(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....
Peter Andreas Kjeldsberg
(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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
(b Whittier, CA, Aug 24, 1955). American musical instrument designer, musician, producer, and executive. He is the founder of Linn Electronics and Roger Linn Design. In 1979, Linn Electronics released the LM-1, the first drum machine to use digital samples of real drum sounds. This was followed by the LinnDrum (1982) and the Linn 9000 (1984). The LinnDrum included controls to tune sounds and add accents; the Linn 9000 was the first unit with sampling capability. These three drum machines were widely used in 1980s pop and electronic dance music. After the closure of Linn Electronics in 1986, Linn collaborated with the Japanese electronics company Akai to design their MPC (music production center) series of audio sampling, MIDI sequencing, and drum machine workstations. These units, especially the MPC60 (1988), became popular tools in hip-hop production. In 2001 Linn founded Roger Linn Design, which manufactures the AdrenaLinn, a digital effects processor for guitar. Created in collaboration with Dave Smith (founder of Sequential Circuits) and Tom Oberheim (inventor of the first polyphonic synthesizer), the AdrenaLinn incorporates a sequencer and numerous effects that synchronize to an internal drum machine or an external MIDI source. In interviews, Linn has described his ongoing interest in designing new electronic instruments that overcome the sonic and mechanical limitations of traditional acoustic instruments. In ...
[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 ...
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....
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 1893 he left them for Clough & Warren of Detroit, who in the same year built their first small organ based on Austin’s system. In ...
(b Scheinfeld, Bavaria, March 9, 1831; d New Haven, CT, Jan 21, 1912). American music dealer and collector of instruments. He moved to New Haven in 1854, and in 1856 to Savannah, Georgia. Shortly after the Civil War broke out he returned to New Haven, and his name appeared in the New Haven City Directory of 1862; by 1866 he was listed as a piano and music dealer. He formed the Mathushek Pianoforte Co. and later the M. Steinert & Sons Co., which sold pianos in Boston, Providence, New Haven and other cities. He was active in the musical life of New Haven where he was organist at St Thomas’s Church, taught music and formed a quartet in which he played cello. He later formed an orchestra which was to become the nucleus around which he founded the New Haven SO in 1894. This orchestra is the fourth oldest in the USA with a continuous existence. He became interested in antique musical instruments and the problems involved in playing them, and assembled a collection of considerable importance which was exhibited in Vienna in ...