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Article

Michael Sayer

English firm of organ builders. It was established in Leeds in 1869 by Isaac Abbott, who had worked for 20 years with William Hill in London. William Stanwix Smith, also a former Hill employee, was the firm’s manager until Abbott retired, in 1889; thereafter Smith and Abbott’s son continued the firm, which subsequently passed to Smith’s sons and grandson. In 1964 the firm was sold to its foreman, J.H. Horsfall, and in 1975 it moved to the premises of Wood Wordsworth & Co. Up to 1964, Abbott & Smith built or rebuilt hundreds of organs throughout Britain, including some 250 in Yorkshire, and more than 60 around Leeds. James Jepson Binns was head voicer from 1875 until 1880. Their earlier instruments, using mechanical action through the 1880s, have a robust singing quality suited to Yorkshire Methodist congregations, though several were in town halls, including those in Leeds and Ryde. Their organ for St Mark’s, Manningham, had four manuals and 48 speaking stops. The firm also built organs in St Albans Cathedral (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

German firm of piano hammer manufacturers. Helmut Abel GmbH was founded in 1982 in Frickhausen by Helmut Abel (b Sonneberg, Thüringen, 6 July 1936), who had earlier worked for Renner. His son Norbert (b Schalkau, Thüringen, 24 March 1957) has managed finances, marketing, and research since the beginning. In 1985 the business name was changed to Abel Hammer Company. Helmut Abel’s younger son, Frank (b Wernau, Baden-Württemberg, 21 Sept 1963), joined the firm in 1986. In 1993 the company moved to a larger facility in Frankenhardt. After Helmut’s retirement as technical manager, in 2001, Frank assumed that position. Norbert’s son Alexander (b Ruit, Baden-Württemberg, 14 March 1990) completed an apprenticeship as a piano technician and in 2001 entered a course to become a piano master, with the intention of joining the firm after completion.

The firm makes piano hammers based on historical methods, yet employing modern technology for consistent quality. Abel also restores and duplicates hammer parts and recovers original hammer heads, using an old Dolge hammer press imported in ...

Article

Ableton  

Brandon Smith

Music production software company based in Berlin, with a branch in New York. Ableton (Ableton AG) was founded in 1999 by Gerhard Behles, Robert Henke, and Bernd Roggendorf. Its main product is a computer program called Live, which was released in 2001. This is a digital audio workstation (DAW) environment for recording audio and MIDI with an emphasis on working in real time, essentially allowing the user to play the software as an instrument. Practically any operation can be controlled via MIDI. Since its introduction, Live has become popular among electronic music artists for its ability to allow spontaneous manipulation of audio in a performance situation. Many manufacturers of MIDI controllers have developed control surfaces for Live, bridging the gap between software and hardware.

Live is equally suited to arranging and production applications, with abilities similar to those of other popular recording platforms such as Cubase and Pro Tools. It can run in tandem with most other DAW systems using the ReWire protocol by Steinberg Media Technologies (the creators of Cubase), allowing Live and other programs to share audio and MIDI information with a host DAW. In many ways Live has redefined the role software and computers in general have had in music creation and production. It was among the first programs able automatically to ‘beat match’ (synchronize audio files with different tempos). An integrated Max/MSP platform (a visual programming language) allows users to program their own virtual instruments by linking together pre-made blocks or ‘objects’. Ableton also produces virtual instrument plug-ins and libraries of samples for their Live platform....

Article

Adams  

James Holland

Dutch manufacturer of percussion instruments. Adams Musical Instruments was established at the end of the 1960s by André Adams at Thorn in the Netherlands. Adams has become one of the leading percussion manufacturers in the world. Its list of products range from lightweight, low-priced pedal timpani designed for schools and bands, through to top of the range professional timpani and concert marimbas. A great deal of thought is given to the adaptability and portability of the instruments, as well as to their quality. For example, playing height of their keyboard instruments is adjustable, and their tubular bells may be adjusted both for height and range. In the contemporary world of percussion these refinements are invaluable for the player. Adams now manufactures timpani, xylophones, marimbas, tubular bells, bell plates, concert bass drums, temple blocks and a range of sticks....

Article

Barbara Owen

American organ building firm. It was formed in 1931 when the firm of Ernest M(artin) Skinner & Co. acquired the organ department of the Aeolian Co., which had made its reputation building organs with self-playing mechanisms for private houses, changing its name to Aeolian-Skinner. In 1933 there was a reorganization in which G(eorge) Donald Harrison, who had joined Skinner in 1927, became technical director and Skinner’s activities were curtailed. In the same year Skinner, after increasing disagreement with Harrison over tonal matters, began a new company in Methuen, Massachusetts, with his son, Richmond, who had purchased the former Methuen Organ Co. factory and Serlo Hall the previous year.

