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Article

Anne Beetem Acker

(b Bermuda, July 10, 1957). American audio engineer, musician, and owner of Keith McMillen Instruments, based in Berkeley, California. He received his BS in acoustics from the University of Illinois, where he also studied classical guitar and composition. In 1979 he founded Zeta Music, which designed and sold electric and electronic violins and basses. In 1992 he organized a research laboratory for Gibson Guitars. He developed a computerized composition, notation, and performance system, and also helped devise ZIPI, a MIDI-like music control language. At the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at the University of California, Berkeley, he researched audio networking, synthesizers, and string instruments. In 1996 he became director of engineering for the audio processing and distributed music networks division of Harmon Kardon. In 1999 he founded Octiv, Inc., an Internet audio signal processing company, which produced the ‘Volume Logic’ plug-in for iTunes that allows digital audio remastering to improve the sound produced by computers and MP3 players....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

[Friedrich ]

(d London, England, 1774). German keyboard instrument maker and seller. In 1754 the Hamburger Anzeigen advertised that he made unfretted clavichords, harpsichords, and a five-octave upright pyramid-shaped harpsichord (clavicimbel de amour) with pantalon (hammer action) stop. Neubauer arrived in London about 1756, and advertised from 1761 to 1768 that he made and repaired harpsichords, pianos, clavichords, ‘clavir d’amours’, and lyrichords (including the earliest known advertisement for the sale of a piano in London in the 1763 Mortimer’s Directory). He possibly took on some of the remaining stock in trade of Roger Plenius, who became bankrupt in 1756. In 1763 Neubauer lived in Compton Street, but his five addresses in ten years, plus his frequent advertisements of rooms to let and for an apprentice seem to indicate financial difficulties. A 1763 notice in the Universal Director describes him as ‘Maker of double-basset and treble key’d Harpsichords, with six stops, and of Pianofortes, Lyrichords, Classichords, etc.’. ‘The ‘double basset’ harpsichord likely had a 16′ register, while the ‘treble key’d’ harpsichord might have had an extended treble range or a third manual. On ...

Article

Laurence Libin

[Theodore M. ]

(b Somerset, KY, 1910; d Twin Falls, ID, April 1, 2001). American guitar company executive and pioneer in the development of electric guitars. An engineering graduate of the University of Cincinnati (1933), he worked for the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., first as an accountant and eventually as director of purchasing for the retail division. During World War II he was an army engineer. He became general manager of the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1948, vice president in 1949, and was its president from 1950 to 1966. During this period he secured several patents and profitably advanced Gibson’s manufacture of electric guitars, notably in the early 1950s the warm-toned solid-body Les Paul models that later formed the core of Gibson’s reputation. McCarty promoted the design of innovative models (e.g. the three-pickup ES-5, the classic ES-175 ‘jazz box’, and the classic semi-hollow ES-335) and various improvements such as Gibson’s Tune-o-matic bridge system, humbucking pickup (designed by Seth Lover), and the futuristic Explorer, Flying V, Moderne (these three designed by the automobile designer Ray Dietrich), SG, and Firebird lines. During McCarty’s tenure Gibson’s output grew to more than 100,000 instruments annually. He left Gibson to become part-owner and president of the Kalamazoo-based Bigsby Company, specializing in guitar vibrato systems and accessories; he retired in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(Delmetia )

(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.

From the mid-1920s Beauchamp also experimented with electrical amplification of guitars (including lap steel and bass guitars) and violins of unconventional shape, without normal resonators but using simple phonograph pickups. After his collaboration with the Dopyeras ended, 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 1920 Victoria (née Rostin) married Christian Anker Bachke (1873–1946), the last private owner of Ringve manor outside Trondheim. Together they made plans for two museums: one for the history of the manor and its inhabitants, another for musical instruments, which they had begun to collect. Upon Christian’s death, his will established a foundation encompassing the land and buildings, and Mrs Bachke began serious collecting to prepare the museum, which opened in 1952 in the manor’s main building, a well-kept example of historicist architecture and interior decoration from the second half of the 19th century. Her main gifts for this task were enthusiasm and useful contacts, notably in France and Italy. One of her advisors was the Danish musicologist and organologist Godtfred Skjerne. Before she died, Mrs Bachke had collected about 1000 instruments of European and non-Western classical and folk traditions. She desired that the instruments be playable. Today the Ringve Museum has a national responsibility for collections of musical instruments in Norway, with educational and scientific staff and a conservation workshop. It remains a foundation under the administration of Museene i Sør-Trøndelag AS....

