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Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in New York by George Kilgen (b Merchingen, nr Osterburken, Germany, 19 March 1821; d St Louis, MO, 6 Dec 1902), who had been apprenticed to Louis Voit (1802–83) in Durlach, Germany. Kilgen emigrated to the USA with a group of political refugees in 1848, finding employment with the Jardine firm before he established his own firm in 1851. In 1873 he moved his company to St Louis, where it prospered. In 1886 the firm became George Kilgen & Son when Charles Christian Kilgen (b New York, 22 April 1859; d St Louis, 6 May 1932) joined as a partner. The firm's most distinguished work dates from the period of the latter's presidency, and includes instruments for St Patrick's Cathedral, New York (1928), and St Justin's Church, Hartford, Connecticut (1932).

After the death of Charles Christian, dissension broke out between his sons Alfred (...



Barbara Owen

American firm of reed organ, piano and organ makers. It was founded in Chicago in 1857 by William Wallace Kimball (b Rumford, ME, 22 March 1828; d Chicago, 16 Dec 1904), the firm becoming known as the W.W. Kimball Co. Sensing the growing commercial importance of Chicago, he moved there in 1857; a chance purchase of a consignment of pianos at an auction shortly afterwards launched his career as a piano dealer. A few years later he added reed organs to his stock, but for over 20 years he purchased his instruments from East Coast manufacturers. In 1865 Kimball married Evalyne Cone, whose brother Albert (d 1900) soon entered the firm, eventually becoming treasurer. The fire in Chicago (1871) destroyed the Kimball store but this was only a temporary setback, and in 1880 Kimball opened his first factory, for the manufacture of reed organs. In ...


Martin Krivin

revised by Margaret Downie Banks

Firm of instrument makers. It was founded as the H.N. White Company (Cleveland) in 1893 by Henderson Nelson White (1873–1940), an instrument repairman, amateur musician, and businessman. White created the company’s first instrument, a trombone, in consultation with trombonist Thomas H. King (1868–1926), after whom the King line was named. The company was renamed King Musical Instruments in 1966.

Foster A. Reynolds (1884–1960) managed White’s factory and a full line of band instruments from 1903 to 1935. A department of acoustical research was established in 1909 in a new factory at 5225 Superior Avenue. Saxophone manufacture began in 1916, followed by the invention of the King saxello (1924; a straight soprano sax with a curved neck and half-turned bell) and the pioneering introduction of sterling silver bells on cornets, trumpets, and trombones. White purchased the Cleveland Musical Instrument Company (1925), added stringed instruments to his line (...



Walter Hüttel

German family of organists and organ builders. Paul Koch the elder (d Zwickau, 1546), from St Joachimsthal (now Jáchymov), Bohemia, went to Zwickau in 1543 and there renovated the organs in St Marien and St Katharinen. Paul Koch the younger (bur. Zwickau, 28 Sept 1580) worked as organist in Zwickau, from 1544 at St Katharinen, and from 1552 at St Marien. He renovated the organ in Weiden. Hans Koch was organist from 1563 to 1568 at the Petrikirche in Freiberg, Saxony. Stephan Koch (d Zwickau, 29 Dec 1590) was organist at St Dorotheen in Vienna in 1564, and later in Annaberg (Erzgebirge), where he married in 1570. From 21 July 1575 he lived as a wealthy citizen and organist and highly esteemed instrument maker in Zwickau. He completed an organ begun by Jakob Weinrebe in Bischofswerda (Christuskirche, 1571) and built instruments in Olomouc (St Mauritius, ...



James Holland

German firm of percussion instrument manufacturers. It was founded near Stuttgart in 1968 by Bernard Kolberg (b Oberschliesen, Upper Silesia, 1942), a percussionist and engineer. The firm has been influential in extending the possibilities of existing instruments and in the development of new ones. It has produced extended-range tubular bells (three octaves), crotales (five octaves), bell plates (five octaves), anvils (four octaves), boobams (three octaves) and other instruments, and a mounted tambourine to facilitate the endless thumb trill; it has also developed a number of technical innovations for pedal timpani....



Hugh Davies

Japanese firm of electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Tokyo in 1963 by Tsutomu Katoh and the accordion player Tadashi Osanai as Keio Geijutsu Kenkyujo. From 1968 the firm became known as Keio Electronic Laboratories; although they used the brand-name Korg (‘Katoh-Osanai organ’) on the products, this became the company's official name only in the mid-1980s. Keio began by constructing rhythm units for Yamaha's Electone electronic organs, then produced its own separate units, the Doncamatic rhythm machine followed by the MiniPops series. Korg soon became one of the most successful Japanese manufacturers of electronic instruments, and produced the first Japanese synthesizer in 1968. In 1986 Yamaha bought a 40% stake in Korg.

