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Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders. Robert Gray (d 1796) was in business at Leigh Street, Red Lion Square, London, in 1774. By 1787 he had been joined by William Gray (d c1820), and a trade card of about 1795 advertises them as ‘Robert & William Gray, Organ, Harpsichord & Piano-Forte Makers’. Following Robert’s death William carried on business in his own name; he was succeeded by his son John Gray (d 1849) who had, by 1837, taken his son Robert into partnership.

The firm’s work was highly regarded in the early 19th century. Their tonal schemes reflected the growing taste for delicate voices and imitative reeds, but the Great Organ always contained a complete chorus and William Gray was one of the first to make regular use of Pedal pipes. Important contracts during this period included new organs for St Anne’s, Soho (...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

German firm of piano makers. C(arl) F(riedrich) Theodor Steinweg (b Seesen, 6 Nov 1825; d Brunswick, 26 March 1889), the eldest son of H.E. Steinweg, continued the family piano-making business in Seesen when his father and the rest of the family emigrated in 1850 to New York where they founded Steinway. In 1855 the German firm moved from Seesen to Wolfenbüttel, where in 1858 (Georg) Friedrich (Carl) Grotrian (b Brunswick, 13 Jan 1803; d 11 Dec 1860), who had sold his Moscow music shop and piano-making business, became Theodor’s partner. The firm then moved to Brunswick.

In 1865 Theodor emigrated to New York to assist his father, having sold his share in the business to Wilhelm Grotrian (b Moscow, 12 Aug 1843; d Brunswick, 21 Feb 1917, the son of Friedrich Grotrian), Adolf Helfferich and H.O.W. Schulz, who continued the business under the name C.F.Th. Steinweg Nachf. This trade name was changed to Grotrian, Helfferich, Schulz, Th. Steinweg Nachf. in ...

Article

Karl J. Raudsepp

Canadian firm of organ builders . It was founded in 1946 by Maurice Guilbault (1903–69), who had previously worked for Casavant Frères of St Hyacinthe, Quebec, and Antonio Delage. In 1962 the company was incorporated as Orgue Providence Inc., taking its name from the location of the workshop. Guilbault’s son André (b St Hyacinthe, 28 Nov 1937) joined the firm in 1955 and succeeded his father as head of the company in 1968. At about that time he was joined by Guy Thérien (b Iberville, PQ, 20 Nov 1947; d St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, 11 May 2001), a young apprentice voicer from Casavant Frères. The company adopted its present name, Guilbault-Thérien Inc., in 1979. A new and enlarged workshop was built to accommodate the expanding business in 1985.

The firm began by rebuilding instruments using primarily electro-pneumatic technology. Examples include the electro-pneumatic rebuilding of the historic 1863...

Article

Margaret Cranmer and Kari Michelsen

Norwegian firm of piano makers and music publishers. The brothers Karl Hals (b Sörum, 27 April 1822; d Christiania [now Oslo], 7 Dec 1898) and Petter Hals (1823–71) set up as Brødrene Hals, piano makers, in Christiania in November 1847, having studied piano making abroad. They first made only oblique-strung upright pianos, but later changed to upright vertical and cross-strung instruments, better suited to the harsh Norwegian climate. They manufactured several thousand instruments and they also specialized in repair work. They received medals at exhibitions in 1862, 1866, 1867 and 1900. In 1890 the factory had 100 employees.

By 1869 their bichord and trichord upright pianos had three iron bars and metal plates bracing the deepest octaves, the larger trichord upright pianos having five iron bars with metal plates for all the strings. All vertical upright pianos had seven octaves whereas grand and cross-strung upright pianos had seven and a quarter octaves. In cross-strung upright pianos the strings were somewhat longer, giving a rich tone, the metal plate being fastened to an iron frame under the soundboard, and to three iron bars placed over it. The firm made harmoniums from ...

