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Challen  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. Thomas Butcher (fl 1804–47) started making pianos at 41 Great Titchfield Street, London, in 1804. William Challen (d London, 1861) was associated with Butcher from 1816, and by 1839 the firm had become Challen and Hollis. William’s son Charles went into partnership with (?Charles) Hodgson but when C.H. Challen joined, the firm became Challen and Son. They won a reputation for good-quality pianos at moderate prices. In World War I part of the firm’s woodworking machinery was commandeered and it was allowed to produce only four pianos a week. This led it to continue making relatively few models, thereby economizing in the range of machinery and raw materials required. Since the 1930s over 180 Challen pianos, from large concert grand pianos to small studio uprights have been used in BBC studios. Challen specialized in small grand pianos, and made the smallest on the market (122 cm long). The firm was acquired in ...

Article

Kyle Devine

American manufacturer of electronic keyboards and drum machines. The company was founded in Upland, California, by Harry Chamberlin in the late 1940s. Instead of the electronic circuits and digital processors used to generate sound in most synthesizers, Chamberlins replay the sounds of existing instruments and effects recorded to electromagnetic tape. In using prerecorded sound, Chamberlins are considered forerunners of digital sampling techniques and technologies.

Harry Chamberlin’s first device, the Rhythmate (considered one of the first drum machines) used a series of dials and switches to play back fourteen looped drum patterns. Later designs, such as the Model 200 (1950s) and the M1 (1970s), used a conventional keyboard to activate the tape mechanism. Instead of tape loops, these keyboard models used tape strips that played for several seconds before automatically rewinding. Using tape strips allowed the initial attack of the instrument to be heard.

Sales were sizeable but never enormous: several hundred Chamberlins were produced during the company’s lifespan (...

Article

Niall O’Loughlin

revised by Robert Bigio

(b Dublin, Ireland, 1809; d London, England, May 7, 1864). Irish flutist, composer, flute designer, and manufacturer. He became professor of flute at the Royal Academy of Music in the 1840s, and was an enthusiastic player of Boehm’s 1832 conical flute as made by Rudall & Rose from 1843. He published the first English-language tutor for the instrument, followed by further editions. However, Clinton appears to have fallen out with Boehm after failing to persuade him to allow Clinton to produce Boehm’s newly invented (1847) cylindrical flute in London (Boehm sold the rights to Rudall & Rose instead). Clinton then denounced Boehm’s work, declaring his opposition to Boehm’s open-standing (fully vented) key system (the virtues of which he had previously extolled) as well as to Boehm’s cylindrical bore and his use of metal for the body.

In 1848 Clinton registered the first of his four patents for flutes, to which he gave the name Equisonant. These use a fingering system similar to that of the eight-keyed flute, on a conical bore but with a mechanism that allows the tone holes to be better placed. After ...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. The firm was descended from the business established by James Longman in 1767, which changed partners over the years and became Longman & Broderip and later Clementi & Co.; the cumulative ink serial numbers in Collard & Collard square pianos continue Clementi’s serial numbers. It was Frederick William Collard (bap. Wiveliscombe, 21 June 1772; d London, 31 Jan 1860) who directed the business as senior partner after Clementi’s death in 1832. His brother William Frederick Collard (bap. Wiveliscombe, 25 Aug 1776; d Folkestone, 11 Oct 1866) – to whom Clementi had written from abroad: ‘Now, young Collard, you have a good pair of ears, see that the tone is pure and true’ – was a specialist in piano tone production. In 1821 he patented the ‘harmonic swell’ (see Clementi). When W.F. Collard retired in 1842, F.W. Collard, then sole proprietor, took into partnership his two nephews Frederick William Collard (bap. ...

