(bBristol, 1826; dChurchill, Somerset, Feb 25, 1912). English organ builder. He was trained by Joseph Munday, whose business was founded by John Smith in 1814. In 1856 Vowles founded the Bristol firm of W.G. Vowles Ltd. His early work included the rebuilding of the organs of Bristol Cathedral (1861) and St Mary Redcliffe (1867). In 1860 the firm moved from Castle Street to extensive premises in St James's Square and developed factory production methods. After his retirement in 1908 the firm became a limited company, whose catalogue of that year offered a range of 17 standard specifications from one to three manuals and gave details of 510 instruments supplied to locations principally in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and South Wales. Some organs were exported to South Africa, India and the West Indies. On 29th March 1924 the factory was destroyed by fire; the firm suffered further damage during the war and was eventually absorbed by J.W. Walker & Sons in ...
Howard Mayer Brown
revised by Kristine Forney
A 16th- and 17th-century Flemish family of composers, performers and instrument makers . The leading members were Sebastian and his two sons, Michael and Jacob.
(b Mechelen, c1542; d Leiden, late 16th or early 17th century ). He was probably a chorister at the collegiate church of St Rombouts in Mechelen; he is documented in that city from at least 1574 until 1578. In 1580 he left on account of religious troubles, moving to Brussels, then Antwerp and eventually settling in Holland, where he lived with his son, Michael. By April 1586, on the latter’s marriage, he had moved to Leiden, where on 12 May 1589 he signed a five-year contract as the city’s carillonneur and composer for the carillon. His duties were to play psalms or other liedeken, and to notate them in a book kept by the town hall caretaker. Prior to his departure for the north, he published with Phalèse two volumes of fantasias, dances, Dutch folksong settings and intabulations, arranged for solo cittern: ...
revised by Charles Beare and Sylvette Milliot
(b Mirecourt, Oct 7, 1798; d Paris, Feb 19, 1875). French violin maker and dealer . His activities in the middle of the 19th century dominated the trade and made a major contribution in the field of new instruments and bows. He was born of an old but undistinguished violin-making family in Mirecourt, a flourishing centre of French lutherie in the Vosges. In 1818, having trained with his father, he went to Paris to work with François Chanot, moving to the workshop of Lété in 1821. There he progressed, and in 1823 began to sign his own instruments, giving each one a serial number. In 1827, after he had made about 80 new instruments with the help of his brother Nicolas-François, the connection with Lété was dissolved, and Vuillaume established his own workshop at 46 rue Croix des Petits-Champs. He remained there until 1858, when there was a final move to a large and elegant house in the rue Demours at Les Ternes....
(b Karow, nr Genthin, April 13, 1690; d Salzwedel, Altmark, May 23, 1749). German organ builder . He was probably taught by Matthias Hartmann of Magdeburg (a pupil of Arp Schnitger), and he worked for two years with Gottfried Silbermann in Freiberg, together with Zacharias Hildebrandt (from Silesia).
In 1719 Wagner built his first organ (Marienkirche, Berlin). He then set up his business in Berlin and immediately became the leading Prussian organ builder. In the following 30 years he built nearly 50 organs, including several in Berlin (his largest being in the Garnisonkirche), Potsdam (Erste und Zweite Garnisonkirche), Brandenburg (Cathedral (extant), St Katharinen, Gotthardkirche), Magdeburg (Heiliggeistkirche), Wusterhausen (St Peter und Paul; extant), Angermünde (extant), and Trondheim Cathedral, Norway (extant). Wagner's highly individual style derives from his synthesis of north German and Silesian styles with that of Silbermann, combined with his own new ideas and inventions.
Wagner's specifications are based on that of the Silbermann organ in Freiberg Cathedral (...
[Jean Théophile ]
(b Medingen, June 4, 1741; d Dresden, July 21, 1789). German maker of harpsichords, clavichords, organs and pianos . He was a pupil of the Silbermanns before he established his business in Dresden. His younger brother, Christian Salomon Wagner (b Medingen, 1754; d Dresden, between 1812 and 1816), joined him as a partner in 1773, and assisted him in the invention of the clavecin royal in 1774. This was a four-and-a-half- or five-octave square piano, with the compass usually between F′ and f′′′, and its action (illustrated in Harding and Cole) was a modification of Cristofori's, with different dampers and no intermediate lever. The wooden, uncovered hammers produced a tone resembling that of the harpsichord, and there were usually at least three stops operated by knee-levers: ‘Harfe’ (where a bar covered with shag is lowered on to the strings), ‘pianissimo’ (or half-blow, as the hammers are moved nearer the strings) and ‘forte’. Surviving ...
