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James Bollman

revised by Arian Sheets

American firm of instrument makers. It was established in Boston in 1889 by Carl and Julius Nelson, John Palm, and John Swenson. Initially the firm produced guitars and mandolins as well as a few zithers and bandurrias. In 1898 it was consolidated with the Standard Band Instrument Co., formerly owned by Thompson and Odell, also of Boston; this resulted in the addition of brass instruments (excluding French and bass horns) to Vega’s production. The firm of A.C. Fairbanks, notable for its high-quality banjos, was acquired in 1904. By the 1930s Vega had produced more than 96,000 banjos, 40,000 guitars, 40,000 mandolins, and 30,000 trumpets, gaining a high reputation for its banjos, particularly up to 1937, and for the “Whyte Laydie,” “Tubaphone,” and “Vox” models. In 1970 Vega was bought by the firm of guitar makers C.F. Martin of Pennsylvania. American production of Vega banjos ceased in 1980, when Martin sold the Vega name to the Galaxie Trading Corporation of Korea; “Vega” banjos, bearing little resemblance to the classic Vega instruments, were also made in Japan. In ...


Edward H. Tarr

( fl Naumburg, mid-17th century). German brass instrument maker . Two of his trumpets survive, dated 1646 and 1651 (Berlin, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, Musikinstrumenten-Museum, nos.640 and 639 respectively). The latter, pitched in modern E♭, is the only surviving pre-19th-century slide trumpet or tromba da tirarsi known. It is of the Renaissance type (...


Charles Beare

( fl c1800–c1840). Italian violin maker . His instruments date from soon after 1800 until after 1830. It seems certain that he was a pupil of one of the Gaglianos, possibly of Giovanni, or of his son, Nicola Gagliano (ii), whose work his own very much resembles. In the varnish and in many details Ventapane’s instruments are identical to those made by the Gaglianos, usually being distinguished by a certain flatness towards the edges, where a Gagliano would often be rather full in model. Like the later members of the Gagliano family, Ventapane was variable in the quality of his work. Visually some of his instruments are dull, even crude, though others are attractive and carefully made; all, when well adjusted, have that Neapolitan character of tone which makes Ventapane an important name among players. He is one of the best-known Neapolitan violin makers outside the Gagliano family. (...


Stephen Bonner

(b c1781; d 1856). Inventor, composer and teacher. He worked in London from at least 1813 and taught Princess Augusta Charlotte from that year until her death in 1817. This opportunity, and an early partnership with Edward Light, enabled him to create and market eight harp-lute-guitar hybrids, for which he gave lessons and published simple song arrangements and 16- or 32-bar compositions, mostly in binary form.

His most important invention was the ‘Harp Ventura’, patented in 1828, a 17–19-string harp-lute, measuring about 83 × 33 × 13 cm, and apparently tuned diatonically from e to b′, with three notes on the fingerboard: c″, c‴ and a‴. This was perhaps the most flexible harp-lute for song accompaniments with awkward modulations, or in unusual keys. Its seven pushstops (later levers) raised the open strings by a semitone, using forks similar to Erard's fourchettes of the 1780s. An attractively decorated example is displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (no.248)....


José López-Calo

(b Guadalajara; fl late 18th century and early 19th). Spanish organ builder . Little is known of his activity, but he must have been of considerable importance, judging by the organs which he either built or repaired. In 1797 he constructed an organ in Toledo Cathedral; he also built instruments for the cathedral of S Isidro in Madrid and Soria Cathedral. At the beginning of the 19th century he rebuilt and modified the two organs in the choir at El Escorial, and restored the ‘Emperor’s’ organ in Toledo Cathedral. His work as an organ builder was carried on by his son and pupil, Valentín, and his son-in-law Leandro Garcimartín.

SubiráHME J. Moll: ‘Documentos para la historia de la música en la catedral de Toledo’, AnM, 13 (1958), 159–66 S. Rubio: ‘Los órganos del monasterio del Escorial’, La Ciudad de Dios, no.178 (1965), 464–90 G. Bourligueux: ‘Leandro Garcimartín et l’orgue des Carmes Chaussés de Madrid’, ...


