1-20 of 22 results  for:

  • Instrument-building Firms x
  • 19th c. /Romantic (1800-1900) x
Clear all

Article

Barbara Owen

American organ building firm. It was formed in 1931 when the firm of Ernest M(artin) Skinner & Co. acquired the organ department of the Aeolian Co., which had made its reputation building organs with self-playing mechanisms for private houses, changing its name to Aeolian-Skinner. In 1933 there was a reorganization in which G(eorge) Donald Harrison, who had joined Skinner in 1927, became technical director and Skinner’s activities were curtailed. In the same year Skinner, after increasing disagreement with Harrison over tonal matters, began a new company in Methuen, Massachusetts, with his son, Richmond, who had purchased the former Methuen Organ Co. factory and Serlo Hall the previous year.

During the 1930s the Aeolian-Skinner Co. continued to rise in popularity, and in 1940 Harrison became president, succeeding Arthur Hudson Marks (1874–1939), a wealthy businessman who had become its owner and president in 1919. Under Harrison the firm became a leader in the trend away from orchestral tonal practices and towards a more classical sound. It was Harrison who coined the term ‘American Classic’ to refer to this more eclectic type of tonal design. On his death, Joseph S. Whiteford (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Australian piano firm founded by Octavius Beale (b Mountmellick, Co. Laois, Ireland, 23 Feb 1850; d Stroud, New South Wales, Australia, 16 Dec 1930). Beale came to Australia with his family in 1854. Having been sent back to Ireland for schooling, he returned and was working in a hardware store in Melbourne at age 16. Later he became a partner with Hugo Wertheim in a hardware business that imported sewing machines and German upright pianos. In 1884 he moved to Sydney to set up Beale & Co. Ltd, importing pianos labelled ‘Hapsburg Beale’. In 1893, in Sydney, he established the first piano factory in Australia. In 1902 he opened a new factory at 47 Trafalgar St, Annandale, which became the largest piano factory in the southern hemisphere, employing more than 300 skilled workmen by 1907. The firm also made sewing machines and exported veneers.

Beale & Co. emphasised that their pianos were built to withstand hostile climates and kept quality high and costs low through the use of local skilled labour, Australian timbre, and making most components on site. They promoted the tuning stability and longevity of pianos with their ‘all-iron tuning system’, also known as the Beale–Vader tuning system, patented 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

Enrico Weller

German brass instrument manufacturer in Graslitz (Kraslice), Czech Republic. Births and deaths (below) occurred in Graslitz unless otherwise indicated. The company was founded on 28 July 1870 by Gustav Bohland (b 13 Feb 1825; d 19 March 1886), who was an independent brass instrument maker from 1850, and the merchant Martin Fuchs (b Hirschenstand, 17 March 1830; d 13 March 1893). In 1886 Martin Fuchs became sole owner of the company, followed by his sons Johann (b 26 Nov 1852; d Meran, 29 April 1905) and Hermann (b 8 Sept 1856; d 1921), and later by his grandchildren Karl (b 25 Feb 1884; d Waiblingen, 29 May 1964) and Adolf (b 7 July 1889; d Waiblingen, 12 April 1969). In 1945 the factory was expropriated and in 1948 became part of the Czechoslovak state enterprise ‘Amati’. Attempts to rebuild the company in West Germany (Neustadt/Aisch) failed in ...

Article

René Pierre

Wind instrument makers of Strasbourg. [Life data refer to Strasbourg unless noted.] Jean (Johannes) II Keller (1710–78) was admitted as a turner in the corporation of carpenters in 1736. His three sons were woodwind makers. Jean III Keller (b 14 Dec 1737; d 1785), his first son, was described as ‘Instrumentenmacher’ at his marriage in 1765 and upon the births of his four children. He used the mark ‘[fleur de lis] / KELLER / A STRASBOURG’. Isaac Keller (b 26 Jan 1740; d 11 June 1802), the second son, was received into the corporation of carpenters in 1785, at the death of his brother Jean III. He joined the third son, Jean Philippe Keller (b 10 Nov 1743; d 1 July 1794) by 1790 to create a new partnership, marking their instruments ‘[angel trumpeter] / LES / FRERES/ KELLER’. Etienne Ozi (...

Article

Niall O’Loughlin

revised by Robert Bigio

(b Dublin, Ireland, 1809; d London, England, May 7, 1864). Irish flutist, composer, flute designer, and manufacturer. He became professor of flute at the Royal Academy of Music in the 1840s, and was an enthusiastic player of Boehm’s 1832 conical flute as made by Rudall & Rose from 1843. He published the first English-language tutor for the instrument, followed by further editions. However, Clinton appears to have fallen out with Boehm after failing to persuade him to allow Clinton to produce Boehm’s newly invented (1847) cylindrical flute in London (Boehm sold the rights to Rudall & Rose instead). Clinton then denounced Boehm’s work, declaring his opposition to Boehm’s open-standing (fully vented) key system (the virtues of which he had previously extolled) as well as to Boehm’s cylindrical bore and his use of metal for the body.