(b Schmiedefeld, 1727; d Schmiedefeld, 1801). German organ builder . With his brother Johann Christoph Wagner (b Schmiedefeld, c1725; d after 1770), Johann Michael (i) was the most prominent member of a family of organ builders resident over several generations in Schmiedefeld, Thuringia. The family history is not completely clear. Other members active as organ builders in the same workshop were Johannes Wagner (1733–1804), Johann Michael (ii) (1760–99) and Johann Friedrich (the two sons of Johann Michael (i)), Johann Michael (iii) (1798–1876), and Johann Gottlob (1771–1800). At various times members of the family worked with other organ builders: Johann Michael (i) was with Hofmann in Gotha from 1741 to 1747, and from 1747 to 1751 he worked with Johann Caspar Beck of Herrenbreitungen on the rebuilding of the organ in the Stadtkirche, Laubach, Hessen. He also collaborated with Johann Caspar Holland on the organ of the Kreuzkirche, Dresden (...
(b Leiden, 1949; d June 18, 2008). Dutch composer, inventor of instruments and performer. He was self-taught. He became acquainted with electronics at the age of 16, when his father built a theremin. From 1981 he was director of the Studio voor Elektronische Muziek in the Netherlands.
In the mid-1970s he invented the kraakdoos (cracklebox), which is based on the instability of electronic circuits, usually considered undesirable. In 1981 he composed De Slungels, the first theatrical piece to be performed entirely by robots. Using these theatrical robots, Waisvisz studied both the relationship between man and machine and ways of improving the operation of electronic systems. An important step in this respect was the development of De Handen (hands), a sensitive instrument with which material stored in the computer can be played in real time. Variants on this same principle are De MIDI-Conductor (1985) and Het Web...
revised by Theodor Wohnhaas
German family of organ builders . The firm was founded in 1780 in Cannstadt by Johann Eberhard Walcker (1756–1843). His son Eberhard Friedrich Walcker (b Cannstadt, 3 July 1794; d Ludwigsburg, 2 Oct 1872) moved the business to Ludwigsburg (Württemberg) in 1820; he built a large new organ for the Paulskirche in Frankfurt (1829–33); and he gave the organ of the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart two pedal-boards, as part of his rebuilding of that instrument in 1834–45. He also built instruments for Ulm Minster (1841–56), the Music Hall, Boston (1863), and St Etienne, Mulhouse, Alsace (1865; highly esteemed by Albert Schweitzer). He introduced the Kegellade in 1842 (see Organ, §II, 8). After Eberhard Friedrich’s death, the firm was run by his sons Heinrich, Fritz, Paul and Karl Walcker, and organs were built for the Saalbau, Frankfurt (1873), Riga Cathedral (from ...
English firm of organ builders . Joseph William Walker (b London, 17 Jan 1803; d London, 1 Feb 1870) was reputedly ‘parlour apprentice’ to G.P. England (see England) in London; he worked with W.A.A. Nicholls (England's successor) and then set up business as a pipe maker. He built his first organ in 1827. Joseph Walker's instruments are notable for their full-toned diapasons and bright upperwork; most had one or two manuals but he built larger organs for the Exeter Hall (1839), Highfield Chapel, Huddersfield (1854), and the International Exhibition of 1862. Under his son, James John Walker (b 21 Aug 1846; d 19 Sept 1922), the firm secured a series of prestigious contracts including Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, London (1891), St Margaret's, Westminster (1898), and York Minster (1903). All these instruments were characterized by a restrained opulence in which fully developed flue choruses co-existed with strings, orchestral reeds and bright flutes....
