The Repertoire of Austro-Hungarian Musical Boxes – By Helmut Kowar


On the musical repertoire of musical boxes manufactured in Prague and Vienna – an incomplete account.

In about 1820 Anton Olbrich in Vienna and Franz Rzebitschek in a small village near Teplitz (some years later he settled in Prague) started to make musical box movements. They developed a specific design which differed in several technical details from their Swiss counterparts. This construction did not change any more once the two initial makers had reached at a standard model which all succeeding Austrian manufacturers were to adopt. As far as one can derive from the instruments found so far this situation corresponds to the music. The Austrian movements reveal a clear structured musical repertoire and this structure remained unaltered over the decades. The musical box movements’ use was determined by its assembly with clocks (nonetheless we find many movements fitted into plain wooden cases), its distribution more or less confined regionally to the Austrian monarchy and adjacent eastern countries, and all this and the musical taste and demand of the public there formed the music.  The report given here is based on a research that has led to data collected of ca. 1400 movements, of these more than 1000 movements had been found in playing condition and a sound recording was made[1].

Hence, on the evidence of those 1400 movements as opposed to the ca. 110.000 movements which were made in Prague and Vienna altogether, the statements and findings concerning the musical repertoire are necessarily incomplete, and even the information gathered from the instruments available proves fragmentary: i. e., many instruments were in poor condition and did not play at all; with those which played quite a number of tunes could be identified when listened to, but much more tunes were unknown and at best could be classified as being a waltz, a ländler, march, czardas etc., or displayed characteristics which made them recognisable as an aria or a couplet, – but which one?  With quite a number of movements the manufacturers attached tune sheets. Unfortunately, well-preserved tune sheets are very rare, often only illegible parts or remnants in poor condition are left.  These sheets were glued onto the inside of the lid (Fig. 1, 2 and 3) or on the underside of the bottom of the cases (Fig. 4 and 5), on the backing or on the frame of picture clocks and mantle clocks (Fig. 6 and 7). The makers used reprinted slips of paper and entered music number and current number of the musical box movement (sometimes the numbers are missing), and the title of the music pieces by hand. In addition we find tune inscriptions in pencil or ink on the cases themselves or on the backing of picture clocks which name the musical program. However, the information about the musical repertoire occasionally contains inconsistencies as well as outright errors, or they used names, abbreviations and designations which were common at the time, but are not readily understandable nowadays, not to speak of an old or  incorrect spelling of words and names, indecipherable characters and a partly unreadable or faded handwriting (Fig. 8). Thus, with some of the titles given on the tune sheets it was impossible to identify the music piece.

Fig.1 August Bartle, Vienna, musical box (music no. 469, current no. 1296) playing three tunes, with a tune sheet on the lid of the case (auction Dorotheum Vienna, May 27, 2009, no. 155), photo © Helmut Kowar.

Fig.2 August Bartel, Vienna, musical box (music no. 469, current no. 1296), the tune sheet.

Fig. 3 Anton Olbrich, Vienna, musical box (music no. 2519) playing six tunes, the tune sheet affixed to the lid of the case (Muzeul Ştiinţei şi tehnicii „Ştefan Procopiu“. Aparate muzicale din colecţii publice şi private. Iaşi, Palatul culturii, 14 septembrie – 14 octombrie 2018 , special exhibition), photo © Helmut Kowar.


Fig. 4 Gustav Řebiček, Prague, musical box (music no. 3388, current no. 49638) playing two tunes, the tune sheet affixed to the underside of the case (auction Dorotheum Vienna, May 27, 2009, no. 156), photo © Helmut Kowar.


Fig. 5 Unsigned musical box by a Prague maker, possibly by Alois Maly (music no. 107, current no. 380) playing two tunes, the tune sheet affixed to the underside of the case (auction Dorotheum Vienna, March 23, 2011, no. 176), photo © Helmut Kowar.