In 1848 Clinton registered the first of his four patents for flutes, to which he gave the name Equisonant. These use a fingering system similar to that of the eight-keyed flute, on a conical bore but with a mechanism that allows the tone holes to be better placed. After ...

Article

Farfisa  

Hugh Davies

revised by Brandon Smith

Italian company of instrument makers. It was founded about 1870 in Ancona to manufacture free-reed instruments, including piano accordions and reed organs. The modern Farfisa company (from FAbbriche Riunite di FISArmoniche, ‘United Accordion Factories’) of Castelfidardo/Camerano was founded in 1946 by Silvio Scandalli, Settimio Soprani (brother of Paolo Soprani), and the Frontalini Accordion Co. of Chicago. Farfisa revolutionized the mass production of accordions by replacing assembly lines with specialized departments producing components that were then assembled into completed instruments. In 1951 Farfisa developed the ‘Super 6’ accordion, considered by many to be the best in the world. Later, Farfisa began producing electronic keyboard instruments ranging in style from piano accordions to synthesizers. From about 1960 its range of electronic piano accordions included the 41-note Cordovox and Transicord (from ‘transistor’ and ‘accordion’), and in 1970 it manufactured an early electronic percussion unit; one Transicord model included an electronic rhythm section.

The company’s success led to a take-over in ...

Article

Feurich  

Laurence Libin

German firm of piano builders. Julius Gustav Feurich (1821–1900), a son and grandson of piano technicians, founded Pianofortefabrik Feurich in Leipzig in 1851, following his training with Pleyel in Paris. Initially the company produced upright models, adding grands in 1855; it was later designated an imperial and royal court supplier. A second factory opened in Leutzsch in 1910 to serve a widespread market, including South America, Australia, and Japan by the 1920s. The firm operated a concert hall in Leipzig and introduced several innovative designs for upright pianos, winning a prize at an exposition in Geneva in 1927. The Leipzig factory was destroyed and the Leutzsch factory was converted to living quarters during World War II, but production resumed thereafter, incorporating the brands Euterpe and W. Hoffmann from Berlin. After the company’s assets were expropriated by the East German government in 1958, the fourth-generation proprietor, Julius Hermann Feurich (...

Article

Sabine K. Klaus

Firm of brass instrument makers in Cincinnati, Ohio. Franz Gotthold Kaiser (b Schöneck, Germany, 30 Aug 1825; d Cincinnati, 25 May 1890) trained with Carl Heinrich Beuthner, the brother-in-law of Carl August Zoebisch, in Neukirchen (today Markneukirchen); he emigrated to the USA in 1852 or 1853 and is first listed as musical instrument maker in Cincinnati in 1855. William Kohler (b Saxony, c1823, d Cincinnati, 13 Jan 1894) is first listed there in 1858. The partnership apparently began in 1859 and the company name Kaiser & Kohler appears from 1860 to 1890.

Kaiser initially made brass instruments in the European style. By 1860 Kaiser & Kohler had adopted rotary valves with string linkage, employing a special system with arched push rod that is otherwise not recorded. During the American Civil War the firm switched to producing standard string-rotary-valve instruments in over-the-shoulder, bell front, and turning bell configurations. It is likely that Kaiser & Kohler mainly supplied unmarked instruments to the trade, notably to the Wurlitzer firm. Rudolph Wurlitzer (...

Article

Martin Krivin

revised by Margaret Downie Banks

Firm of instrument makers. It was founded as the H.N. White Company (Cleveland) in 1893 by Henderson Nelson White (1873–1940), an instrument repairman, amateur musician, and businessman. White created the company’s first instrument, a trombone, in consultation with trombonist Thomas H. King (1868–1926), after whom the King line was named. The company was renamed King Musical Instruments in 1966.

