Street Organs on Steroids

On the Move
These large, yet mobile, street organs show up in various spots around town, but this was one of the first times I’d seen them being moved into position. I see — and hear — them most commonly on some of the shopping streets near the Cetraal Station around Christmastime, but they do make occasional appearances throughout the year. In this case, the organ was making the rounds to celebrate stadsdag, the city’s 890th anniversary.

Utrecht has a museum dedicated to these kind of musical boxes that come in all shapes and sizes. The Speelklok museum is one of Utrecht’s most-recommended museums, and with good reason. If you take a guided tour, you can hear the variety of boxes and organs playing their lively tunes. I’ve been a few times now and I always enjoy it.

Legend has it that these particular street organs became particularly popular in the Netherlands because of the flat terrain. I certainly wouldn’t want to push one of these musical beasts up and hill, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have to control it going downhill! Pas op! (Beware!)

This one eventually came to rest in the Flora’s Hof, the site of the former bishop’s palace, which I’ve mentioned recently. Every time I hear one of these organs play, I get a craving for suikerspin (cotton candy/cotton floss), because of the carnival-like sound.
Musical Garden

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10 thoughts on “Street Organs on Steroids

    • I keep picturing someone hanging on to the cart handle, with legs flying in the air behind, as the organ, playing something like Ride of the Valkyries, starts mowing people down.

  1. They used be quite common on the streets, especially on a busy Saturday, nowadays not so much. Maintenance costs more than what they’re earning.

    • I think I heard another one today while I was out. I admit I feel sorry for the people working in the shops on the same street, though. I think it might drive me crazy eventually.

      • It also depends on which way they’re facing, so it’s a good thing they move around too. I wasn’t particularly fond of them when I was a kid, they were always so loud!

  2. When I first read this post’s title I thought, Huh, street ORGANS! I kept thinking of bodily organs haha. Another thing learned!

    Did you know that most of these organs are automatic nowadays? Or at least in Amsterdam they are.
    This actually reminds me, whenever I see a street organ I never give any money because I don’t think it’s worth it but when I haven’t seen any organs for a long time I actually miss them!

    • I did wonder if someone would think body organs instead. I figured it might earn a few extra clicks-through. :)

      I think it was mentioned on one of the museum tours that most of the street ones are automatic now. Not surprising, I suppose.

      • Not really surprising no, but it takes away some of it’s charm. It also makes me less inclined to hand out money to the organ players. I guess it’s because I feel as if they don’t put much effort in their job or something :p

        I think I thought of body organs because English isn’t my first language but perhaps if it was I would have known that you were talking about ”draaiorgels” :)

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