Fig. 6 Anton Olbrich, Vienna, musical box (music no. 309, current no. 6536) playing two tunes, the tune sheet affixed to the wooden board which closes the back of the pedestal of the mantle clock (Museum of Music History, Institute for musicology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences), photo © Museum of Music History, Budapest.


Fig. 7 Anton Olbrich, Vienna, musical box (music no. 1961, current no. 16757) in a mantle clock playing two tunes, the tune sheet affixed to the back of the pedestal of the mantle clock (private collection) photo © Philipp Weinmann, Vienna.






The sources found so far provide us nonetheless with a surprisingly precise picture. One can identify three main musical genres: dance music, operatic music, and folk music. Occasionally art songs, some piano and popular music, salon music, national anthems and church songs appear, these may be summarised as a separate fourth group. An export of movements seems to have occurred only in the first decades, this means that the output of the Czech and Viennese makers served mainly – or almost exclusively – the needs of the peoples of the Austrian monarchy and of east European countries, thus the repertoire is completely different from the music on Swiss musical boxes.

One must consider that the tunes given here display the musical genres quite well, but these lists do not provide any information as to the frequency of the tunes appearing on the musical box movements. Many tunes are present on numerous movements throughout decades e.g. the “Radetzky”-march by Strauss sen., “The blue Danube”-waltz by Strauss jun.,  airs from “Martha” by Flotow, “Guillaume Tell” by Rossini, “Norma” by Bellini, “Les Huguenotes” by Meyerbeer, “Hunyadi Laszlo” by Erkel, or the Austrian or Czech national anthems, to name just some of the most favored melodies. It bears mentioning that several tunes which are completely unknown today are to be found repeatedly as well, as for instance Joseph Kreipl’s song „S’Mailüfterl“ or a “Ländler” by Alexander Moritz Baumann. The latter piece may also serve as an example for the fact that the very tunes were set on musical boxes by manufacturers both in Vienna and in Prague: Baumann’s “Ländler” appears on Anton Olbrich’s movement in Vienna as well as on Slawik & Preiszler’s in Prague. That is to say, the makers both in Prague and Vienna served all the peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire irrespectively of local musical preferences.

Fig. 9 The cover of the score of the song “I und mein Bua” helped to identify the tune, the tune sheet gave just the title of the song. Furthermore the front page reveals interesting details: Carl Millöcker dedicated this song to the popular and well-known actress and directress of the “Theater an der Wien” Marie Geistinger, a star at the operetta stage then; that this tune turns up on a musical box indicates its success.


Fig. 9 From the cover of the score of the song “Weana Chic und Weana Schan’” we learn that this popular tune was performed by the actress Minna Roth at the “Etablissment Ronacher” in Vienna, a theatre which staged operettas, revues, variety etc.

1) Dance music.

Obviously, this genre forms the most extensive group, consisting of waltzes, polkas, marches, quadrilles, cotillions, czardas etc. In respect to the date of their first performance this group ranges from Johann Strauss’ sen. “Fra Diavolo Cotillon” op. 41 (1830) or Josef Lanner’s “Badner Ringl´n” op. 64 (1832) right up to Johann Strauss’ jun. “Lagunen-waltz” op. 411 (1883), or Carl Michael Ziehrer’s march “Fesch und schneidig” op. 506 (1901), to name just the most famous composers. First and foremost we find works by Johann Strauss sen. and his contemporary Josef Lanner, as well as by Johann Strauss jun., followed by Josef and Eduard Strauss, Philipp Fahrbach sen., Franz von Suppé, Carl Millöcker, Carl Michael Ziehrer, each of them appearing with several works.

Josef Lanner:

Die Badner Ringl´n, Deutsche op. 64

Haimbacher waltz op. 112

Die Petersburger, waltz op. 132

Rococco waltz op. 136

Marien waltz op. 143

Liebesträume waltz op. 150

Steirische Tänze op. 165

Die nächtlichen Wandrer, waltz op. 171

Die Talismane, waltz op.176

Ober Östereicher Echo Ländler op. 186

Hans Jörgl polka op. 194

Die Schönbrunner, waltz op. 200

Die Rosensteiner, waltz op. 204


Johann Strauss sen.