During the 1930s the Aeolian-Skinner Co. continued to rise in popularity, and in 1940 Harrison became president, succeeding Arthur Hudson Marks (1874–1939), a wealthy businessman who had become its owner and president in 1919. Under Harrison the firm became a leader in the trend away from orchestral tonal practices and towards a more classical sound. It was Harrison who coined the term ‘American Classic’ to refer to this more eclectic type of tonal design. On his death, Joseph S. Whiteford (...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

American firm of piano makers. Charles Albright (Albrecht by 1864) is listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1863. He was in partnership with Frederick Riekes (as Albrecht & Riekes, 1864–5), with Riekes and Richard T. Schmidt (as Albrecht, Riekes & Schmidt, 1866–74), and with Riekes and Edmund Wolsieffer (as Albrecht & Co., ...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

American firm of piano makers. Charles Albright (Albrecht by 1864) is listed in Philadelphia city directories from 1863. He was in partnership with Frederick Riekes (as Albrecht & Riekes, 1864–5), with Riekes and Richard T. Schmidt (as Albrecht, Riekes & Schmidt, 1866–74), and with Riekes and Edmund Wolsieffer (as Albrecht & Co., ...

Article

Barbara Owen

French firm of reed organ makers. It was founded in 1829 by Jacob Alexandre (b Paris, 1804; d Paris, 11 June 1876) for the manufacture of accordions; in 1834 he exhibited a small reed organ (two sets of reeds) in Paris. With the purchase in 1841 and 1845 of reed organ patents (among them percussion and prolongement effects) from Alexandre Martin of Provins, the firm soon became one of the leading harmonium makers in the country, although their instruments were first called ‘orgue-mélodium’ to avoid conflict with the patents of A.-F. Debain. These early instruments had four sets of reeds, a five-octave keyboard, couplers, a Grand Jeu, and an Expression stop which bypassed the reservoir to allow control of intensity through the blowing treadles. The firm was awarded a bronze medal for the instrument in the Paris exposition of 1844; this was the first of many awards, including gold medals and culminating in grand prizes in Brussels (...

Article

Hugh Davies

An Electronic organ designed by Jerome Markowitz (1917–91) between 1937 and 1939, and manufactured from 1939 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and from 1953 in nearby Macungie. The Allen Organ Co. was founded in 1945; besides many models of the organ, it has manufactured two electronic harpsichords (introduced in 1961 and 1982) and an electronic piano (from 1965). After Markowitz's death his son Steve Markowitz succeeded him as president.

The Allen organ was the first fully-electronic organ to become commercially available. A three-manual instrument was produced in 1946, and a four-manual one in 1954. In 1949 a two-speed rotating loudspeaker unit, the Gyrophonic Projector, was introduced. The company was one of the first to develop a fully transistorized organ (1959), and in the digital Computer Organ (1971) it pioneered the replacement of oscillators by a computer that generates sounds by means of digital waveform synthesis (based on recordings of pipe organ spectra). The original organ was designed for use in churches, but later models included concert and home organs. The concert models have frequently taken solo and obbligato roles in orchestras, under conductors such as Barenboim, Bernstein, Dorati, Karajan, Mehta, Ormandy and Stokowski. Four-manual touring organs were commissioned in the mid-1970s by Carlo Curley (380 loudspeakers) and Virgil Fox (over 500 loudspeakers)....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Electronic music controller produced by nu desine Ltd in Bristol, UK. Conceived by Adam Place (b Chatham, Kent, 1986) while studying sound design at Nagoya Zokei University in Japan, the prototype was developed in 2007 while Place was a student of music and visual art at Bristol University, where he was inspired by the electronic and bass-heavy sounds of Bristol’s underground music scene. Place founded nu desine in September 2010 to commercialize his design. Introduced at the Frankfurt Musikmesse in March 2012, the AlphaSphere entered commercial production later that year with the ‘Elite’ series. The firm, with six employees in 2012, also develops other new interfaces for human and computer interaction.

The AlphaSphere can communicate with other electronic devices such as computers, digital audio workstations, and synthesizers, by sending MIDI and OSC (Open Sound Control) messages over a USB connector. The OSC messages include specific network address information that allows the AlphaSphere to control multiple devices on a network. The AlphaSphere features six rows of eight circular, pressure-sensitive silicone pads arranged in rings encircling a pedestal-mounted sphere; sphere and pedestal together measure 26 × 26 × 32 cm and weigh about 2.5 kg. The pads incorporate a patent-pending touch technology; each pad offers independent aftertouch control affecting the audio output continuously during the duration of contact. The lowest pads are the largest and the uppermost pads the smallest. Pitches can be placed in different arrangements; for example, a major scale can be arranged around a row, with perfect 5ths playable by pressing the pads on opposite sides of the sphere. Coloured LEDs within the sphere light up between the pads and the LEDs can be controlled in different ways....

