed that the instrument last played in around 1930. It remained in the theatre until the 1960s, when it was taken out and stored out of doors in a nearby yard until wrecked by the elements.  Its remains were eventually scrapped.

[Information, other than otherwise attributed, was provided by Julien Arnold, Melbourne, from his archives, September, 1975].

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