Fra Diavolo Cotillon op. 41

Mein schönster Tag in Baden, waltz op. 58

Elisabethen-waltz op. 71

Venetianer galop op. 74

Merkurs Flügel, waltz op. 83

Grazien-Tänze, waltz op. 81

Heimatklänge, waltz op. 84

Taglioni-Waltz op. 110

Die Berggeister, waltz op. 113

Carneval-Quadrill op. 124

Apollo waltz op. 128

Sperl-polka op. 133

Egerien Tänze, waltz op. 134

Minos Klänge, waltz op. 145

Volksgarten Quadrille op. 157

Rosen ohne Dornen, waltz op. 166

Wiener Früchterln, waltz op. 167

Odeon-Tänze,  waltz op. 172

Die Landjunker, waltz op. 182

Zigeunerin Quadrille op. 191

Bouquets, waltz op. 197

Ländlich sittlich, waltz op. 198

Herztöne, waltz op. 203

Helenen-waltz op. 204

Quadrille im militärischen Styl op. 229

Die Sorgenbrecher, waltz op. 230

Des Wanderers Lebewohl, waltz op. 237

Original Wiener Bürger march  WoO (without op. number)


Johann Strauss jun.

Neue Steirische Tänze op. 61

Fesche Geister, waltz op. 75

Attaque Quadrille op. 76

Johannis-Käferln, waltz op. 82

Fraunkäferln, waltz op. 99

Annen-polka op. 114

Liebeslieder waltz op. 117

Satanella-Quadrille op. 123

Motor-Quadrille op. 129

Pepita-polka op. 138

Myrthen-Kränze, waltz op. 154

Man lebt nur einmal, waltz op. 167

Freuden-Salven, waltz op. 171

Taglioni-polka, op. 173

Le Papillon, polka-mazur op. 174

Erhöhte Pulse, waltz op. 175

Armen-Ball-polka op. 176

Sans-souci-polka op. 178

Krönungslieder, waltz op. 184

Une Bagatelle, polka-mazur op. 187

Wien mein Sinn, waltz op. 192

Künstler-Quadrille op. 201

L’enfantillage (Zepperl-Polka) op. 202

Jux-Brüder, waltz op. 208

Šampaňská polka (Champagner-Polka) op. 211

Tritsch-Tratsch polka, op. 214

Nachtigall polka op.222

Drollerie-polka op. 231

Concordia waltz (this title could refer either to the waltz „Leitartikel“ op. 273 or to „Morgenblätter“ op. 279)

Juristenball polka op. 280

Aus den Bergen, waltz op. 292

Flugschriften, waltz op. 300

An der schönen blauen Donau, waltz op. 314

Lob der Frauen, polka-mazur op. 315

Telegramme, waltz op. 318

Neu-Wien, waltz op. 324

G´schichten aus dem Wienerwald, waltz op. 325

Aus der Heimath, polka-mazur op. 347

Wiener Blut, waltz op. 354

Pariser, polka-française op. 382

Waltz from the operetta „Der lustige Krieg“ (“Nur für Natur”) op. 400

Lagunen-waltz op. 411


Josef Strauss

Mai-Rosen, waltz op. 34

Moulinet-polka op. 57

Wiener Kinder, waltz op. 61

Flattergeister, waltz op. 62

Waldröslein, polka-mazur op.63

Die Zufälligen, waltz op. 85

Tag und Nacht-polka op. 93

Gablenz- march op. 159

Frauenherz, polka-mazur  op. 166

Etiquette, polka-francaise op. 208

Allerlei polka op. 219

In der Heimat, polka-mazur, Op. 231

Lock-polka française op. 233

Sphärenklänge, waltz op. 235

Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb und Lust, waltz op. 263

Frohsinn, polka op. 264


Eduard Strauss

Helenen-Quadrille based on motifs from the operetta „La Belle Hélène“ by J. Offenbach, op. 14

Über Feld und Wiese, polka op. 138

Erinnerungen an Baden, polka op. 146

Telephon polka op. 165

Boccacio-waltz based on motifs from Franz von Suppé’s operetta op. 175


Philipp Fahrbach sen.

