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How to make best use of a Pianola?

The question usually answers itself when a good pianola is experienced live for the first time. This was also the case for the vast majority of interested parties at the time. When the first self-playing pianos were introduced before 1900, there were very different reactions to these new wondrous instruments.

In the specialised press, reactions ranged from:"For a musically sensitive person, the thought of a mechanical piano is a real abomination"(M. Allhin, 1902) to"One only has to insert these rolls, punched with all rhythmic shadings, [...] in order to create the illusion of listening to a great artist. Isn't that wonderful and the realisation of former fairy-tale fantasies about which our ancestors would have smiled?"(P. B. in the Zeitschrift für Instrumentenbau 1905).

Despite the many tens of thousands of instruments produced by Aeolian, Hupfeld, Welte and other manufacturers, orders could not be met in the first few years. At times, more pianolas were produced than pianos.

Then as now, the same diverse reasons (present them separately or encourage them?) apply to the purchase of a pianola:

- The extended enjoyment of music - to enjoy pieces of piano literature that you cannot produce yourself on the piano

- Special musical enjoyment - listening to the same pieces by different performers and by the composer himself

- Additional musical enjoyment - playing pieces of piano literature in different ways yourself using piano controls

- Reputation - as a good host, representing musical culture and innovation (today rather nostalgic innovation)

- Fascination - for true marvels of mechanics / pneumatics / electrics that can reproduce this music

Which of these has the most weight, as well as additional motivators, will remain an individual decision. A significant advantage today, compared to back then, is that many thousands of beautiful sheet music rolls exist, some of which can no longer be found in the music literature. 

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