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Barbara Owen

American organ-building firm. The firm was founded in Houston in 1973 by Jan R. Rowland (b Beaumont, TX, 3 June 1944) and Pieter A. Visser (b Amsterdam, 3 Nov 1940). Rowland, a graduate of Lamar University, first worked as an installer for the Wicks firm, then went on to work for the Walcker firm in Germany from 1968 to 1969, and the Berkshire Organ Co. in the USA from 1969 to 1973. Visser was apprenticed to L. Verscheuren in the Netherlands; he went to the USA in 1960, where he worked as an installer for both Wicks and Walcker from 1960 to 1972, and for Berkshire in 1973. Visser-Rowland builds organs primarily with mechanical action, often with electric stop and combination action; their tonal designs lean towards the north European ‘neo-Baroque’ style. The firm has built some organs of substantial size, including those in St Anne’s Catholic Church, Houston (...



Hermann Fischer

German firm of organ builders in Karlsruhe-Durlach. The firm was founded in 1764 by Johann Heinrich Stein (1735–67) of Heidelsheim, and continued by his cousin Georg Markus Stein (1738–94), organ builder to the court of Baden-Durlach; after the latter’s death it passed by marriage into the hands of Johann Volkmar Voit (1772–1806) of Schweinfurt. In 1807 Johann Ludwig Bürgy (1761–1838) of Niederflorstadt married Voit’s widow and ran the workshop until 1835. He was succeeded by his stepson Louis Voit (1802–83) who ran the firm until 1870. It was then taken over by the latter’s sons Heinrich (1834–1914) and Carl (1847–87). After Carl’s death, Heinrich’s sons Emil (1864–1924) and Siegfried (1870–1938) were taken into the firm as partners, and it became known as H. Voit & Söhne. In 1930 Siegfried Voit retired from the business, and the workshops were taken over by their former manager Karl Hess (...



Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders . Joseph William Walker (b London, 17 Jan 1803; d London, 1 Feb 1870) was reputedly ‘parlour apprentice’ to G.P. England (see England) in London; he worked with W.A.A. Nicholls (England's successor) and then set up business as a pipe maker. He built his first organ in 1827. Joseph Walker's instruments are notable for their full-toned diapasons and bright upperwork; most had one or two manuals but he built larger organs for the Exeter Hall (1839), Highfield Chapel, Huddersfield (1854), and the International Exhibition of 1862. Under his son, James John Walker (b 21 Aug 1846; d 19 Sept 1922), the firm secured a series of prestigious contracts including Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, London (1891), St Margaret's, Westminster (1898), and York Minster (1903). All these instruments were characterized by a restrained opulence in which fully developed flue choruses co-existed with strings, orchestral reeds and bright flutes....



Nancy Groce

American firm of piano makers. Albert Weber (i) (b Heilingenstadt, Bavaria, Germany, 8 July 1829; d New York, NY, 25 June 1879), a gifted pianist as a child, immigrated to New York in 1845. He apprenticed as a piano maker in the workshop of Charles J. Holden, then worked several years in Van Winkle’s piano factory. In 1852, he established his own shop at 103 West Broadway. Following a disastrous 1854 fire, he moved to a larger factory at Broome and Crosby Streets, which the thriving firm quickly outgrew. By 1869, when Weber opened an impressive showroom at 108 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, the firm had become the sixth largest producer of pianos in the United States, with gross annual sales of $221,444. Weber was succeeded by his son, Albert Weber (ii) (b New York, NY, 1858; d Florida, 1908), who established a branch in Chicago in ...



Walter Supper

German firm of organ builders. It was founded in Stuttgart in 1845 by Carl Gottlieb Weigle (b Ludwigsburg, 19 Nov 1810; d 1882), formerly an apprentice to his brother-in-law, Eberhard Friedrich Walcker. Weigle built some 100 organs by 1880, when his son Wilhelm Theodor Friedrich Weigle (b Stuttgart, 17 Nov 1850; d Stuttgart, 6 Jan 1906) took over the company; he moved it to Echterdingen in 1888. There he patented (1893–4) a type of loud, high-pressure metal pipe (Stentor) with mouth extending across half the pipe’s circumference, like a steam whistle; it did not endure. Yet under his direction the firm produced well-regarded pneumatic-action organs and exported instruments overseas. In 1902 the firm escaped bankruptcy. Together with J. & P. Schiedmayer, in 1908 Weigle built for the Protestant church in Eichwalde a hybrid harmonium and nine-stop pipe organ, called Parabrahm from an Indian term meaning ‘perfection’ and ‘completion’; two others were built, in ...


Margaret Cranmer

British firm of piano makers. The firm was founded in 1876 by W.M.Y. Maxwell to import and distribute Blüthner pianos from Leipzig to the British Isles. Later, he entered a partnership with W.J. Whelpdale (d 1913) and, following a fire at the uninsured London factory of Squire and Longson in 1934, they hired the staff from this firm, acquired premises and began manufacturing an upright piano which they named the Welmar after the two directors. In 1939 the company was renamed Whelpdale, Maxwell & Codd Ltd, after the directors of the time. The firm was allowed to continue manufacturing instruments during World War II and due to wartime regulations five other manufacturers were taken under its wing. The factory of one of these firms, Sir Herbert Marshall & Sons Ltd, makers of Marshall & Rose upright Pianos, suffered considerable bomb damage during the war, and Whelpdale, Maxwell & Codd have continued to produce these instruments to the present day. Following the liquidation of the Bentley Piano Company in ...


Percival Price

revised by Charles Bodman Rae

Since 1968 the official name of a bellfoundry located in Whitechapel Road, east London. The lineage of the foundry can be traced back to at least 1420. From 1570 its bells have been produced by master bellfounders of the following families: Mot (16th century); Carter, Bartlett and Clifton (17th century); Phelps, Lester, Pack, Chapman and Mears (18th century); Mears, Stainbank and Lawson (19th century); and Hughes (from 1904). From 1865 to 1968 the foundry was known as Mears & Stainbank. It has been principally engaged in making tower bells, both single and in short-range diatonic series: the latter mostly for swinging in the manner of English change-ringing, but some to be rung hanging stationary, as chimes. From the early 19th century or before, it also made musical handbells. At first these were mostly sets of 8 to 12 bells in diatonic series for practising change-ringing; but with the increasing popularity of handbell music in the 20th century (...


Cynthia Adams Hoover, Roslyn Rensch, and Hugh Davies

American firm of instrument makers and dealers of German origin.

Cynthia Adams Hoover

(Franz) Rudolph Wurlitzer (b Schöneck, Saxony, 31 Jan 1831; d Cincinnati, 14 Jan 1914) came to the USA in 1853; he settled in Cincinnati and began dealing in musical instruments in addition to working in a local bank. It is likely that he was one of a long line of Saxon instrument makers, beginning with Heinrich Wurlitzer (1595–1656), a lute maker. By 1860 he had a thriving trade and is said to have been a leading supplier of military wind instruments and drums during the Civil War. In 1865 he opened a branch in Chicago and in 1872 joined his brother Anton to form the partnership of Rudolph Wurlitzer & Bro. On 25 March 1890 the firm was incorporated as the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. Rudolph served as president of the corporation from 1890 to 1912...