Die Schmeichler, waltz op. 13

s’Schwarzblattl ausn Weanerwald, waltz op. 61

Eine Grille – Schottisch, op. 205

Kärntner-Lieder-waltz op. 230


Franz von Suppé

Herr Jegerl polka

Fatinitza-march from the operetta „Fatinitza“

March from the operetta „Der Teufel auf Erden“

In der Hinterbrühl, march

Gervinus polka from the farce „Gervinus, der Narr vom Untersberg“

Boccaccio-march from the operettaBoccaccio

Fanfani-march from the operetta „Die Afrikareise“


Carl Millöcker

Laura waltz, based on motifs from the operetta „Der Bettelstudent“

Stimmt schon! polka française from the operetta „Der Feldprediger“

Polka from the operetta „Der Feldprediger“

Apajune-march based on motifs from the operetta „Apajune, der Wassermann“

Gasparone-march from the operetta „Gasparone“

Jonathan-march from the operetta “Der arme Jonathan”


Carl Michael Ziehrer

Mamsell Übermuth, polka française op. 69

Weana Madl’n, waltz op. 388

Fesch und schneidig muß er sein! March from the operetta „Die drei Wünsche“, op. 506


Then we find quite a number of musical pieces of different composers, some famous works as well as completely unknown compositions as e.g. the Frühlings Knospen waltz by August Lanner (the son of Josef Lanner died in 1855 not more than 20 years old), or Anton Emil Titl’s Slavjanka-Polka.


Luigi Arditi: Il Bacio, waltz

Johann Brandl: Studenten waltz

Josef Gungl: Klänge aus der Heimat, Oberländler op. 31

Iosif Ivanovici: Donauwellen, waltz

Eduard Kremser: Das Herzklopfen, polka française

Joseph Labitzky: Olmützer polka op. 91

August Lanner: Frühlings Knospen waltz

Adolf Müller: Spulen polka

Jacques Offenbach: march from the operetta  „La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein“

Ferkó Patikárus: Ida Csardas

Juventino Rosas: Über den Wellen, waltz

Theodor Franz Schild: D’Banda kommt, march op. 15 (referred to as „fun march“)

Anton Emil Titl: Slavjanka, polka


As to the numerous czardas to be found, some are named, but it was yet impossible to trace any details, e.g.:

Alföldi Czardas v. Gáspár Bánat

Huszar dal es Cardas

Makuli Csárdás,

Neogradi Csardaz, (the titles are given as written on the tune sheets)


This pertains also to further waltzes and polkas which remained unclear, although the inscriptions (given in the following list as written on the tune sheets) indicate the composition and sometimes name a composer:

Der Gamsjäger, Polka v. Haag (not identified)

El Furia! Walzer v. Granada (not identified)

Favorit Polka von Hillmann (Carl Hillmann?)

Herzensträume, Walzer (not identified)

Hoppsa Biabele-Polka (not identified)

Ländler v. Baumann (probably by Alexander Moritz Baumann)

Lasset uns herzen, küssen, scherzen, Walzer (not identified; howsoever, Hofmeister lists a chansonette „Lasst uns scherzen, küssen, herzen“ by Josef Kral, published within his collection of compositions for zither, vol. 4, no. 8[2])

Rattenfänger – Walzer (not identified)

Silberne Hochzeits Polka (by Hans Christian Lumbye?)

