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Bob Berkman

American manufacturer of piano rolls. The company was established in 1900 as an adjunct to the Melville Clark Piano Co. of Chicago. Clark’s invention of the ‘marking piano’ in 1912 made possible the cutting of rolls that accurately captured specific performances, although without expression. Involved at an early stage in the recording of ragtime, QRS soon also turned to jazz, especially after Max Kortlander joined its staff and it transferred its main recording activities to New York about 1920. Among the notable musicians who cut rolls for the company were James P. Johnson (1921–7) and Fats Waller (as ‘Thomas Waller’, 1923–31); in 1926 some 11 million rolls were cut. The company also established a record label of the same name, on which it put out three series of discs from the early 1920s until 1930; the second of these was most notable, with recordings supervised by Arthur E. Satherley. The third series appeared in ...



Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. The firm, based in Heerde, was founded by the German-born Johann Reil (b Munich, 6 April 1907; d Zwolle, 5 May 1960). Inspired by the Orgelbewegung Johann built mainly mechanical organs and undertook the restoration of several old instruments. Subsequently the firm was taken over by Johann’s sons, Johann (Han) Ludwig Reil (b Heerde, 21 April 1939) and Wicher Albertus (Albert) Reil (b Heerde, 16 July 1942).

The celebrations held in Groningen in 1969 on the 250th anniversary of the death of Arp Schnitger caused Han and Albert to rethink entirely their firm’s approach to organ building. They resolved to build organs in accordance with historical practice, and set about learning how to do so by making copies of three organs: the 1701 Schnitger organ of Uithuizen (1973, Princess Juliana Church, Scheveningen); the 1734 Bielfeldt organ of Osterholz-Scharmbeck (...



James A. Strain

Drumhead and percussion instrument manufacturing company headquartered in Valencia, California. It was founded June 1, 1957, by Remo D. Belli (b June 22, 1927; d April 25, 2016), a professional drummer who was at that time a partner in Drum City with Roy Harte. Remo, Inc., was established to market the first successfully designed synthetic drumhead made of DuPont Mylar. Created by Belli, Harte, Sid Gerwin, and Sam Muchnick, the patented design utilized an aluminum channel in which the Mylar was glued, creating a functional mounting system. By 1977, 50% of all drumheads sold in the world were manufactured by Remo. First located in North Hollywood, the company moved several times to increasingly larger factories during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1996 a new 216,000-square-foot facility was built in Valencia, and former facilities were turned into showrooms and the Remo Recreational Music Center in 1998. The company also has production facilities in Taiwan and China....



Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. Founded in Trenton, Illinois, in 1917 by Adolph C. Reuter (b Pomeroy, OH, 3 Dec 1880; d Lawrence, KS, 5 Jan 1971), Earl E. Schwarz and A.G. Ruegger, the firm moved to Lawrence in 1919. Reuter had previously worked for Barckhoff, Wicks and Casavant. Albert G. Sabol, Reuter’s nephew, joined the firm in 1917 as a designer and engineer; Sabol’s son, Albert Sabol jr, became president in 1964. The firm has always built electropneumatic-action organs, of which it had produced more than 2000 by the 1980s. In 1969 Reuter entered into a shortlived agreement to import tracker-action organs from Emil Hammer of Germany, but this was not particularly successful. R. Franklin Mitchell became a consultant to the Reuter Organ Co. in 1951, was named a vice-president in 1964, and became president in 1980 with Albert Neutel as vice-president; in 1983 Neutel became president and Mitchell chairman of the board. Mitchell favoured an ‘American classic’ approach to tonal design. The firm’s important organs include those for St Paul’s Methodist Church, Fort Worth, Texas (...



Alfred Reichling

Two firms of organ builders, one in Austria and one in the Czech Republic, founded by the Rieger family of German origin. Franz Rieger (b Zossen, 13 Dec 1812; d Jägerndorf [now Krnov], 29 Jan 1885) trained as an organ builder with Joseph Seyberth in Vienna, and set up a workshop at Jägerndorf in 1844. His sons, Otto (b 3 March 1847; d 12 Dec 1903) and Gustav (b 1 Aug 1848; d 1905), both trained in Vienna, Bamberg and Würzburg (with Balthasar Schlimbach), and took over the firm in 1873 under the name Franz Rieger & Söhne (‘Gebr. Rieger’ from 1879 onwards). Whereas Franz Rieger used slider chests, his sons began building organs with cone chests. They exhibited an organ with 12 stops, later installed in Sts Peter & Paul, Jaktař near Opava, at the international exhibition in Vienna, 1873. They also exhibited at the Paris Exposition of ...


