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Article

Michael Sayer

English firm of organ builders. It was established in Leeds in 1869 by Isaac Abbott, who had worked for 20 years with William Hill in London. William Stanwix Smith, also a former Hill employee, was the firm’s manager until Abbott retired, in 1889; thereafter Smith and Abbott’s son continued the firm, which subsequently passed to Smith’s sons and grandson. In 1964 the firm was sold to its foreman, J.H. Horsfall, and in 1975 it moved to the premises of Wood Wordsworth & Co. Up to 1964, Abbott & Smith built or rebuilt hundreds of organs throughout Britain, including some 250 in Yorkshire, and more than 60 around Leeds. James Jepson Binns was head voicer from 1875 until 1880. Their earlier instruments, using mechanical action through the 1880s, have a robust singing quality suited to Yorkshire Methodist congregations, though several were in town halls, including those in Leeds and Ryde. Their organ for St Mark’s, Manningham, had four manuals and 48 speaking stops. The firm also built organs in St Albans Cathedral (...

Article

Adams  

James Holland

Dutch manufacturer of percussion instruments. Adams Musical Instruments was established at the end of the 1960s by André Adams at Thorn in the Netherlands. Adams has become one of the leading percussion manufacturers in the world. Its list of products range from lightweight, low-priced pedal timpani designed for schools and bands, through to top of the range professional timpani and concert marimbas. A great deal of thought is given to the adaptability and portability of the instruments, as well as to their quality. For example, playing height of their keyboard instruments is adjustable, and their tubular bells may be adjusted both for height and range. In the contemporary world of percussion these refinements are invaluable for the player. Adams now manufactures timpani, xylophones, marimbas, tubular bells, bell plates, concert bass drums, temple blocks and a range of sticks....

Article

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

Barbara Owen

French firm of reed organ makers. It was founded in 1829 by Jacob Alexandre (b Paris, 1804; d Paris, 11 June 1876) for the manufacture of accordions; in 1834 he exhibited a small reed organ (two sets of reeds) in Paris. With the purchase in 1841 and 1845 of reed organ patents (among them percussion and prolongement effects) from Alexandre Martin of Provins, the firm soon became one of the leading harmonium makers in the country, although their instruments were first called ‘orgue-mélodium’ to avoid conflict with the patents of A.-F. Debain. These early instruments had four sets of reeds, a five-octave keyboard, couplers, a Grand Jeu, and an Expression stop which bypassed the reservoir to allow control of intensity through the blowing treadles. The firm was awarded a bronze medal for the instrument in the Paris exposition of 1844; this was the first of many awards, including gold medals and culminating in grand prizes in Brussels (...

Article

Andover  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1955 by Thomas W. Byers and Charles Brenton Fisk in North Andover, Massachusetts. It moved shortly afterwards to Methuen, Massachusetts, and in 1961 to Gloucester, Massachusetts, being renamed C.B. Fisk, Inc. A new Andover Organ Co. was formed in Methuen by two former employees, Leo Constantineau (b Lawrence, MA, 1 Nov 1924; d North Andover, MA, 1 Feb 1979) and Robert J. Reich (b Urbana, IL, 15 Dec 1929). Beginning modestly with rebuilding and restoration work, the firm soon began attracting contracts for new organs such as that for St John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minnesota (1965). This organ, like several subsequent instruments, was designed by Constantineau and voiced and finished by Reich. In this same period a small continuo positive was designed, several examples of which have been built. The firm later became a multiple partnership with Robert Reich as president, Donald Olson as vice-president, and Donald Reich as treasurer. In ...

Article

Bätz  

Barbara Owen and Adri de Groot

[Baetz, Baitz, Beets, Beetz, Betz]

Firm of organ builders of German origin, active in the Netherlands. The first organ builder of the family was Johann Heinrich Hartmann Bätz (b Frankenroda, nr Eisenach, 1 January, 1709; d Utrecht, 13 December 1770). Having learned cabinet making, Johann Heinrich was apprenticed to the organ builder J.C. Thielemann in Gotha for four years starting in 1729. In 1733 he joined the organ workshop of Christiaan Müller in the Dutch Republic and helped to build the organ in the Bavokerk of Haarlem. In 1739 he settled in Utrecht as an independent organ builder. His work shows many similarities with the work of Müller in its cases, pipes and mechanisms. He built at least 16 new organs, many of them quite large, with two to three manuals. The most significant instruments are: Grote Kerk, Gorinchem (1760; rebuilt by Witte), Evangelische Lutherse Kerk, The Hague (1761–2), Hoorn, Oosterkerk, (...

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

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

English music publishers and instrument makers. The business, not to be confused with that of John Bland, was founded in London in 1784 by Anne Bland, who went into partnership with E. Weller in 1792. In addition to their publishing activities, which included country-dance collections and the first English edition of three Mozart piano sonatas (...