Article

Guy Oldham

English firm of organ builders. Established in 1854 at Huddersfield by Peter Conacher, by 1906 it had built or enlarged more than 400 organs (many with tubular pneumatic action) and by 1921 more than 1600 organs in all parts of the world. Peter Conacher (b Scotland, 1823) is said to have served an apprenticeship in Leipzig, and worked for Hill & Sons and Walker & Sons before entering a brief partnership in 1854 with a Mr Brown. Financing from a new partner, Joseph H. Hebblethwaite, enabled Conacher to build a workshop equipped with a steam-driven circular saw. After Hebblethwaite’s death, Conacher was joined by his brother; their first organ won a medal at the Yorkshire Exhibition of 1866. Peter’s son, Joseph H. Conacher, joined his father’s firm after training in France.

At its opening, in 1873, Conacher’s Springwood Organ Works was claimed to be the largest and best-equipped organ factory in England; its 80 employees built about 30 organs annually before the works burned in ...

Article

Kurt Lueders

French firm of organ builders. It was founded in Paris in 1831 by Abbé J.-L. Cabias to market a plainsong accompaniment device he had patented. André-Marie Daublaine and B.L.J. Girard, who were civil engineers by profession, took over (from 1834 and 1841 respectively), and Louis Callinet merged his activity with the firm’s in 1838; accordingly, the titles Daublaine & Cie, Maison Daublaine-Callinet or Girard et Cie were variously to be found on contracts. Callinet was dismissed in 1843 after destroying much of the St Sulpice organ under reconstruction, in a fit of spite after a personal disappointment. Charles Spackman Barker took charge of the workshop in 1841; at that time, a branch was set up in Lyons under Théodore Sauer. Félix Danjou became the principal commercial agent and aesthetic apologist from 1839 to 1845, when Pierre Alexandre Ducroquet, an appraiser-auctioneer, purchased the firm and appended his name to the instruments. The firm was taken over by Joseph Merklin in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

American firm of piano makers, active in New York from 1791 to 1793. The brief partnership of Thomas Dodds (b England; d ?New York, c1799) and Christian Claus (b ?Stuttgart, Germany; d New York, after 1799) was among the first to establish the piano industry in New York.

Dodds arrived in New York from London in 1785. In an advertisement in the Independent Journal of 13 August 1785, he offered to sell, repair, and tune string, wind, and keyboard instruments at his house on Queen Street, and cited his experience as an organ, harpsichord, and piano maker for “upwards of twenty years.” He was granted American citizenship in 1788. In 1789 he sold a piano to George Washington for his stepdaughter’s lessons. He was also active as a mahogany merchant from 1789 to 1793. In 1783 Claus had received a patent in London for a key mechanism applied to the English guitar. In New York he continued to build English guitars and repair violins; he is listed in city directories from ...

Article

Duo-Art  

Article

British firm of Synthesizer and electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Putney, London, by Peter Zinovieff in 1969, and subsequently owned by Datanomics of Wareham, Dorset (from 1979), the composer Edward Williams (from 1982), and Robin Wood (from 1995). Since the 1980s it has been based near Truro, Cornwall. The company’s best-known product is the Putney or VCS-3. ...

Article

Laurence Libin

American manufacturer and brand of acoustic and electric guitars, other plucked string instruments, and electric guitar accessories. The company originated in 1873 in Smyrna, Turkey, where the Greek immigrant Kostantinos Stathopoulo opened a store selling and repairing string instruments. His son Anastasios opened an independent workshop about 1890. In 1903 Anastasios emigrated with his family to New York, where on 25 March 1909 he patented a bowl-back mandolin named the Orpheum Lyra. Two sons, Epaminondas (‘Epi’, b 1893) and Orpheus, joined him in the business, and when Anastasios died, in 1915, Epi took control and later patented a banjo tone ring and rim. Assuming ownership upon his mother’s death, in 1923, he introduced the Recording line of banjos. As business expanded, the family acquired the Farovan instrument plant in Long Island and in 1928 the incorporated firm became The Epiphone Banjo Corp. By that time Epiphone was making banjos for Selmer/Conn. To compete with their rival Gibson, Epiphone introduced their Recording series of acoustic guitars, both archtop and flat top, followed in ...