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Mechanical instruments and everyday life: the player piano in Portugal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2021

João Silva
INET-MD, Lisboa, 1069-061, Portugal
E-mail address:


This paper examines player pianos in Portugal between the 1890s and the 1930s. In a small European country with few production facilities, mechanical music developed in a particular way since a local recording industry was expanding rapidly and radio was not yet disseminated. Despite the local market's reliance on imported goods, the music business concentrated on Portuguese pieces. The mechanisation of the piano and its display as a product that embodied modernity illustrates the transformations that took place in Portugal at the beginning of the 20th century. These were reflected in new forms of entertainment, such as cinemas and nightclubs that incorporated new music genres. At the dawn of the century, the leisure market relied on the popular music theatre, which was dominated by Portuguese, French and Spanish music. In the interwar period, English and American pieces made their way into people's lives, transforming the music business.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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