Sunday, April 26, 2015

QRS Snow White Piano Rolls

I came across this Snow White player piano roll on ebay awhile back, and at first, it seemed like this could be quite the vintage find. After all, they don't make these things anymore, right? Wrong! According to their website, "QRS has been manufacturing piano rolls since 1900 and is the only manufacturer of piano rolls still in business today."

This particular roll, catalog no. XP-146-B, features a medley of six Snow White songs, though it's not indicated which titles are included. They were performed by Doug Roe, a now-deceased recording artist and arranger for QRS.

XP-146-B pics via way*cute.

Doug Roe with the piano roll machine. Image via AMICA.

Searching the QRS website today, we find that a very similar roll to the one above is still available (catalog no. XP-146; retail $25). It features a medley of seven Snow White songs: 1. Whistle While You Work; 2. Heigh-Ho; 3. Someday My Prince Will Come; 4. One Song; 5. With A Smile and A Song;. 6. I’m Wishing; 7. Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum.

There's also a solo roll that plays Someday My Prince Will Come (catalog no. 6826; retail $15).

And one more quick search on ebay revealed an older roll, also produced by QRS, but performed by Lawrence Cook. "Heigh-Ho" (The Dwarf's Marching Song). Catalog #6814.

Image via rdgoulaz.

Lawrence Cook was "the most prolific piano roll artist in history," producing an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 different roll recordings. He passed away in 1976.


  1. I was starting to comment by saying that I would love to hear these, but before finishing that comment I decided to check out YouTube and it looks like most of the songs from Snow White are posted there! Here's the link to "One Song" played by J. Lawrence Cook (suggestions for all the other Snow White songs will come up on the same page):

    I'm wondering why the "Heigh Ho" label in your photo lists the copyright as Irving Berlin and not Disney?

    1. I'll definitely check out the youtube vids. Thanks Tokyo.

      Disney doesn't actually own the rights to the Snow White songs, although they would love to if they could. Before Disney had their own music publishing division, the songs were initially published by Irving Berlin, Inc. who controlled the rights to the material. Later the Bourne Music Company took over, and they still own them to this day.

  2. Very interesting information on the publishing rights. I bet not owning those songs today just chaps Disney management's hides! Do you happen to know if Disney had it's own music publishing division by the time Pinocchio was released?

    1. I believe the specific reason Disney doesn't own the rights to the Snow White music is because they simple needed money to survive back then and thus sold the rights. I think this was true for Pinocchio and other early films too. Although I have heard they were able to buy back the rights to most of these. Not sure if they currently own the playlist from Pinocchio. If I was Bourne Music Company, I think I might want to hang onto these rights.