Glockenspiels - bells with animation

In the Glossary, a glockenspiel is briefly defined as a set of tower bells (usually relatively small in size) hung dead and played with an automatic mechanism to accompany the operation of several moving figures which perform for viewers.  Actually, the usage of the word is more complicated than that.

The original German word "glockenspiel" is literally translated into English as "bells play"; a more idiomatic translation might be "musical bells".  In German usage it may be applied to any carillon-sized or chime-sized tower bell instrument which plays music, whether or not it accompanies automated animation.  Most commonly, it applies to automatically-played musical instruments rather than to manually-played musical instruments.  It does not apply to swinging bells.

In English usage, the word "glockenspiel" has at least four distinct meanings, not all of which appear in every standard dictionary.

  1. a xylophone-like musical instrument with sound bars made of metal rather than wood
  2. an organ stop which produces a somewhat bell-like sound
  3. an automatic musical instrument equipped with bells
  4. an automatic musical instrument equipped with bells and associated with animated figures, installed on the exterior of a building
The last two definitions might be considered the outdoor equivalents of music boxes. and they are the ones with which we are concerned in the rest of this page.

When mechanized figures are associated with tower bells, they usually appear on a balcony-like stage on the side of the bell tower or building, and disappear from view when the music ends a few minutes later.  But there are almost as many different arrangements as there are installations.  The figures may be simple silhouettes moving in train along a single track, or a set of individually animated characters in a theatrical play; the complexity of the animation is limited only by the imagination of the designer, the skill of the fabricator and the wealth of the purchaser.  Generally the automatic play is performed only once or a few times per day; very rarely it may be hourly during the daytime.

This index lists only those glockenspiels in which the associated tower bells qualify as a carillon or chime.  It does not include animated tower clock installations which have fewer than 8 bells, or no bells at all, even though the owners of such installations may use the term "glockenspiel".  (Some such installations use electronic devices to simulate bells, or use recorded music of other types.)

This index is divided into three sections:

In the two index sections, sites are listed in country/city order, without regard to country, state or province, and are tagged according to their usability as musical instruments, as elsewhere on this Website:
traditional carillon (even if it has an auxiliary automatic mechanism)

non-traditional carillon (all mechanisms)

chime (all mechanisms)

Glockenspiels with animation

Instruments of this type are found worldwide, as follows (in order by country and city):
GRAZ - GM                     : AUSTRIA      non-trad
   Toenendes Erz dat Graz
   (Sounding bronze of Graz)
   Gottfried Maurer residence
LONDON - FM                   : ENGLAND -W   chime
   Fortnum & Mason 
LONDON - SNTO                 : ENGLAND -W   non-trad
   Swiss Centre
BALVE                         : GERMANY-BRD  chime
   Volksbank (former Rathaus)
BREMEN - B                    : GERMANY-BRD  non-trad
   Haus des Glockenspiels
   [porcelain bells]
CELLE                         : GERMANY-BRD  chime
GOSLAR                        : GERMANY-BRD  chime
   Hotel Schiefer
   or Kaiseringhause
   (former Stadtkämmerei, or City Hall)
GUNZENHAUSEN                  : GERMANY      non-trad
HANNOVERSCH MUENDEN           : GERMANY      chime
JEVER                         : GERMANY-BRD  chime
   Hof von Oldenburg
MUENCHEN - NR                 : GERMANY-BRD  non-trad
   Neues Rathaus
VAREL                         : GERMANY-BRD  chime
   Juwelier Hespe
WUERZBURG - BW                : GERMANY-BRD  chime
   Bürgerspital Weinhaus
   Uhrenhaus Abeler
SHINOZAKI                     : JAPAN        non-trad
   Shinozaki Subway Station Building
GUADALAJARA                   : MEXICO       non-trad
   Templo Expiatorio (Ch of the Atonement)
WILLEMSTAD - SF/2             : NED.ANTIL.   non-trad
   (currently unidentified)
   (was Spritzer & Fuhrmann, Jewellers)
VEENENDAAL - F                : NETHERLANDS  chime
   Horlogerie van Manen - facade
CIUDAD REAL                   : SPAIN        chime
   Casa del Arco y Reloj Carillón
GENEVA - G                    : SWITZERLAND  chime
RHEINFELDEN                   : SWITZERLAND  chime
   Glockenspiel im Rumpel
   Zum Schiefen Eck (north wall)
ZURICH - BK                   : SWITZERLAND  non-trad
   Bijouterie Kurz
ZURICH - PP                   : SWITZERLAND  chime
   People's Park
BLOOMFIELD HILLS - KH/2       : USA - MI     chime
   The Children's Bells of Blessing
   Kirk in the Hills (Presbyterian/PCUSA) 
COVINGTON - GP                : USA - KY     trad
   The Carroll Chimes
   Goebbel Park 
FRANKENMUTH                   : USA - MI     non-trad
   Glockenspiel Tower 
   Bavarian Inn 
GAYLORD                       : USA - MI     non-trad
   Glen's Markets
   Alpine Village 
HYANNIS                       : USA - MA     non-trad
   Christmas Tree Shops
MIDLAND - S                   : USA - MI     chime
   Santa House 
NEW ULM                       : USA - MN     non-trad
   Ted Schonlau Memorial Carillon
   Schonlau Park Plaza 
VANCOUVER                     : USA - WA     non-trad
   Salmon Run Bell Tower
   Esther Short Park
WASHINGTON - ZP               : USA - DC     trad
   The Pelzman Glockenspiel
   The National Zoo 
WISCONSIN DELLS               : USA - WI     chime
   The Bavarian Village

Glockenspiels without animation

Listed here are only those sites where "Glockenspiel" is part of the name of an instrument that is publicized for its automatic music.  Instruments of this type are found only in Germanic-speaking countries. 
LINZ - K                      : AUSTRIA      chime
   Linzer Kiwanis Glockenspiel
SALZBURG                      : AUSTRIA      non-trad
   Cupola, Archbishop's Palace
     (Neubau; Neue Rezidenz)

Glockenspiels with fewer than 8 bells

There are some interesting glockenspiels which don't have enough bells to count as even a chime.  Here are links to Web pages about them, in alphabetical order by city name:

Not reported here are those clock towers where the only animation is a clock jack to strike the hour.

Not reported here are those animated clock towers which have no bells; some use electronic substitutes for bells, while others use recorded music.

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This page was created 2006/11/29 and last updated on 2023/08/21.

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