Article

Hans Klotz

revised by Hermann Fischer

German firm of organ builders. Philipp Furtwängler (b Gütenbach, Baden-Württemberg, 6 April 1800; d Elze, Hanover, 5 July 1867), a clockmaker in Elze, taught himself to build organs, completing his first instrument in 1838. He took his son Wilhelm (b Elze, 5 June 1829; d Elze, 3 Sept 1883) into the firm in 1854, and his son Pius (b Elze, 14 July 1841; d Hanover, 16 Jan 1910) in 1862, when the firm’s name was altered to Ph. Furtwängler & Söhne, Elze. Adolf Hammer (b Herzberg im Harz, 6 April 1854; d Hanover, 5 March 1921) entered the firm in 1883, in which year it moved to Hanover and changed its name to P. Furtwängler & Hammer, Hanover. Adolf Hammer’s nephew Emil Hammer (b Wesermünde, 22 Feb 1878; d Hanover, 3 Dec 1958) became managing director in 1921 and sole proprietor in ...

Article

Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders. It was founded in Rochdale in 1861 by Thomas Hugh Harrison (b London, 27 Dec 1839; d Isleworth, 24 March 1912), whose father, another Thomas (c1807–93), had set up in business as an organ parts supplier in the New Road, London, in 1830. The son served an apprenticeship with Henry Willis, and then went north to exploit the demand for organs created by the building of churches and chapels in the industrial districts. He may have acquired Richard Nicholson's business when the latter moved away from Rochdale in 1861 (see Nicholson family). In 1870 he moved to Durham. His brother James (who had also been apprenticed to Willis) joined him in 1872 and the firm became Harrison & Harrison. The organs of this period are well-built, of good materials, and already reveal the concern for tonal refinement, and taste for smooth reeds, solid Pedal Organs and variety of string tone which were to become characteristic of the firm’s work after ...

Article

Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1916 with the amalgamation of Wm. Hill & Son (see Hill family) and Norman & Beard Ltd of Norwich. Norman & Beard had been founded as ‘E.W. Norman, Organ Builder, Diss’ in about 1870. Ernest William Norman (1852–1927) had served a part-apprenticeship with J.W. Walker. After a few years he was joined in business by his brother, Herbert John Norman (1861–1936) and a premium apprentice, George Wales Beard. When Beard became a partner (c1886) the firm was known as ‘Norman Bros. & Beard’. By the end of the century they had a purpose-built works in Norwich, and reputedly employed 300 men.

The firm’s work was progressive. During the 1890s they sub-contracted for Robert Hope-Jones’s Electric Organ Co., and when it was obliged to close in 1899 they acquired his electric action patents. H.J. Norman also developed an exhaust-pneumatic action which was extensively used by the firm throughout the first half of the 20th century (its first successful application was in ...

Article

Hinners  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in Pekin, Illinois, in 1879 by John L. Hinners (b Wheeling, WV, 11 Aug 1846; d Pekin, IL, 24 Aug 1906) for the manufacture of reed organs. Hinners had previously worked as a foreman for Mason & Hamlin. J.J. Fink became his partner for a short time in 1881, and in 1886 he was joined by U.J. Albertsen, the name changing to Hinners & Albertsen. Around 1890 they began making pipe organs, the first recorded instrument being installed in 1892 in the German Evangelical Church of Huntingburg, Indiana. In 1902 the firm incorporated under the name of Hinners Organ Co., with John Hinners, his son Arthur, Jacob A. Roelf and Heilo J. Rust as principals. Arthur Hinners (d 1955) became director of the firm on the death of his father. Although the company's output was considerable, and 97 employees are recorded for ...

