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Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. Jan Leendert van den Heuvel (b5 Nov 1946) learnt organ building with the Flentrop firm. At the age of 20 he set up his own business in his father’s painting workshop in Dordrecht. His first ten-stop organ was well received and this led to a contract for a three-manual, 32-stop instrument for the Singelkerk, Ridderkerk, completed in 1972. In 1975 he was joined by his brother Peter Aart van den Heuvel (b13 Feb 1958); the firm became known as J.L. van den Heuvel-Orgelbouw B.V. in 1979.

The Van den Heuvels’ love of French Romantic organs and their music inspired a study tour of Cavaillé-Coll instruments with Michelle Leclerc and Daniel Roth. Much of the knowledge gained from this tour was applied to the construction of the four-manual, 80-stop organ behind an old case for the Nieuwe Kerk, Katwijk-aan-Zee, in ...

Article

Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. It was founded in Utrecht in 1940 by brothers Rijk van Vulpen (i) (b Utrecht, 11 April 1921; d 15 Nov 1997) and Adrianus (Jos) van Vulpen (b Utrecht, 5 July 1922). They had already built their first organ in their father's plumbing workshop from old parts. On 10 March 1952 the third brother, Evert van Vulpen (b Utrecht, 2 Jan 1929) joined the firm as a salaried worker, and Rijk van Vulpen (ii) (b 3 Aug 1955), son of Adrianus, joined likewise on 1 May 1974. In 1983 Rijk (i) retired, leaving Adrianus as sole proprietor. On 27 March 1997 Rijk (ii) took over the firm and changed the name to Gebr. van Vulpen BV. In 1999 Henk Bouwman (b 1 Sept 1938) and Rijk (ii) led the firm. The firm started to blossom in ...

Article

Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. Leonard (Léon) Hubert Verschueren (1866–1957) trained with the firm of Maarschalkerweerd in Utrecht, and then founded a pipe-making workshop in his native village of Heythuysen, Limburg, on 5 May 1891. Within a few years he was supplying more than 30 organ builders at home and abroad with pipes and parts. In 1896 he built his first entirely new mechanical-action organ for the Noordkerk, Schagen. After 1904 Léon developed the business with South German organ builder Max Bittner (d1955), making all parts in-house (a rarity at the time). Tonally their instruments blended South Dutch, Walloon, Rhineland and, through Bittner, South German styles. Actions were pneumatic (a good example is in the Petruskerk, Gulpen).

Verschueren was very struck by the Klais organ in the abbey of Rolduc, which was built in accordance with the principles of the Orgelbewegung. In response he changed his design for the new instrument at St Dyonisius, Schinnen, adopting electro-pneumatic cone-chests and a neo-Baroque specification. His ...

Article

Barbara Owen

American organ-building firm. The firm was founded in Houston in 1973 by Jan R. Rowland (b Beaumont, TX, 3 June 1944) and Pieter A. Visser (b Amsterdam, 3 Nov 1940). Rowland, a graduate of Lamar University, first worked as an installer for the Wicks firm, then went on to work for the Walcker firm in Germany from 1968 to 1969, and the Berkshire Organ Co. in the USA from 1969 to 1973. Visser was apprenticed to L. Verscheuren in the Netherlands; he went to the USA in 1960, where he worked as an installer for both Wicks and Walcker from 1960 to 1972, and for Berkshire in 1973. Visser-Rowland builds organs primarily with mechanical action, often with electric stop and combination action; their tonal designs lean towards the north European ‘neo-Baroque’ style. The firm has built some organs of substantial size, including those in St Anne’s Catholic Church, Houston (...

Article

Voit  

Hermann Fischer

German firm of organ builders in Karlsruhe-Durlach. The firm was founded in 1764 by Johann Heinrich Stein (1735–67) of Heidelsheim, and continued by his cousin Georg Markus Stein (1738–94), organ builder to the court of Baden-Durlach; after the latter’s death it passed by marriage into the hands of Johann Volkmar Voit (1772–1806) of Schweinfurt. In 1807 Johann Ludwig Bürgy (1761–1838) of Niederflorstadt married Voit’s widow and ran the workshop until 1835. He was succeeded by his stepson Louis Voit (1802–83) who ran the firm until 1870. It was then taken over by the latter’s sons Heinrich (1834–1914) and Carl (1847–87). After Carl’s death, Heinrich’s sons Emil (1864–1924) and Siegfried (1870–1938) were taken into the firm as partners, and it became known as H. Voit & Söhne. In 1930 Siegfried Voit retired from the business, and the workshops were taken over by their former manager Karl Hess (...

Article

[Waldorf Music GmbH]

German manufacturer of synthesizers and other electronic musical instruments, founded in Waldorf (near Bonn) in 1988 by Wolfgang Düren, who was previously the German distributor for the audio synthesizer firm PPG (Palm Products GmbH). Waldorf Electronics was declared insolvent in February 2004, but was reformed as Waldorf Music GmbH in 2006.

