- Laurence Libin
Mechanical claviorgan invented by Johann Heinrich Völler (b Angersbach bei Lauterbach, 7 March 1768; d Kassel, 1822). It reportedly consisted of a two-manual giraffe piano about 150 cm wide, 110 cm deep, and nearly 335 cm tall, with a compass F′–a″, an organ attachment of 8′, 4′, and 2′ flute stops, and an automaton in the form of a boy playing a flute. The piano and organ sections could be played mechanically or manually. Different timbres could be obtained by means of 18 stops, but the instrument was not successful and was soon destroyed by its maker. Völler showed early aptitude for mechanics and in the 1780s and 1790s learned about organ building from Johannes Zitzmann in Kassel. He earned a wide reputation from his various mechanical inventions, with which he toured in 1800, but being unable to sell them, he returned to Kassel and successfully took up piano making....