In MMD Digest 020202 Lelland Fletcher asked for more info about a barrel piano with the name "Pierre Van Roy" on it. Those who know the history of the museum at Utrecht will certainly know this name, for it was Van Roy who sold the magnificent "Aalster Gavioli" and the Philipps Paganini to the museum.
Pierre (officially Petrus) Van Roy was born at Brussels in 1888. Initially, he worked at the car company D'Ieteren (which is still active today) where he polished the bodywork of the cars. Then he worked for François Lecour at Schaarbeek, a firm that manufactured roll-operated orchestrions. He went to Paris for some time (where he worked for Gavioli) but he returned to Belgium in 1911 to marry Désiré Goethals, the daughter of an organ renter at Aalst.
In 1914, he and his wife return to Schaarbeek where he starts working at the famous firm of Joseph Tullio at the Rue Brichaut. Soon he becomes the 'chef d'atelier' of the firm, where mainly barrel pianos and orchestrions are manufactured. (See the picture: Van Roy is the man standing at the left side.)
In 1916 or 1917 Van Roy starts his own shop at the Rue des Goujons at Anderlecht, where he specializes in barrel pianos. Most of his clients come from Aalst, and during the 1920s he rents and sells several instruments (and also organs) to dance hall and café owners at Aalst.
To avoid travelling too much, he decides to return to Aalst in 1927, at the Meuleschettestraat 12. His son-in-law Alexander Cornand (Cornant?) arranges most of the music. But with the demise of mechanical music, Van Roy starts to specialize in 'normal' pianos and tuning of instruments. He dies at Aalst in 1963.
Attached is another picture of Pierre Van Roy and also a barrel piano (manufacturer unknown) as an illustration to the information about the barrel piano by Mazzoletti.
4 Feb 2002 19:27:23 +0100