Foster A. Reynolds (1884–1960) managed White’s factory and a full line of band instruments from 1903 to 1935. A department of acoustical research was established in 1909 in a new factory at 5225 Superior Avenue. Saxophone manufacture began in 1916, followed by the invention of the King saxello (1924; a straight soprano sax with a curved neck and half-turned bell) and the pioneering introduction of sterling silver bells on cornets, trumpets, and trombones. White purchased the Cleveland Musical Instrument Company (1925), added stringed instruments to his line (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

French piano manufacturer, founded in 1831 by Jean-Georges Kriegelstein (b Riquewihr, Alsace, 1801; d Paris, France, 20 Nov 1865). Having arrived in Paris in 1815, he was listed as a piano maker there by 1824, and worked for Jean-Henri Pape from 1826 until 1831. In partnership with Arnaud (about whom nothing is known), he exhibited two square pianos in 1834, one with an upstriking action and one with a downstriking action, the latter receiving a silver medal; it was patented in 1833. At this time, Kriegelstein and Arnaud, of rue des Petites-Stables, employed 20 to 25 workers who made 70 pianos per year. Kriegelstein and the French composer Charles Plantade were partners from 1838 until at least 1849 with a factory at rue Laval, St Georges. In 1839 Kriegelstein patented a grand piano nut and a damper system. Another patent of 1841 was for an Agraffe with adjustable screw placed between the tuning pin and the bridge to adjust the tuning....

Article

Lipp  

Hugh Davies

revised by William Jurgenson and Anne Beetem Acker

German firm of keyboard instrument makers. It was founded in Stuttgart in 1831 by Richard Lipp (1805–74), who had apprenticed with Haug and thereafter was a journeyman for other Stuttgart builders. At some point the firm became known as Richard Lipp & Sohn, when presumably a son came into partnership who continued the business after his father’s death, but documentation is lacking. Two 6½-octave rosewood square pianos were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. Surviving 19th-century Lipp grand pianos are very well regarded, with their design at the forefront of piano developments. Piano manufacture constituted the majority of the firm’s business from 1895 to 1965. From 1985 to 1992 pianos under the brand name Lipp were manufactured by the Bentley Co. Ltd and then from 1993 by Whelpdale, Maxwell, & Codd Ltd until that company ceased piano production in 2003. In 2005 the trademark for R. Lipp & Sohn was registered by Neville Charles Oreo of Australia. Three models of grands and four sizes of uprights produced in China were available in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Swedish piano manufacturer established in Göteborg in December 1843 by Johan Gustaf Malmsjö (b Skane, Sweden, Jan 14, 1815; d Göteborg, Sweden, Sept 13, 1891). A talented musician, Malmsjö studied carpentry for six years, then worked with the luthier Olaf Berndt Ekström in Malmö. From 1838 to 1842 he studied with Andreas Marschall, then the largest piano maker in Copenhagen, after which he returned to Malmö. There, working again with Ekström, he made two square pianos, which he sold upon moving to start his own firm in Göteborg. He first rented a workshop at Gustof Adolf Square, but in April 1844 moved to a larger shop in a house where he worked with two assistants, adding two more the following year. In 1847 he moved the workshop to a larger building nearby. C.H. Billberg, who was Malmsjö’s partner from 1859 to 1864, had visited piano makers in America from ...

Article

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

French firm of violin and bow makers and dealers. Charles-Nicolas Maucotel (b Mirecourt, France, 1 Nov 1807; d after 1860) served his apprenticeship with Blaise Mast in Mirecourt and later worked for Gand in Paris (from 1834) and for William Davis in London (from 1844). In 1849 he established his own workshop in London, which he operated until the mid-1850s, when he returned permanently to France. As far as is known all his mature work bears a brief latinized printed label dated from London. His younger brother, Charles Adolphe Maucotel (b Dombasle, nr Mirecourt, France, 11 Dec 1818; d Paris, France, 5 Feb 1858), also served his apprenticeship in Mirecourt. Between 1839 and 1844 he worked for Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris, then had his own workshop in Paris, first at the Gallerie Vivienne, next on the rue Croix des Petits Champs, and finally on the rue Princesse. He was very highly regarded as a maker, winning awards at the expositions of ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

English keyboard instrument manufacturer and dealer, located in Lewisham, London. In 1796 James Morley started a music lending library in Greenwich. His sons made and sold pianos and other instruments; one son, George Morley (1790–1852), registered his firm for making, tuning, and repairing harps in 1818 in London. George’s son, Joseph George Morley (1847–1921), was apprenticed to Erard and designed a 48-string pedal harp. In 1890 the family took over the Erard operation in London, making large concert harps until World War I, after which demand dropped and they concentrated on repairs and on making small Irish harps. John Sebastian Morley (1897–1988) was a founding member of the United Kingdom Harp Association.

