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Bob Berkman

American manufacturer of piano rolls. The company was established in 1900 as an adjunct to the Melville Clark Piano Co. of Chicago. Clark’s invention of the ‘marking piano’ in 1912 made possible the cutting of rolls that accurately captured specific performances, although without expression. Involved at an early stage in the recording of ragtime, QRS soon also turned to jazz, especially after Max Kortlander joined its staff and it transferred its main recording activities to New York about 1920. Among the notable musicians who cut rolls for the company were James P. Johnson (1921–7) and Fats Waller (as ‘Thomas Waller’, 1923–31); in 1926 some 11 million rolls were cut. The company also established a record label of the same name, on which it put out three series of discs from the early 1920s until 1930; the second of these was most notable, with recordings supervised by Arthur E. Satherley. The third series appeared in ...


Anne Beetem Acker

[Krasniy Oktyabr]

Soviet piano manufacturing firm. It was formed in 1924 from a conglomeration of major piano factories: Lunacharsky (formerly Schröder), Offenbacher, Mühlbach, and Becker (which had merged with Schröder in 1903). The new firm was named Krasniy Oktyabr (Red October; a reference to the October 1917 revolutionary coup) in 1927 with headquarters in what had been the Becker-Schröder factory in St Petersburg (later Leningrad). It became the largest piano manufacturer in the USSR: by 1934, 19,731 uprights and grands had been produced, growing to 350,000 by 1983. Action parts were made at the Lunacharsky factory, felt in Moscow, and wrest pins and cloth in Leningrad. Between 1931 and 1941 new factories were added in Sverdlovsk, Saratov, Ufa, Kuibyshev, Gor’ky, and other Soviet cities to make components and supply uprights to the firm. World War II temporarily ended production and some facilities were demolished, but by 1949 output had reached pre-war levels. However, mass production impaired quality, and the pianos are not highly regarded....



Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. The firm, based in Heerde, was founded by the German-born Johann Reil (b Munich, 6 April 1907; d Zwolle, 5 May 1960). Inspired by the Orgelbewegung Johann built mainly mechanical organs and undertook the restoration of several old instruments. Subsequently the firm was taken over by Johann’s sons, Johann (Han) Ludwig Reil (b Heerde, 21 April 1939) and Wicher Albertus (Albert) Reil (b Heerde, 16 July 1942).

The celebrations held in Groningen in 1969 on the 250th anniversary of the death of Arp Schnitger caused Han and Albert to rethink entirely their firm’s approach to organ building. They resolved to build organs in accordance with historical practice, and set about learning how to do so by making copies of three organs: the 1701 Schnitger organ of Uithuizen (1973, Princess Juliana Church, Scheveningen); the 1734 Bielfeldt organ of Osterholz-Scharmbeck (...



James A. Strain

Drumhead and percussion instrument manufacturing company headquartered in Valencia, California. It was founded June 1, 1957, by Remo D. Belli (b June 22, 1927; d April 25, 2016), a professional drummer who was at that time a partner in Drum City with Roy Harte. Remo, Inc., was established to market the first successfully designed synthetic drumhead made of DuPont Mylar. Created by Belli, Harte, Sid Gerwin, and Sam Muchnick, the patented design utilized an aluminum channel in which the Mylar was glued, creating a functional mounting system. By 1977, 50% of all drumheads sold in the world were manufactured by Remo. First located in North Hollywood, the company moved several times to increasingly larger factories during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1996 a new 216,000-square-foot facility was built in Valencia, and former facilities were turned into showrooms and the Remo Recreational Music Center in 1998. The company also has production facilities in Taiwan and China....



Anne Beetem Acker

German piano action and parts manufacturer. The firm was founded by Louis Renner in Stuttgart in 1882. His son, Oscar, took over 20 years later in partnership with Wilhelm Megenhardt, with Renner managing the technical side and Megenhardt in charge of business and finances. Initially, much of the output was handcrafted, but production was rapidly mechanized for greater consistency and productivity, and Renner soon became known for high-quality action parts, including, by 1906, piano hammers. The firm moved to a new larger factory in 1902, at which time they had 35 employees, growing to more than 400 in the 1930s. The factory was nearly destroyed in 1944, but by 1948 it was again producing actions, initially for piano manufacturers in German-speaking parts of Europe, but soon internationally. An additional factory was opened in Odenheim by 1960 for storing and processing wood and for pre-assembly and hammer making.

