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date: 15 November 2019


  • Barbara Owen


American family of organ builders, active in the Millersburg-Bethel region of Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries. John Jacob Dieffenbach (1744–1803), a wheelwright who was mainly self-taught as an instrument maker, built his first organ in 1776 for private use. Probably he was influenced by the nearby organs of David Tannenberg. John Jacob’s son Christian (1769–1829), grandson David (1798–1872), and great-grandson Thomas (1821–1900), with other family members, continued to combine organ building with farming and general woodworking until about 1900. Their instruments were of modest size, rarely exceeding one manual, but their tone was well suited to the congregational singing of the country churches where some can still be found; the casework was always attractive, cases from before about 1820 retaining suggestions of a German Baroque style. Two main phases of family activity can be discerned: from 1800 to 1820, representing largely the work of Christian, and ...

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