The Orgapian

In 1914 Whomes (1878-1960) filed a Patent for a combined piano & reed organ called the “Orgapian”

This instrument had a carefully engineered reed chest which slips in under the keyboard of the piano. Earlier models had pianos by Franz Liehr, the later models had Squire Longson pianos. It is believed that 80 cases were prepared for these fascinating instruments, but apparently only about 30 were ever completed. A small number were exported, this is one of the few remaining examples – and one of the only ones that is operational.

The Orgapian was built to accompany Silent Films and it was claimed to equal the sound of a 6 piece orchestra, thus saving the Cinema management considerable sums of money! There is a device for sustaining the Sub Bass octave, giving a rich pedal bass effect. The speed of these Sub Bass reeds is remarkably prompt and clear due to the pneumatic action it employs. The piano, and organ can be played together, or seperately via various coupling and muting devices.

The tone is good and strong, with full volume capacity realised when the Swell lever is opened, when the power of the instrument is built up from the diapasons to the full organ plus swell.

Whomes also built a cinema reed organ called the “Orchestra-ette” and the case was remarkably similar to the Orgapian minus the piano, it was intended for small halls.

– Description by Phil and Pam Fluke