Welcome to the Player Piano Group!
We are one of the world’s longest-established Societies for people interested in the player piano and related automatic instruments.
The Player Piano Group (PPG) was established in 1959 by Frank Holland, MBE. Frank was a passionate collector of instruments and also founded our sister organisation, the Musical Museum in Brentford, UK. His aim, which still inspires us today, was to preserve automatic musical instruments, to increase knowledge of this wonderful technology, and to connect people who share an enthusiasm for these instruments and their music. From humble beginnings in London, the PPG now has members across the globe. We warmly welcome applications for membership.
What is a ‘player piano’?
The player piano is an automatic musical instrument played by means of a perforated paper roll which operates a pneumatic mechanism. Player pianos are commonly referred to as ‘Pianolas’, this being the trade name of one of the early and most successful systems. The first of such instruments were cabinet-type attachments known as ‘push-ups’, these could be placed in front of a standard piano and played the instrument by means of a set of fingers.
Player technology was developed at the very end of the nineteenth century and became a booming business. The player mechanism was soon being built into piano cases, and the development of the reproducing piano enabled artists’ performances to be recorded and played back on sophisticated (and expensive) instruments. The economic troubles of the 1930s, combined with the introduction of radio and the gramophone, saw the sudden decline of the player piano industry, which never truly recovered despite the relaunch of the Pianola piano in late 1950s America. However, many instruments survive and small-scale production of music rolls to play them continues.
The PPG holds regular social meetings where members can meet to play and admire instruments, share knowledge, and – where would we be without it? – enjoy the great hospitality of member hosts. Our annual concert and dinner is a highlight of the year, with entertainment provided by the finest instruments.
The PPG Bulletin is currently published twice a year and includes articles on the history and technology of the player piano, reviews of musical gatherings, technical tips, and listings of items for sale. We also publish books and recordings relating to our interest and share videos online.
The PPG became a Private Limited Company in the UK in 2013, to ensure its long-term survival for everyone interested in the player piano, its music and technology.