Magic Music from the Telharmonium (1998)
29min · Documentary, Short · 15 April 1998
It was 1906. "Get Music on Tap Like Gas or Water" promised the headlines, and soon the public was enchanted with inventor Thaddeus Cahill's (1867-1934) electrical music by wire. The Telharmonium was a 200-ton behemoth that created numerous musical timbres and could flood many rooms with sound. Beginning with the first instrument, constructed in the 1890's, and continuing with the installation of the second instrument at Telharmonic Hall in New York, the rise and fall of commercial service, the attempted comeback of the third Telharmonium, and ending with efforts to find a home for the only surviving instrument in 1951, this documentary provides a definitive account of the first comprehensive music synthesizer. Video artist and composer Reynold Weidenaar has created a video of image-processing and animation using historic photos and pictures. All source images and dialogue are authentic. Most of the music selections are known to have been performed on the instrument. However, no known recordings of the Telharmonium exist, so the music was recreated on a Yamaha synthesizer.
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