Magic Music from the Telharmonium

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9780810826922: Magic Music from the Telharmonium

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 rooms with sound. It was installed at Telharmonic Hall in New York, across from the Metropolitan Opera. People thronged to attend four daily concerts there, listening as the music poured from huge horns attached to telephone receivers.

Beginning with the first wire transmission of music in 1851, covering the three instruments that were constructed, and ending with efforts to find a home for the only surviving Telharmonium in 1951, this definitive account of the first music synthesizer will interest anyone concerned with the roots of electronic and computer music. The extensive bibliography is a valuable source for historians of musical instruments and cable broadcasting, as well as for technologists and students of American culture. With 47 photographs and illustrations.

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About the Author:

Reynold Weidenaar is Associate Professor of Communication at William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ.


In this book, Weidenaar provides the first comprehensive study of the invention and marketing of the earliest electronic music-delivery system...Well-written and extensively researched, Magic Music is an engaging read for those interested in electronic-music history of early business models in the entertainment field. (Mix)

The book will be of value to scholars interested in the history of music technology, and also, though less obviously, to students of early twentieth-century social and economic history. (Notes: The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association)

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