Lindau’s island isn’t very big. Thus the known – which are mentioned in every tourist guide – museums are quickly crossed off. But museums are like a good main course: actually one feels full, but there is still this small appetite for a dessert.
Then it is just the time for the Welte-museum.
Probably the smallest museum of the town is an insider’s tip, even for locals. You will find it in Linggstrasse 14, in the entrance of the restaurant Zum Raichlebeck.
In a display case, there are not many but some quite interesting exhibits which invite you to occupy yourself with the subject of automatic music reproduction. Not tapes or CDs or other new-fashioned gimmicks – no, a technical marvel!
In 1904, the company M. Welte & Söhne in Freiburg developed an instrument with which you could reproduce piano works mechanically. The sound was carried on punched paper tapes, so called piano rolls.
This procedure can easily be understood by having a closer look at the lovingly reproduced models in the display case. If you want more than the printed explanations, Christoph Böck, landlord and music-lover, will be happy to answer your questions.
Famous pianists and composers insisted on recording works especially for this instrument. For example Eugène d’Albert, Claude Debussy, Edvard Grieg, Richard Strauss or Vladimir Horowitz, to name only a few. There are even works which were composed for mechanical reproduction specifically, for example by Paul Hindemith, Ernst Toch, Gerhard Münch, Igor Strawinsky and more recently by Conlon Nancarrow. These special works only exist as piano roll, and cannot possibly be played by hand.
Granted, this all sounds a little dry. That is why it is time to point out the centrepiece of the Welte Museum in Lindau’s Linggstraße: in the dining area you can find an authentic reproducing piano. The autoplay Feurich-piano dating from 1925, as well as piano rolls and documentary material, is a gift from Dr. Werner König to the Böck family, owners of the restaurant Zum Raichlebeck.
If you show real interest, Raichlebeck’s landlord is always happy to load a piano roll. His collection of old original rolls, but also new copies is so vast, that even lovers of lighter art will have a good time.
In any case, this way, the magic of mechanical music reproduction comes alive and will be unforgettable.
Last, but not least, to those who then, after this aesthetic treat, long for a real meal, the restaurant itself can be warmly recommended.
Karin Lang / Translation Birgitt Böck