Steyrischer Tanz v. Gruber (not identified)

Vergißmeinicht Walzer (not identified)

Volksgarten Walzer von Dubek (not identified)

János Bihari: National Ungarischer arr. von Michael Hebenstreit (Hungarian dance, unidentified)


The marches we have come across on the musical boxes deserve a special note. On the one hand we have marches which are actually a number from an operetta, from that they became favored tunes and accordingly they can be associated with dance music; – these marches are listed above together with the other pieces. And, on the other hand, we find several marches which are downright military music, especially composed for the use with military bands or for specific regiments. One may notice the political significance of those marches which were composed on special occasions, e.g. the revolutionary year 1848, and which became popular then[3]. A few of them gained a lasting success with the public, e.g. the Radetzky-march and the Rakocy-march, they appear frequently in the following decades on the musical boxes, the other marches vanished into oblivion again. The following list gives the names of the marches as written on the tune sheets:


Großer Parade- Marsch by Josef Resnitschek (1835)

Großer Parade-Marsch by Carl Haslinger (1842)

Hunyadi-Marsch by Albert Ferenc Doppler, based on motifs from the opera  „Hunyadi Laszlo“ (1842) by Ferenc Erkel, arranged for the civil guard’s music.

Rákóczi-Marsch, initially a national Hungarian song which a certain Josef Ruzitska (Ruzicka) is said to have transformed into a march[4]. It became something like a national hymn and was later on arranged by Hector Berlioz and others.

Kossuth-Marsch by Joseph Sawertal[5], it acquired importance as a national tune as well.

Radetzky-Marsch by Johann Strauss sen., op. 228 (1848)

Nationalgarde-Marsch by Heinrich Proch op., 142 (1848)

Neuer Pariser Einzugsmarsch, probably by Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt, op. 53 (1871)


2) Opera

Operatic airs, i.e. excerpts and arrangements of overtures, arias, choruses, finales etc. ranging from operas by Gioachino Rossini up to Richard Wagner, form the other large group of the repertoire. In addition, we find quite a number of pieces from operettas as well as from local theater plays. Among them there are a not insignificant number that are practically forgotten today. It is obvious, that the musical pieces set on the cylinders were excerpts from those operas being staged with the greatest success then at the opera houses and theaters within the Austrian monarchy. Apparently some of the operas enjoyed an enormous popularity, e.g. Rossini’s “Guillaume Tell”, Bellini’s “Norma”, Gounod’s “Margarethe”, or Flotow’s “Martha”, and several numbers from each of these operas appeared on the musical boxes; to give an example, from Bellini’s “Norma” we find the introduction, the preghiera from the first act, the duet „Deh! Con te, conte li prendi“, the cavatina „Casta diva“, and the duet “Mira o Norma” on the musical boxes.

Some composers, such as Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Meyerbeer, show up with several operas, others just with one single work. Evidently, often just one aria has been fancied and was asked for many a time, as for instance the famous aria from Erkel’s “Hunyadi Laszlo”, which is to be found frequently.

Remarkably enough, as with the dance music, pieces from an older repertoire do not appear, only one musical box surfaced so far which played the minuet from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. In other words, the repertoire depicts the staging of new operas throughout the years of the production of musical boxes, starting with Rossini’s “l barbiere di Siviglia” from 1806 – being already a favorite when being pinned onto the cylinders – and ending up with Nessler’s “Trompeter von Säckingen” in 1884, or Lehar’s operetta “The Merry Widow” premiered in 1905. Quite a number of tunes became a lasting success with the public; many others show up only for a short time.

The composers appearing with several operas are listed first, followed by those featuring one opera. Many numbers of the listed operas show up repeatedly on the musical boxes, in case the tune could be identified or details were indicated these are given in parentheses; – most often the tune sheets read barely “aria from …” anyway, as they are preserved rarely, one has to consider oneself fortunate to find that information at all.

Gioachino Rossini:

Il barbiere die Siviglia

La gazza ladra (overture)

Mosè in Egitto (preghiera)

Semiramide (aria)

Le siège de Corinthe (choeur des Grecs, marche des Grecs)

Guillaume Tell (preghiera, Tirolienne, Ländler)


Vincenzo Bellini:

La Sonnambula (chorus)

Norma (Introduzione, duet „Deh! Con te, conte li prendi“, cavatina, preghiera, cavatina „Casta diva“, duet “Mira o Norma”)

Beatrice di Tenda (preghiera)


Gaetano Donizetti

Ugo Conte de Parigi (aria)

