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Jeannine Lambrechts-Douillez and G. Grant O’Brien

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Jeannine Lambrechts-Douillez and G. Grant O’Brien

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David Lasocki, Denis Arnold and Fabio Ferraccioli

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(fl Venice, 1570–79). Italian harpsichord and virginal maker. Although many antique instruments were fraudulently given Baffo’s name, his genuine, signed work comprises only three harpsichords and one virginal. Two further harpsichords and five polygonal virginals may also be identified as his work (see Wraight), one of which is the so-called ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Virginal’ (Victoria and Albert Museum, London; see Virginal). This virginal and the signed harpsichord of 1574 (see Harpsichord , fig.) in the same collection are excellent examples of the highly ornate style of case decoration used in late 16th-century Venetian instruments. Documents record that Baffo also made instruments for the court at Ferrara. Baffo’s harpsichords are of considerable interest since they were made for unusual pitches. The Victoria and Albert Museum harpsichord and one of 1579 (which originally had the unusually wide compass C/E–c″″) in the Musée de la Musique, Paris, were both built to be tuned a 4th lower than one of the most common 8′ pitches of the time (...

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Lorenzo Bianconi

revised by Andrea Chegai

(b Urbino; fl 1591–6; d ?Venice, ?1607). Italian composer, poet and instrument inventor. A connection with Urbino is suggested by the dedications to the Della Rovere family of his two surviving publications; his book of madrigals further includes a preface addressed to ‘miei Signori & Patriotti’ of Urbino. He was maestro di cappella at Venice Cathedral (S Pietro di Castello) from 1591 until at least 1596. His whereabouts after 1596 are unknown; a notice in a necrology from S Maria Formosa, Venice, may refer to his death in 1607.

Balsamino is the author of a tragicomedy, La perla (Venice, 1596), which draws heavily on Tasso’s Aminta. He may have intended portions of the drama to be sung: one scene closes with a parody of the poem Ancor che col partir, famous for its setting by Rore. His only music publication, a book of six-part madrigals (Venice, 1594...

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David Lasocki, Denis Arnold and Fabio Ferraccioli

[Bassani, Piva]

Italian family of musicians, instrument makers and composers, active in England. The family originated in Bassano del Grappa, about 65 km north-west of Venice, where they were known as Piva. Jeronimo [Gieronymo, Hieronymus] (i) (d ?Venice, ?1546–50), the founder of the musical dynasty, is first recorded in a contract of his father's dated 24 March 1481; in February 1502 he and his eldest son Jacomo [Jacopo] (b ? Bassano, before 1488; d Venice, 1559–66) were engaged to tune the organs in the churches of Bassano. They seem to have made the move from Bassano to Venice shortly afterwards. Jeronimo was apparently the ‘Ser Jheronimo trombon’ who worked in the trombe e piffari of the Doge of Venice around 1506–12. Numerous documents call him ‘maestro’, probably indicating the leader of an ensemble or an instrument maker. Lorenzo Marucini (1577) describes him as ‘inventor of a new bass wind instrument’ and ‘most excellent ...

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Guy Bourligueux

(fl Rouen, Angers, France and Le Mans, France, 1517–44). French organ builder. He worked at St Maclou, Rouen (1517), and repaired the small organ in Angers Cathedral (1521). From 1528 to 1535 he built the great instrument for the Cathedral of St Julien, Le Mans. After the Angers organ burned on ...

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Denzil Wraight

[Jerome of Bologna]

(fl c1521). Italian harpsichord maker. A ‘Jerome of Bologna’ was referred to by Michel Corrette in Le maître de clavecin (Paris, 1753), but otherwise little is known of this maker who worked in Rome. His only known harpsichord, dated 1521, is now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It was held to be the oldest surviving harpsichord, which distinction has passed to an instrument of 1515–16 by Vincentius. A harpsichord in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan (cat. no. 579), falsely dated 1503 and now converted to a crude clavichord, was probably made in 1539 but is of similar size and style and assists in identifying the original state of the Hieronymus instrument.

Recent examinations of the 1521 harpsichord have led to conclusions that supersede some of those of earlier literature (Hubbard, Schott and Grove I). Originally the instrument was single strung and, as Debenham discovered, had a 50-note compass. Wraight (...

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Brays  

(Fr. harpion; Ger. Nägel; Welsh gwrachod)

Found in many Renaissance harps and some Welsh harps into the 19th century, these are small, right-angled pegs of wood, ivory, or other hard material that act as belly-pins to fasten strings individually to the soundboard, with one arm of the L-shape just touching the string. When plucked, the strings vibrate lightly against their brays, producing a nasal buzz that intensifies the sound. In many harps the brays can be turned off. Brays might have given rise to the arpichordum register in Flemish virginals....