Waldorf technology was based on the PPG Wavecomputer developed from 1980 by Wolfgang Palm. Their Microwave Synthesizer was released in 1988, followed in 1992 by the Wave and in 1995 by the Pulse, a monophonic analogue synthesizer. The popular Q, a digital signal processor-driven vir+tual analogue synthesizer, was released in 1999. The PPG Wave 2.V, a virtual reconstruction of the earlier Wave 2.3 synthesizer, was released in 2000. The 2002 RackAttack is Waldorf’s percussion synthesizer. The business’s revival in 2006 brought the Zarenbourg electric piano, which is based on a sampled Steinway Model B grand and distinctively has wooden keys. In ...

Article

Walker  

Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders . Joseph William Walker (b London, 17 Jan 1803; d London, 1 Feb 1870) was reputedly ‘parlour apprentice’ to G.P. England (see England) in London; he worked with W.A.A. Nicholls (England's successor) and then set up business as a pipe maker. He built his first organ in 1827. Joseph Walker's instruments are notable for their full-toned diapasons and bright upperwork; most had one or two manuals but he built larger organs for the Exeter Hall (1839), Highfield Chapel, Huddersfield (1854), and the International Exhibition of 1862. Under his son, James John Walker (b 21 Aug 1846; d 19 Sept 1922), the firm secured a series of prestigious contracts including Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, London (1891), St Margaret's, Westminster (1898), and York Minster (1903). All these instruments were characterized by a restrained opulence in which fully developed flue choruses co-existed with strings, orchestral reeds and bright flutes....

Article

American firm of piano makers, founded by Charles R. Walter (b Watseka, IL, 8 May 1927). Walter was trained as an engineer and joined the C.G. Conn Company in 1964. He became head of the piano division in 1967. Conn at that time produced Janssen upright pianos, which it discontinued in 1969. Walter took over the production of Janssens in Elkhart, Indiana. He began to produce console pianos under his own brand—Charles R. Walter—in 1975, making two models, of 43 inches and 45 inches in height. They remain the foundation of the company’s output and are characterized by very strong back posts, actions by the Louis Renner Company (Germany) with longer keys than in most consoles, and soundboards imitating the design in grand pianos. The company has also brought out grand pianos of 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet 3 inches in length, designed by Delwin Fandrich. Like the consoles, the grands are available in a variety of styles....

Article

Wasp  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Small analogue–digital hybrid synthesizer designed by Chris Huggett with rock musician Adrian Wagner and manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by their firm, Electronic Dream Plant (EDP), in Combe, near Oxford. The Wasp was also briefly available in kit form. This synthesizer has a two-octave, solid, monophonic ‘keyboard’ with pitch-bend and portamento controls; the diatonic keys, knobs, and lettering are yellow on a black background, to match the instrument’s name. For a real keyboard, it substitutes flat copper plates under a printed vinyl sticker. The conductive plates sense skin capacitance to trigger the associated pitches. The Wasp contains two oscillators, a white-noise generator, a filter, and an envelope shaper, and offers various voltage-controlled features, as well as a small built-in loud speaker and sockets for connecting to other EDP products. The circuitry incorporates a digital pitch-coding system which facilitates links with other devices, including microcomputers. In its shiny black plastic case and with batteries in place, the Wasp weighs only 1.8 kg (a deluxe version with wooden case and conventional keyboard is heavier but still easily portable). Although relatively inexpensive, small, and rather fragile, the Wasp was powerful and versatile for its time and developed an enduring following. EDP developed a still smaller model, the Gnat, with one oscillator and pulse width modulation, and the Caterpillar, a three-octave keyboard controller with four-voice polyphony. Other EDP creations included the Keytar, a guitar controller based on the Wasp, which was never produced, and a microcomputer-based 252-step sequencer called the Spider....

Article

Weber  

Nancy Groce

American firm of piano makers. Albert Weber (i) (b Heilingenstadt, Bavaria, Germany, 8 July 1829; d New York, NY, 25 June 1879), a gifted pianist as a child, immigrated to New York in 1845. He apprenticed as a piano maker in the workshop of Charles J. Holden, then worked several years in Van Winkle’s piano factory. In 1852, he established his own shop at 103 West Broadway. Following a disastrous 1854 fire, he moved to a larger factory at Broome and Crosby Streets, which the thriving firm quickly outgrew. By 1869, when Weber opened an impressive showroom at 108 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, the firm had become the sixth largest producer of pianos in the United States, with gross annual sales of $221,444. Weber was succeeded by his son, Albert Weber (ii) (b New York, NY, 1858; d Florida, 1908), who established a branch in Chicago in ...