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Article

Christopher Larkin

German family firm of wind instrument makers. The business, located in Mainz, was established in 1782 by Franz Ambros Alexander (b Miltenberg, July 22, 1753; d Mainz, Dec 1, 1802), who was described in a Mainz Cathedral report of the same year as a wood-turner and wind instrument maker. Portraits depict Franz Ambros and his son Philipp (1787–1864) with clarinets. After his death, Alexander's business was continued by his widow and two of his sons, Claudius (1783–1816) and Philipp, later joined by a third, Kaspar Anton (1803–72). Under the direction of Philipp and Kaspar Anton the firm became known as Gebrüder Alexander, the name it still bears. Kaspar Anton's two sons Franz Anton (1838–1926) and Georg Philip (i) (1849–97) became the third generation to direct the company. Woodwind instruments, mainly for military use, were the firm's main products until the mid-19th century. By that time, however, band instrumentation had become more brass orientated; after Philipp's death in ...

Article

Paul Niemistö

(b Athens, Greece, June 18, 1866; d Helsinki, Finland, June 20, 1927). Musical instrument dealer, brass instrument maker, and band director in Helsinki. He was in contact with Finnish troops as a boy in Gallipoli, Turkey, during the Crimean war and was brought back to Helsinki as an orphan. Trained in the Finnish military music school, he became the chief conductor of the Helsinki Guards Band (1890–1901) until the dissolution of the Finnish Army by Tsar Nicholas II. He then formed and led the Helsinki Brass Band in 1901. In the same year he formed the Apostol Music Publishing and Apostol Musical Instrument Company, which issued a catalogue in 1910. Bringing Wenzel Mirsch (b 4 Dec 1877; d 2 Aug 1946) in 1908 from Graslitz, Bohemia, as his foreman, Apostol made instruments for the burgeoning Finnish brass band movement until 1925. Mirsch continued the manufacture and restoration of instruments at the factory under his own name until his death. The many surviving Apostol brasses include cornets in E♭ and B♭, E♭ alto horns, B♭ tenor horns, euphoniums in B♭, and tubas in E♭ and BB♭, many of which are still being played in Finland....

Article

Peter Andreas Kjeldsberg

(b Kranz, Russia, July 7, 1896; d Trondheim, Norway, Nov 19, 1963). Norwegian collector of musical instruments and founder and director of the Ringve Museum in Trondheim. An amateur singer, she had no formal musical training, but three siblings became professional musicians. In 1920 Victoria (née Rostin) married Christian Anker Bachke (1873–1946), the last private owner of Ringve manor outside Trondheim. Together they made plans for two museums: one for the history of the manor and its inhabitants, another for musical instruments, which they had begun to collect. Upon Christian’s death, his will established a foundation encompassing the land and buildings, and Mrs Bachke began serious collecting to prepare the museum, which opened in 1952 in the manor’s main building, a well-kept example of historicist architecture and interior decoration from the second half of the 19th century. Her main gifts for this task were enthusiasm and useful contacts, notably in France and Italy. One of her advisors was the Danish musicologist and organologist Godtfred Skjerne. Before she died, Mrs Bachke had collected about 1000 instruments of European and non-Western classical and folk traditions. She desired that the instruments be playable. Today the Ringve Museum has a national responsibility for collections of musical instruments in Norway, with educational and scientific staff and a conservation workshop. It remains a foundation under the administration of Museene i Sør-Trøndelag AS....

Article

Margaret Cranmer

(b 1770; bur. London, Oct 7, 1833). English piano maker, music seller, publisher, printer and organ builder. He worked in Duke Street, Grosvenor Square, London, from 1787 until his death. Domenico Motta joined him briefly to form Motta & Ball about 1794; in 1818 the Post Office London Directory lists the firm as J. Ball and Son. The son must be the Edward Ball who is listed as a piano maker at Duke Street in an 1824 jury roll preserved at Westminster City Archives. James Ball is listed in the 1827 Post Office London Directory as ‘Grand cabinet & square Piano Forte maker to his Majesty’. Ball’s early five-octave square pianos with the English single action had two hand stops, one for raising the dampers and the other a ‘lute’ stop. He is best known for his square pianos, but also made cabinet pianos and grands, some of them for the Prince Regent. In ...

