Manufacturing the Muse: Estey Organs and Consumer Culture in Victorian America
By Dennis G. Waring
Audio CD included.
Purchases of American reed organs between 1850 and 1910 exceeded that of pianos by almost two to one. "Manufacturing the Muse" is the story of the reed organ, a centerpiece in American parlors, churches, and gathering places for nearly a century. It is also the story of venerable New England entrepreneur Jacob Estey, whose industrial standardization of instrument manufacture strongly affected Victorian popular culture, social stratification, gender issues and musical taste. Dennis Waring's examination of the Estey Organ Company (1864-1960, Brattleboro, VT) and its production and marketing strategies reveals much concerning the importance of the reed organ as a significant artifact in the history of American consumerism.
The companion CD includes a variety of period pieces, some selected from the Estey Organ Method, all played on Estey organs. Extensive appendices include surveys of Estey organ case design, free-ree making operations, diagrams, maps, timelines, and music. A generous number of photographs round out the book, which may be read as a good story as well as an improtant part of America's history.
Dennis Waring is an independent scholar and educator. He received his PhD in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University and has published a number of books on the craft of instrument making.