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(b ?Saffig, nr Koblenz; fl 1516–42). German organ builder. He is sometimes referred to as ‘Schöffe und Bürger von Koblenz’. His significant work can be traced in the regions of the Lahn (Weilburg), the Mosel (Trier Cathedral) and the Rhine (Liebfrauenkirche, Andernach; Liebfrauenkirche, Dominican church and Florinskirche, Koblenz), and also in the Netherlands (Dominican church, Maastricht; Onze Lieve Vrouw, Tongeren; and St Amor, Munsterbilzen). Breisiger was a member of a distinguished family, and was himself a highly cultured man. As an organ builder he took a lead in the development of ‘new’ stops (narrow-scaled flue stops, various types of flute, Cornet V or VI, reeds with full-length resonators, Pedal flutes of 2′ or 1′ pitch), and at the same time made technical innovations in key actions and coupling. His work attracted great interest in the Netherlands. He wrote the most important and informative 16th-century instructions for registration, which are still consulted....

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[Matheus]

(b ?Büchenberg, nr Bernbeuren, c1566–70; d c1627–8). German lute maker, active in Italy. He was first mentioned in Roman sources in December 1591, when he married Virginia, daughter of the luthier Pietro Alberti; the last reference to him is in 1626. His workshop in Rome included Magno Graill from 1599 until 1626. Baron (1727) wrote that Buechenberg ‘was German by birth but worked after the Italian fashion with small staves’. This refers to the bodies of his instruments, which are usually of multi-rib construction, using striped heartwood and sapwood yew. His handwritten labels, in a flowing italic script, bear the wording ‘Matheus Buechenberg/Roma’ with the date. He also used a brand-mark consisting of a tree resting on a triple mountain (Büchenberg = beech-mountain). This brand is clearly visible on a theorbo in a portrait by Luciano Borzone in the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. His theorbos include some of the largest surviving specimens, some of which are fitted with single fingerboard courses....

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Denzil Wraight

(fl 1587–1610). Italian harpsichord and virginal maker working in Venice. His father was a barber: keyboard instruments were available in barbers' shops for the use of customers, which may explain Celestini's introduction to his trade. The signed surviving instruments comprise six virginals and two harpsichords. A further four virginals and a clavichord can also be attributed to him, and together they amount to a substantial part of the known 16th-century Venetian instruments. Celestini made most of his virginals with half projecting or fully recessed keyboards, a style which is normally associated with instruments from the Brescia-Milan area. Two of the virginals (1594, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, and unsigned, Fenton House, London) are unusual in having two 8′ registers, a design which may have been invented by Celestini. Some are highly elaborate in the decoration (1594, Donaldson Collection, Royal College of Music, London), others are relatively plain (e.g. ...

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Pierre Hardouin

[Dargillières, Desargillières]

French family of organ builders and organists. They were based in Paris and played an important part in the development of French Renaissance organ building.

(b before 1515; d Paris, 1572). He was employed by the Parisian firm of Pierre Dugué, whose daughter he married in 1534. He had eight children of whom five became organ builders. He worked under the supervision of the master organ builder Crinon on the organ at the Ste Chapelle, and succeeded him as ‘facteur des orgues des chapelles du Roi’ in 1553. He built instruments at St Gervais, St Jean-en-Grève and Ste Geneviève-des-Ardents, all in Paris. His organs outside Paris show little influence of the Flemish style of organ building.

(b c1535; d Paris, 1585). Son of (1) Antoine d'Argillières. He was trained by his father, and then worked for Josse Lebel and finally for Josseline in Rouen. He worked in a number of French towns. In ...

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Charles Beare

revised by Ugo Ravasio

[de Michaelis ]

(b ‘Roma de Monteclaro’, 1489–90; d Brescia, 26 April 1560–12 Aug 1561). Italian viol and violin maker . His instruments are the earliest extant examples of the Brescian school. G.M. Lanfranco (Scintille di musica, Brescia, 1533) praised the work of ‘Zanetto Montechiaro’. He is variously recorded in Brescian city records from 1527 as ‘Joannettus de li violettis’, ‘magister a liriibus’, ‘magister a violonis et violis’ and ‘di liuti’. He was excused from duty in the register of night guards of 1549–50 because he had reached the age of 60. An almost perfectly preserved six-string viol with its original label ‘Zanetto in Bressa’ is in the Musée Royal of the Brussels Conservatory, and shows this maker to have been an excellent designer and craftsman. A smaller viol, from Bisiach, also has its label and is in the Shrine to Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota. Several other instruments are attributed to him. Zanetto is a very important figure in the early history of the violin. He is the earliest violin maker about whom sufficient documentation exists to draw a picture of his life and work....