In 1986 Lloyd Meyer (...



Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. Founded in Trenton, Illinois, in 1917 by Adolph C. Reuter (b Pomeroy, OH, 3 Dec 1880; d Lawrence, KS, 5 Jan 1971), Earl E. Schwarz and A.G. Ruegger, the firm moved to Lawrence in 1919. Reuter had previously worked for Barckhoff, Wicks and Casavant. Albert G. Sabol, Reuter’s nephew, joined the firm in 1917 as a designer and engineer; Sabol’s son, Albert Sabol jr, became president in 1964. The firm has always built electropneumatic-action organs, of which it had produced more than 2000 by the 1980s. In 1969 Reuter entered into a shortlived agreement to import tracker-action organs from Emil Hammer of Germany, but this was not particularly successful. R. Franklin Mitchell became a consultant to the Reuter Organ Co. in 1951, was named a vice-president in 1964, and became president in 1980 with Albert Neutel as vice-president; in 1983 Neutel became president and Mitchell chairman of the board. Mitchell favoured an ‘American classic’ approach to tonal design. The firm’s important organs include those for St Paul’s Methodist Church, Fort Worth, Texas (...



Alfred Reichling

Two firms of organ builders, one in Austria and one in the Czech Republic, founded by the Rieger family of German origin. Franz Rieger (b Zossen, 13 Dec 1812; d Jägerndorf [now Krnov], 29 Jan 1885) trained as an organ builder with Joseph Seyberth in Vienna, and set up a workshop at Jägerndorf in 1844. His sons, Otto (b 3 March 1847; d 12 Dec 1903) and Gustav (b 1 Aug 1848; d 1905), both trained in Vienna, Bamberg and Würzburg (with Balthasar Schlimbach), and took over the firm in 1873 under the name Franz Rieger & Söhne (‘Gebr. Rieger’ from 1879 onwards). Whereas Franz Rieger used slider chests, his sons began building organs with cone chests. They exhibited an organ with 12 stops, later installed in Sts Peter & Paul, Jaktař near Opava, at the international exhibition in Vienna, 1873. They also exhibited at the Paris Exposition of ...



Brandon Smith

[Rocky Mount Instruments]

Division of the Allen Organ Co. based in Rocky Mount, Pennsylvania. The RMI division opened about 1966 to produce portable transistor combo organs, electronic pianos and eventually one of the earliest digital synthesizers. The Explorer, one of RMI’s first products, was a combo organ featuring a keyboard contact system called ‘flying hammers’. These weighted contacts bounced up and down when a key was depressed, and created strumming effects for the Explorer’s more percussive sounds. RMI then focused on creating transistor electronic pianos. Unlike the electromechanical Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos, the RMI Electra Piano operated with solid-state circuitry. Their first model, the Rock-Si-Chord, had only two sounds (string and lute) both reminiscent of a harpsichord. Next, the 300-series Electra Piano featured piano, harpsichord and lute sounds. Four revised and improved versions were introduced throughout the 1970s. In 1974 RMI introduced two groundbreaking digital products: the KC-1 (Keyboard Computer 1, followed by the KC-2 in ...


Hugh Davies

An electronic organ, many models of which have been manufactured by the Rodgers Organ Co., founded as Rodgers Organ Instruments LLC in 1958 by Rodgers W. Jenkins and Fred Tinker, employees of Tektronix Inc. in Portland, Oregon. In 1960 Rodgers moved to its permanent home in Hillsboro, Oregon, and produced its first fully transistorized organ. In 1977 Rodgers became a division of CBS Musical Instruments and in 1985 part of Steinway Musical Properties; in 1988 it was purchased by the Roland Corporation. The product range consists mainly of large custom-built two- and three-manual models and includes church, concert, and theatre organs; the largest instruments, such as one used in Carnegie Hall, New York, have five manuals. The sounds were originally generated by an oscillator for each note in each stop; about 1980 microprocessor control of analogue circuitry was adopted. Nowadays digital sampling technology with two parallel audio channels is used to simulate stereophonic pipe organ sound. A white-noise ‘chiff’ circuit imitates the attack produced by flute stops in some pipe organs. Less common stops include Harp and Carillon (the latter is provided by an electromechanical system). In ...