Tucked away just outside the centre of Amsterdam is the fabulous Pianola Museum. It's a tiny space, just one room. Inside are stuffed six working player-pianos together with related paraphernalia that include thousands of piano rolls. Luckily for me, my recent visit to the city coincided with the brief opening hours, 2-5pm on Sunday afternoons only.
It's not the sort of museum you wander around. Instead you sit on one of the few chairs while the curator demonstrates each instrument in turn, returning seamlessly to the beginning once he's finished. Over the space of an hour I heard Chopin, Stravinsky, Grieg playing Grieg (there was a vogue at one point for rolls created by famous pianists and composers) and best of all, a piece specially composed for player piano by Conlon Nancarrow. Many of his works are impossible to play manually because of the number and span of simultaneous notes. And of course the recordings sound quite different. So it was a real treat to hear one as it was supposed to be heard.
The museum is a genuinely undiscovered gem - there were only about ten other visitors all the time I was there - and as far as I know it's the only one of its kind. Well worth the diversion if you're in the area.