JOHANN STRAUSS JUNIOR: DANCE TO HIS MUSIC AND IMAGINE YOU ARE AT AN ELEGANT DANCE PARTY, A BALL!

Have a look in the display case at the ball gifts that are over 100 years old. Especially the ladies were given these at the start of the ball and so they were also known as “Ladies’ donations”. A little booklet in a beautiful case would have been an example of such a gift. The booklet – a dance card – was intended to help the ladies plan their dance schedule. Each man wrote his name in a lady’s booklet for a particular dance, making a reservation, you could say, for that dance. This way, it is a mutual promise to dance with each other.

Can you see a sort of wooden box with a cylinder in gravel in the large display case? What could that be? Have you an idea?

This cylinder music box is a “mechanical musical instrument” and is around 150 years old!

This is how it works:

Hundreds of tiny metal pins stick out from what is called a “pinned barrel” – they look like little silver dots. When you turn the handle at the side, the metal comb brushes over the barrel and hits these metal pins. Depending on how the little metal pins are positioned, a melody is played. So you could say that a piece of music is mechanically coded and saved on this sort of pinned barrel. The dances by Johann Strauss Junior were very popular compositions for this sort of cylinder music box.

The following video will show you how wonderful a cylinder music box can sound! Listen carefully, because you’re hearing the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and not of Johann Strauss Junior!

You can try out our “mini-music boxes” in our museum shop on the fourth floor. Have fun!