Marc Schaefer

French firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1893 at Schiltigheim, near Strasbourg, by Edmond Alexandre Roethinger (b Strasbourg, 12 April 1866; d Strasbourg, 20 Feb 1953). He was apprenticed to Heinrich Koulen in Strasbourg from 1880 to 1886, and then worked for Maerz (Munich), Merklin (Paris), Cavaillé-Coll (Paris) and Didier (Epinal), before setting up his own firm. After 1942 the business was managed by his son Max Roethinger (b Strasbourg, 2 Nov 1897; d 22 March 1981) and grandson André (b 2 Feb 1928). Roethinger initially built mechanical-action organs with valved wind-chests, but later turned to pneumatic action, the most significant of these instruments being that built for Ernstein (1914). He subsequently sought to apply the principles of ‘Alsatian reform’ as proposed by Emile Rupp, Albert Schweitzer and F.X. Mathias: these organs include Strasbourg Synagogue, where Rupp was organist (...



Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. George Rogers, a fine craftsman, founded the firm in London in 1843 as George Rogers & Sons. Shortly after World War I Rogers and the firm of Hopkinson amalgamated and became the Vincent Manufacturing Co. Ltd, after which Rogers and Hopkinson pianos – grand and upright – were made under the same roof. In ...


Edmund A. Bowles

American firm of instrument makers. In 1849 Joseph Rogers, an Irish parchment-maker and musician, established a tannery (eventually located in Farmingdale, New Jersey) to manufacture high-quality animal skin for the fast-growing banjo and drum industry. For this purpose he used superior calfskin, and the best of his banjo heads became famous. The business prospered for several generations, but by the late 1930s the decline of the banjo’s popularity created a need to diversify the product line, so Rogers began to turn out drums and drum accessories. When Roger’s great-grandson, Cleveland Rogers, died without heirs in 1953, the firm was purchased by Henry Grossman and became a subsidiary of Grossman Music Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Three years later Rogers moved to a new factory in Covington, Ohio; its range of products was expanded, but when plastic heads became the norm the manufacture of calfskin heads was discontinued. The student market, in particular, grew after Donald G. Canedy, an educator, bandmaster, and percussion expert, was retained as a consultant. The company’s centerpiece was the Dyna-Sonic snare drum, with a unique cradle in which the snares were supported, so that the wire and snare tensions could be adjusted separately and the drum played at both low and high dynamic levels. Other innovations included the Dualmatic High-Hat Clutch, designed for the player of twin trap-drums; the Memriloc hardware system, which allowed the drummer to set up his equipment in precisely the same position each time; and the Swiv-O-Matic pedals for bass drum and hi-hat. In ...



Hugh Davies

Japanese company of electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Osaka in 1972 by the electronics designer Ikutaro Kakehashi (who had co-founded Ace Electronic Industries in Osaka in 1955, marketing rhythm machines and Ace Tone electronic organs); it was named after the legendary medieval French hero. Expansion was rapid, and by the early 1980s the company employed over 500 people in Osaka alone. During the period 1988–90 Roland bought three foreign electronic keyboard manufacturers: Siel, Rodgers and Rhodes.

The range of Roland instruments has included monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers, synthesizer modules, remote keyboard controllers, electronic organs and pianos (many digital models), a digital harpsichord, home keyboards, guitar synthesizers, samplers, vocoders, sequencers and many electronic percussion devices and effects units, some under the names of Roland’s offshoots, Boss and Amdek. The company also manufactures a variety of sound equipment as well as a teaching system designed for use with Roland electronic keyboard instruments....



Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers, publishers and music sellers. It is thought that the business started in 1785 at 112 Cheapside, London. From 1795 to 1797 William Rolfe, Thomas Culliford and a Mr (Charles?) Barrow formed a partnership, and Rolfe managed the business on his own from 1800 until about 1807, when his sons Nicholas Rolfe (b London, bap. 29 Aug 1784) and Thomas Hall Rolfe (b London, bap. 8 Nov 1785) joined him to form W. Rolfe and Sons, which briefly became Rolfe & Co. about 1820. In December 1802 William was elected Constable Inquestman and Collector of the Consolidated Rates for the parish of All Hallows, Honey Lane. James Longman Rolfe (relationship not certain) joined the firm in 1836. The firm ceased production in 1888.

In 1797, with Samuel Davis, Rolfe patented (no.2160) the earliest specification for ‘Turkish music’ in pianos, where a hammer strikes the soundboard to produce the sound of a drum. The hammer action, based on the English single action (...