Article

D.J. Blaikley

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

English music publishers and instrument manufacturers. The Boosey family was of Franco-Flemish origin, and though the early family history is somewhat confused, it appears that the firm’s founder was the Thomas Boosey (i) who opened a bookshop in London in about 1792. This business continued until 1832, being known from 1819 as Boosey & Sons, or T. & T. Boosey. A separate music side of the business was started in 1816 under the control of the founder's son, Thomas (ii) (1794/5–1871). They began as importers of foreign music, but soon became the English publishers of composers such as Hummel, Mercadante and Rossini, and later of important operas by Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. The House of Lords' decision in 1854, which deprived English publishers of many of their foreign copyrights, severely affected the firm. Among the earliest publications of T. Boosey & Co. was an English translation of Forkel's life of Bach (...

Article

Geoffrey Burgess

American makers of historic oboes. The craftsman Jonathan Bosworth (b Ithaca, NY, 18 June 1938) and oboist Stephen Hammer (b Rochester, NY, 14 April 1951) worked in partnership copying historical double-reed instruments from 1975 to 2002. Their first copy was of an oboe by Thomas Stanesby Sr, then in the possession of Dr Robert M. Rosenbaum. This was followed by copies of oboes by various 18th-century makers, including Thomas Stanesby Jr, J. Denner, Charles Bizey, William Milhouse, C.A., Heinrich Grenser, and J.F. Floth; oboes d’amore by Denner and J.H. Eichentopf; an oboe da caccia by Eichentopf; a tenor oboe by J.C. Denner; and shawms after anonymous specimens (in B.B.mim and CZ.P.nm). Working out of Acton, Massachusetts, they also began designing their own hybrid ‘Saxon’ model patterned after several original oboes from Dresden and Leipzig makers. Production of this model was subsequently transferred to Joel Robinson of New York. By the time their partnership ceased, Bosworth & Hammer had made more than 300 instruments....

Article

Michael Sayer

English firm of organ builders. In 1868 the Bryceson brothers acquired the sole rights to use Charles Spackman Barker’s practical electric organ mechanisms in England, and the same year the firm, based in London, built organs with electric key action at Drury Lane Theatre, Christ Church, Camberwell, St Michael Cornhill and St George’s, Tufnell Park. The Camberwell instrument was first used at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral, where the organ was placed in the south aisle and its console in the orchestra. The firm also supplied an instrument for the Three Choirs Festival in 1869 in Worcester Cathedral, where it was placed on the chorus platform in front of the west window, with the console next to the conductor. Bryceson Brothers was taken over by Alfred Kirkland some time after 1874, and the combined business was later absorbed by Hill, Norman & Beard. A contemporary account is given in ‘Electric Organ’, ...

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

Carisch  

Stefano Ajani

Italian firm of publishers and dealers of music and instruments. It was founded in Milan in 1887 by Giovanni Andrea Carisch (b Poschiavo, Switzerland, 14 March 1834; d Milan, 1 May 1901) and Arturo Jänichen (b Leipzig, 24 May 1861; d Leipzig, 21 Dec 1920). Music publishing began in earnest when Otto Carisch (d 1895) and Adolfo Carisch (b Tirano, 18 Nov 1867; d Poschiavo, 2 Oct 1936), sons and successors of Giovanni Andrea, took over the firm. In 1905 it absorbed the music publications of Genesio Venturini’s publishing firm in Florence and in July 1915 altered its title to Carisch & C., headed by Adolfo and Otto’s son Guido (b Milan, 8 Feb 1892; d Milan, 9 July 1935). The new Carisch joint-stock company came under the management of a different group in 1936, with the musician Igino Robbiani (...

Article

Carvin  

Matthew Hill

Firm of musical instrument manufacturers and distributors, primarily of electric guitars, amplifiers and sound-reinforcement equipment. The company was founded in 1946 in Los Angeles, California by Hawaiian guitarist Lowell C. Kiesel (b Eustis, NE, 22 Feb 1915; d San Diego, 28 Dec 2009) as the L.C. Kiesel Company. In the late 1940s the company relocated to Gothenburg, Nebraska. In 1949, Kiesel moved back to the Los Angeles area and renamed the company “Carvin,” after his two eldest sons Carson and Gavin. The company has relocated and expanded several times during its existence; to Baldwin Park in the early 1950s, Covina in 1956, Escondido in 1975, and to San Diego in 1995.

The company began by marketing electric guitar pickups of Kiesel’s design, but soon expanded to selling complete instruments (mostly Hawaiian guitars), and amplifiers. In 1954, the company began extensive mail-order sales, featuring Spanish and Hawaiian electric guitars, double-neck instruments, electric guitar kits, electronic components for musical instruments, and even accordions. At various times in the 1950s and 60s, catalogs featured not only the company’s own offerings, but instruments and accessories made by Fender, Martin, Bigsby, and DeArmond. In addition to consumer sales, Carvin also made electric guitar pickups for other manufacturers, notably those found in early Mosrite instruments....

