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date: 14 November 2019

Electone(i)locked

  • Hugh Davies

Extract

An 88-note upright Electric piano designed by Maurice Krakauer Bretzfelder (1905–66) and manufactured by Krakauer Bros. of New York from about 1937. Based on the patent for Benjamin F. Miessner’s Electronic Piano, it had no soundboard, the vibrations of its strings being converted into voltage variations by three separately controllable sets of electrostatic pickups placed at different positions to produce different timbres. In addition to the two normal pedals, it had a swell pedal. In 1940 it was advertised as incorporating a radio and a phonograph, the latter installed in the bench.

Bretzfelder was the great-grandson of Simon Krakauer, founder of the piano firm, and was in charge of manufacturing from 1929; he was elected president of the firm in 1951. At Columbia University in the 1950s he assisted in developing a device for measuring galvanic skin resistance in children. The Bretzfelder family, from New Haven, Connecticut, were related to the prominent instrument collector Morris Steinert. (M.K. Bretzfelder: ‘Latest Tone-controlled Electronic Piano’, ...

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