Article

Hohner  

Hugh Davies and Christoph Wagner

German manufacturer of harmonicas, accordions, keyboard instruments and guitars. It was founded in 1857 in Trossingen by the clockmaker Matthias Hohner (b 1833; d Trossingen, 1903), who was not so much an innovator as a perfector of other people’s inventions, which he then marketed successfully. He learnt how to make his first harmonica after visiting a friend’s workshop. For almost half a century he focussed on this single product, which was exported to more than 100 countries around the world. The biggest market was the USA, which in 1890 absorbed more than 90% of the firm’s production. Hohner was the unrivalled market leader and the company name became almost synonymous with the harmonica (see Harmonica). After Matthias’s death his five sons took over the business. They began also to make accordions, and contributed greatly to their technical and musical advancement. The Hohner ‘Gola’ piano accordion, which is still produced, is seen by many as the ‘Stradivari’ of accordions. By the 1920s the company had become the world’s largest producer of musical instruments, employing a workforce of nearly 5000. In ...

Article

Barbara Owen

American organ building firm. It was founded in 1827 by Elias Hook (1805–81) and George Greenleaf Hook (1807–80), under the name of E. & G.G. Hook. The sons of William Hook, a cabinetmaker of Salem, Massachusetts, they had apprenticed with William M. Goodrich in Boston. After building a few organs in Salem they moved to a workshop in Boston where in 1833 they built their first three-manual organ for the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island. In 1845 they built what was considered the first concert organ in Boston for Tremont Temple. When this was later destroyed by fire the Hooks built their first four-manual organ in 1853 for its successor, and in the following year they built a large new steam-powered factory. By the 1850s the firm had become the leading organ-building establishment in Boston and was producing an average of between 15 and 20 organs a year in this period, largely for locations in the northeastern United States....

Article

(Jap.: Hoshino Musical Instruments)

Japanese manufacturer of musical instruments. Matsujiro Hoshino founded the company in 1908 as a book and sheet music store (Hoshino Shoten) that from 1929, as Hoshino Gakki Ten, also sold guitars by Salvador Ibáñez imported from Spain. Under direction of Hoshino’s son Yoshitaro Hoshino, the company began manufacturing Ibanez-brand guitars in 1935, after Ibáñez’s workshop had been destroyed in the Spanish Civil War and the brand sold to Hoshino. In turn, the Japanese factory was destroyed in 1945, and in 1955 the Hoshino company moved to Nagoya. From that time most of their products were exported, including, from 1957, a line of newly-designed Ibanez guitars. Under Yoshitaro’s son, Junpei Hoshino, the company opened the Tama Seisakusho factory in 1962 to produce amplifiers and electric and acoustic guitars, including copies of classic American guitars that eventually led to lawsuits. Star-brand drums were added to the Tama product line in 1965, and from ...

Article

British firm based in Surbiton, Surrey, founded in 1995 by Martin Phelps and Alan Kempster to introduce ‘electronic hymnals’ to the UK market. The firm distributes British-made portable devices that can store and play back 3000 or more hymn accompaniments and simultaneously display hymn verses on large screens. The electronic hymnal, known as ‘Hymnal Plus’, has a broader repertory than most organists and can supplement or replace the use of an organ, especially in the increasing number of churches that lack an organist. It is also useful for worship services in schools, retirement homes, prisons, hospitals, ships, and outdoor venues where no organ is available. Additional music can be imported from iPods, MP3 players, and the like. The MIDI-equipped HT-300 model, introduced in 2005, can be pre-programmed for each service and is controlled by the worship leader from a wireless, LCD touch-screen handset. Tempo, pitch, loudness, musical style, choice of verses, and other features are variable; preset musical styles range from traditional, digitally sampled pipe organ accompaniment to ‘happy clappy’ instrumentals. An interactive psalm accompaniment feature is available for Anglican chant. Loudspeakers are built into the unit, which can also be connected to an external sound system. Devices have been sold in Africa, America (with revised repertory list), and Australia, as well as throughout the UK....

Article

Ibach  

Margaret Cranmer

German firm of piano and organ makers. In 1794 Johannes Adolph Ibach (b Klausen bei Lüttringhausen, nr Barmen, 1766; d 1848) founded the firm in Beyenburg and built his first square piano. At about the same time he restored the organ of the monastery at Beyenburg.

