Category:M. Welte & Söhne

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M. Welte & Söhne 
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Instance of
  • Germany
Headquarters location
  • 1832
Dissolved, abolished or demolished date
  • 1952
Authority file
Wikidata Q537623
VIAF ID: 145061544
GND ID: 5125268-5
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Deutsch: M. Welte & Söhne war ein bekannter und bedeutender Hersteller von selbstspielenden mechanischen Musikinstrumenten.


  • Story of the Welte Company. Seewen SO: Museum für Musikautomaten.
    "​ Michael Welte (1807-1880) first established his Welte Company in 1832 at Vöhrenbach in Germany's Black Forest. In 1872 he moved to Freiburg im Breisgau and registered his company there as M. Welte & Söhne. During the remainder of the 19th century the firm expanded considerably and became world renowned for its orchestrions. Edwin Welte (1876-1958, the founder's grandson) and his brother-in-law Karl Bockisch (1874-1952) spent 1904 developing the Welte-Mignon system, which the pair launched in 1905. It quickly proved a great success worldwide. This piano technology was adapted to the Welte-Philharmonie organ (known as the Philharmonic in the USA) in the ensuing years, and a recording organ was built in Freiburg. ",
    "​ The Welte-Philharmonie was first displayed before a public audience in November 1911 at the World Exhibition in Turin, Italy. The company successfully went on to market player-organs and cinema organs and, when that market contracted during the 1930s, church organs. Between 1912 and 1930 the company issued paper-based punched music roll recordings of performances by the great organists of the day and sold them with considerable commercial success. ",
    "​ In 1865 Emil Welte (1841-1923, the founder's son) established a subsidiary in New York under the name M. Welte & Sons; the venture lasted until 1917. As a German enterprise, it was ordered to cease trading during the First World War. ",
    "​ The company's Freiburg head office premises were obliterated during Allied bombing raids in 1944, as a consequence of which the devices used to capture performances for the Welte Mignon and Welte Philharmonie systems were lost, as was documentation detailing the highly secret recording process. ",
    "​ As luck would have it, a Welte Philharmonie organ recording device surfaced in the USA around 1990: probably that used in the company's recording studios in New York, it now forms an integral part of the collection of the Seewen Museum of Music Automatons. "
    See also : Orchestrions./ The world of the piano./ The Welte-Philharmonie organs.

Further reading


(Note: underlined by editor)

  • The History of M. Welte & Sons, Freiburg and New York (in English) (wiki). ( (See also Germany. [de] version)
    "​ From 1832 until 1932, the firm produced mechanical musical Instruments of high quality. The founder Michael Welte and his company was prominent in the technical and qualitative aspects in their construction of orchestrions produced from 1850 to the beginning of the 20th Century. ",
    "[de][In English: From 1832 to around 1845 it operated under the name Gebrüder Welte, then under Michael Welte, and from 1865 as M. Welte & Söhne. Michael Welte first built music boxes, which became larger and more perfect. ...]​ ",
    "[de][In English: In 1846 he was commissioned to build an instrument for a Mr. Stratz from Odessa. This first orchestrion from Welte was intended to reproduce all orchestral voices and contained around 1,100 pipes. After three years of work, it was presented to an astonished audience before it was delivered, for example in the garden hall of the Karlsruhe Museum Society on the 23rd and 24th. ...]​ ",
    "[de][In English: In 1865, Michael Welte's three sons joined the company. The eldest son Emil Welte (1841 Vöhrenbach - 1923 Norwichtown, Connecticut, USA) went to New York in 1865/1866, where he founded the company “M. Welte & Sons” was founded as a branch. Berthold Welte (1843 Vöhrenbach - 1918 Freiburg i. Br.) took over management of the company, his brother Michael Welte jr. (1846 Vöhrenbach - 1920 Freiburg i. Br.) worked as a technician. ...]​ ",
    "​ In 1872 the firm moved from the remote black forest town Vöhrenbach to Freiburg im Breisgau to a newly developed business complex beneath the main railway-station. ",
    "​ They entered into an epoch-making development when they substituted the playing gear of their instruments from the vulnerable wooden pinned cylinders through perforated paper rolls. In 1883 Emil Welte patented this paper roll method. ",
    "​... Welte introduced the Welte-Mignon reproducing piano in 1904, which came onto the market in 1905. Through this invention by Edwin Welte and his brother-in-law Karl Bockisch ... / [image 1] The Company Buildings of M. Welte & Sons in Freiburg about 1909. ",
    "​... From 1912 on, a similar system for organs with the name „Welte Philharmonie-Orgel“ was produced. ... ",
    "​ In 1912 an new company was founded, the „M. Welte & Sons. Inc.“ in New York, which built a new factory in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. / [image 2] The Factory Building in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. about 1913 ",
    "​ In 1932, the firm could escape bankruptcy only by building furthermore exclusively church organs and other special organs, now with Karl Bockisch as sole owner. ",
    "​ The last project of Edwin Welte was an electronic organ provided with photo-cells, the „Lichttonorgel (Photo tone-Organ)”. In 1936, a prototype of such an organ was demonstrated in a concert in Berlin. The production of these organs - in cooperation with the Telefunken Company - was halted because the inventor, Edwin Welte, had a Jewish wife. ",
    "​ The loss of the American branch during WW I met the company hard. ... ",
    "​ The business complex in Freiburg was bombed and completely destroyed in November 1944. "
    Note: source is unclear!


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