L’elisir d’amore (duet)

Lukrezia Borgia

Gemma di Vergy (cavatina)

Lucia di Lammermoor (sextet, duet, chorus)

Belisario (aria)

Linda di Chamounix (duet)

Don Pasquale (aria, finale)

Dom Sébastien (aria, duet)


Giacomo Meyerbeer:

Robert le Diable

Les Huguenots (Rataplan, duet, chorus of the girls)

Vielka (transfiguration-scene)

Le prophète (coronation march, aria, skating quadrille, drinking song)

L’Africaine (aria)


Michael William Balfe:

Die vier Haimonskinder (Glöckchenduett)

Die Zigeunerin (La Zingara), cavatina, aria


Daniel Francois Esprit Auber:

 La Muette de Portici (march, chorus, barcarole „Amis, la matinée est belle“)

Der Zauberschleier (Le lac des fées), final chorus


Giuseppe Verdi:

Nabucco (aria, chorus)

I Lombardi (aria)

Ernani (cavatina)

I due Foscari

Rigoletto (“La Donna é mobile”, drinking song, ballabile)

Il Trovatore (stretta, duet, Miserere)

La Traviata


Bedrich Smetana:

Prodaná nevěsta




Richard Wagner:

Tannhäuser (march, entrance of the guests, aria  „O du, mein holder Abendstern“, pilgrim’s chorus)

Lohengrin („Nun sei bedankt, mein lieber Schwan”, duet)


Georges Bizet: Carmen (march)

André Hippolyte Jean Baptiste Chelard: Die Mitternacht

Albert Ferenc Doppler: Ilka és a huszártoborzó (overture)

Ference Erkel: Hunyadi Laszlo (aria „Kar Hunyadi Laszlo Magyar es“, czardas)

Friedrich von Flotow: Martha („The last rose“, hunter’s song, “Ach so fromm, ach so traut“, finale)

Karl Goldmark: Die Königin von Saba[6]

Charles Gounod: Margarethe (cavatina, waltz, march, duet, finale)

Louis Hérold: Zampa (overture)

Conradin Kreutzer: Das Nachtlager in Granada (Romanze „Ein Schütz bin ich“),

  1. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni (minuet)

Victor Ernst Nessler: Der Trompeter von Säckingen

Johann Josef Gabriel Netzer: Mara (barcarola, aria?)

Giovanni Pacini: Saffo (aria)


Several operettas show up with their tunes:


Jacques Offenbach:

La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Couplets du Sabre)

La Chanson de Fortunio (love song, drinking song)


Johann Strauss jun.:

Der Zigeunerbaron („Ja das Schreiben und das Lesen“, couplet)

Eine Nacht in Venedig („Alle maskiert“, quartet)


Carl Millöcker:

Drei Paar Schuhe (“I und mei Bua”, song)[7], Fig. 9

Der Bettelstudent („Ach ich hab sie ja nur auf die Schulter geküsst“, song)

Der Feldprediger


Rudolf Dellinger: Don César („Komm‘ herab oh Madonna Theresa“)

Franz Lehar: Die lustige Witwe


Within this group of operatic airs also three songs (couplets) from theatre plays by Ferdinand Raimund have to be listed. These plays became exceptionally famous in Vienna and their main music numbers achieved great popularity, hence, we find them with some musical boxes of the time:


Ferdinand  Raimund:

Der Bauer als Millionär („Brüderlein fein“, music by Joseph Drechsler and Ferdinand Raimund; 1826)

Der Verschwender („Hobellied“, „Bettlerlied“, music by Conradin Kreutzer and Ferdinand Raimund; 1834)


3) Folkmusic

Folk songs and folk dances appear frequently on the musical boxes. Two tunes were recognizable very easily by listening (the well known Viennese folk song “Oh, du lieber Augustin”, and the “Erzherzog Johann” yodeler); with numerous other tunes it became quite clear that they represented local dances, such as ländler or czardas, – remarkably enough many tunes are displaying a typical Hungarian style[8]. A few inscriptions on the tune sheets named the music pieces, giving the title of the song or its provenance, e.g. designating the piece simply as “polish song”. Regarding the indication of the musical program three early movements of Anton Olbrich in Vienna are of special interest. They show inscriptions scratched on the edge of their bedplates, the first movement bears the inscription “Jodler” (yodeler), with the second the inscription reads “Dudler” (Viennese type of yodeler) and the third one shows a “W”, most probably standing for “waltz”. The following list gives the titles as written on the tune sheets.