Swiss family of organ builders . They were active over three generations in the Valais and central Switzerland, in frequent collaboration, initially, with the Carlen family. Johannes Martin Walpen (b Reckingen, 1723; d Reckingen, 1782 or 1787) was a son of the master tanner Andreas Walpen (1698–1739) and of Cäcilia (née Carlen; 1699–1779), a sister of Matthäus Carlen, the founder of the Carlen family business. He worked exclusively in the Valais, frequently in collaboration with Carlen. He had three sons: Joseph Ignatius Walpen (1761–1836) was also an organ builder in Reckingen; Johannes Sylvester Walpen (b Reckingen, 1767; d Lucerne, 1837) married Katharina Carlen (b 1766), daughter of the organ builder Felix Carlen, and moved in 1802 to Lucerne, where he lived until his death; Wendelin Walpen (b Reckingen, 1774) settled eventually as an organ builder in Sierre. The families that remained in the Valais died out or gave up organ building as a profession, but the Lucerne branch flourished. Sylvester Walpen (...
revised by William C. Smith, Peter Ward Jones and David Hunter
(b ?1665 or 1666; d London, March 13, 1736). Music seller, engraver, printer, publisher and instrument seller, probably of Irish extraction. He was established in London by about 1690. On 24 June 1692 he was appointed musical instrument-maker-in-ordinary to William III in succession to John Shaw, whose trade sign of ‘The Golden Harp and Hoboy’ he also adopted; in the same year he married Mary Allen, by whom he had 15 children, of whom only three survived infancy.
In 1695, when he began publishing, Walsh had few rivals in the trade. John Playford was dead, and his son Henry evidently lacked the initiative to maintain the family firm as a flourishing concern. Thomas Cross, while popular for his introduction of the engraved single-sheet song, was concerned more with engraving than publishing. Walsh was quick to take advantage of the situation, and engraved music appeared from his premises on a scale previously unknown in England. In addition to works by English composers he printed much popular continental music (including Corelli’s sonatas) which he often copied from Dutch editions. From about ...
revised by William C. Smith, Peter Ward Jones and David Hunter
(b London, Dec 23, 1709; d London, Jan 15, 1766). English music seller, printer, publisher and instrument maker . He probably assumed control of the business of his father, John Walsh (i), in about 1730, when the relationship with the Hare family apparently ceased and the numbering of the firm’s publications started. On 8 May 1731 Walsh succeeded to the appointment of instrument maker to the king. Although John Johnson and other rivals arose, the business continued to prosper and maintained its excellent engraving and paper. Burney characterized Walsh (ii) as ‘purveyor general’. Walsh fully developed the firm's relationship with Handel, publishing almost all his later works and in 1739 being granted a monopoly of his music for 14 years. About half of Walsh's output was of Handel compositions. The firm also sold other publishers' works, and bought up the stock of smaller firms when they ceased trading. Many of Walsh's apprentice engravers later set up on their own, including John Caulfield, Thomas Straight and Thomas Skillern. Walsh, who never married, was elected a governor of the Foundling Hospital in ...
(b Neuhausen an der Fildern, nr Stuttgart, Feb 5, 1752; d Vienna, April 11, 1826). Austrian piano maker of German birth. He was the most famous Viennese piano maker of his time. He was in Vienna by 1780, when he married the widow Schöffstoss. In 1790 he was granted the title ‘Imperial Royal Chamber Organ Builder and Instrument Maker’. In about 1800 his stepson Joseph Schöffstoss joined the firm, by then employing up to 20 workmen. Of the total number of instruments produced, dating from about 1780 to 1825, approximately 3% survives, comprising about 20 pianos built before 1800 and an equal number after that date. The former are usually inscribed ‘Anton Walter in Wien’ to which is added ‘u(nd) Sohn’ in the latter.
If Johann Andreas Stein invented the German action (with hammers mounted in wooden pivot forks on the keys, combined with a hammer escapement mechanism with upright hoppers), Walter was probably the first to develop it. He thus configured the Viennese action (with brass pivot forks and forward-leaning hoppers), adding a back-check which catches the returning hammers, thereby preventing unwanted rebound. The oldest pianos (...
revised by John Dilworth
( fl cLondon, 1725–45). English maker of violins, violas and cellos . Although the foremost English maker of his time, following Daniel Parker and Nathaniel Cross, his reputation suffered with the publication of Sandys and Forster’s The History of the Violin, in which his instruments were criticized for having had the wood worked too thin. The repetition of this allegation has tended to obscure his considerable merits as a maker.
Wamsley was evidently a pupil of Cross, and inherited from him a respect for the work of Stainer and for a pleasing pale golden varnish of rather brittle consistency. Later he developed a much softer dark brown oil varnish, quite satisfactory from the tonal viewpoint and similar in all but colour to that used by the Forsters in the second half of the century. In his woodwork he was one of the makers who exaggerated Stainer’s archings by hollowing out too much towards the edge, but in thus leaving his edges thin in wood he was doing no worse than near-contemporaries such as Rombouts in the Netherlands, most of the Florentines and literally dozens of fine German and Austrian makers. In the relatively few instances where his instruments have not been treated harshly by the passage of time, they are both handsome in appearance and of fine quality tonally. His numerous cellos are the forerunners of an English school of making which is often regarded by players as second only to the best of the Italians. He made quite a number of violins, and also a few violas of good size....