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 (1890–1901) until the dissolution of the Finnish Army by Tsar Nicholas II. He then formed and led the Helsinki Brass Band in 1901. In the same year he formed the Apostol Music Publishing and Apostol Musical Instrument Company, which issued a catalogue in 1910. Bringing Wenzel Mirsch (b 4 Dec 1877; d 2 Aug 1946) in 1908 from Graslitz, Bohemia, as his foreman, Apostol made instruments for the burgeoning Finnish brass band movement until 1925. Mirsch continued the manufacture and restoration of instruments at the factory under his own name until his death. The many surviving Apostol brasses include cornets in E♭ and B♭, E♭ alto horns, B♭ tenor horns, euphoniums in B♭, and tubas in E♭ and BB♭, many of which are still being played in Finland....

Article

Niall O’Loughlin

(Adam )

(b ?Ritzfeld bei Weinsberg, Germany, c1772/3; d London, England, March 27, 1850). Maker of wind instruments, music seller, and publisher. He was in London by 1795 and was naturalized by Act of Parliament in 1804; that same year he was granted the freedom of the Musicians’ Company. He worked at 76 Bishopsgate from about 1804 to 1822. Through a partnership with the successors to George Astor the firm became known as Gerock, Astor & Co. (1822–6), operating at 79 Cornhill. Robert Wolf, described as an employee in 1828, married Gerock’s daughter Sabrina Susannah in 1831. The firm was known as Gerock & Wolf during 1831–2, but reverted to the name C. Gerock & Co. from 1832 to 1837, when Gerock retired. The firm of Robert Wolf & Co. operated at 79 Cornhill after 1837, principally selling pianos.

In a trial for theft of flutes by his employee Samuel Porter in ...

Article

Nancy Groce

(b London, c1815; fl New York, c1843–1872). American harp maker and dealer of English birth. He probably immigrated to New York in the late 1830s. Before leaving London, he trained at Érard’s harp shop, where according to his 1846 advertisement in the New York directory, he was granted a “Royal Letter of Patent” for his work. Although he claimed to have established a New York shop as early as 1841, no record of his firm has been found before 1843, when he was listed in the city directory as a “harp mauf” at 385 Broadway.

In 1844, Browne formed a short-lived partnership with the harp maker James Delveau. In an 1844 advertisement, Delveau & Browne advertised themselves as “Manufacturers of Improved Double-Action Harps … J.F. Browne respectfully informs his Friends in the Musical World that he has established himself in New York, for the manufacture and importing of these very beautiful instruments. His arrangements are such as to enable him to transact business at European prices, thereby saving the purchasers the high duties imposed by Tariff on these Instruments … Particular care is taken to fit them for the extremes of climate in this country … Prices $500–$750” (Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Ephemera, ...

Article

Charles Beare and Philip J. Kass

[Francais, Jacques Pierre ]

(b Paris, France, July 3, 1923; d New York, NY, Feb 4, 2004). Violin dealer and restorer of French birth active in America. His family was involved with violin making since the end of the 19th century; their business origins can be traced back to Nicolas Lupot. Français was apprenticed to Victor Aubry at Le Havre during World War II, but after serving with the Army of Liberation he went to Mirecourt to work with Georges Apparut. He next went to New York to work in the Rudolph Wurlitzer shop and decided to stay and establish his own business, which he opened in 1951 in the New York premises vacated by Emil Herrmann. In addition to his activities as a dealer, he built up a good reputation for repairs and adjustments. In the mid-1960s he was joined by two first-class restorers from the Wurlitzer workshop, René Morel and Luiz Bellini. The scope of the business expanded and in the latter part of the century it cared for the needs of most of America’s finest string players. In ...

Article

Philip J. Kass

(b Kassel, Germany, June 26, 1858; d Peekskill, NY, July 8, 1943). American violin maker and dealer of German birth. In Germany he studied with Joseph Schonger of Kassel, Otto Möckel in Berlin, and W.H. Hammig in Leipzig. He had a workshop in Stuttgart until 1883, when he immigrated to New York, joining his brother William Friedrich Jr. (1854–1911), a musician, who had arrived there several years earlier. They founded the firm of John Friedrich & Brother in 1884. They were further assisted by William’s son William John Friedrich (1887–c1943), who was primarily a restorer. Their workshop became an important center in New York, establishing new standards for the American violin trade in its manner of dealing, its expertise, and the caliber of its repairs. The important American writer on the violin Ernest N. Doring was with the firm from 1893 until 1926. It ceased operations in ...