Maelzel, Johann Nepomuk



An early inventor of automatic musical instruments. He was born at Ratisbon, where his father was an organ-builder, and in 1792 he went to Vienna as a music-teacher. His first mechanical work was an automaton composed of a trumpet, drum and other instruments, which played selections from Mozart and Haydn and which he sold for three thousand florins. He next invented the panharmonicon by making some additions to his former instrument. This was exhibited at Vienna in 1804. Then he bought Kempelen's chessplayer and took it and his own instrument to Paris. He sold the former soon, and then made a trumpeter playing military marches and signals. He was made Court mechanic in 1808. He invented an ear-trumpet, and in 1812 opened an Art Cabinet showing his inventions. He made a public chronometer which was an improvement on all similar instruments in existence. He was a friend of Beethoven's and at one time started to England with him for the purpose of exhibiting the panharmonicon. On the way Beethoven composed a battle-piece for the instrument which Maelzel appropriated as his own. This made Beethoven so angry that he took the matter to court, but the only result of the affair was that Maelzel gave up going to England and went to Munich instead with the panharmonicon, and also the battlepiece. He then went to Amsterdam, where he bought the metronome, an instrument for timekeeping, from the Dutch inventor, Winkel. In 1816 he established m a metronome factory in Paris, advertising the instrument as his own idea. Winkel objected and was finally recognized as the real inventor when it was too late to do much good. Maelzel then journey to Munich and Vienna to rebuy the chessplayer and" help along the metronome. He at last went to the United States and exhibited his curious inventions there and in the West Indies.