In the Westphälischen Anzeiger of 14 October 1800 Ibach advertised ‘all kinds of fortepianos, including grand pianos of the highest quality and in the finest taste, as well as large and small pipe-organs’. The firm grew and by 1816 he had a workshop in the Alleestrasse, Unterbarmen, producing 40 to 50 instruments annually. Ibach's sons, Carl Rudolph Ibach (1804–63) and Richard Ibach (1813–89), joined the firm in 1834 and 1839 respectively; it subsequently became known as ‘Adolph Ibach Söhne, Orgelbauanstalt und Pianofortefabrik’. Richard took over the organ building part of the firm in 1869, and Carl's son P.A. Rudolf Ibach (...

Article

Arian Sheets

American manufacturer of bowed and fretted string instruments based in Columbus, OH. It is significant as one of the first factory-based producers of bowed string instruments to use machine carving for the fabrication of such components as the front, back, and scroll. An announcement was made in Music Trade Review (30 December 1916) that the Guldan Violin Company was established at 171 West Main St., the first known information about the company. Beginning in 1920 advertisements for Jackson-Guldan Violin Company appeared in The Violinist, some of which offered the production of violins for stencil, or secondary company, branding. Some such Jackson-Guldan instruments survive, notably with the decaled logos of music schools on the back, such as the First National Institute of Allied Arts, South Bend, IN, or with the paper label of Slingerland’s Correspondence School of Music, Chicago, the predecessor to the Slingerland Drum Company, inside the body. The establishment of this line of work was related to the end of the dominant supplies of mass-produced violins from Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, and Japan due to World War I. By the time that these foreign suppliers resumed exports to the United States, Jackson-Guldan was sufficiently established to compete with these larger-volume producers. Nevertheless, in the 1930s the company also produced toys in addition to musical instruments. Jackson-Guldan instruments were offered in various grades ranging from machine-carved and spray-finished student instruments to hand-finished examples which, unlike most foreign violins, were still handmade, although often of poor quality....

Article

Hugh Davies

An electronic organ developed by the Dutch designer and organist Johannus Versteegt and manufactured by Johannus Orgelbouw in Ede, near Amhem, since 1967. Versteegt had previously designed the original models of the electronic home organ manufactured by Eminent, Riha, and Viscount. Intended primarily for church use, the Johannus organ combines elements of 18th-century and modern tone qualities; the range of two- and three-manual models includes a couple of two-manual ‘positive’ organs. Some home organ models are also produced, as well as a few four-manual instruments.

From the early 1970s the Johannus organ used between one and seven master oscillators (c2 MHz) to generate sounds; each oscillator, using two stages of frequency division, successively produces the 12 semitones of the highest octave and all the lower octaves. Other features introduced in the 1970s and 80s included digital reverberation and electronic simulation of the ‘chiff’ transient attack found in flute stops on some pipe organs. The multiple loudspeaker systems have different frequency characteristics, and are mounted in cabinets whose appearance is modelled on a rank of organ pipes....

Article

Laurence Libin

[Kong Hsue Sheh]

Manufacturer and distributor of musical instruments, headquartered in Taiwan. The company, part of a conglomerate that also includes K. H. S. Investing Co., Ltd, K. H. S. Trading Co., K. H. S. Audio Co., Ltd, Aeolus Music Corp., and Musix Co., Ltd, was founded in 1930 by Chien-Chung Hsieh and his brothers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The company, originally named Wan-Wu (‘everything available’), was renamed Kong Hsue Sheh (‘contribute to schools and society’) after World War II; it was registered in Taipei in 1950. K. H. S. has operations in Taiwan, Japan, China, the Netherlands, and the USA (Mt Juliet, Tennessee), and a worldwide distribution network for products ranging from motorcycles to wind and string instruments and drums, mostly of student grade. In 2010 the parent company of K. H. S. had about 4200 employees and declared corporate revenue of about US$590 million, some US$295 million from instrument production and sales. Among its brands is M. Hohner, of which K. H. S. bought a majority share in ...

