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Bätz  

Barbara Owen and Adri de Groot

[Baetz, Baitz, Beets, Beetz, Betz]

Firm of organ builders of German origin, active in the Netherlands. The first organ builder of the family was Johann Heinrich Hartmann Bätz (b Frankenroda, nr Eisenach, 1 January, 1709; d Utrecht, 13 December 1770). Having learned cabinet making, Johann Heinrich was apprenticed to the organ builder J.C. Thielemann in Gotha for four years starting in 1729. In 1733 he joined the organ workshop of Christiaan Müller in the Dutch Republic and helped to build the organ in the Bavokerk of Haarlem. In 1739 he settled in Utrecht as an independent organ builder. His work shows many similarities with the work of Müller in its cases, pipes and mechanisms. He built at least 16 new organs, many of them quite large, with two to three manuals. The most significant instruments are: Grote Kerk, Gorinchem (1760; rebuilt by Witte), Evangelische Lutherse Kerk, The Hague (1761–2), Hoorn, Oosterkerk, (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Australian piano firm founded by Octavius Beale (b Mountmellick, Co. Laois, Ireland, 23 Feb 1850; d Stroud, New South Wales, Australia, 16 Dec 1930). Beale came to Australia with his family in 1854. Having been sent back to Ireland for schooling, he returned and was working in a hardware store in Melbourne at age 16. Later he became a partner with Hugo Wertheim in a hardware business that imported sewing machines and German upright pianos. In 1884 he moved to Sydney to set up Beale & Co. Ltd, importing pianos labelled ‘Hapsburg Beale’. In 1893, in Sydney, he established the first piano factory in Australia. In 1902 he opened a new factory at 47 Trafalgar St, Annandale, which became the largest piano factory in the southern hemisphere, employing more than 300 skilled workmen by 1907. The firm also made sewing machines and exported veneers.

Beale & Co. emphasised that their pianos were built to withstand hostile climates and kept quality high and costs low through the use of local skilled labour, Australian timbre, and making most components on site. They promoted the tuning stability and longevity of pianos with their ‘all-iron tuning system’, also known as the Beale–Vader tuning system, patented in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(Delmetia )

(b Coleman County, TX, March 18, 1899; d at sea nr Los Angeles, CA, March 30, 1941). American inventor of musical instruments. He was co-founder of the National Stringed Instrument Corporation and the Rickenbacker guitar company. He played the violin and the lap steel (‘Hawaiian’) guitar in vaudeville before settling in Los Angeles, where he worked with John and Rudy Dopyera to develop an acoustically amplified guitar, probably inspired by Stroh models. An early model with a Victrola horn failed, but trials using conical aluminium resonators within a metal guitar body (a prototype of the three-cone Dobro guitar) proved successful and attracted investors. Production of metal-body guitars under the name National soon involved Adolph Rickenbacker’s nearby tool and die shop.

From the mid-1920s Beauchamp also experimented with electrical amplification of guitars (including lap steel and bass guitars) and violins of unconventional shape, without normal resonators but using simple phonograph pickups. After his collaboration with the Dopyeras ended, in ...

Article

Cyril Ehrlich

German firm of piano makers. Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Bechstein (d Gotha, 1 June 1826; d Berlin, 6 March 1900), who founded the firm in 1853 in Berlin, served his apprenticeship with the Perau firm in Berlin, becoming foreman at the age of 22. He left in 1852 to work under Pape and Kriegelstein in Paris, and returned to Berlin the next year to start his own small business. Three years later he attracted considerable attention with his first grand, which was inaugurated by Bülow with a performance of the Liszt Sonata. Success at the 1862 London exhibition and the more important 1867 Paris exhibition consolidated a fast-growing reputation. Output was expanded vigorously, from 300 instruments a year during the 1860s to 1000 a decade later, 3000 during the 1890s and 5000 in the years preceding World War I.