Laurence Libin

(b Haarlem, Netherlands, Feb 24, 1942). Dutch clavichord builder and researcher active in Aerdenhout. He was educated at the choristers’ school of St Bavo Cathedral in Haarlem and at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he studied music education and the recorder (1962–69). He built his first clavichord as a hobby in 1960 and assembled three from kits. He began building clavichords from technical drawings in 1976 while teaching school music at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam (1970–95) and directing a chamber choir that he founded in 1972. Between 1978 and 2011 (the first four years working with Jan Oudshoorn, then alone) Vermeij produced 56 clavichords, three of them after the 1763 Hass (GB.E.u) but mainly after designs of Christian Gottlob Hubert. In 1985 he began research on all extant Hubert instruments, resulting in The Hubert Clavichord Data Book, and in 1999 he restored the ...


Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. Leonard (Léon) Hubert Verschueren (1866–1957) trained with the firm of Maarschalkerweerd in Utrecht, and then founded a pipe-making workshop in his native village of Heythuysen, Limburg, on 5 May 1891. Within a few years he was supplying more than 30 organ builders at home and abroad with pipes and parts. In 1896 he built his first entirely new mechanical-action organ for the Noordkerk, Schagen. After 1904 Léon developed the business with South German organ builder Max Bittner (d1955), making all parts in-house (a rarity at the time). Tonally their instruments blended South Dutch, Walloon, Rhineland and, through Bittner, South German styles. Actions were pneumatic (a good example is in the Petruskerk, Gulpen).

Verschueren was very struck by the Klais organ in the abbey of Rolduc, which was built in accordance with the principles of the Orgelbewegung. In response he changed his design for the new instrument at St Dyonisius, Schinnen, adopting electro-pneumatic cone-chests and a neo-Baroque specification. His ...


Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

(b Straubing, Lower Bavaria, Germany, Jan 24, 1904; d 1986). German physicist, electroacoustic engineer, and instrument inventor. After earning an engineering degree from Ohm-Polytechnikum in Nuremberg and then working at a telegraph firm in Berlin, in 1928 he began working on the development of electronic instruments at the Heinrich-Hertz Institut für Schwingungsforschung at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, where he completed his doctorate in physics in 1937. In 1938, Vierling began lecturing in physics and electroacoustics in Hanover, becoming a professor in 1944. Beginning in 1941 he conducted weapons, encryption, and communications research. After World War II he designed surveillance devices at a laboratory he created in Ebermannstadt, near Nuremberg, where in 1949 he established his firm as Oskar Vierling GmbH. From 1949 to 1955 he was also a professor of physics at the Fakultäten Theologie und Philosophie of the Universität Bamberg. He held more than 200 patents....


Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

(b Mirecourt, 1851; d Paris, 1905). French bowmaker. He served his apprenticeship in Mirecourt with Charles Claude Husson and subsequently went to Paris to work for Gand & Bernardel. Around 1888 he opened his own shop. Vigneron developed a strongly individual style which remained constant throughout his career. While he cannot qualify as a consistently great maker, his best bows can be ranked with the finest of his day, showing elegant craftsmanship and made of superb quality pernambuco. However, a large part of his output, while solidly made, lacks grace. Most of the bows are silver mounted; gold mountings are much less frequent and gold and tortoiseshell very rare. The sticks are usually round and the heads have pronounced chamfers at the throat. Vuillaume-type frogs are occasionally seen but otherwise the frogs are regular with either rounded or square heels. His bows are branded a. vigneron à paris...



Denzil Wraight

[Vincenti ]

(fl 1515). Italian instrument maker from Livigmeno (possibly Livignano, Tuscany). His harpsichord constructed in 1515–16 is the oldest known to survive (see Harpsichord, §2, (i)); that made in 1521 by Hieronymus Bononiensis long held this distinction). An inscription on the harpsichord indicates that it was made for Pope Leo X in 1516, and a signature on the underside of the soundboard reveals that the instrument was started on 18 September 1515. Although the harpsichord was made in a style consistent with other early harpsichords, and probably with a single register, its compass cannot be definitely established. It may have been C/Ef‴, although FGAga‴ is also possible.

