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Laurence Libin

Pure-tuned harmonium developed by the German physicist and music theorist Arthur Joachim von Oettingen (b Dorpat, Livonia, 28 March 1836; d Bensheim, Germany, 5 Sept 1920) and built by Schiedmayer in Stuttgart. An example from 1914 is in the Musikinstrumenten Museum, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, Berlin. Designed to sound pure 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths, it is based on an octave division into 53 (in some versions, 72) tones and has a complex multilayered but symmetrical keyboard similar to that of Bosanquet’s enharmonic harmonium. Oettingen studied astronomy and physics at the University of Dorpat and continued his education in Paris and Berlin. He was appointed a professor in Dorpat in 1863 and moved in 1893 to Leipzig, where he worked until 1919. He advocated the theory of ‘harmonic dualism’, later elaborated by Hugo Riemann, and introduced the interval measurement called the ‘millioctave’, based on division of the octave into 1000 tones. See ...