Article

Charles Beare

(b ?Salisbury, July 14, 1727; d Salisbury, Feb 18, 1795). English violin maker and instrument dealer. He lived and worked in Salisbury and, with Forster, did much to raise the standard of English violin making in the second half of the 18th century. Banks possibly learnt his craft from a relative or in London, perhaps with Wamsley. His woodwork, using native sycamore for backs and sides and pine for tops, looks like that of Duke and Joseph Hill, but he had even more in common with William Forster (i), since both used a thick, dark red oil-varnish, previously unknown in England. Banks might have worked in London on his own for a time, but most of his instruments are labelled from Salisbury. Banks is, like Forster, particularly famous for the many cellos he made. His violas were of the small size fashionable at the time and are less appreciated now, but his violins, though rare, are very good instruments tonally and sometimes pass for Italian. Of the cellos, most are built on a reduced Amati pattern and are very similar to the work of the Forsters, both in appearance and tone. Occasionally, however, Banks made a cello with features of Stradivari, and these are excellent in every way. Bows were sometimes branded by him, though they were doubtless made for him, and he was careful to brand his instruments, sometimes in many places. Some of the later instruments were made for and branded by the London firm of Longman & Broderip, who also employed lesser makers....

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

Charles Beare

(b Stamford, Lincs., 1755; d London, March 1823). English violin maker and dealer. He learnt violin making as a pupil of Richard Duke, for whom he worked for 17 years, and the first instruments bearing his label and brand are very similar to those of his master. At the end of 1782 he took over Maurice Whitaker's shop in the Royal Exchange, London, and was joined by his nephew ‘Ned’ who had also been apprenticed to Duke. He seems on the evidence of his labels to have dealt in music and instruments, including his own. By 1790 his instruments, particularly the cellos, had absorbed something of the influence of Stradivari, and were most cleanly made on a good individual outline. They are often branded at the top of the back at this period. At the beginning of the 19th century Betts was employing some of the best workmen in London, including at times the Panormos and Lockey Hill. Many inexpensive new instruments were made for the shop, as well as bows of all qualities. After Betts’s death the business was continued by his nephew, Charles Vernon, and younger brother Arthur (...

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

(b Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, UK, March 14, 1940). English dealer in musical instruments, rare music books, music iconography, and related ephemera. After leaving school at the age of 16, Bingham trained as a quantity surveyor and opened his own surveying business in 1961, about the same time he began dealing in general antiques. He had a partnership in a musical instrument business for one year until 1966, when he opened his first independent shop at 247 Kings Road, London. Through extensive travels Bingham obtains and sells both Western and non-Western instruments. He specializes in assembling collections of European woodwinds, illustrating their development also with patent documents, methods, and other materials. His shop at 11 Pond Street features collections of metronomes, oil paintings of musicians, trade cards, tuning forks, and trade catalogues in addition to instruments. Major museum clients include the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Music Museum (South Dakota), the Musée de la Musique (Paris), and the Musashino Academia Musicae (Tokyo), while private collectors have included Joe R. Utley, Nicholas Shackleton, and H. Iino. Bingham has also published several important works on musical instruments, such as William Waterhouse’s ...

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

(b London, c1750; d London, Dec 19, 1819). English music seller, instrument dealer and publisher. From his early imprints it appears that he had been apprenticed to Walsh’s successors, William Randall and his wife Elizabeth. In 1783 he was in business with T. Beardmore as Beardmore & Birchall (or Birchall & Beardmore). From 1783 to May 1789 he was in partnership with Hugh Andrews as Birchall & Andrews; he also issued publications under the name Birchall & Co., and established a circulating music library. He then continued alone in the firm until 1819, though John Bland appears to have had some association with Birchall after he sold his own firm in 1795, until about 1801.

Birchall managed the series of Ancient Concerts and most of the benefit concerts of the time. In 1783 he proposed a complete reissue of Handel’s works in 80 folio volumes, but the project never materialized, though Birchall subsequently published many Handel items. In addition to glees, country dance books and much Italian vocal music, his publications included the first English edition of J.S. Bach’s ...

Article

Frank Kidson

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

(b ?London, c1750; d ?London, c1840). English music seller, instrument dealer and publisher. By 1776 he was established in London, where he remained active until his comparatively early retirement in 1795. In 1789 he went to Vienna to induce Haydn to visit England and to seek compositions from him and other composers, including Hoffmeister and Kozeluch. Bland is said to have been the hero of the ‘Razor’ Quartet story, in which he supposedly received the manuscript of the quartet, op.55 no.2, as a reward for presenting the composer with his English-style razor; however, the op.55 quartets were published in England not by Bland, but by Longman & Broderip in 1790. Haydn did eventually send Bland three piano trios (hXV: 15–17) which he subsequently published, and when Haydn arrived in London in January 1791 he spent his first night as a guest of Bland at his house in Holborn. Bland published other works by Haydn, though his business relationship with him was by no means an exclusive one. He also appears to have commissioned the ...