James Morley’s grandson Robert ran a showroom in the City of London, where he sold Broadwood, Bechstein, Blüthner, and Steinway pianos; in 1881 he opened a factory for conventional upright pianos in Lewisham. Robert’s grandson Douglas designed new lines of grands and more elaborate uprights, which sold successfully in the 1930s. By the 1950s, interest in early keyboards led John Morley (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Swedish piano and harmonium maker. The firm was founded in 1888 in Arvika by Anders Nilsson Östlind (b Gunnarskog, Sweden, 30 May 1857; d Stockholm, Sweden, 14 Sept 1915). Östlind produced 19 harmoniums in 1888 and 59 in 1889. Anton Almquist (1864–1949), a music dealer, became a partner in 1890 in charge of the Gothenburg branch office, then was managing director from 1909 to 1928. In 1890 the company produced 128 harmoniums. The firm received a gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition in 1897. In 1918 a consortium was formed with six other piano and harmonium factories under the name AB Förenade Piano- och Orgelfabriker (Associated Piano and Reed Organ Factories), although the individual companies still existed. Almquist was the consortium director from 1918 to 1920. In 1928 Östlind & Almquist produced about 37,000 pianos and harmoniums, output rising to 47,200 in 1936. The company became part of the J.G. Malmsjö piano factory in ...

Article

Howard Schott

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

German family of piano makers. Joseph Anton Pfeiffer (1828–81) established the firm in Stuttgart in 1861; it became Carl A. Pfeiffer & Co. after Joseph’s son, Carl Anton Pfeiffer (1861–1927), became head of the firm in 1888. The latter studied piano building in Berlin, London, and New York in the factories of Steinway & Sons and other leading firms. Learned and inventive, he developed pedal pianos for attachment to upright and grand pianos for organ practice, improved keyboard transposition mechanisms, built upright and grand pianos with the Jankó keyboard, and devised special tools for piano construction. As a donor and technical consultant he helped build the instrument collections of the Stuttgart Landesgewerbemuseum and the Deutsches Museum in Munich. He made a copy of the spurious ‘Bach harpsichord’ in Berlin, then still accepted as authentic, and also participated in the early stages of the harpsichord revival in Germany (...

Article

Renner  

Anne Beetem Acker

German piano action and parts manufacturer. The firm was founded by Louis Renner in Stuttgart in 1882. His son, Oscar, took over 20 years later in partnership with Wilhelm Megenhardt, with Renner managing the technical side and Megenhardt in charge of business and finances. Initially, much of the output was handcrafted, but production was rapidly mechanized for greater consistency and productivity, and Renner soon became known for high-quality action parts, including, by 1906, piano hammers. The firm moved to a new larger factory in 1902, at which time they had 35 employees, growing to more than 400 in the 1930s. The factory was nearly destroyed in 1944, but by 1948 it was again producing actions, initially for piano manufacturers in German-speaking parts of Europe, but soon internationally. An additional factory was opened in Odenheim by 1960 for storing and processing wood and for pre-assembly and hammer making.

In 1986 Lloyd Meyer (...

Article

Sauter  

Anne Beetem Acker

[Sauter Pianofortemanufaktur]

German (Swabian) piano manufacturer. Johann Grimm (b Spaichingen, Germany, ?1785; d Spaichingen, after 1846) originated the firm in 1819. From 1813 to 1819 Grimm was a journeyman with Streicher in Vienna. In 1819 he returned to his birthplace and opened his own workshop, probably with financial support from Johann Nepomuk Sauter. Sauter’s daughter Maria Monica worked for Grimm as housekeeper, in a de facto marriage. Grimm adopted her illegitimate son, Carl (i) Theodor Sauter (1820–63) and taught him piano making. The Sauter firm owns the only surviving piano labelled as being by Grimm, a small Biedermeier-style upright with a Wornum action, but Grimm likely also made square pianos. By the mid-1840s Carl expanded the workshop, now under his own name, employing a dozen assistants. After Carl’s death, reportedly from an injury related to moving a piano, his widow and eldest son, Johann (1846–1909), continued the firm. Under their direction, production expanded to include grands. In ...

Article

Seiler  

Anne Beetem Acker

German piano manufacturer. It was founded by Eduard Seiler (b 1814; d 20 Sept 1875) in 1849 as Seiler Pianofortefabrik in Liegnitz, Silesia (Legnica, Poland); previously Seiler and another builder, Scholz, ran a piano repair shop, which had been begun in 1846. In 1872 Seiler was awarded a gold medal in Moscow. A steam-powered factory opened in 1873; it employed 100 workers in 1874. Eduard Seiler’s sons Paul and Max succeeded him after his death, but both died in 1879. In that year Eduard’s youngest son, Johannes (d 1907), who had apprenticed as a piano maker in the Seiler factory and elsewhere, became the technical director, and his brothers-in-law August Lauterbach and Oswald Kasig joined as sales managers. In 1882 the company began to produce its own actions and keyboards, previously supplied by others. New large buildings were added in 1896 and 1907, raising employment to 350, and annual output to ...