The Telepiano: huh?


The publicity in La Gazette Musicale du Nord for the Télépiano,  a Coupleux invention from 1922, left me puzzled. You can see a lady playing the piano (the transmitter) while some people are sittting elsewhere listening to another piano (the receptor). The music was seemingly delivered along telephone lines. An article about this invention clarified a lot: the receptor piano was simply a piece of furniture with no piano mechanism in it, just an amplifier. So the ‘receptor’ could in fact have any form. For example that of a … speaker?

The Coupleux brothers from Lille, France and their extraordinary inventions are described in the book ‘1900-1935 L’aventure industrielle des frères Coupleux’, by Olivier Carpentier.

Einar Nerman

Swedish matchbox illustrated by Einar Nerman

In Sweden the commonly found matchboxes carry an illustration by the hand of one of its finest illustrators: Einar Nerman (1888-1983). Nerman was very productive during his long life. He studied art in Stockholm and later also worked and lived in Paris, London and New York. He painted, designed costumes and sets for ballet, and

A ballet scene for which Nerman designed the costumes and the set
A scene from “Les vierges folles” (1920), from Les Ballets suédois. Costumes and set by Einar Nerman. Photo copyright the Dansmuseet, Stockholm. Source: Marc Arthur, Performa Magazine.

he illustrated magazines and books, amongst others for the works of his communist brother.  It is said that he also composed music and set the poems of his brother to songs. We haven’t yet found such songs.

Just married: Einar Nerman and his wife Kajsa in 1916
Just married: Einar Nerman and his wife Kajsa, during the Christmas season in 1916. (source: Swedish Wikipedia)

His short biography is on Wikipedia, but you will find much more about his work on Willy or Won’t He. Other delightful work is reproduced by 50 Watt, especially his fairy tale illustrations. Nerman was also a master caricaturist: have a look on the Drawger website.

Luckily for us Nerman started in  1913 to illustrate  sheet music covers for many years, mostly for Ernst Rolfs Musikförlags, but also for other publishers such as A.B. Skandinaviska, Elkan & Schildknecht, and Nordiska Musikförlaget.


No doubt: Swedish design at its best!