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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

Charles H. Purday

revised by William C. Smith and Peter Ward Jones

English firm of music publishers and, formerly,piano manufacturers active in London. The firm was founded as Cramer, Addison & Beale in 1824 when the pianist and composer J.B. Cramer (see Cramer family, §2) joined the partnership of Robert Addison (d London, 17 Jan 1868) and Thomas Frederick Beale (b ?1804 or 1805; d Chislehurst, 26 June 1863). With the addition of Cramer’s name the publication of piano music became the firm’s chief interest, and in 1830 it bought many of the plates of the Royal Harmonic Institution, which gave it works by Beethoven, Clementi, Dussek, Haydn, Hummel, Mozart, Steibelt and others. Italian songs and duets and English operas by composers such as Balfe and Benedict were soon added to the catalogue.

In 1844 Addison retired and was succeeded by William Chappell (seeChappell), and the firm then became known as Cramer, Beale & Chappell, or Cramer, Beale & Co. 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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Erard  

Ann Griffiths and Richard Macnutt

French firm of piano and harp makers and music publishers.

Ann Griffiths

The firm was founded by Sébastien Erard (b Strasbourg, 5 April 1752; d La Muette, nr Passy, 5 Aug 1831), the fourth son of the church furniture maker Louis-Antoine Erard (b Delemond, Switzerland, 1685; d1758). As Sébastien Erard was only six years old when his father died, accounts of his having acquired his woodworking skills in his father's workshop cannot be substantiated. He was, however, brought up within a community of skilled artisans, with uncles, cousins, his godfather and older brother all being employed as joiners, cabinetmakers and gilders, for the most part in an ecclesiastical context. He may have known and worked with the younger Strasbourg-based members of the Silbermann dynasty.

Erard most probably arrived in Paris in 1768. The Duchesse de Villeroy (1731–1816) was an early patron, providing him with workshop premises at her mansion in the rue de Bourbon, and in ...

Article

Edwin M. Good

Family of piano designers and builders. (i) Darrell Fandrich (b Philadelphia, PA, 31 Jan 1942). Piano designer and maker. After many years of experience as a pianist, piano technician, and concert tuner, he began design work, inventing a new type of action for upright pianos that was first patented in 1990. He founded Fandrich Design, Inc., to hold the license rights and promote the design of the new action mechanism; Heather Chambers (b 1948; later Heather Fandrich) joined this corporation in 1991. When other companies failed to adopt the Fandrich Vertical Action, Darrell opted to use it in pianos built by his brother Delwin Fandrich, who began piano production in 1992 and continued to 1994.

After this production ceased in 1994, Darrell and Heather founded Fandrich & Sons in Stanwood, Washington. Contacts in Germany, the Czech Republic, and China led to the purchase of new pianos, which Darrell has rebuilt in order to properly install his action in them. The pianos are then resold as Fandrich & Sons instruments. The Louis Renner Company in Germany manufactures the Fandrich action, which is also used in models of several European makers. The action, designed to feel as solid and responsive as a fine grand action, features carefully weighted keys, hammer return, and repetition springs. In addition to producing 50″ and 52″ uprights with the Fandrich Vertical Action, the company also builds 5′5″, 6′1″, and 7′1″ grand pianos....

Article

Farfisa  

Hugh Davies

revised by Brandon Smith

Italian company of instrument makers. It was founded about 1870 in Ancona to manufacture free-reed instruments, including piano accordions and reed organs. The modern Farfisa company (from FAbbriche Riunite di FISArmoniche, ‘United Accordion Factories’) of Castelfidardo/Camerano was founded in 1946 by Silvio Scandalli, Settimio Soprani (brother of Paolo Soprani), and the Frontalini Accordion Co. of Chicago. Farfisa revolutionized the mass production of accordions by replacing assembly lines with specialized departments producing components that were then assembled into completed instruments. In 1951 Farfisa developed the ‘Super 6’ accordion, considered by many to be the best in the world. Later, Farfisa began producing electronic keyboard instruments ranging in style from piano accordions to synthesizers. From about 1960 its range of electronic piano accordions included the 41-note Cordovox and Transicord (from ‘transistor’ and ‘accordion’), and in 1970 it manufactured an early electronic percussion unit; one Transicord model included an electronic rhythm section.

The company’s success led to a take-over in ...

Article

Feurich  

Laurence Libin

German firm of piano builders. Julius Gustav Feurich (1821–1900), a son and grandson of piano technicians, founded Pianofortefabrik Feurich in Leipzig in 1851, following his training with Pleyel in Paris. Initially the company produced upright models, adding grands in 1855; it was later designated an imperial and royal court supplier. A second factory opened in Leutzsch in 1910 to serve a widespread market, including South America, Australia, and Japan by the 1920s. The firm operated a concert hall in Leipzig and introduced several innovative designs for upright pianos, winning a prize at an exposition in Geneva in 1927. The Leipzig factory was destroyed and the Leutzsch factory was converted to living quarters during World War II, but production resumed thereafter, incorporating the brands Euterpe and W. Hoffmann from Berlin. After the company’s assets were expropriated by the East German government in 1958, the fourth-generation proprietor, Julius Hermann Feurich (...

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W.D. Jordan

Australian firm of organ builders. It was founded by George Fincham (b London, 25 Aug 1828; d Melbourne, 21 Dec 1910), the pioneer of Australian organ building. The family originated in the English village of Fincham, Norfolk. George’s father Jonathan George Fincham (1796–1863) and grandfather John (b 1754) were both organ builders. In 1901 George’s son Leslie Valentine Hunter (1879–1955) became a partner in the firm, which continued under the direction of Leslie’s son George Bowring (b 1917) and grandson David George (b 31 Jan 1944).

