MAGIC MUSICFROM THE TELHARMONIUMReynold WeidenaarScarecrow Press800/642-6420; 301/459-3366In 1893, a 26-year-old lawyer and inventor named Thadeus Cahill envisioned an instrument for producing music that could be delivered over telephone lines. The result was the Telharmonium, a 200-ton mass of gears and wires that allowed residents of New York City to hear electrically generated music in public places such as hotels, restaurants and even Telharmonic Hall.
In this book, Weidenaar provides the first comprehensive study of the invention and marketing of the earliest electronic music-delivery system. But Magic Music is more than just a description of the instrument itself. The book tells the story of an inventor and his brothers pursuing the American dream at the beginning of the 20th century, through the rise and fall of a variety of business entities based on supplying music via telephone lines.
Magic Music From the Telharmonium is also full of colorful descriptions of the instrument and its music from contemporaries (including Mark Twain/ Samuel Clemens and Edgard Varose). Well-written and extensively researched, Magic Music is an engaging read for those interested in electronic-music history or early business models in the entertainment field.