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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: Composium

April 7, 2006

Dear Michael,
While reading an obscure but beautiful and informative book entitled les instruments de musique dans l’art et l’histoire by Roger Bragard (Librairie Payot,1967) I came upon the mention of an extraordinary mechanical organ by the name of the Composium. It is described “named…because it is able once set in motion…to play a theme and variations on it so innumerable that to exhaust them all…it would take more than 138 trillion years.” I wonder if you have heard of this incredible instrument an example of which is in the collection of the Musee Instrumental de Bruxelle and if you have any recordings of it that you might either play on your wonderful program or make available otherwise?

Tom Wood
Archer, Florida


Dear Tom,
No, have not heard about the Composium…and probably just as well, as I don’t have enough time to do the things in front of me now, and the thought of waiting 138-trillion years for the conclusion of one set of variations boggles the imagination. :-)



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