Alfred Bremer's Organ

Words & Music: Pat Drummond

For Alfred Bremer and The Van Huass family

The Entrance, NSW 30/4/90


As a child I was fascinated by the mechanical cacophony of calliopes. This particular instrument was built by Alfred Bremer in Bavaria in 1850. Shipped to Australia, it spent much of its early life in Kings Park, Newcastle, before being moved to the fairground at The Entrance; just up from Clifford's fish shop. For 50 cents it plays the loudest version of Strauss's 'Blue Danube' waltz I have ever heard. My song substitutes Tchaikovsky for Strauss because, to be quite honest, I couldn't fit a 3/4 tune into a 2/4 lyric. Recent developments at The Entrance have apparently meant that Alfred Bremer's organ has been moved on again, after 35 years. If anyone now knows the whereabouts of a wandering and aged circus organ with a berserk wooden conductor on it's front, I would appreciate it if you would let me know. It holds for me, and for many I would imagine, a small but important part of the magic of childhood.


Alfred Bremer's Organ stood up on the corner

at the fair grounds at the entrance now for forty years or more

and it wheezes coughs and farts, and people stare aghast.

I always put in fifty cents whenever I go past.


Chorus: Here's a song for Alfred Bremer's choir;

held in place with Perkin's paste and little bits of wire.

Leather straps to tambourines;

painted drums and faded dreams.

Howling like a 'banshee' and as catchy as a fire.


The little doll in front of it;

he whirls and twirls his sticks

but the years have not been kind to him

and his pants have come to bits.

Still he moves with strict precision

as he leaps to his position

and he plays his best for fifty cents

while anyone will listen.




I feel I've much in common

with Alfred Bremer's Organ.

We're both a little nicked and dinged

but still in working order.

Somewhat crude and roughly hewn,

far too loud and out of tune.

But when they make me turn it off,

it always seems too soon.




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