Music Boxes from the Erzgebirge
Mechanical music boxes from the Saxon Erzgebirge have a long tradition and history behind them. They make very popular gifts, especially at Christmas. But they are also the perfect present for a christening, a new baby, a birthday or other occasions. They often accompany us throughout the whole of our lives.
A popular theme is Christmas. Seiffen church, carol singers, snowmen, Santa Claus and the nativity are often to be found on the revolving discs of music boxes. But more unusual themes such as fairy tales, or the moon and stars are also popular.
The melodies vary as much as the decorations. Popular tunes are:
- Stille Nacht - Silent Night
- Oh du Fröhliche - Literally, O You Joyful
- Oh Tannenbaum - O Christmas Tree
- Am Weihnachtsbaume - Literally, On the Christmas Tree
- Süßer die Glocken nie klingen - The Bells Never Sound Sweeter
- Glück Auf, der Steiger kommt - a German miners’ song
- La Le Lu - German lullaby
- Wiegenlied - Brahms’ lullaby
And of course you can also decorate your own music box. We have undecorated music boxes in our shop for this very purpose.
But where do these fascinating works of art originally come from?
The predecessor of the music box is the ‘Klimperkästchen’ - a simple wooden music box with a crank mechanism. These were made in Seiffen from 1800 onwards. The Klimperkästchen has a crank handle that when turned produces a ‘tinkling’ sound from the tensioned wire and quill inside the box. Later, the traditional Klimperkästchen was gradually replaced in the Erzgebirge by the mechanical musical movement.
You can still find traditional Klimperkästchen in our shop today.
Mechanical musical movements
Mechanical musical movements come originally from Switzerland. There, at the beginning of the 19th century, the first mechanical musical movements were built into jewellery boxes, for example. Today’s music boxes most often contain musical movements from the companies Reuge and Sankyo.
Musical movements comprise a cylinder and a comb with tuned teeth of different lengths. When the crank is turned with a small key, it tightens a spring that turns the cylinder inside the box. As the teeth of different lengths pass over the pins on the cylinder they vibrate and produce notes creating the traditional music box sound. The body of the music box plays an essential part in creating a good sound, as it acts as a resonance chamber. It is usually made from native spruce, as experience has shown that this has the best acoustic properties. Music boxes also always stand on little feet. This allows the base to vibrate freely so that the sound can spread out perfectly in the resonance chamber.
Sliding music boxes
An enchanting and unusual type of music box is the sliding music box. These are sliding boxes, like a matchbox, in which a figure appears when the box is opened. A melody also starts to play. When the box has been wound up again with the attached key, the movement can start all over again.
With all music boxes the spring should be wound with care. If you turn it too far or too much, you can overwind the spring and it will stop working. So always wind your music box with the utmost care. This is the way to get maximum, long-term enjoyment from your music box.
Electronic music boxes
In 2009 the Müller company, based in Seiffen, produced the first electronic music box. Here, the use of Bluetooth technology and interchangeable decorated discs has produced something quite unique. Each of the different discs comes with particular pieces of music. Using a Smartphone or computer, new tunes can then be added to the music box.