Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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A prefix denoting an Organ stop of particularly imitative tone, found in many early 20th-century organs.

Orchestral chimes.

See Tubular bells.

Orchestra of St John’s, Smith Square.

London orchestra founded in 1967 and known as the Camden Chamber Orchestra until 1973. See London, §VII, 3.

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

British orchestra. Established in 1986, it has made a reputation as one of the world's leading period-instrument ensembles, with a repertory ranging from Purcell, Bach and Handel, through the Viennese classics to Brahms and Wagner. The OAE has performed and recorded frequently under such conductors as Frans Brüggen, Ton Koopman, Sigiswald Kuijken and Gustav Leonhardt. In 1992 Brüggen and Simon Rattle were appointed principal guest conductors, and the same year the OAE was invited to become associate orchestra at the South Bank Centre in London. It has appeared regularly with Rattle and William Christie at the Glyndebourne Festival since 1989, made its début at the Salzburg Festival in 1991, its Covent Garden début, in Verdi's Alzira under Mark Elder, in 1996, and its US début at the Mostly Mozart Festival in 1998. The orchestra opened its 1999–2000 season with a Beethoven cycle in London and Birmingham under five different conductors. Its many recordings include Bach's major orchestral works, Haydn's ‘Paris’ symphonies, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte, and a series of Schubert masses.


Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century [Orkest van de Achttiende Eeuw].

Period-instrument orchestra, founded in 1981 by Frans Brüggen. Its members, numbering up to about 45, are drawn from many different countries. Specializing in late Baroque and Classical repertory, it performs almost invariably with Brüggen, its artistic director and conductor. The orchestra, based in Amsterdam, tours internationally and has appeared at many of the leading European festivals. Its recordings include orchestral suites from Rameau’s operas and symphonies by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.



See under Instrumentation and orchestration.

Orchestre de Chambre de la Société Radio-Canada.

Orchestra active in Quebec, 1954–88.

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Orchestra founded in Geneva in 1918 by Ernest Ansermet.


The trade name of a full-sized reed-playing Player organ made by the Aeolian Company of New York in the early 20th century.

Orchestre Philharmonique des Pays de la Loire.

Orchestra founded in France in 1971, based in Angers and Nantes.

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

British period instrument orchestra. Established in 1990, it has extended the concept of period-instrument performance to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its founder, john eliot Gardiner, stresses its Romantic emphasis on colour and ‘the pervasive differences in the overall palate of sounds which composers such as Weber, Berlioz and Schumann were committed to reveal’. The orchestra’s many recordings include Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and an acclaimed Beethoven symphony cycle.



(1) The name given by Georg Joseph Vogler to a large, and, for its time, somewhat revolutionary organ that was first completed in Rotterdam in 1790 and first heard in public in Amsterdam on 24–6 November 1790. The organ, embodying the principles of his Simplification system, had four manuals, pedals and 63 stops, all fitted into a case 9' square. Some of the stops in this organ were free reeds, and these were under variable wind pressure. This, combined with the fact that the entire instrument was enclosed in a swell-box, gave the organ an unusually wide range of expression, possibly its most notable feature.

(2) A term, originally of German origin, widely used in the 19th and 20th centuries to denote a complex Mechanical instrument played by pinned barrels or perforated cards or paper rolls. Orchestrions are differentiated from the related street and fairground organs by the fact that they were intended only for indoor use, and for the performance of classical music and dances from the orchestral repertory. They were thus more sophisticated in their voicing, capabilities and design than their outdoor counterparts, and required lower wind pressures: otherwise they used similar technology.

An early example of the orchestrion was Maelzel’s Panharmonicon; another instrument of the orchestrion type was Winkel’s Componium. Martin Blessing (1774–1847), a maker of barrel organs in the Black Forest, is said to have been the father of the orchestrion industry in Germany. Among those trained in his workshop were Michael Welte (1807–80) of Freiburg, perhaps the most notable manufacturer of orchestrions, and the pair that went on to found their own business as Imhof & Mukle in 1850. A mechanical concert organ made by the Black Forest maker Georg Strasser in St Petersburg was bought by I.P. Tchaikovsky, father of the composer, and placed in the family home. Other makers included the Kaufmann family of Dresden, who toured England with their instruments in 1851, and such makers of barrel, street and fairground organs as Gavioli and Limonaire in Paris, Bruder and Ruth in Germany, Mortier in the Netherlands and Chiappa in London.

Orchestrions became increasingly popular in the mid-19th century as domestic entertainment for the wealthy and as a substitute for salon orchestras in hotels, restaurants and dance halls, reaching the peak of their popularity in the period between 1860 and 1880. The application of water or electrical power increased their practicality in the 1880s and 90s, and Emil Welte’s invention of pneumatic action in 1887 made possible greater mechanical complexity and a wider variety of effects. In addition to various types of imitative organ pipes and percussion devices, some large models also contained piano actions or chimes. Some instruments reversed this arrangement: known as piano orchestrions, they were self-playing pianos with organ pipes and other devices added. Early orchestrions were operated by pinned barrels (see ..\Frames/F000465.htmlBarrel organ, esp. fig.1), but by the end of the 19th century virtually all makers were using punched cards, which were hinged together and transferred from one folded stack to another as they passed through the playing mechanism; this resulted in easier changing, the playing of longer works and economy of space. For a fuller description of the playing mechanism, see Fairground organ.

At the height of its popularity and development, the orchestrion was capable of producing convincing performances of orchestral music, as proved by surviving examples in such collections as the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht. By the early 20th century the punched-card book was replaced by the perforated-paper roll pneumatic system that was developed for the fairground organ and the player piano. The piano orchestrion found a special niche in the cinema, where it was used to accompany silent films. Special types generally known as Photoplayers (a proprietary name that became a generic term), which combined piano, organ pipes, tubular bells and other percussion effects in a machine that could be played either with a keyboard or automatically using a music roll, were mainly an American innovation, but were also made by Hupfeld in Leipzig (see Sound effects, §1).

In the early 20th century smaller instruments gave way to less costly player pianos, which developed out of the same technology; the invention of electro-pneumatic organ action made possible full-scale self-playing residence organs which could reach considerable size. The orchestrion could not compete with these, and after the effects of World War I on the German musical instrument industry (particularly Welte) orchestrions were no longer made.

See also Kunz, Thomas Anton.


K. Bormann: Orgel- und Spieluhrenbau (Zürich, 1968)

Q.D. Bowers: Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments (Vestal, NY, 1972)

A.W.J.G. Ord-Hume: Clockwork Music (London, 1973)

A.W.J.G. Ord-Hume: Barrel Organ (London, 1978)

A.W.J.G. Ord-Hume: Harmonium (Newton Abbot, 1986)


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