Siegfried's Mechanischem Musikkabinett in Rüdesheim am Rhein is well worth a stop. Guides in period costumes (from the early 20th century, the heyday of mechanical music) lead the mandatory tours, which last 45 minutes and are available in nine languages. They demonstrate selected instruments, from fairground organs to mechanical piano-and-violin combinations.
Many of the instruments, such as fairground organs with the programmed music of a small orchestra, are from instrument makers working in Germany's Black Forest at the turn of the 20th century. Others, such as the self-playing Violina, with five violins played by mechanical fingers, were produced a bit later in Leipzig. The collection includes Victrolas, 18th century songbird snuff boxes of chased silver, and the largest automated doll orchestra ever built, by a German emigrant to the United States.
This house museum and its collection of 350 self-playing musical instruments brings the history of recorded music to life. The setting, in the Brömserhof, a half-timbered medieval building with creaky floors, just adds to the atmosphere. The museum's shop offers a wide range of musical souvenirs, from pricey replicas of the instruments on display to books and posters.