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Article

Paul Niemistö

(b Athens, Greece, June 18, 1866; d Helsinki, Finland, June 20, 1927). Musical instrument dealer, brass instrument maker, and band director in Helsinki. He was in contact with Finnish troops as a boy in Gallipoli, Turkey, during the Crimean war and was brought back to Helsinki as an orphan. Trained in the Finnish military music school, he became the chief conductor of the Helsinki Guards Band (...

Article

Barbara Owen

American organ building firm. It was founded by John Turnell Austin (b Poddington, Beds., May 16, 1869; d Hartford, CT, Sept 17, 1948). The son of gentleman farmer and amateur organ builder Jonathan Austin, he emigrated to America in 1889. He first worked for Farrand & Votey of Detroit, rapidly advancing to become foreman. There he first conceived the idea of a radically different system of organ construction called the ‘universal wind-chest’ system; this consisted of an individual-valve chest, the lower portion of which was a walk-in air chamber with regulator. Pipe valves were operated by a thin wooden trace attached to a motor bellows for each note. Stop action was first achieved by sliders; later a pivoting fulcrum affecting the valves was used. Although Farrand & Votey allowed Austin to experiment, they showed no interest in his ideas, and in ...

Article

Peter Andreas Kjeldsberg

(b Kranz, Russia, July 7, 1896; d Trondheim, Norway, Nov 19, 1963). Norwegian collector of musical instruments and founder and director of the Ringve Museum in Trondheim. An amateur singer, she had no formal musical training, but three siblings became professional musicians. In ...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

(b 1770; bur. London, Oct 7, 1833). English piano maker, music seller, publisher, printer and organ builder. He worked in Duke Street, Grosvenor Square, London, from 1787 until his death. Domenico Motta joined him briefly to form Motta & Ball about 1794; in ...

Article

Charles Beare

(b ?Salisbury, July 14, 1727; d Salisbury, Feb 18, 1795). English violin maker and instrument dealer. He lived and worked in Salisbury and, with Forster, did much to raise the standard of English violin making in the second half of the 18th century. Banks possibly learnt his craft from a relative or in London, perhaps with Wamsley. His woodwork, using native sycamore for backs and sides and pine for tops, looks like that of Duke and Joseph Hill, but he had even more in common with William Forster (i), since both used a thick, dark red oil-varnish, previously unknown in England. Banks might have worked in London on his own for a time, but most of his instruments are labelled from Salisbury. Banks is, like Forster, particularly famous for the many cellos he made. His violas were of the small size fashionable at the time and are less appreciated now, but his violins, though rare, are very good instruments tonally and sometimes pass for Italian. Of the cellos, most are built on a reduced Amati pattern and are very similar to the work of the Forsters, both in appearance and tone. Occasionally, however, Banks made a cello with features of Stradivari, and these are excellent in every way. Bows were sometimes branded by him, though they were doubtless made for him, and he was careful to brand his instruments, sometimes in many places. Some of the later instruments were made for and branded by the London firm of Longman & Broderip, who also employed lesser makers....

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Coleman County, TX, March 18, 1899; d at sea nr Los Angeles, CA, March 30, 1941). American inventor of musical instruments. He was co-founder of the National Stringed Instrument Corporation and the Rickenbacker guitar company. He played the violin and the lap steel (‘Hawaiian’) guitar in vaudeville before settling in Los Angeles, where he worked with John and Rudy Dopyera to develop an acoustically amplified guitar, probably inspired by Stroh models. An early model with a Victrola horn failed, but trials using conical aluminium resonators within a metal guitar body (a prototype of the three-cone Dobro guitar) proved successful and attracted investors. Production of metal-body guitars under the name National soon involved Adolph Rickenbacker’s nearby tool and die shop....

Article

Charles Beare

(b Stamford, Lincs., 1755; d London, March 1823). English violin maker and dealer. He learnt violin making as a pupil of Richard Duke, for whom he worked for 17 years, and the first instruments bearing his label and brand are very similar to those of his master. At the end of ...

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, UK, March 14, 1940). English dealer in musical instruments, rare music books, music iconography, and related ephemera. After leaving school at the age of 16, Bingham trained as a quantity surveyor and opened his own surveying business in 1961, about the same time he began dealing in general antiques. He had a partnership in a musical instrument business for one year until ...

Article

Frank Kidson, William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

(b London, c1750; d London, Dec 19, 1819). English music seller, instrument dealer and publisher. From his early imprints it appears that he had been apprenticed to Walsh’s successors, William Randall and his wife Elizabeth. In 1783 he was in business with T. Beardmore as Beardmore & Birchall (or Birchall & Beardmore). From ...

Article

Frank Kidson, William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

(b ?London, c1750; d ?London, c1840). English music seller, instrument dealer and publisher. By 1776 he was established in London, where he remained active until his comparatively early retirement in 1795. In 1789 he went to Vienna to induce Haydn to visit England and to seek compositions from him and other composers, including Hoffmeister and Kozeluch. Bland is said to have been the hero of the ‘Razor’ Quartet story, in which he supposedly received the manuscript of the quartet, op.55 no.2, as a reward for presenting the composer with his English-style razor; however, the op.55 quartets were published in England not by Bland, but by Longman & Broderip in ...