Article

Derek Adlam and Cyril Ehrlich

English firm of piano makers. John Broadwood (b Cockburnspath, Scotland, Oct 6, 1732; d London, 1812) was a joiner and cabinetmaker who went to London in 1761 and worked with the harpsichord maker Burkat Shudi. He married Shudi’s daughter in 1769 and became his partner in 1770. After Shudi’s death (1773) the partnership was continued with Shudi’s son, but Broadwood was the senior partner and from 1782 onwards he managed the firm alone from Shudi’s house in Great Pulteney Street. Broadwood continued to make harpsichords until at least 1793, but by this time the market had shifted almost completely towards pianos.

Broadwood’s early square pianos were modelled on those of Johannes Zumpe, but within a decade he completely reconstructed the design. Wrest plank and pins were shifted from the right, as in the clavichord, to the back of the case (distributing evenly the pressure on the bridge); the keys were straightened, dampers improved and Zumpe’s hand stops replaced by pedals. In ...

Article

Nancy Groce

(b London, c1815; fl New York, c1843–1872). American harp maker and dealer of English birth. He probably immigrated to New York in the late 1830s. Before leaving London, he trained at Érard’s harp shop, where according to his 1846 advertisement in the New York directory, he was granted a “Royal Letter of Patent” for his work. Although he claimed to have established a New York shop as early as 1841, no record of his firm has been found before 1843, when he was listed in the city directory as a “harp mauf” at 385 Broadway.

In 1844, Browne formed a short-lived partnership with the harp maker James Delveau. In an 1844 advertisement, Delveau & Browne advertised themselves as “Manufacturers of Improved Double-Action Harps … J.F. Browne respectfully informs his Friends in the Musical World that he has established himself in New York, for the manufacture and importing of these very beautiful instruments. His arrangements are such as to enable him to transact business at European prices, thereby saving the purchasers the high duties imposed by Tariff on these Instruments … Particular care is taken to fit them for the extremes of climate in this country … Prices $500–$750” (Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Ephemera, ...

Article

Nancy Groce

(b Germany; d New York, NY, 1884). Instrument importer and dealer of German birth. He immigrated to Macon, Georgia, in 1832. In 1834, Bruno moved to New York where he probably worked as a clerk or salesman for several years before being listed as a “book seller” at 212 Fulton Street in 1837. In 1838–9, he was listed at the same address as a dealer in “mus instrs.” In 1838, Bruno also formed the first of his many partnerships, this one with the famous guitar maker Christian F. Martin. Johnston, Boak, and Longworth assert that Bruno, who had “earlier worked for Martin as a bookkeeper,” signed a formal partnership agreement with the guitar maker on 1 May 1838, and that their partnership remained active at least until 29 November 1838.

Bruno’s Fulton Street shop probably served only as a retail outlet for Martin’s guitars, which were made elsewhere, as well as instruments by other makers. When Bruno & Martin dissolved, Bruno left New York for several years, apparently returning to the South, where in ...

Article

(b Troy, NY, 1833; d New York, April 10, 1875). American minstrel performer and manager. He began as a performer in the late 1840s, and made his first New York appearance with Charley White’s Serenaders in 1851. From 1852 to 1854 he and his brother Jerry performed with Wood’s Minstrels in New York, and late in the 1854 season he formed Bryant and Mallory’s Minstrels with Ben Mallory. By this time he was being advertised as ‘the unapproachable Ethiopian comedian’. In February 1857 he formed Bryant’s Minstrels with his brothers Jerry and Neil. As a versatile and brilliant performer, Bryant quickly became a public idol; the troupe performed with great success in New York until Bryant’s death in 1875, and also toured in California and elsewhere in 1867–8. Bryant’s Minstrels excelled in the portrayal of black ‘plantation life’, marking a return to the classic type of minstrelsy of the 1840s; they were also innovators, placing a greater emphasis on burlesque skits. Bryant engaged Dan Emmett in ...

Article

Miriam Miller

(fl 1672–95). English bookseller, music publisher and instrument seller. His shop at the Middle Temple Gate, London, was very near that of John Playford the elder, and they published several volumes in partnership between 1681 and 1684. One of these was Henry Purcell’s Sonnata’s of III Parts (1683), printed from plates engraved by Thomas Cross the younger. In spite of clear evidence of friendship as well as partnership between the Carr and Playford families, Carr began to publish independently in 1687. One volume, Vinculum societatis, printed that year, represents a typographical revolution, being printed from an entirely new fount of type. This fount had round note heads, and was designed to allow the printing of quavers, semiquavers etc. in groups as well as separately. It was not possible to achieve this effect with the older diamond-headed founts used by the Playford printers, and it is noticeable that although Carr continued to publish music for the next seven years, he never did so with Henry Playford, even though Carr had many business partners. One of these partners, Sam Scott, took over the Carr business in ...