Large-scale production and extensive use of machinery did not preclude the maintenance of consistently high standards. Bechstein’s concert grands were preferred by most leading pianists in Europe, and the firm’s smaller grands (notably the ...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

Russian firm of piano makers. Jakob Becker (Yakov Davidovich Bekker) (b Neustadt an der Haardt; d St Petersburg, 1879) founded a small workshop in St Petersburg in 1841, which was taken over by his brother Franz Davidovich 20 years later. The Russian piano industry developed later and on a smaller scale than the European, and several Germans played a large part in establishing the industry at St Petersburg. Becker became one of the best and most successful piano manufacturers, although its output was lower than that of contemporary English, American or German firms, producing 200 pianos in 1868, 400 in 1878, and 900 annually in the 1880s when 240 workmen were employed. The firm made 11,400 pianos between 1841 and 1891; the concert grands were used by leading virtuosos, including Anton Rubinstein, whose piano (no.4009) is still in his country home. It had been the custom until that time for foreign artists to take their own instruments with them on Russian tours, but the quality of Becker’s grand pianos made this unnecessary. Becker adopted the principal improvements introduced by European and American makers, including the American system of cross-stringing; in ...

Article

Michael Webb

(Tok Pisin for ‘bamboo band’).

Both a struck aerophone (alternatively, an idiophone) comprising a set of three or five tuned bamboo tubes, and the name for an ensemble including these instruments. It was featured in popular music in the Solomon Islands (its place of origin) and parts of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu for several decades from the 1970s. The primary instrument is derived from the handheld tuned stamping tube, and comprises a set of 7- to 9-cm-diameter bamboos, open at both ends and graduated in lengths of up to 2 metres, arranged in raft form. A band will include at least three sets; each set is commonly tuned (to a guitar) 1–3–5–6–8 (or 1–3–5), usually in a low register, to sound one of the three primary chords in a given key. With flexible paddles players vigorously slap in succession one open end of each bamboo in a boogie-woogie rhythmic-melodic pattern that outlines a triad; sets alternate according to changes in harmony. The ensemble includes guitars and accompanies harmonized singing. A related Solomon Islands ensemble without guitars yet employing Westernized tuning, involves multiple sets of panpipes, ‘pantrumpets’, and the rack-mounted bass ...

Article

Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders. It was founded about 1794 by Henry Bevington, who had worked as a journeyman for Robert Gray (see Gray & Davison before establishing his own business in Greek Street, Soho, London. Bevington took over John Snetzler's old premises in Rose Yard (used by Ohrmann & Nutt after Snetzler's time) a few years later. He was succeeded by his four sons, Henry (b 1813), Alfred (b 1817), Martin (b ?1821) and Charles (b 1823), and the business later descended to a grandson, Lewis H. Bevington (c1859–1938). It was acquired by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1950.

The firm's early success was in the manufacture of barrel organs and small church instruments. They later became more ambitious, building a 30-stop organ for St Mary's Catholic Chapel, Moorfields, London (c1830), with duplication of the open and stopped diapasons, principal and trumpet on the Great and inclusion of a double in the Swell Organ. A number of other large instruments followed including a 41-stop concert organ for the Mechanics' Hall, Nottingham (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Synthesizer module manufacturer founded by John Blacet (b 1946) in 1978 as Blacet Music Research in Lakeview, Oregon. Blacet initially made kits for analogue modules including a digital pattern generator, a voltage-controlled clock with event arranger, a phase filter, and a frequency divider, followed by analogue delay modules, the ‘Dark Star’ (a mini noise module) and the ‘Syn-bow’, a self-contained wand-controlled synthesizer. With the popularity of digital synthesizers in the 1980s Blacet’s business plummeted, but renewed interest in analogue synthesis in the 1990s enabled him to produce a full line of kit and assembled analogue synthesizer modules in the Frac format. These modules are noted for fitting a large amount of functionality into very small modules. In spring ...