Another harpsichord maker called Vincentius (fl 1610–12), of Prato, made harpsichords that are now at Leipzig University, at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, and at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.



[de ]

(b Brescia, c1523; d after 1574). Italian cittern maker . The best known member of a family of instrument makers and musicians, he was the friend and possibly the teacher of the violin maker Gasparo da Salò, for whose son, Francesco, he stood as godfather in 1565. Documents from 1559 to 1569 record his activity: in 1568, for example, he paid a salary to two carvers, which would account for the high quality of decorations on his extant instruments. There is a cittern by Virchi in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Berlin, and another more elaborate one of particularly fine construction in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (see Cittern). Two more citterns may be ascribed to him on account of their rich carving and decoration: one (formerly attributed to Stradivari) is in the Musée de la Musique, Paris, and the other is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

His brother Benedetto (...


Dorothea A. Nahm

(b Erie, PA, Aug 13, 1839 or 1842; d St Petersburg, FL, Oct 15, 1921). American music educator and inventor of musical instruments. In 1878 he opened a music school with his wife Antha Minerva Virgil (née Patchen) in Peoria, Illinois, which continued until 1883. The Virgils then moved to New York. A.K. Virgil may have devised as early as 1872 a rudimentary form of his ‘practice clavier’, a silent keyboard instrument; by the mid-1880s it was being sold under the name Techniphone and by 1892 as the Virgil Perfected Practice Clavier (see Virgil practice clavier).

In 1889 Virgil published The Virgil Clavier Method: Foundation Exercises, book 1; the following year he and his wife formed the Virgil Practice Clavier Company, and in 1891 the Virgil Piano School. He opened the Virgil Piano School and Practice Clavier Co. in Chicago in late 1896 or 1897, but this lasted only until ...


Barbara Owen

American organ-building firm. The firm was founded in Houston in 1973 by Jan R. Rowland (b Beaumont, TX, 3 June 1944) and Pieter A. Visser (b Amsterdam, 3 Nov 1940). Rowland, a graduate of Lamar University, first worked as an installer for the Wicks firm, then went on to work for the Walcker firm in Germany from 1968 to 1969, and the Berkshire Organ Co. in the USA from 1969 to 1973. Visser was apprenticed to L. Verscheuren in the Netherlands; he went to the USA in 1960, where he worked as an installer for both Wicks and Walcker from 1960 to 1972, and for Berkshire in 1973. Visser-Rowland builds organs primarily with mechanical action, often with electric stop and combination action; their tonal designs lean towards the north European ‘neo-Baroque’ style. The firm has built some organs of substantial size, including those in St Anne’s Catholic Church, Houston (...



Florence Gétreau

[Voboame, Vaubouin, Vauban, Vauboyet, Vobuan, Vogeant, Roboam]

French family of guitar makers, active in Paris from 1630 to 1730. René Voboam (c1606–71) was known as a master instrument maker from 1631 onwards. Jacques Prévost was apprenticed to him in 1638, and Dimanche Drouin the following year; at that time he was working at rue St-Honoré. A guitar bearing his name, dated 1641, is preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Three more guitars, made with tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, may be attributed to him. One is marked ‘Voboam 1668’ was in the former collection of Maurice Le Roux, Paris; the other two are preserved in the Musée Masséna, Nice, and the RCM, London. By the end of his career he was working at rue Traversière.

(Nicolas) Alexandre (b c1633; d after 1691), son of René, signed his first guitars in 1652. Lütgendorff also listed a theorbo, dated 1661. In 1671 Alexandre married Anne Bourdet, the sister of the harpsichord maker Jacques Bourdet the elder. He worked at rue des Arcis, where he stayed until ...



Enrico Weller

German family of musical instrument makers in Markneukirchen (to which the following refers, including birth and death data). Lutherie dominated the family’s craft in the 18th century, beginning with Adam Voigt (b c1674; d 19 Feb 1737), who in 1699 became a member of the Neukirchen violin makers’ guild. By 1850, 23 Voigts were counted as guild masters, their high-arched violins epitomizing the old Vogtland style. The most important masters were Johann Georg Voigt (four masters with the same name about 1800), Johann Friedrich Voigt, called ‘Fritz’ (b 17 Dec 1778; d 4 Sept 1840), and Johann Christian Voigt II (b 15 April 1766; d 13 Feb 1846). The last also made guitars, and in the 19th century several other Voigts also turned to guitar making, and later to bow and zither making. In the 20th century, Arnold Voigt (b 13 May 1864...


