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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

Musical Instruments

Claviola ad

Advertisement for performances in the "Liberal Art Building". Advertisement for the Ludwig Piano and Claviola Exhibits. Source: n/a

As the largest musical instrument at the Exposition, the Emmons Howard organ in the Temple of Music was the most visible representation of the strength of the American musical instrument manufacturing industry at the turn of the century. The manufacture of pianos was in the midst of an increase that would reach its peak in 1909 with more than 364,000 pianos made in that year. The manufacture of reed organs, predominantly made for home use, reached a peak in 1904 with 113,000 built. The manufacture of band instruments was also increasing to meet the demand created by the proliferation of bands throughout the country.

The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building

The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building. Artist: Harry Fenn. Source: Reproduced in Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo May 1 to November 1, 1901. Its Purpose and Plan. [Buffalo, N. Y. : The Pan-American Exposition Company], 1901. p.12.

The major opportunity for musical instrument makers to display their goods was at the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building. Approximately twenty instrument makers or suppliers exhibited their wares at this venue, including John C. Haynes & Co., C. G. Conn, Buescher Co., Ludwig & Co., Melville Clark Co., Krell Piano Co., and Kimball Co. The relatively new player piano and organ mechanisms were also on display, with Ludwig and Melville Clark exhibiting new player piano models, and Kimball and Aeolian Co. demonstrating their new models of player organs (with Aeolian displaying in the Mission Building). Another example of a mechanical instrument was the $10,000 orchestrion used in Frank C. Bostock's Midway attraction, the Golden Chariots.


Pan-American Exphibition (1901) Styles of Ludwig Pianos

Advertisement: Pan-American Exposition (1901) Styles of Ludwig Pianos. Source: American Songs: A Collection of National Airs, [n.p., 1901]. Complements of Denton, Cottier & Daniels, Buffalo, N.Y., 1901. This songbook advertised all models of Ludwig Pianos exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition.


Music and Art (Aeolian booklet) Click here to see entire Aeolian booklet. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant.

The Aeolianline of player pipe organs, ranging in price from $3000 to $80000, was designed as an instrument for home use. The organ could be played by using music rolls or the keyboard. The descriptive booklet that Aeolian produced for the Exposition, Music and Art, includes a list of forty-two musical selections available in the catalog of over 10,000 titles.

The daily program for the Thursday October 3rd organ recital by Frank Taft in the Mission Building shows musical selections that match those listed in Aeolian's list of available music rolls. This suggests that the performance was most likely one demonstrating the mechanical capability of the instrument rather than a "live" recital performed at the keyboard.

The Aeolian Pipe Organ Recital in the Mission Building. Source: Official Daily Program of the Pan-American Exposition - "Nebraska-Toronto Day" (October 3, 1901). Buffalo, N.Y.: The Exposition Company, 1901. p.4.



Steinway & Sons built a special grand piano as a presentation instrument for New York State and its State Building at the Exposition. The New York State Building was the only building designed as a permanent structure at the Exposition. It still stands today as the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society building. The piano is adorned with the State Seal on its cover.

The black and white photographs below show the piano as it was placed in the New York State Building during the Exposition. Notice the original attached lamp stands, which are now missing. The color photographs, taken with kind permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, show the piano as it stands a century later.

Piano by the grand staircase of the NYS Building - 1901

Piano by the Grand Staircase of the NYS Building - 1901. Photo Credit: Unknown. Source: Report of the Board of General Managers of the Exhibit of the State of New York at the Pan-American Exposition - transmitted to the Legislature March 27, 1902. Albany, N. Y.: J. B. Lyon Company, State Printers, 1902.

Piano in the NYS Building - 1901

Piano in the NYS Building - 1901. Photo Credit: Unknown. Source: Report of the Board of General Managers of the Exhibit of the State of New York at the Pan-American Exposition - transmitted to the Legislature March 27, 1902. Albany, N. Y.: J. B. Lyon Company, State Printers, 1902.

Restored Pan-American Piano - 2001

Restored Pan-American Piano - 2001. Source: Photographed with kind permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, April 2001



Restored Pan-American Piano showing NYS Seal - 2001

Restored Pan-American Piano showing NYS Seal - 2001. Source: Photographed with kind permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, April 2001

Restored Pan-American Piano - 2001 - view 3

Restored Pan-American Piano - 2001 - (view 3) Source: Photographed with kind permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, April 2001

Restored Pan-American Piano - 2001 - view 2

Restored Pan-American Piano - 2001 - (view 2) Source: Photographed with kind permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, April 2001



A related article by Robert Berkman about mechanical instruments and the phonograph is also available.