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

English music publishers and instrument makers. The business, not to be confused with that of John Bland, was founded in London in 1784 by Anne Bland, who went into partnership with E. Weller in 1792. In addition to their publishing activities, which included country-dance collections and the first English edition of three Mozart piano sonatas (...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

German firm of piano makers. Julius Blüthner (b Falkenhain, nr Leipzig, 11 March 1824; d Leipzig, 13 April 1910) began working as a cabinet maker. After working for Hölling and Spangenburg (piano makers) in Zeitz, he started his own small business in Leipzig in 1853, building grand pianos with the assistance of three men and a boy. He patented his ‘repetition action’ after his success at the 1854 Munich Industrial Exhibition. In 1864 he began making upright pianos. He expanded his business as he won prizes and medals at various exhibitions and attracted orders from royalty. He strove constantly to refine his instruments and this work culminated in the 1873 patent for the aliquot scaling of grand pianos. This added a fourth, sympathetic (‘aliquot’) string to each trichord group in the treble to enrich the piano's weakest register by enhancing the overtone spectrum of the instrument. The Aliquot...

Article

Enrico Weller

German brass instrument manufacturer in Graslitz (Kraslice), Czech Republic. Births and deaths (below) occurred in Graslitz unless otherwise indicated. The company was founded on 28 July 1870 by Gustav Bohland (b 13 Feb 1825; d 19 March 1886), who was an independent brass instrument maker from 1850, and the merchant Martin Fuchs (b Hirschenstand, 17 March 1830; d 13 March 1893). In 1886 Martin Fuchs became sole owner of the company, followed by his sons Johann (b 26 Nov 1852; d Meran, 29 April 1905) and Hermann (b 8 Sept 1856; d 1921), and later by his grandchildren Karl (b 25 Feb 1884; d Waiblingen, 29 May 1964) and Adolf (b 7 July 1889; d Waiblingen, 12 April 1969). In 1945 the factory was expropriated and in 1948 became part of the Czechoslovak state enterprise ‘Amati’. Attempts to rebuild the company in West Germany (Neustadt/Aisch) failed in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Registered trademark for sets of tuned percussion tubes. The tubes, made of coloured, radially flexible plastic, are of graduated length and pitch and produce sounds when hit against surfaces (including the human body), against one another, or by striking the tubes with mallets. An optional cap fitted to a tube lowers its pitch one octave; caps on both ends allow a tube to enclose rattling pellets. The descriptive name (‘boom’ plus ‘whacker’) was coined by Craig Ramsell, who invented the instruments in California in ...

Article

D.J. Blaikley

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

English music publishers and instrument manufacturers. The Boosey family was of Franco-Flemish origin, and though the early family history is somewhat confused, it appears that the firm’s founder was the Thomas Boosey (i) who opened a bookshop in London in about 1792. This business continued until 1832, being known from 1819 as Boosey & Sons, or T. & T. Boosey. A separate music side of the business was started in 1816 under the control of the founder's son, Thomas (ii) (1794/5–1871). They began as importers of foreign music, but soon became the English publishers of composers such as Hummel, Mercadante and Rossini, and later of important operas by Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. The House of Lords' decision in 1854, which deprived English publishers of many of their foreign copyrights, severely affected the firm. Among the earliest publications of T. Boosey & Co. was an English translation of Forkel's life of Bach (...

Article

Leon Botstein

Austrian firm of piano makers. Ignaz Bösendorfer (b Vienna, 28 July 1796; d Vienna, 14 April 1859) founded the firm in 1828 after an apprenticeship with Joseph Brodmann. He recognized the need for an instrument that could respond to the demands for volume and pitch stability made by the virtuosos of the 1830s. In a legendary incident only a Bösendorfer piano survived an evening of Liszt's playing. In 1830 Bösendorfer received the first ‘kaiserlich und königlich’ designation granted to a piano maker. The firm reached its technological zenith and greatest fame under Ignaz's son Ludwig (b Vienna, 15 April 1835; d Vienna, 9 May 1919), who trained with his father. Ludwig's patents from the early 1860s concentrated on improvements to the Viennese action. He was staunchly conservative on issues of piano design, resisting the innovations made by Steinway and Chickering between the 1860s and the 1890s in both the use of metal and the technique of framing. Ludwig moved and expanded the factory but retained an artisan system of production. The output between the 1860s and ...