Cheng Liu and Stewart Carter
(b Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China, Sept 15, 1935). Erhu maker in Shanghai. He began making erhus in 1951 under the tutelage of Tang Yinpu. Since 1958 he has worked on the premises of Shanghai No. 1 National Musical Instruments Factory, where he maintains his own workshop. He makes approximately 100 professional-quality instruments per year (but does not make bows) and also serves as design consultant for the firm’s mass-produced erhus, production of which exceeds 60,000 units annually. Wang uses steel strings, the lower overwound, and prefers rosewood for the construction of the erhu’s neck and python skin for the head of the octagonal wooden resonator; the Shanghai factory has obtained special permission from the Chinese government to use the skin of this protected snake. Wang is among a very small number of erhu makers to hold the title of National Senior Technician, an honour bestowed on him by the Chinese Ministry of Labor in ...
Karl J. Raudsepp
Canadian family of organ builders and organists of American origin. Samuel Russell Warren (i) (b Tiverton, RI, 29 March 1809; d Providence, RI, 30 July 1882), trained as an organ builder with Thomas Appleton of Boston, with whom he worked sporadically during the early 1830s. In 1836 he emigrated to Montreal, where a year later (after a short-lived partnership with George W. Mead) he formed his own firm to build pipe organs and harmoniums, eventually selling pianos, seraphims (reed organs), accordions and flutes as well. His brother, Thomas D. Warren (1815–1863), was also an organ builder, working with Appleton from 1836, briefly becoming a full partner under the name Appleton & Warren (1847–50) before joining his brother in Montreal.
Samuel became the outstanding figure in 19th-century Canadian organ building. He was the first in Canada to use Harmonic Flutes, free reeds and orchestral stops, and he was the first to adopt the Barker lever (...
Philip J. Kass
American firm of violin dealers and repairers. It was founded in Chicago in 1926 by Kenneth James Warren (b Erie, PA, 24 Sept 1899; d Chicago, IL, 2 June 1985). He studied with the violinist Leon Samatini at the Chicago Musical College and began a career as a professional player, before becoming head of the violin department of the Chicago branch of the Rudolf Wurlitzer Co. In 1948 his son Kenneth Nelson Warren (b Chicago, IL, 8 April 1929; d Floral City, FL, 16 March 1990), who trained with the violin maker John Hornsteiner, joined him in his business, which became Kenneth Warren & Son; in 1968 Kenneth N. Warren’s son James Anthony Warren (b Chicago, IL, 15 May 1953) also entered the business, three generations thus being active in the firm. It has become one of the most important and respected dealers and appraisers for old violins in the United States, and its repair department was outstanding. Among the master craftsmen who have worked for the department were John Hornsteiner, Zenon Petesh, and Tchu Ho Lee. The firm also made violins; in ...
Jay Scott Odell
A trademark of the Lyon & Healy Co. of Chicago, a musical merchandise business founded in 1864 by George Washburn Lyon and Patrick J. Healy. ‘George Washburn’ was applied to their better fretted instruments from about 1890. The Lyon & Healy Catalog of Musical Merchandise (Chicago, 1898) lists 28 different styles of ‘Washburn’ guitars at retail prices from $15 for the plainest standard instrument to $145 for a ‘No.399 Grand Concert Size’ with elaborate mother-of-pearl inlay. Mandolins, mandolas, banjos and zithers are also shown and, in a 1927 advertisement, ukuleles. In about 1928 the trade name ‘George Washburn’ and the musical merchandise activities other than piano and harp manufacture were acquired by the Tonk Bros. Co., which continued to sell instruments under the name into the 1930s. The Tonk Bros. Co. was acquired by C.G. Conn Ltd in 1947.
In 1973 the trade name and production inventory was purchased by Beckman Musical Instruments, the American distributor for the Japanese electronics firm Roland. It was again sold in ...
(b London, Oct 6, 1930). English bowmaker . He began his career in 1945 serving a six-year apprenticeship with W.E. Hill & Sons in London, working under Retford. After a two-year absence for national service, he returned to work there until 1962. In February of that year he left to work on his own, moving to Denham, Buckinghamshire, in ...