My father bought a music box for my mother 20 years ago. He was on a business trip to Denver, Colorado, and bought one for her and one for me for Christmas. Her's is a blue Merlin style magician that plays "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. My mother was never a Phantom fan, and she never wound or played the music box. It sat on a shelf hung on the far wall of the living room, away from general traffic.
Thirteen years ago, it was about Thanksgiving time, the whole family was home. My brother was home from the Navy, my husband and I and our oldest son, and new one month old. My parents had divorced the year after he bought the box, so he was the only one not there, although he came by later to see my brother.
My mother, brother and oldest son were in the kitchen, my husband was back in a bedroom and I was sitting on the couch with the baby in the living room about 15 feet from the music box. Suddenly it started playing. I thought it was a spring that had been wound too tight and just let loose, so I put the baby in his carrier, and walked over and picked up the figure. The music box workings are in a clear plastic box in the base. The key wasn't moving, the drum wasn't moving and the spring was completely slack. The song played, even with it in my hand, for three full minutes and then stopped.
We all thought it was very strange, but shrugged it off.
My mother passed away in October 2011.
Last year, at Christmas, actually on Christmas Eve, it went off again. We were all in the kitchen at least 20 feet away from it. This time my brother walked over to pick it up and brought it over for all of us to see it wasn't moving. It played a little longer, and then I got frustrated with it, looked up at the ceiling and said "WHAT!" It immediately stopped. Play time was 2 minutes and 3 seconds, not the full 3 minutes the first time was.
Yesterday, I pulled into my driveway, my husband holding the music box in the front door, greeted me. It started playing exactly 3 minutes before I pulled into the driveway and stopped as my car pulled to a stop in front of the garage, again, no movement from the music box mechanical workings, and I've taken the figure apart to see if there was an electronic component that might be causing it, but the figure is hollow, with no electronics.