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Article

Barbara Owen

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 ...

Article

Peter Andreas Kjeldsberg

(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 ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(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....

Article

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 ...

Article

Charles Beare and Philip J. Kass

(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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Thomas Brett

(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 (...

Article

Laurence Libin

(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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Richard Rephann

(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 ...