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Robert E. Eliason

(b Danzig, Prussia, Oct 20, 1799; d Brooklyn, NY, Oct 29, 1884).

American maker of flutes and other instruments, musical instrument dealer, and music publisher of Prussian birth. Christman was principally a flute maker, though he or his workmen also made other woodwinds and some brass instruments. His only known patent concerned improvements to the flute.

Christman came to the United States in his early twenties, and was first listed in the New York City Directory of 1823. The earliest indications of his success are the exhibits of his flutes and flageolets by George Willig at the 1828, 1830, and 1831 Franklin Institute fairs in Philadelphia. The awards he won for instruments exhibited in the American Institute of the City of New York mechanic fairs illustrate his contributions to flute development of the time. For a 10-key flute in 1837, silver medal; for a 16-key flute in 1846...


Philip J. Kass

(b New York, NY, May 29, 1877; d Chicago, IL, May 9, 1955). American writer, publisher, and expert on violins. He studied violin and viola as a boy, and from 1893 to 1926 he worked for John Friedrich & Brother in New York as secretary, treasurer, purchaser, writer of catalogs, and publicity manager. From 1926 to 1937 he was with the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., working first as assistant to the violin expert J.C. Freeman in New York and later as manager of the violin department in the Chicago store. He prepared catalogs for the company, including a famous one of 1931 that listed an enormous collection of violins and had a separate section devoted entirely to bows. In 1937 he opened his own shop in Evanston, Illinois, and began publishing a magazine, Violins. In 1941 his business was bought by the Chicago firm William Lewis & Son, with whom he worked as a salesman and magazine editor until his death....


(b Luxembourg, Aug 16, 1884; d New York, Aug 19, 1967). American writer, publisher, and inventor. In 1904 he emigrated to America, where in 1908 he founded the first of a series of radio magazines (including Radio-Craft) which he wrote for and edited. He later turned to science fiction magazines (from ...


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....


Barbara Owen

(b Boston, 1708; d Boston, May 8, 1767). American organ builder, music engraver, craftsman and musician. In 1739 he led the singing in the Brattle Street Church, Boston, and was paid for singing in King's Chapel in 1754–6. He was active as an ornamental painter and japanner, and as an engraver of maps, certificates, trade cards, music etc.; he is also regarded as Boston's first professional organ builder. He is recorded as having tuned and repaired some of the imported English organs in Boston, which presumably served as his only textbook in the craft of organ building. In 1744 Johnston made repairs to a small English organ in Christ Church (Old North Church), Boston, and he later tuned the three-manual Richard Bridge organ imported by King's Chapel in 1756, which appears to have been the model for the two-manual organ he built for Christ Church in 1759. Other organs he is known to have built were for St Peter's Church, Salem, Massachusetts (...


Leonard B. Smith and Raoul F. Camus

[Brockton, Lester]

(b Southville, MA, Oct 25, 1879; d Palisade, NJ, March 16, 1955). American composer, conductor, editor and arranger. He studied at the New England Conservatory and was playing the violin with professional symphony orchestras in Boston by the age of 16. From 1896 to 1910 he conducted various theatre orchestras, including the orchestra of the Teatro Payret, Havana, then one of the largest theatres in the western hemisphere. He later moved to New York, where he wrote arrangements for Victor Herbert, John Philip Sousa, Edwin Franko Goldman, Percy Grainger, Henry Hadley and George M. Cohan. In 1913 he became editor-in-chief of band and orchestral music at Carl Fischer, a position he held for 35 years. His textbook, The American Band Arranger, was published by Fischer in 1920. He taught at the Ernest Williams School, Columbia University and New York University. He also conducted his band, Symphony in Gold, for NBC radio. More than 3000 of his arrangements and compositions were published, some under the pseudonym Lester Brockton. The Heritage of the March series of recordings includes a sample of his work. Lake’s autobiography is entitled ...


Lloyd P. Farrar

(b Philadelphia, 1853; d Philadelphia, July 28, 1919). American music publisher and band instrument maker . He worked as an engraver in his father's printing business, gave music lessons and in 1876 founded a publishing house at 9th and Filbert streets in Philadelphia. From copper plates and a manually operated press he issued instrumental tutors, quicksteps and from 1877 to 1912 a monthly periodical entitled J.W. Pepper's Musical Times and Band Journal (later the Musical Times). Around 1887 he acquired a structure at 8th and Locust streets which came to be known as the J.W. Pepper Building, accommodating a large salesroom, an instrument factory and a printing plant, equipped with steam-powered presses to produce sheet music on a large scale. During the next four decades the firm published nearly 200 new titles a year; except for a small group of sacred songs issued by Pepper Publishing Co. in ...


Jay Scott Odell

(b Philadelphia, Jan 8, 1855; d Philadelphia, April 6, 1898). American maker of banjos and music publisher. After instruction on the violin and other instruments he studied the banjo with George C. Dobson; in 1878 he opened a banjo school and shortly thereafter began to make banjos. By 1880 he was in business at 221–3 Church Street, Philadelphia, and on 18 January 1882 began the publication of Stewart’s Banjo and Guitar Journal from the same address. This journal (published under various titles until April 1901) contained news and photographs of banjoists and banjo clubs, fulminations against competing manufacturers, testimonials from satisfied customers and music arranged for the banjo. Through this and over 15 other publications, Stewart was highly influential in promoting the popular enthusiasm for fretted instrument clubs and orchestras which lasted into the 1930s. His campaign to ‘elevate’ the image of the banjo by denying its African American origins is documented by Linn....


Michael D. Friesen

(b Aberdeen, Scotland, c1743; d Philadelphia, PA, April 1, 1836). Maker of organs and pianos, instrument retailer, and music publisher of Scottish birth. He arrived in New York from Britain in May 1786 and advertised himself as an organ builder, as well as a repairer of keyboard instruments and guitars. He moved to Philadelphia by July of that year, remaining in that city for the rest of his career. It has been claimed that Taws was associated with New York piano importer John Jacob Astor, but there is no evidence for that assertion. Charles varied the spelling of his surname for several years after arriving in America; it also appears as Tawse and Tawes.

In Philadelphia Taws soon began piano manufacture, and thereafter usually styled himself a “musical instrument maker,” advertising the furnishing of harpsichords, violins, and guitars as well. He also maintained an extensive repair and tuning business. He gradually expanded the scope of his activities to include importing pianos from London for sale, dealing in instrument sales and rental, selling music and instrument supplies, and from ...