The range of Korg instruments has included monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers (such as the Polysix), synthesizer modules, electronic organs and pianos (many digital models), string synthesizers, home keyboards, electronic percussion units, guitar synthesizers, samplers, electronic tuners and a vocoder. Its most successful product has been the M1 work station (...


Gillian Weir

Swiss firm of organ builders. The firm was founded in Männedorf, near Zürich, by Johann Nepomuk Kuhn (1827–88). He was succeeded by his son, Carl Theodor Kuhn, after whose death in 1925 ownership of the company passed to family friends, who with their successors control the company. By 1876 it had built organs for such important cathedrals as St Gallen and the Zürich Grossmünster, and by 1900 had exported widely, especially to France.

The company has always been noted for its progressiveness, and has patented several major technical innovations, such as the ‘System Kuhn’, developed in 1891 for the firm's first tubular-pneumatic organ. It responded quickly to the Orgelbewegung: the Berne Minster organ of 1930 was built with slider-chests and a Rückpositiv (but electro-pneumatic key- and stop-actions), and the 1937 organ at Fribourg was Kuhn’s first instrument with slider-chests and mechanical key- and stop-action. In 1964 it built its last electric action organ, and since then, under the guidance of Friedrich Jakob, who became associated with Kuhn in ...


Margaret Cranmer

Portuguese firm of piano makers. Luigi Gioacchino Lambertini (b Bologna, 17 March 1790; d Lisbon, 13 Nov 1864) was a fellow student of Rossini at the Liceo Filarmonico (now Conservatorio Statale di Musica G.B. Martini), Bologna. He emigrated to Lisbon for political reasons in 1836, and established a piano-making business with the help of four of the best workers from his Italian workshop, receiving a prize for his instruments in 1838. In 1860, under the direction of his sons Evaristo (b ?Bologna, 10 June 1827; d Lisbon, 7 Dec 1900) and Ermete Lambertini (d Lisbon, 11 Dec 1887), the firm became Lambertini Filhos & Ca., selling and publishing music as well as making pianos. The firm later became Lambertini & Irmão. Evaristo's son, Michel'Angelo Lambertini (b Oporto, 14 April 1852; d Lisbon, 20 Dec 1920), was a fine pianist and founded the Grande Orchestra Portuguesa in ...


John Thomas

Instrument makers of Swedish birth. From the late 1800s through the early 1940s Carl Johan Ferdinand Larson (b Sweden, 31 Dec 1867; d Chicago, IL, 4 Sept 1946) and (Peter) August Larson (b Sweden, 24 April 1873; d Chicago, IL, 16 June 1944) produced a wide array of fretted instruments, including guitars, mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and mandobasses, ukuleles, tiples and mandolinettos, and harp guitars.

The brothers immigrated to Chicago in the late 1880s and worked at the Cubley Drum Factory until a fire destroyed it in 1892. They subsequently worked at Maurer Mandolin and Guitars, which was purchased by two outside investors in 1900. A few years later, the brothers bought out the investors.

In 1904, August received a patent for a design incorporating laminated bracing that strengthened their guitars, enabling the brothers to equip their instruments with steel strings a full two decades before C.F. Martin and Company. August received four more patents in his lifetime, including one for the steel rod system that ran lengthwise inside the Prairie State brand of guitars....


Rick Mattingly


Manufacturer of Latin-American and other percussion instruments, headquartered in Garfield, New Jersey. The company was founded by Martin Cohen (b Bronx, NY, 28 Jan 1939), an engineer with a passion for Latin music who began making bongos in the late 1950s because a government-imposed trade embargo made instruments from Cuba difficult to obtain. In August 1964, Cohen began marketing products under the name Latin Percussion, including bongos, timbales, and cowbells. LP’s fiberglass congas gained a reputation for being louder and more durable than traditional wood congas. During the 1960s, Cohen also made percussion sound effects for Carroll Sound in New York and cowbells for the Rogers Drum Company.

Cohen’s innovative designs include the Vibraslap, which reproduces the sound made by striking a horse jawbone with rattling teeth; the Afuche/Cabassa, which creates the sound of a traditional cabassa made from gourds wrapped with beads; and the Jam Block, which is made from plastic but replicates the sound of a woodblock. Cohen also became known for his photographs of LP products and endorsers....