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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 (...

Article

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

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 ...