Article

Geoffrey Burgess

American makers of historic oboes. The craftsman Jonathan Bosworth (b Ithaca, NY, 18 June 1938) and oboist Stephen Hammer (b Rochester, NY, 14 April 1951) worked in partnership copying historical double-reed instruments from 1975 to 2002. Their first copy was of an oboe by Thomas Stanesby Sr, then in the possession of Dr Robert M. Rosenbaum. This was followed by copies of oboes by various 18th-century makers, including Thomas Stanesby Jr, J. Denner, Charles Bizey, William Milhouse, C.A., Heinrich Grenser, and J.F. Floth; oboes d’amore by Denner and J.H. Eichentopf; an oboe da caccia by Eichentopf; a tenor oboe by J.C. Denner; and shawms after anonymous specimens (in B.B.mim and CZ.P.nm). Working out of Acton, Massachusetts, they also began designing their own hybrid ‘Saxon’ model patterned after several original oboes from Dresden and Leipzig makers. Production of this model was subsequently transferred to Joel Robinson of New York. By the time their partnership ceased, Bosworth & Hammer had made more than 300 instruments....

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Article

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano manufacturers. John Brinsmead (b Weare Giffard, Devon, 13 Oct 1814; d London, 17 Feb 1908) founded the firm in Windmill Street, London, in 1835. His sons Thomas James Brinsmead (d London, 9 Nov 1906) and Edgar Brinsmead (b London, March 1848; d London, 28 Nov 1907) became partners in 1863, when the firm took new premises in Wigmore Street. The firm became a limited company in 1900, by which time annual production totalled 2000 pianos. Following John Brinsmead’s death, the firm was run by his grandson Henry Billinghurst until a long strike in 1920 led the firm into receivership and Walter Saville, a director of J.B. Cramer & Co., purchased the controlling interest in the firm for £4000 in 1921. Manufacture of the Brinsmead and Cramer pianos continued until 1964, when the firm was bought out by Kemble & Co, which retains the title purely as a brand name....

Article

Michael Sayer

English firm of organ builders. In 1868 the Bryceson brothers acquired the sole rights to use Charles Spackman Barker’s practical electric organ mechanisms in England, and the same year the firm, based in London, built organs with electric key action at Drury Lane Theatre, Christ Church, Camberwell, St Michael Cornhill and St George’s, Tufnell Park. The Camberwell instrument was first used at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral, where the organ was placed in the south aisle and its console in the orchestra. The firm also supplied an instrument for the Three Choirs Festival in 1869 in Worcester Cathedral, where it was placed on the chorus platform in front of the west window, with the console next to the conductor. Bryceson Brothers was taken over by Alfred Kirkland some time after 1874, and the combined business was later absorbed by Hill, Norman & Beard. A contemporary account is given in ‘Electric Organ’, ...

Article

René Pierre

Wind instrument makers of Strasbourg. [Life data refer to Strasbourg unless noted.] Jean (Johannes) II Keller (1710–78) was admitted as a turner in the corporation of carpenters in 1736. His three sons were woodwind makers. Jean III Keller (b 14 Dec 1737; d 1785), his first son, was described as ‘Instrumentenmacher’ at his marriage in 1765 and upon the births of his four children. He used the mark ‘[fleur de lis] / KELLER / A STRASBOURG’. Isaac Keller (b 26 Jan 1740; d 11 June 1802), the second son, was received into the corporation of carpenters in 1785, at the death of his brother Jean III. He joined the third son, Jean Philippe Keller (b 10 Nov 1743; d 1 July 1794) by 1790 to create a new partnership, marking their instruments ‘[angel trumpeter] / LES / FRERES/ KELLER’. Etienne Ozi (...

Article

Barbara Owen

American manufacturers of reed organs. The firm was founded circa 1846–1850 in New York by Jeremiah Carhart and Elias Parkman Needham. Carhart had previously learned the trade from George A. Prince of Buffalo, and is credited with the development of the suction bellows system that would distinguish American reed organs from their European counterparts, using the term “melodeon” to designate such instruments. Carhart’s patent of the suction system was the first on record, and for some time he was able to receive royalties from other firms using it, until competitors were able to prove that use of the suction system by others had predated his patent. He eventually patented other improvements in the design and manufacture of reed organs, and his machine for producing reed cells helped to open the door to the concept of mass production in the entire reed organ industry. Carhart & Needham manufactured both complete reed organs and reeds to sell to other makers. By ...