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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

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

Forsyth  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of publishers and music and instrument dealers. The brothers Henry Forsyth (d July 1885) and James Forsyth (b 1833; d Manchester, Jan 2, 1907) were the third generation of Forsyths to work for Broadwood; they started their own business in Manchester in 1857, selling, hiring, tuning and repairing pianos. They published music from 1858, but this activity became important only in 1873, when they produced the first numbers of Charles Hallé’s Practical Pianoforte School and opened a London publishing house at Oxford Circus. Their list grew to include works by Stephen Heller (a friend of Hallé), Berlioz, Stanford and Delius. The firm also shared significantly in the management of leading concerts in Manchester, in particular the Hallé concerts. In 1901 the firm became a limited company; it now sells pianos, orchestral and school instruments, sheet music by all publishers and records. James’s son Algernon Forsyth (...

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Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

(b Framingham, MA, 1820; d Watertown, MA, July 6, 1895). American music publisher and music and instrument dealer. According to several accounts he was a farmhand and fiddler. He compiled a large collection of fiddle tunes popular at local dances and persuaded the Boston publishers Wright & Kidder to publish it as The Musician’s Companion. As a result of his success in selling this collection from door to door, he opened a music shop in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1842, and set up a similar business in Boston in 1843. His books of arrangements and instrument instruction were popular: the Complete Preceptor for the Accordeon (1843) sold over 100,000 copies, and his violin self-mastery volumes sold over 500,000 copies. In 1850 he sold his catalogue to the Boston publisher Oliver Ditson and agreed not to publish music for ten years. During that period he lived on his newly acquired estate in South Framingham, managed the South Reading Ice Company and compiled editions of dance music and dance instruction books....

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

(fl 1740–62). English music publisher, printer, music seller and possibly violin maker. He began his business in London by 1740, and probably acquired part of those of Daniel Wright and Benjamin Cooke, some of whose publications he reissued from the original plates. Around the mid-18th century the predominance of the Walsh engraving and publishing business began to wane, and Johnson was responsible for publishing some of the best music of the day, including works by Arne, Felton, Geminiani, Nares, Domenico Scarlatti and Stanley, as well as annual volumes and large collections of country dances. Unusually, many of Johnson's editions bore dates; their technical quality was high, some being engraved by John Phillips. A number of fair-quality violins bear the Johnson label, most probably made for rather than actually by him.

Johnson appears to have died about 1762, and from that time to 1777 most of the imprints bear the name of ‘Mrs. Johnson’ or ‘R. Johnson’, presumably his widow. The old imprint ‘John Johnson’ occasionally appears in these years, and may refer to her late husband or to another relative. Johnson's sign from ...

Article

Brian Boydell

( b ?Dublin; d Dublin, 1763). Irish music publisher, music seller, instrument dealer and violinist . He worked from about 1738 in the business established by his brother Bartholemew (d July 1758) about a year previously at Corelli’s Head, opposite Anglesea Street in College Green, Dublin. In April 1740 he advertised a proposal for printing Geminiani’s Guida armonica by subscription; it was finally issued in about 1752. Notable publications by him include collections of songs from Arne’s Comus, Dubourg’s variations on the Irish melody ‘Ellen a Roon’ and in December 1752 ‘six Trios for 2 Fiddles and thorough Bass composed by Sieur Van Maldere’. From 1741 a number of publications were issued in conjunction with William Neale, including the Monthly Musical Masque consisting of a collection of contemporary popular songs; the first issue was advertised in January 1744. Manwaring also imported Peter Wamsley’s best violins, Roman fiddle strings and ‘all the newest music published in London’. In addition to his business he took a prominent part in Dublin musical life during the 1740s as a violinist, often appearing with his brother who was also a violinist. He acted as treasurer of various charitable musical societies. After his death his wife carried on the business until ...

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

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith, Peter Ward Jones and David Hunter

(b ?1665 or 1666; d London, March 13, 1736). Music seller, engraver, printer, publisher and instrument seller, probably of Irish extraction. He was established in London by about 1690. On 24 June 1692 he was appointed musical instrument-maker-in-ordinary to William III in succession to John Shaw, whose trade sign of ‘The Golden Harp and Hoboy’ he also adopted; in the same year he married Mary Allen, by whom he had 15 children, of whom only three survived infancy.

In 1695, when he began publishing, Walsh had few rivals in the trade. John Playford was dead, and his son Henry evidently lacked the initiative to maintain the family firm as a flourishing concern. Thomas Cross, while popular for his introduction of the engraved single-sheet song, was concerned more with engraving than publishing. Walsh was quick to take advantage of the situation, and engraved music appeared from his premises on a scale previously unknown in England. In addition to works by English composers he printed much popular continental music (including Corelli’s sonatas) which he often copied from Dutch editions. From about ...

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith, Peter Ward Jones and David Hunter

(b London, Dec 23, 1709; d London, Jan 15, 1766). English music seller, printer, publisher and instrument maker . He probably assumed control of the business of his father, John Walsh (i), in about 1730, when the relationship with the Hare family apparently ceased and the numbering of the firm’s publications started. On 8 May 1731 Walsh succeeded to the appointment of instrument maker to the king. Although John Johnson and other rivals arose, the business continued to prosper and maintained its excellent engraving and paper. Burney characterized Walsh (ii) as ‘purveyor general’. Walsh fully developed the firm's relationship with Handel, publishing almost all his later works and in 1739 being granted a monopoly of his music for 14 years. About half of Walsh's output was of Handel compositions. The firm also sold other publishers' works, and bought up the stock of smaller firms when they ceased trading. Many of Walsh's apprentice engravers later set up on their own, including John Caulfield, Thomas Straight and Thomas Skillern. Walsh, who never married, was elected a governor of the Foundling Hospital in ...