Sunday, December 23, 2007

From the guy who gave us the metronome

There's a treat on BibliOdyssey today: drawings and this photo reconstruction (the original was destroyed in a fire in 1854) of Wolfgang von Kempelen's automatic chess player, which (I guess I can't say "who") was exploited to the fullest by Johann Mälzel, the friend of Beethoven's who got the patent on the metronome (he stole the idea from Dietrich Nokolaus Winkel). This machine played against Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte, and was one of the greatest hoaxes of the 19th century.

1 comment:

peacay said...

Oh thanks for the info about the metronome - I had glossed over a few things when reading and didn't see that. I did note the part about Mazel claiming copyright (or ownership or the somesuch) over a piece of music Beethoven had written after Mazel's suggestion because afterall "Beethoven simply filled in the notes of my idea" - classic!