George Fincham was apprenticed to Henry Bevington in London (1843–9) and then worked as foreman for James Bishop & Son, London, and Forster & Andrews of Hull. He emigrated to Australia in 1852, intending to establish an organ-building enterprise; he set up his first factory in Richmond, Melbourne, in 1862...

Article

Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders. The partnership began in 1806 when Benjamin Flight (b London, c1767; d London, 1847), was joined by Joseph Robson (d ?1842). Flight's father, Benjamin (fl 1772–1805) was credited with introducing the barrel organ to churches, and Flight and Robson maintained a reputation for ingenuity in the construction of mechanical organs demonstrated in the ‘machine organ’ for the Earl of Kirkwall (1811) and the more famous Apollonicon (first exhibited in 1817). They also devised a system of handles and cranks for blowing the bellows (Trinity College, Cambridge, 1819) and disputed their apprentice J.C. Bishop's claim (see Bishop) to have invented the Composition pedal.

The firm was declared bankrupt in 1832. Robson re-established himself in the old premises in St Martin's Lane, London; he was succeeded (c1842) by his son, Thomas Joseph F. Robson (...

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

Kurt Lueders

German firm of organ builders . Alois Späth (b Ennetach, nr Mengen, 16 June 1825; d Ennetach, 7 Aug 1876) was apprenticed to, then succeeded Vitus Klingler in Ennetach, building six organs of up to 18 stops each in his region. His son Franz Xaver (1859–1940) set up an independent shop in 1882 following ten years of working as a journeyman with five regional builders. Together with his brother Albert he founded Gebrüder Späth in 1891, a prosperous firm which built some ten organs per year until the mid-1920s, after which Franz’s sons Karl (1899–1971) and August (1908–1979) carried on its work. In 1964 August separated from the firm and reorganized its Freiburg branch under the name of Freiburger Orgelbau; his son Hartwig (b Ennetach, 8 Feb 1942) was trained in the shop and received his Master Organ Builder certificate in ...

Article

Guy Oldham

revised by Ole Olesen

Danish firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1909 at Copenhagen by Theodor Frobenius (1885–1972) and in 1925 moved to Lyngby near Copenhagen. In 1944, when his sons Walther and Erik joined the firm, it began building organs with mechanical key-action and slider-chests and mainly mechanical stop-action. It specializes in carefully designed modern casework with the characteristic feature that the pipework of each manual is arranged to present three to six repeating arrangements of front pipes. The characteristic neo-classical organ type, developed by the firm in the period from about 1925 to 1955, has inspired organ builders in other countries, especially in England and the USA. Important new organs built in Denmark include those at Thisted Kirke (1972), Ribe Domkirke (1973, enlarged 1994), St Mortens Kirke, Naestved (1975), Vangede Kirke (1979), and Opstandelseskirken, Albertslund (1992). Instruments built abroad include those at Queen's College, Oxford (...

Article

Uwe Pape

German firm of organ builders . Alfred Führer (b Wilhelmshaven, 8 Nov 1905; d Wilhelmshaven, 27 May 1974) was first apprenticed as a cabinet maker (1920–24) and then trained as an organ builder with P. Furtwängler & Hammer, Hanover, between 1924 and 1927. He worked as a journeyman with companies in Switzerland and the USA (1929–30) and again with Furtwängler & Hammer (1931–3). In 1933 he set up an organ workshop in Wilhelmshaven, restoring, rebuilding and repairing organs, mainly in the district of Oldenburg-Wilhelmshaven, the former duchy of Oldenburg. After the war the business gained great prestige in northern Germany, particularly in the northern part of Lower Saxony and Bremen. During his lifetime Führer built 760 instruments. In 1974 his nephew Fritz Schild (b Bohlenbergerfeld, 18 Aug 1933) became managing director. He had served his apprenticeship with Führer and then worked in the Netherlands, France and the USA from ...

Article

Gaveau  

Margaret Cranmer

French firm of piano and harpsichord makers. Joseph Gaveau (b Romorantin, 1824; d Paris, 1893) founded the firm in 1847, working with his employees in a small shop at the rue des Vinaigriers in Paris; the workshop and the offices were later transferred to the rue Servan. The firm established an excellent reputation for its small upright pianos, and by the 1880s the business was producing about 1000 pianos a year, achieving a degree of success due to commercial acumen rather than intrinsic quality. Joseph was succeeded by his son Etienne Gaveau (b Paris, 7 Oct 1872; d Paris, 26 May 1943), who organized the construction of a larger new factory at Fontenay-sous-Bois and, following the example of other well-known piano makers, in 1907 opened a new concert hall, the Salle Gaveau, in the rue la Boëtie, Paris. This street also housed the offices of the firm from ...

Article

Geib  

Margaret Cranmer, Barbara Owen, W. Thomas Marrocco, Mark Jacobs and G. Kaleschke

German family of organ builders, piano makers, instrument dealers and music publishers. One branch of the family worked first in England and later in the USA. Johann Georg Geib (i) (b Staudernheim an der Nahe, 9 Sept 1739; d Frankenthal, 16 April 1818) established his own business around 1760 in St Johann, near Saarbrücken. In 1790 the business was transferred to Frankenthal, and from about 1786 his son Johann Georg (ii) worked in partnership with him. Geib’s work was typical of the Middle Rhine school of organ building. Of the 16 instruments that can be attributed to him only six survive: the best-preserved is in the Protestant parish church in Lambrecht.

Johann Georg Geib (ii) (b Saarbrücken, 14 June 1772; d Frankenthal, 5 March 1849) ran the family business after his father’s death, first on his own and then jointly with Josef Littig. Only about nine of his organs can be traced; his work did not attain the same quality as his father’s, and the firm ceased after his death....