I was reminiscing of the “good old days” when I watched one of the classic black and white Egyptian “oldies” on TV this week, starring the Shirley Temple of the Orient (our Egyptian baby-genius Fairouz) and Anwar Wagdy. In the film story, he was a pianola-player and ‘street musician’. Luckily for the new generation, these old classics can be viewed on television now. Other old films had one or two scenes with Pianolas, and were not props, but the ‘real thing’. What happened to these priceless music boxes? Do we have museums that keep one or two ancient Pianolas? They are works of art, as well as a phase in time never to return.
Some of the Pianolas were smaller in size, and carried on the operator’s chest, suspended as accordions. But the most common ones were the upright Pianolas. Later on, Pianolas took the shape and size of real pianos, and would ‘self-play’. These types were more common in the U.S.A., and I think originated there. Most of the Western films had Pianolas (self-playing pianos) in them. Gradually, the Pianola in the USA evolved into the Juke Box.
I thought that the Pianola was originally Italian, due to the origin of the name. However, the term 'Pianola' was actually a trademark, first used by the Aeolian Company just over a hundred years ago, but in more recent times has become a generic reference to the self-playing piano.