Article

Challen  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. Thomas Butcher (fl 1804–47) started making pianos at 41 Great Titchfield Street, London, in 1804. William Challen (d London, 1861) was associated with Butcher from 1816, and by 1839 the firm had become Challen and Hollis. William’s son Charles went into partnership with (?Charles) Hodgson but when C.H. Challen joined, the firm became Challen and Son. They won a reputation for good-quality pianos at moderate prices. In World War I part of the firm’s woodworking machinery was commandeered and it was allowed to produce only four pianos a week. This led it to continue making relatively few models, thereby economizing in the range of machinery and raw materials required. Since the 1930s over 180 Challen pianos, from large concert grand pianos to small studio uprights have been used in BBC studios. Challen specialized in small grand pianos, and made the smallest on the market (122 cm long). The firm was acquired in ...

Article

Kyle Devine

American manufacturer of electronic keyboards and drum machines. The company was founded in Upland, California, by Harry Chamberlin in the late 1940s. Instead of the electronic circuits and digital processors used to generate sound in most synthesizers, Chamberlins replay the sounds of existing instruments and effects recorded to electromagnetic tape. In using prerecorded sound, Chamberlins are considered forerunners of digital sampling techniques and technologies.

Harry Chamberlin’s first device, the Rhythmate (considered one of the first drum machines) used a series of dials and switches to play back fourteen looped drum patterns. Later designs, such as the Model 200 (1950s) and the M1 (1970s), used a conventional keyboard to activate the tape mechanism. Instead of tape loops, these keyboard models used tape strips that played for several seconds before automatically rewinding. Using tape strips allowed the initial attack of the instrument to be heard.

Sales were sizeable but never enormous: several hundred Chamberlins were produced during the company’s lifespan (...

Article

W.H. Husk

revised by Margaret Cranmer, Peter Ward Jones and Kenneth R. Snell

English firm of publishers, concert agents and piano manufacturers. The firm, active in London, was started on 3 December 1810 by the pianist and composer Johann Baptist Cramer, Francis Tatton Latour and Samuel Chappell (b ?London, c1782; d London, Dec 1834), who formed a partnership. Chappell was formerly employed by the music publisher Birchall. In addition to substantial publishing activities, including educational music, the firm sold pianos from 1812, undertook concert promotion, and played a leading part in the creation of the Philharmonic Society (1813). In 1819 Cramer retired from the business; in about 1826 Latour withdrew and carried on a separate business until about 1830, when he sold it to Chappell, who was also in partnership with the instrument makers George Longman and T.C. Bates from 1829.

After Samuel Chappell’s death, the business was continued by his widow Emily Chappell and her sons. The eldest, William (...

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

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. The firm was descended from the business established by James Longman in 1767, which changed partners over the years and became Longman & Broderip and later Clementi & Co.; the cumulative ink serial numbers in Collard & Collard square pianos continue Clementi’s serial numbers. It was Frederick William Collard (bap. Wiveliscombe, 21 June 1772; d London, 31 Jan 1860) who directed the business as senior partner after Clementi’s death in 1832. His brother William Frederick Collard (bap. Wiveliscombe, 25 Aug 1776; d Folkestone, 11 Oct 1866) – to whom Clementi had written from abroad: ‘Now, young Collard, you have a good pair of ears, see that the tone is pure and true’ – was a specialist in piano tone production. In 1821 he patented the ‘harmonic swell’ (see Clementi). When W.F. Collard retired in 1842, F.W. Collard, then sole proprietor, took into partnership his two nephews Frederick William Collard (bap. ...

Article

Richard Johnston

Guitar, mandolin, and ukulele manufacturer. It was founded in Houston, Texas, in 1976 by Bill Collings (b 1948), who had moved from Ohio to Texas following a failed attempt at medical school. After building a few guitars and some banjos, Collings moved to Austin in 1979. His background as a machinist led him to emphasize precise jigs and fixtures even when he was working out of a small single-car garage. Demand for Collings guitars, specifically for updated versions of Martin and Gibson flat-top styles from the 1930s, prompted his move to a 1,000-square-foot shop in 1989. Two woodworkers were hired, including Bruce Van Wart, who is still in charge of wood selection and top voicing on the firm’s acoustic guitars. By this time, production had increased to a level that allowed sales to a few retailers.

In late 1991 the company relocated to a much larger facility on the outskirts of Austin, and the number of Collings guitar models, and employees, began to grow. Bill Collings was one of the first flat-top guitar builders to offer fully carved arch-top models as well. These deluxe jazz guitars were quickly accepted as the equals of those from premier American builders, and they sold for similar prices; but only a few were completed each year. Collings was also one of the first small, independent guitar companies to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) carving machines for building both guitar parts and the precise tooling to aid in their assembly, which is still done by hand. One of the signature differences between the Collings models and the Gibson and Martin originals that inspired them is that Collings uses an unglued bolted mortise and tenon neck joint, rather than a traditional dovetail....