Article

Sabine K. Klaus

Firm of brass instrument makers in Cincinnati, Ohio. Franz Gotthold Kaiser (b Schöneck, Germany, 30 Aug 1825; d Cincinnati, 25 May 1890) trained with Carl Heinrich Beuthner, the brother-in-law of Carl August Zoebisch, in Neukirchen (today Markneukirchen); he emigrated to the USA in 1852 or 1853 and is first listed as musical instrument maker in Cincinnati in 1855. William Kohler (b Saxony, c1823, d Cincinnati, 13 Jan 1894) is first listed there in 1858. The partnership apparently began in 1859 and the company name Kaiser & Kohler appears from 1860 to 1890.

Kaiser initially made brass instruments in the European style. By 1860 Kaiser & Kohler had adopted rotary valves with string linkage, employing a special system with arched push rod that is otherwise not recorded. During the American Civil War the firm switched to producing standard string-rotary-valve instruments in over-the-shoulder, bell front, and turning bell configurations. It is likely that Kaiser & Kohler mainly supplied unmarked instruments to the trade, notably to the Wurlitzer firm. Rudolph Wurlitzer (...

Article

Karn  

Barbara Owen

Canadian firm of reed organ, piano and organ manufacturers. Dennis W. Karn (b North Oxford Co., Canada West, 6 Feb 1843; d Toronto, 19 Sept 1916), an amateur musician, joined the reed organ firm of John M. Miller around 1867, buying out his employer in 1870 and continuing under the name of Karn & Miller in Woodstock, Ontario. The firm was also known at various times as the Woodstock Organ Factory and the Woodstock Church Organ Co. In the late 1880s the firm began making pianos, and after a merger in 1896 with the firm of Warren continued the latter's pipe organ business in Toronto under the name of Karn & Warren. The first Karn player piano was made in 1901, and by the first decade of the 20th century the firm had branches in several major Canadian cities as well as London and Hamburg. Karn retired in ...

Article

Kemble  

Anne Beetem Acker

English piano manufacturing firm. It was founded in 1911 by Michael Kemble (1884–1962) in partnership with the Jacobs family in Stoke Newington. In the 1950s Michael Kemble’s eldest son, Robert (1919–2003), assumed co-directorship with Denzil Jacobs (19212013), while Stanley Kemble (b 1922) was responsible for running the factory. Shortly thereafter, to increase production the firm moved to a larger factory near Milton Keynes. The firm’s bestseller in the 1940s was the 90-cm-tall drop-action ‘Minx’ upright. In 1964, Kemble bought the Brinsmead and Cramer piano lines from J.B. Cramer & Co., and from 1970 to 2000 they took over production of Chappell pianos, but few of these brands were actually made. Other brands made by Kemble have included Kirkman, Collard & Collard, B. Squire, Squire & Longson, Rogers Eungblut, Moore & Moore, Renn, and Schmidt-Flohr.

In 1968, Kemble and Yamaha acted as partners to sell Yamaha electronic organs in the UK. In ...

Article

Kemper  

Hans Klotz

German firm of organ builders and string keyboard instrument makers. Adolf Kemper (1811–80) became a citizen of Lübeck in 1839. His son Emanuel (1844–1933) took over the workshop of Theodor Voigt in 1868 and founded the present firm, which has remained under the control of the original family, from Kempringen, Westphalia. Emanuel’s son Karl Reinhold (1880–1957), well known for his collaboration with H.H. Jahnn, took over the firm in 1910. Karl’s son Emanuel Magnus (b Apenrade, 30 Sept 1906; d Lübeck, 17 March 1978) entered the firm in 1944, and greatly broadened its interests to include clavichords, spinets and harpsichords. On 1 January 1974 Emanuel Reinhold (b Lübeck, 8 Jan 1947), son of Emanuel Magnus, became head of the firm. It is uncertain whether Peter Kemper (b Menden, bap. 18 April 1734; d Bonn, 24 Oct 1820) was a member of this family. He was an organ builder in the tradition of Balthasar König, and his work included the organs in Bonn Minster and Aachen Cathedral....