Article

Article

Andover  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1955 by Thomas W. Byers and Charles Brenton Fisk in North Andover, Massachusetts. It moved shortly afterwards to Methuen, Massachusetts, and in 1961 to Gloucester, Massachusetts, being renamed C.B. Fisk, Inc. A new Andover Organ Co. was formed in Methuen by two former employees, Leo Constantineau (b Lawrence, MA, 1 Nov 1924; d North Andover, MA, 1 Feb 1979) and Robert J. Reich (b Urbana, IL, 15 Dec 1929). Beginning modestly with rebuilding and restoration work, the firm soon began attracting contracts for new organs such as that for St John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minnesota (1965). This organ, like several subsequent instruments, was designed by Constantineau and voiced and finished by Reich. In this same period a small continuo positive was designed, several examples of which have been built. The firm later became a multiple partnership with Robert Reich as president, Donald Olson as vice-president, and Donald Reich as treasurer. In ...

Article

Hans Klotz, Umberto Pineschi and Lorenzo Ghielmi

Italian family of organ builders, composers and musicians. They were active from the last decades of the 15th century to the second half of the 17th. A Lorenzo Antegnati and his son Giovanni, a lawyer, established themselves in Brescia, coming from Lodi, assuming citizenship on 17 February 1431.

Hans Klotz and Umberto Pineschi

Giovanni’s son Bartolomeo (d 1501, called ‘magister Bartholomeus de Lumesanis’ probably because he had his shop in Lumezzane) was the first organ builder of the family, and was organist at Brescia Cathedral. He worked on organs at S Maria Maggiore and S Pietro de Dom, Brescia (1484), Milan Cathedral (the small organ, 1489–91); S Maria Maggiore, Bergamo (1496–8); S Lorenzo Maggiore, Milan (1498), and Albino, near Bergamo (1501).

Bartolomeo’s son Gian Battista (b 1490; d before 1560) was a highly regarded organist, while Gian Giacomo (...

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Microcomputer designed by Steve Jobs (b San Francisco, 25 Feb 1955; d Palo Alto, 5 Oct 2011) with Steve Wozniak (b San Jose, CA, 11 Aug 1950) and manufactured in various versions from 1977 until 1993 by Apple Computer Inc. of Cupertino, California. It has been widely used in musical and other contexts. The Apple II consists of a single box for the logic circuitry (based on the MOS 6502 microprocessor) with an integral alphanumeric keyboard, and attached peripherals typically including a visual display unit, two disc drives, a printer, and joysticks. The original Apple II included a monophonic speaker and one-bit sound capability that could be made to sound like two or three simultaneous voices.

For higher-quality music production, by 1981 other firms began to produce various circuit boards (sound cards) to plug into the Apple II. Examples include ALF Products’ synthesizer card and Mountain Computer’s popular 16-oscillator digital synthesizer with software. Two commercially produced digital synthesizers with polyphonic keyboards, the alphaSyntauri (...

Article

Barbara Owen

revised by Laurence Libin

Trade name for a small mechanical reed organ, operated by means of a crank-fed perforated strip. It was patented by Henry B. Horton in 1877 (no.196,529) and improved in 1882 by Henry B. Morris and Lucien A. Brott (no.252,844). It was manufactured in various models and great numbers by the Autophone Co. (later the Mechanical Orguinette Co.) of Ithaca, New York, which also made related instruments under the names of Musette, Celestina, and Musical Casket....

Article

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. Carl Barckhoff (b Wiedenbrück, Westphalia, Germany, 1849; d Basic, VA, April 16, 1919) was trained as an organ builder in Germany, presumably by his father, Felix (d 1878), and emigrated with his father and brother Lorenz to the USA, where they established a family firm, Felix Barckhoff & Sons, in Philadelphia about 1865. In 1878 the firm, under Carl’s direction, moved to near Pittsburgh and in 1881 to Salem, Ohio, where 54 workers were employed by 1889. The firm moved in 1895 to Mendelssohn (now Clairton), Pennsylvania, and after a fire in 1897 to Latrobe, Pennsylvania; in 1900 it moved again, to Pomeroy, Ohio, where Carl Barckhoff married about 1907. Following bankruptcy in 1908, a final move was made in 1913 to Basic, Virginia, where factories were built to make both church and theatre organs (including self-playing models). Reportedly, August Klann moved his organ supply business (founded in ...

Article

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 ...