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Fritz Spiegel`s loophonium - geograph.org.uk - 3846440.jpg
The Loophonium at the
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Brass instrument
Other namesHarpic-cord
Classification Aerophone
Inventor(s)Fritz Spiegl
Developed20th century
Related instruments

The Loophonium is a brass instrument created by Fritz Spiegl. Designed in 1960, it is a cross between a euphonium and a toilet. The Loophonium has been named by some as "the most unusual musical instrument of all time".[1] It currently resides in the Walker Art Gallery.


The Loophonium is a portmanteau of loo, a British name for a toilet, and euphonium.[2] The Loophonium's alternative name, the Harpic-cord (or Harpic-phone),[3] is a play both on the harpsichord instrument and the Harpic brand of toilet cleaner.[4][5][6]


The Loophonium was designed and fabricated by Fritz Spiegl in Liverpool in 1960.[7] Spiegl was known for his musical jokes; he had previously composed music such as a Concerto for Two Tuning Forks and the Motor Horn Concerto.[6] The instrument was made to use for concerts held by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic on April Fools' Day at the Philharmonic Hall.[8][1] Spiegl had been holding these concerts since 1952. During this time, Spiegl was the principal flautist of the orchestra (1948–1963).[4]


The Loophonium consists of two parts: a silver-plated[9] euphonium with Perinet valves[7] connected at the bell to a mock-Victorian toilet.[8][5][6] The toilet was painted with flower designs by Spiegl's eight-year-old daughter, Emily.[4][6] The toilet seat is in the shape of a golden three-stringed lyre.[8][4][7][10] The design is patented.[4]


Philharmonic Hall, home to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

The Loophonium was played by Spiegl at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's April Fools' Day and "Nuts in May" concerts.[5][6] When the national anthem was played at concerts involving the Loophonium, the toilet seat would be raised as if to salute.[1][6][4] It was also used once by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where it was played by the principal tuba.[11]

The Loophonium resided at the house of Peter Spaull, a classical music journalist, for two years. It was played on New Year's Eve by Spaull to bring in the new year.[11]

After Spiegl's death in 2003, the Loophonium was sold to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool for a price of £2,640.[8][3][5] It was sold at Sotheby's Bond Street auction house on 23 November in a lot of 103 instruments. The sale also included a copy of Spiegl's Music Through the Looking Glass.[10][7] After a repair in 2004 at the National Conservation Centre,[12][11] the Loophonium was put on display in 2006 at the gallery.[9] The display includes a speaker that plays a recording of Frère Jacques on the Loophonium.[13] The absurdity of the instrument makes it very popular with children.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Davis, Laura (10 August 2011). "Adolf Hitler, Tressell and a musical lavatory!". Daily Post (Liverpool). No. 2 – via The Free Library.
  2. ^ Yeo, Douglas. "Trombone Humor". Douglas Yeo Trombone.
  3. ^ a b jackson, artinliverpool (27 July 2006). "Fritz Spiegl's 'Loophonium' at the Walker". Art in Liverpool. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Liverpool museums – 'Loophonium' , by Fritz Spiegl | Artwork of the Month". 17 February 2008. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d Paull, Jennifer (2007). Cathy Berberian and Music's Muses. Jennifer Paull. ISBN 978-1-84753-889-5.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Treuherz, Julian; Figueiredo, Peter de (2016). 111 Places in Liverpool that you shouldn't miss (in German). Emons Verlag. ISBN 978-3-96041-030-0.
  7. ^ a b c d "Lot 272: Loophonium". Sotheby's.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Walker In Liverpool Splashes Out £2,640 On Musical Toilet | Culture24". 31 July 2010. Archived from the original on 31 July 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  9. ^ a b Echo, Liverpool (27 July 2006). "Music to drive you round the u-bend". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Loophonium to be auctioned by Sotheby's". www.antiquestradegazette.com. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  11. ^ a b c Wolstenholme, Jane (6 January 2005). "TRUST THE POST: Down memory lane". Daily Post (Liverpool) – via The Free Library.
  12. ^ Christopher, Liam (29 December 2004). "Stash of hidden treasures in search of a new home". Daily Post (Liverpool) – via The Free Library.
  13. ^ Davis, Laura (2 April 2018). "20 Liverpool places even Scousers might not know". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  14. ^ "Half-term: the best art galleries and exhibitions for children". www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2023.