Steirische Tänze (Styrian dances)

Hernalser Jodler (yodeler from Vienna)

Magyar Indulo No 2 (Hungarian dance)

Guittara – span. Tanz (Spanish dance)

Ilirischer Marsch (Illyrian march)

Banater Kolo (Banat dance)

V Čechách tam já jsem zrozená (Czech song)

Přijde jaro přijde bude zase máj (Czech song)

Jenom ty mně, má panenko, pověz (Czech song)

Polnisches Lied (Polish song)

Hey Slovani (originally a Slovak song)

Kentek national en zadar a punio (dance from southeast Europe)


Several other dances, e.g. mazurkas, and songs are named on the tune sheets but it was thus far not possible to trace any of the given titles.


4) Miscellanea


This small group consists of a few tunes of various genres, most of them originating from the last decades of the 19th century, thus displaying the most recent musical compositions meeting a new taste of the public.


The earliest part of that group is made up of national anthems, most frequently Joseph Haydn’s “Kaiserlied”, the hymn of the Austrian monarchy appears, followed by the Czech, Polish and Russian national song.

Gott erhalte, by Joseph Haydn (national anthem of the Austrian monarchy),

Kde domov muj (Czech national anthem)

Mazurek Dabrowskiego (Polish national anthem, based on a folk dance)

Bosche, Zarja chrani (Russian national anthem)

La Marseillaise (French national anthem)


Several popular songs show up, some of the tunes coming from older times but more often the pieces rank among the younger repertoire:

Carneval of Venice (Neapolitan song, later adapted by Rodolphe Kreutzer and others)

Joseph Kreipl: S’Mailüfterl (song, 1853)

Die Wacht am Rhein (German song which became especially popular after 1870)

Gustav Pick: Fiakerlied (Viennese song, composed 1885)

Carl Lorens: Weana Chic und Weana Schan’ (Viennese waltz song, published ca. 1889), Fig. 10.

Carl Lorens: Menschen sind wir alle (Viennese song)

Adolf Hirsch (pseudonym Adolfi): Herzensdieb (Viennese song, 1901[9]).


Repeatedly we find the religious song “Großer Gott wir loben dich“, and – with just one musical box – Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria”.


Art songs (Lieder) appear very rarely, we find:

Franz Schubert: Die Forelle, D 550

Franz Schubert: Das Ständchen, D 957

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Es ist bestimmt in Gottes Rat, op. 47 no. 4.

Béni Egressy: Szozat (this piece became an important Hungarian song, regarded as “second” national anthem).


Surprisingly, piano music and salon music shows up only with a few items:

Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely: Die Klosterglocken

Tekla Badarzewska: Gebet einer Jungfrau, op. 3

Michał Kleofas Ogiński: Polonaise „Les Adieux a la Patrie“

Jean Louis Gobbaerts: Alla stella confidente. Caprice sur une melodie de (Vizenco) Robaudi pour piano, op. 59

Henri Wieniawski: Souvenir de Moscou op.6


Concluding remark

Although it is known that an export of movements had occurred in the first decades – Gustav Řebiček made a comment about it – we did not have come upon an early musical box playing music specifically designed for a clientele outside of the Austrian monarchy. On the contrary, a rather late movement made by August Bartel in Vienna (he was active from 1865 onwards) plays a musical program consisting of eight pieces, a waltz by Johann Strauss jun. (Telegramme”, op. 318), and seven tunes which were popular with the public in the English-speaking world:

”Yes! let me like a soldier fall“, a song from the opera „Maritana“ by William Vincent Wallace;

“Silver threads among the gold”, a song by Hart Pease Danks, popular in the late 19th century;

My pretty Jane”, a popular song by Henry R. Bishop;

“Sweethearts Waltz, suite de valses on Arthur Sullivans popular song“ by Charles d’Albert;

“Les gardes de la reine”, waltz by Daniel Godfrey;

“The March of the Men of Harlech“, traditional song and military march;

Auld lang syne“, traditional folk song.

