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Our annual spring 2012 visit to Europe started out with a bang!   

We arrived in Amsterdam to discover, quite by accident, that it was the weekend of the annual Tulip Festival.  Holland is known worldwide as the biggest market for wonderful flowers.   Especially, the amazing rainbow of colorful Tulips.   Amsterdam and the surrounding area celebrate with a blowout party, and floats that rival our Rosebowl Parade hear in America.   And by chance we happen to be in Europe during this monumental event.  Our photos, taken in the Utrecht area, show a wonderful day in the old city center and canal areas.   This event was attended by thousands of locals and foreign visitors (and a few Americans) to have fun in the sun.  Note the wooden shoes worn by the local band members!!!


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800px-louwman entree thumb 200wWe were privileged to enjoy a private tour conducted by Mr. Louwman of the new Louwman Museum located in the Haag.  Open only a short time, it is located next to the palace of the royalty of the Netherlands.  This museum has already become one of the world’s leading automotive museum destinations and a major tourist attraction for Holland.

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2012-04-22-10.04.09 thumb 200w2012-04-22-10.03.51 thumb 200wWe also visited with our old friends (and met new ones) at the Haarlem Organ Building.  As it happened, two of Europe’s most talented music arrangements, Jan Kees de Ruiiter and Tom Meyer also were in attendance to give us a wonderful musical tour and play some very special music that they had arranged for the collection of instruments.  The recent addition to the collection, a Compton Cinema organ has been professionally installed to give performances for groups, silent movies,etc.  Jan Kees is shown seated in front of his great sounding 84 key Mortier organ, and Tom Meyer stands in front of a wonderful dutch street organ on a cart. 

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A stop at the wonderful private collection of Henri and Hanike Krijnen provided  hours of entertainment with everything musical, and a nice evening meal accompanied by the Verbeecks and our other America guests.   No visit would be complete without a stop at the world famous shop of Johnny and Marijke Verbeeck.  The current projects include a large Mortier organ restoration for the city of Antweppe and a very large Marenghi dance organ which we helped to locate for a Midwest client (complete with two horses and life size figures).  The life sized figures and horses can been seen on the partially assembled facade.





2012-04-23-07.22.12 thumb_200wThis great old photo which shows a round-about being assembled at the turn of the last century.   Note the fairground organ behind the group of people.   It would be interesting to know more details and the location of this long forgotten site...









2012-04-23-05.45.54 thumb 200h2012-04-23-06.11.22 thumb 200wWe visited the Museum van Speelkiok tot Pieremont, Utrecht where we were fortunate to see the special exhibit of Automata which was being assembly for public display.  Our guide gave first hand information on the workings of these wonderful creations from the past.

We were allowed to see and PLAY Napoleon's personal music box (usually on display in a very special high security exhibit case).  Wow, what an unexpected treat to hear the same music, from the same instrument that entertained Napoleon.   The museum clock and music collection is world class and includes most major instruments, including the newly acquired Weber Maesto and two Hupfeld Phonolizst (Model A & B).  

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2012-04-23-06.50.55 thumb 200hOur personal THANKS to Jan Kees de Ruiiter for his most excellent guidance, and of course to Vera Carasso, the director of one of the most important music museums in the world.   Also, Friedell Derksen, the residence expert on Automata, Anne Sophie van Leeuwen whom we met at the Milhous auction in America, the workshop staff, and the list goes on and on.  Without these fine people’s willingness to share their national treasures our visit would not have been as meaningful.     THANK YOU ALL!

Even after many years of visits, we find that there is always something new to see and learn with friends in Europe.  Thank you so much for the hospitality.     bob brown