Charles Beare

revised by Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

(b Mirecourt, Dec 19, 1833; d Paris, June 4, 1885). French bowmaker . After serving his apprenticeship in Mirecourt he worked from 1855 to 1870 for J.-B. Vuillaume in Paris. After briefly returning to Mirecourt he established his own business at 3 rue du Bouloi, Paris, where he worked until his sudden death. He was a prolific maker and his bows were of superb quality; he is generally regarded as the most important bowmaker of the second half of the 19th century.

Voirin’s bows show a radical departure from the predominant Tourte model of the first half of the century. The dimensions of the stick and head are thinner and smaller, and to retain strength he used only the finest Pernambuco possible. He also began the camber directly behind the head; this feature was taken up not only by his pupils Thomassin and Lamy but also Eugène Sartory, Victor and Jules Fétique and E.A. Ouchard among others; he also influenced German makers. Voirin’s early bows, i.e. those made in the Vuillaume workshop and carrying the Vuillaume brand, are somewhat stouter than his later ones. After ...



Hermann Fischer

German firm of organ builders in Karlsruhe-Durlach. The firm was founded in 1764 by Johann Heinrich Stein (1735–67) of Heidelsheim, and continued by his cousin Georg Markus Stein (1738–94), organ builder to the court of Baden-Durlach; after the latter’s death it passed by marriage into the hands of Johann Volkmar Voit (1772–1806) of Schweinfurt. In 1807 Johann Ludwig Bürgy (1761–1838) of Niederflorstadt married Voit’s widow and ran the workshop until 1835. He was succeeded by his stepson Louis Voit (1802–83) who ran the firm until 1870. It was then taken over by the latter’s sons Heinrich (1834–1914) and Carl (1847–87). After Carl’s death, Heinrich’s sons Emil (1864–1924) and Siegfried (1870–1938) were taken into the firm as partners, and it became known as H. Voit & Söhne. In 1930 Siegfried Voit retired from the business, and the workshops were taken over by their former manager Karl Hess (...


Felix Friedrich

[Franziskus, Franz]

(bBerlstedt, nr Weimar, June 5, 1696; dErfurt, Dec 23, 1779). German organ builder. He trained as an organ builder with J.G. Schröter in Erfurt, and became an assistant to the organ builder Lortzing in Ohrdruf. In 1718 he settled in Erfurt, where in 1720 he unsuccessfully sought a privilege as an organ builder. There followed a legal dispute, lasting several years, with Schröter, who felt himself threatened by Volckland’s competition. By 1721, however, he was building organs. At the time of his death he was well-to-do and held in high repute as an organ builder.

Volckland’s productivity was highest between 1725 and 1750. His organ specifications are dominated by an abundance of 8′ foundation stops, mixtures (including the third) and copious wooden pipework as well as Zimbelsterns and Glockenspiels. In addition to these typical 18th-century Thuringian features, he also made frequent use of the 4′ Hohlflöte in the Pedal division. The majority of Volckland’s organs are of medium size; he did not build large or three-manual instruments. A number of his organs still survive in the area of Erfurt, including Mühlberg (...


Barbara Owen

(b Ovid, NY, 1856; d Summit, NJ, Jan 21, 1931). American organ builder and inventor. In 1873 he entered the Estey Organ Co. as an office boy, eventually becoming a salesman for that firm. In 1883, in partnership with William R. Farrand (1854–1930), the assets of the Whitney Organ Co. (a maker of reed organs) were acquired, followed by those of the Granville Wood Co. in 1890, and in 1893 the noted Roosevelt Organ Works in New York. In the latter year the firm built its largest organ, for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Other notable organs built under the Farrand & Votey name included those for Aeolian Hall, New York (1893) and St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco (1896). In 1897 this partnership dissolved, with Votey taking over the organ operation as the Votey Organ Co., which shortly formed a connection with the Aeolian company under the Aeolian-Votey name. In ...