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Article

Christopher Larkin

German family firm of wind instrument makers. The business, located in Mainz, was established in 1782 by Franz Ambros Alexander (b Miltenberg, July 22, 1753; d Mainz, Dec 1, 1802), who was described in a Mainz Cathedral report of the same year as a wood-turner and wind instrument maker. Portraits depict Franz Ambros and his son Philipp (1787–1864) with clarinets. After his death, Alexander's business was continued by his widow and two of his sons, Claudius (1783–1816) and Philipp, later joined by a third, Kaspar Anton (1803–72). Under the direction of Philipp and Kaspar Anton the firm became known as Gebrüder Alexander, the name it still bears. Kaspar Anton's two sons Franz Anton (1838–1926) and Georg Philip (i) (1849–97) became the third generation to direct the company. Woodwind instruments, mainly for military use, were the firm's main products until the mid-19th century. By that time, however, band instrumentation had become more brass orientated; after Philipp's death in ...

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

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

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 1818 the Post Office London Directory lists the firm as J. Ball and Son. The son must be the Edward Ball who is listed as a piano maker at Duke Street in an 1824 jury roll preserved at Westminster City Archives. James Ball is listed in the 1827 Post Office London Directory as ‘Grand cabinet & square Piano Forte maker to his Majesty’. Ball’s early five-octave square pianos with the English single action had two hand stops, one for raising the dampers and the other a ‘lute’ stop. He is best known for his square pianos, but also made cabinet pianos and grands, some of them for the Prince Regent. 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

(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

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 1782 he took over Maurice Whitaker's shop in the Royal Exchange, London, and was joined by his nephew ‘Ned’ who had also been apprenticed to Duke. He seems on the evidence of his labels to have dealt in music and instruments, including his own. By 1790 his instruments, particularly the cellos, had absorbed something of the influence of Stradivari, and were most cleanly made on a good individual outline. They are often branded at the top of the back at this period. At the beginning of the 19th century Betts was employing some of the best workmen in London, including at times the Panormos and Lockey Hill. Many inexpensive new instruments were made for the shop, as well as bows of all qualities. After Betts’s death the business was continued by his nephew, Charles Vernon, and younger brother Arthur (...

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 1966, when he opened his first independent shop at 247 Kings Road, London. Through extensive travels Bingham obtains and sells both Western and non-Western instruments. He specializes in assembling collections of European woodwinds, illustrating their development also with patent documents, methods, and other materials. His shop at 11 Pond Street features collections of metronomes, oil paintings of musicians, trade cards, tuning forks, and trade catalogues in addition to instruments. Major museum clients include the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Music Museum (South Dakota), the Musée de la Musique (Paris), and the Musashino Academia Musicae (Tokyo), while private collectors have included Joe R. Utley, Nicholas Shackleton, and H. Iino. Bingham has also published several important works on musical instruments, such as William Waterhouse’s ...

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by 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 1783 to May 1789 he was in partnership with Hugh Andrews as Birchall & Andrews; he also issued publications under the name Birchall & Co., and established a circulating music library. He then continued alone in the firm until 1819, though John Bland appears to have had some association with Birchall after he sold his own firm in 1795, until about 1801.

Birchall managed the series of Ancient Concerts and most of the benefit concerts of the time. In 1783 he proposed a complete reissue of Handel’s works in 80 folio volumes, but the project never materialized, though Birchall subsequently published many Handel items. In addition to glees, country dance books and much Italian vocal music, his publications included the first English edition of J.S. Bach’s ...

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by 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 1790. Haydn did eventually send Bland three piano trios (hXV: 15–17) which he subsequently published, and when Haydn arrived in London in January 1791 he spent his first night as a guest of Bland at his house in Holborn. Bland published other works by Haydn, though his business relationship with him was by no means an exclusive one. He also appears to have commissioned the ...