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Lini Hübsch-Pfleger

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Alfred Reichling

[Georg]

(d before 1582). German organ builder. By 1531 he had been made a citizen of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, where he repaired the organ of the Jacobskirche in 1537. He received the freedom of the city of Ravensburg in 1542 and remained there until at least 1578. He constructed organs at the minsters of Freiburg (contracts dated 1544 and 1548) and Überlingen (contract 1548) as well as in Ravensburg (before 1554), Weissenau (before 1554), the monastery church at Ottobeuren (with five partners, 1554–7) and the Hofkirche, Innsbruck (1555–61). In 1561 work was projected in the monasteries at Salem (Cistercian), Kreuzlingen (Augustinian) and Petershausen (Benedictine). In 1562 Ebert was working on the unfinished Pfannmüller organ in Prague Cathedral. In 1566 he was active in Einsiedeln with his son Ulrich. Ulrich Ebert repaired the organs in the parish church and Hofkirche in Innsbruck during ...

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Guy Oldham

revised by Umberto Pineschi

(b Brescia, c1475; d after 1555). Italian organ builder. He was a master organ builder by January 1515 when, writing from Ferrara and signing himself ‘Johannes Baptista Brixiensis. Magister orga.’, he sent to Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, archpriest of S Pietro in the Vatican, the proposal for an organ for S Maria in Vado, Ferrara. He later built the following organs: Chiesa dei Frati di S Giovanni, Brescia (1517); S Michele in Bosco, Bologna (1524; eight stops, 10′ pipe; cost 1064 lire); the Benedictine monastery of S Pietro, Modena (1524; survives); Cremona Cathedral (1542–7); Genoa Cathedral (1552); and rebuilt the organ at S Petronio, Bologna, by Lorenzo da Prato (1528–31; lowered pitch by moving the pipes and added some extra enharmonic or ‘quarter’ notes for the a♭s).

The specifications of the Ferrara and Genoa organs have fortunately survived and may be compared: the Ferrara organ had Contrabasso 21′ (at back), Tenori (tin, in front), Duodecima, Quintadecima, Decimanona, Vigesima secunda, Vigesima sexta, Vigesima nona, Flauttj. The Genoa organ had 50 notes, ...

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Peter Holman

(b c1575; bur. Greenwich, July 24, 1651). English composer, string player and instrument maker. He may have been the son of Richard Farrant, Master of the Choristers at St George’s Chapel, Windsor and Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal. A birthdate of about 1575 would make Daniel Farrant a contemporary of John Coprario and Alfonso Ferrabosco II, who John Playford mentioned with Farrant in 1661 as ‘The First Authors of Inventing and Setting Lessons’ for lyra viol. On 23 November 1607 Farrant was given a place in the royal violin band at the court of James I. He is listed as a player of the viol in several documents of 1624 and 1625.

Farrant was an instrument maker as well as a player. On 27 February 1626 he was paid £109 for six ‘Artificiall Instruments’ ‘made and finished’ for royal service. Playford wrote that he was ‘a person of such ingenuity for his several rare inventions of instruments, as the Poliphant and the Stump, which were strung with wire’ and ‘a lyra viol, to be strung with lute strings and wire strings, the one above the other’. This cannot be taken at face value since Farrant would have been too young to have invented the poliphant or poliphon, which (Playford claimed elsewhere) Queen Elizabeth played, and at least three other individuals are connected with the invention of the lyra viol with sympathetic metal strings – the ancestor of the baryton. Nevertheless, it is likely that Farrant was involved in some way with the development of novel types of stringed instruments in Jacobean England....

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Lynda Sayce

[Franchi, Giovanni Maria]

(b c1500/10; d c1565). Lute maker, possibly of German origin, active in Italy. He was married to Margarita del fu Michele Strazarolo and was in Bologna from at least 1546 until at least 1564. He is sometimes described as ‘Romano’ in Bolognese documents, and may have previously worked in Rome. He has frequently been confused with another Hans Frei, son-in-law of Albrecht Dürer, who may perhaps have been the father of the lute maker; the error originated with Baron in 1727.

Frei's workshops are recorded first in the parish of San Giacomo dei Carbonesi (by 1548), and later in the Via San Mamolo close to that of Luca Maler (from 1554). The San Mamolo workshop was continued after Frei’s death by his sons, Giovanni Giulio (d 1622) and Gasparo (d 1626). In spite of numerous records of real estate purchase and financial transactions, Frei's business seems to have been on a much smaller scale than Maler's, but his lutes were renowned. John Evelyn recorded a visit to Bologna in ...