Bartel’s musical box most probably comes from the early 1870s and presents a true picture of the favored music of the time, the year of issue of three of the musical pieces makes this evident: Godfrey’s waltz “Les gardes de la reine” was published 1865, the Strauss waltz op. 318 was composed in 1867 and Charles d’Albert’s “Sweethearts Waltz” probably comes from the 1870s.


In addition to Bartel’s musical box there exists one further source related to a particular musical program: On the occasion of the “International Exhibition of Arts and Manufacturers” that was held in Dublin in 1865 we find a musical box from Vienna featuring a downright “international” program. The exhibition’s catalogue reports that Josef Olbrich presented a musical box playing Irish, Scottish, English, German and Italian melodies. It is a remarkable piece of information referring to such a varied repertoire; unfortunately it does not give any details on the tunes[10]. Other movements or sources pointing towards such a kind of repertoire have not yet been discovered.


In closing, I would like to mention a musical box which plays a very special musical program. From the firm of Gustav Řebíček in Prague comes a musical box (current no. 45904, music no. 3947), playing four melodies. It was made especially for Viktor Erlanger, who took over in 1872 the construction of the railway going from Györ to Neufeld (a small village near the border of the Kingdom of Hungary then). The program is exceptional: all the tunes are said to be of Viktor Erlanger’s own composition.


[1] Helmut Kowar: Musical Boxes from Prague and Vienna, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press 2019. The sound recordings are part of the collections of the Phonogram Archives of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

[2] Friedrich Hofmeister, Literarisch-musikalischer Monatsbericht, Nr. 8, Leipzig, August 1878,  225.

[3] Helmut Kowar: Die Revolution im Wohnzimmer, in: Musik und Revolution. Die Produktion von Identität und Raum durch Musik in Zentraleuropa 1848/49, ed. by Barbara Boisits. Vienna: Hollitzer 2013, 433-456.

[4] Wiener allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, Nr. 46, 15. April 1848, „Notizen“, 184.

[5] Ibid.

[6] The inscription on the tune sheet says merely „Kralovnna“, which very probably points towards this opera.

[7] The inscription on the tune sheet gives only the title of the song. The cover of the edition for soprano and piano accompaniment reads: “Fräulein Marie Geistinger Directrice des Theaters and der Wien hochachtungsvoll gewidmet: I und mei Bua. Lied in niederösterreichischer Mundart; aus dem Lebensbilde ‘Drei Paar Schuhe’; für eine Sopranstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte componiert von Carl Millöcker”.

[8] Anton Olbrich in Vienna obviously served in particular the Hungarian market and had to put many Hungarian tunes onto his movements. He also ran some kind of outlet for his movements with the help of a branch of a Viennese firm for metal goods in Pest and Debrecen, which becomes apparent from the advertisements of the company of Franz Frank (Vienna) in: Pesther Handlungszeitung. Kommerzial- und Industrie-Anzeiger 14 (1841) p. 51, numerous ads also published in the following years.

[9] Friedrich Hofmeister, Literarisch-musikalischer Monatsbericht, Nr. 5, Leipzig, Mai 1901, 362.

[10] Dublin International Exhibition of Arts and manufactures, 1865. Official Catalogue, Fourth Edition, Dublin 1865, p. 59; Henry Parkinson, Peter Lund Simmonds (ed.): The illustrated record and descriptive catalogue of the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865. London 1866, p. 394. A report on that appeared in: Neues Fremden Blatt, Nr. 65, Wien 18. Juli 1865 p.14, und Nr. 66, Wien 19. Juli 1865, p. 13-14.