Article

Robert E. Eliason

(b Danzig, Prussia, Oct 20, 1799; d Brooklyn, NY, Oct 29, 1884).

American maker of flutes and other instruments, musical instrument dealer, and music publisher of Prussian birth. Christman was principally a flute maker, though he or his workmen also made other woodwinds and some brass instruments. His only known patent concerned improvements to the flute.

Christman came to the United States in his early twenties, and was first listed in the New York City Directory of 1823. The earliest indications of his success are the exhibits of his flutes and flageolets by George Willig at the 1828, 1830, and 1831 Franklin Institute fairs in Philadelphia. The awards he won for instruments exhibited in the American Institute of the City of New York mechanic fairs illustrate his contributions to flute development of the time. For a 10-key flute in 1837, silver medal; for a 16-key flute in 1846...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover

(b Leipzig, Dec 22, 1848; d Milan, Jan 5, 1922). American manufacturer of piano felts and soundboards and dealer in piano supplies. He began his career as an apprentice in the piano factory of A. Dolge & Co. in Leipzig, emigrating to the USA in 1866. From 1867 to 1869 he worked in the New Haven, Connecticut, shop of Frederick Mathushek (who had worked with J.H. Pape in Paris). He subsequently left to become an importer of piano supplies (skins for piano hammers and Poehlmann’s music wire), and by 1871, in Brooklyn, he was manufacturing hammer felts which in 1873 won a first prize at the Vienna Exhibition. The demand for good-quality felts led him to establish in 1874 a larger manufacturing concern in the Adirondack village of Brockett’s Bridge. With ample water power and a large timber supply for the making of soundboards, Dolge transformed the town (renamed Dolgeville in ...

Article

Nancy Groce

(b Canton, CT, Nov 11, 1833; d Brooklyn, NY, May 17, 1896).

American instrument dealer and collector. He was trained as a clock maker in Bristol, CT, and later worked as a machinist in Hartford, CT, before moving to New York in January 1852. The following year he became a clerk at Rohé & Leavitt, a firm of dealers at 31 Maiden Lane; on the partners’ retirement in 1863, Foote bought the company and continued it under his own name. Except for a short-lived partnership with John F. Stratton in 1865, as Stratton & Foote, “importer and manufacturer” of brass band instruments, he was sole manager for the next 30 years, dealing in string, woodwind, and brass instruments and serving as the sole American agent for several French manufacturers, including the firm of Courtois. A Chicago “branch house” of his business, under the management of W.H. Foote, was still in operation at the time of his death. An obituary in the ...

Article

Forsyth  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of publishers and music and instrument dealers. The brothers Henry Forsyth (d July 1885) and James Forsyth (b 1833; d Manchester, Jan 2, 1907) were the third generation of Forsyths to work for Broadwood; they started their own business in Manchester in 1857, selling, hiring, tuning and repairing pianos. They published music from 1858, but this activity became important only in 1873, when they produced the first numbers of Charles Hallé’s Practical Pianoforte School and opened a London publishing house at Oxford Circus. Their list grew to include works by Stephen Heller (a friend of Hallé), Berlioz, Stanford and Delius. The firm also shared significantly in the management of leading concerts in Manchester, in particular the Hallé concerts. In 1901 the firm became a limited company; it now sells pianos, orchestral and school instruments, sheet music by all publishers and records. James’s son Algernon Forsyth (...

Article

Charles Beare and Philip J. Kass

[Francais, Jacques Pierre ]

(b Paris, France, July 3, 1923; d New York, NY, Feb 4, 2004). Violin dealer and restorer of French birth active in America. His family was involved with violin making since the end of the 19th century; their business origins can be traced back to Nicolas Lupot. Français was apprenticed to Victor Aubry at Le Havre during World War II, but after serving with the Army of Liberation he went to Mirecourt to work with Georges Apparut. He next went to New York to work in the Rudolph Wurlitzer shop and decided to stay and establish his own business, which he opened in 1951 in the New York premises vacated by Emil Herrmann. In addition to his activities as a dealer, he built up a good reputation for repairs and adjustments. In the mid-1960s he was joined by two first-class restorers from the Wurlitzer workshop, René Morel and Luiz Bellini. The scope of the business expanded and in the latter part of the century it cared for the needs of most of America’s finest string players. In ...