American firm of piano makers, founded by Charles R. Walter (b Watseka, IL, 8 May 1927). Walter was trained as an engineer and joined the C.G. Conn Company in 1964. He became head of the piano division in 1967. Conn at that time produced Janssen upright pianos, which it discontinued in 1969. Walter took over the production of Janssens in Elkhart, Indiana. He began to produce console pianos under his own brand—Charles R. Walter—in 1975, making two models, of 43 inches and 45 inches in height. They remain the foundation of the company’s output and are characterized by very strong back posts, actions by the Louis Renner Company (Germany) with longer keys than in most consoles, and soundboards imitating the design in grand pianos. The company has also brought out grand pianos of 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet 3 inches in length, designed by Delwin Fandrich. Like the consoles, the grands are available in a variety of styles....
Edwin M. Good
revised by Anne Beetem Acker
Small analogue–digital hybrid synthesizer designed by Chris Huggett with rock musician Adrian Wagner and manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by their firm, Electronic Dream Plant (EDP), in Combe, near Oxford. The Wasp was also briefly available in kit form. This synthesizer has a two-octave, solid, monophonic ‘keyboard’ with pitch-bend and portamento controls; the diatonic keys, knobs, and lettering are yellow on a black background, to match the instrument’s name. For a real keyboard, it substitutes flat copper plates under a printed vinyl sticker. The conductive plates sense skin capacitance to trigger the associated pitches. The Wasp contains two oscillators, a white-noise generator, a filter, and an envelope shaper, and offers various voltage-controlled features, as well as a small built-in loud speaker and sockets for connecting to other EDP products. The circuitry incorporates a digital pitch-coding system which facilitates links with other devices, including microcomputers. In its shiny black plastic case and with batteries in place, the Wasp weighs only 1.8 kg (a deluxe version with wooden case and conventional keyboard is heavier but still easily portable). Although relatively inexpensive, small, and rather fragile, the Wasp was powerful and versatile for its time and developed an enduring following. EDP developed a still smaller model, the Gnat, with one oscillator and pulse width modulation, and the Caterpillar, a three-octave keyboard controller with four-voice polyphony. Other EDP creations included the Keytar, a guitar controller based on the Wasp, which was never produced, and a microcomputer-based 252-step sequencer called the Spider....
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 (...
Anne Beetem Acker
Modular synthesizer manufacturer owned and operated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Grant Richter (b Racine, WI, 1956). Richter, a design engineer at Micronetics International, Inc. from 1990 to 1999, collects vintage synthesizer equipment and was a founding member of the Midwestern Electronic Music Ensemble (MEME). Wiard produces two series of modules (all with a distinctive blue front panel with a Celtic knot design): the custom-order 300 line and the less expensive, less versatile FracRac-compatible 1200 line. Richter describes the Wiard system as a cross between the ARP 2600 and Buchla Music Easel. Production of the 1200 series ended in March 2012, but several module designs have been licensed to other manufacturers. The popular Miniwave, a wave table audio and control voltage processor, licenced to Blacet Research, makes use of EPROMS (erasable programmable read-only memories) to hold 256 waves that can be tailored to specific functions, either using available wavetables, or by programming the EPROMS with Richter’s Wave256 software. The synthesizer module manufacturer Malekko is reissuing early Wiard designs in Eurorack format....
Anne Beetem Acker and Laurence Libin
German manufacturer of harpsichords, spinets, and clavichords of modern design (Serien Instrumente). The company was founded in Wolfratshausen by the organist Kurt Wittmayer (b Hermannstadt, 22 Nov 1917; d Bad Tölz, 4 Sept 1997) in 1949 after he moved from Munich, where he had begun building harpsichords in 1947 with Rudolf Schüler as Wittmayer & Schüler while both were students. Although the two builders worked independently after Wittmayer moved to Munich, their instruments have many similarities, particularly their jacks. Recognizing that the sound of his Serien models ‘was not ideal’ (as he wrote to Wallace Zuckermann), in the late 1960s Wittmayer expanded production to include copies after traditional models. To overcome acoustic deficiencies, some of Wittmayer’s early, very heavy modern harpsichords were fitted with electronic amplification and loudspeakers installed in the soundboard; one of these was sold to the Indianapolis Symphony after it had been used by Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic in a concert in New York. Isolde Ahlgrimm, Glenn Gould, and Malcolm Hamilton are among performers who recorded with Wittmayer’s modern harpsichords. As of ...
American manufacturer of wind chimes, headquartered in Shokan, New York. The company was founded in 1979 by the percussionist Garry Kvistad (b Oak Park, IL, 9 Nov 1949). Kvistad studied music at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and Northern Illinois University and taught at NIU and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He was a co-founder of the Blackearth Percussion Group, collaborated with composer Lukas Foss, and performed professionally with orchestras in the USA and Europe; in 1980 he began performing with Steve Reich and Musicians and since 2002 he has toured with the percussion ensemble NEXUS. In 1987 he formed the Balinese gamelan Giri Mekar, active in the Hudson Valley of New York State, and in 2011 joined the faculty of Bard College Conservatory of Music. Kvistad made his first metallophone in 1974, using aluminium from discarded lawn chairs, then turned to manufacturing wind chimes of metal, bamboo, and ‘capiz’ shell, tuned to various scales such as Celtic, Indonesian, Navajo, etc. Other Woodstock products include wind bells, suspended gongs, and musical fountains. The company also distributes toy and educational instruments and is known for environmental sensitivity and socially responsible operation....
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...
Cynthia Adams Hoover, Roslyn Rensch and Hugh Davies
Firm of instrument makers and dealers of German origin.
Rudolph Wurlitzer (Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer; b Schöneck, Saxony, 31 Jan 1831; d Cincinnati, OH, 14 Jan 1914) came to the United States 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...