The Organ

The Pyrophone

The PYROPHONE at the "Inventious"

This was an instrument invented by Frederic Kastner (a musician and scientist). It had a keyboard of three octaves and was played as an organ. It consisted of 37 glass tubes, in each of which was a circle of small gas jets or burners which could contract and extend "like the fingers of a hand". Sound is produced when they separate and ceases on contraction.

"The value of the tone depends principally upon the number of the burners and the dimensions of the pipes, so that by a proper selection of these one may obtain all the notes of the scale in several successive octaves. A very simple mechanism causes each key to communicate with its corresponsing pipe and burners. Some of the glass tubes are nearly eleven feet high."
The instrument is bigger than a piano but much smaller than an organ - moves on castors and is easily tuned and not easily affected by changes of temperature. There is no time lag between the striking of the key and the sound production.
"The flame organ accompanies in an admirable manner the human voice, and is most favourable to the rendering of serious, religious, solemn and choral music, but it can also play in a more lively harmony, as it has been proved at Baden Baden, where the pyrophone played a part in the "Danse des Sylphes" of Berlioz, with the Great orchestra."
(First published in Musical Opinion and Trade Review, September 1885, this summary taken from Musical Opinion, September 1985)