After the foundation of the German Empire in 1871, many Italians came to the booming metropolis of Berlin. Around 1900, around 1,300 Italians were already living in the capital. As the population grew, the city expanded, especially to the north. Many settled in what is now Prenzlauer Berg. In the area around Pappelallee and Schönhauser Allee, an Italian community of around 250 people developed. With their traditional crafts and professions, they shaped the Berlin district for decades.
Families in Prenzlauer Berg
Some instruments are on display in the special exhibition. These include the mechanical musical instruments from the music collection of the Stadtmuseum Berlin. They are moving to Pankow in the course of the extensive renovation of the Märkisches Museum over several years. Among them are barrel organs (also called lyre boxes), pianolas (self-playing pianos) and unique objects such as the Fratihymnia orchestrion.
Regular demonstrations of the instruments and an extensive accompanying programme on various topics complement the exhibition.
The orchestrion was originally built around 1900 as the Soleil model by the Cocchi, Bacigalupo & Graffigna company in Berlin. It produces the sound of a complete salon orchestra. In 1919, the Frati & Co. company replaced the mechanism and installed the company’s own Fratihymnia type of orchestrion. It required an electric motor and a wind machine for the drive instead of a weight lift. After the conversion, the Fratihymnia came into the possession of Giovanni Crescio and played for decades, until 1951, in the Italian restaurant in Genoa.
In 1962, the Märkisches Museum bought the orchestrion. Even today, the approximately 150 paper music rolls can be played. In addition to the potpourris of great operas, they let melodies from the operettas of Walter Kollo and Jean Gilbert as well as popular hits of the 1920s resound.
A joint exhibition in cooperation with
and with Fachbereich Museum/Bezirkliche Geschichtsarbeit
As well as funded by the Bezirkskulturfonds (BKF).
Supported by the Internationale Drehorgelfreunde Berlin e.V.