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Article

Margaret Cranmer

Russian firm of piano makers. Jakob Becker (Yakov Davidovich Bekker) (b Neustadt an der Haardt; d St Petersburg, 1879) founded a small workshop in St Petersburg in 1841, which was taken over by his brother Franz Davidovich 20 years later. The Russian piano industry developed later and on a smaller scale than the European, and several Germans played a large part in establishing the industry at St Petersburg. Becker became one of the best and most successful piano manufacturers, although its output was lower than that of contemporary English, American or German firms, producing 200 pianos in 1868, 400 in 1878, and 900 annually in the 1880s when 240 workmen were employed. The firm made 11,400 pianos between 1841 and 1891; the concert grands were used by leading virtuosos, including Anton Rubinstein, whose piano (no.4009) is still in his country home. It had been the custom until that time for foreign artists to take their own instruments with them on Russian tours, but the quality of Becker’s grand pianos made this unnecessary. Becker adopted the principal improvements introduced by European and American makers, including the American system of cross-stringing; in ...

Article

Beuron  

Maurus Pfaff

revised by Manfred Schuler

Benedictine abbey near Sigmaringen, in the province of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was founded as a house of Augustinian canons about 1077 and was granted ecclesiastical sanction by Pope Urban II in 1097. The buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries; the church was built between 1732 and 1738. In 1802, when church property was secularized, the house went into the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family's possession, and the buildings were later presented by the Dowager Princess Katharina von Hohenzollern (1819–93) to two Benedictine monks, Maurus and Placidus Wolter. Beuron thus became a Benedictine monastery (1863) and in 1868 it was made an abbey. It became the parent monastery of a Benedictine congregation, with daughter houses in Belgium, Great Britain, Bohemia, Styria, Germany and Brazil. Although it was closed from 1875 to 1887 (because of Prussian Kulturkampf legislation) it became a leading centre of the 19th- and 20th-century liturgical movement, distinguished for its cultivation of the Roman liturgy, the monastic Offices and Gregorian chant, according to the regulations formulated at Solesmes by Guéranger and Pothier. The most prominent Kantors after ...

Article

Nicholas Thistlethwaite

English firm of organ builders. It was founded about 1794 by Henry Bevington, who had worked as a journeyman for Robert Gray (see Gray & Davison before establishing his own business in Greek Street, Soho, London. Bevington took over John Snetzler's old premises in Rose Yard (used by Ohrmann & Nutt after Snetzler's time) a few years later. He was succeeded by his four sons, Henry (b 1813), Alfred (b 1817), Martin (b ?1821) and Charles (b 1823), and the business later descended to a grandson, Lewis H. Bevington (c1859–1938). It was acquired by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1950.

The firm's early success was in the manufacture of barrel organs and small church instruments. They later became more ambitious, building a 30-stop organ for St Mary's Catholic Chapel, Moorfields, London (c1830), with duplication of the open and stopped diapasons, principal and trumpet on the Great and inclusion of a double in the Swell Organ. A number of other large instruments followed including a 41-stop concert organ for the Mechanics' Hall, Nottingham (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Synthesizer module manufacturer founded by John Blacet (b 1946) in 1978 as Blacet Music Research in Lakeview, Oregon. Blacet initially made kits for analogue modules including a digital pattern generator, a voltage-controlled clock with event arranger, a phase filter, and a frequency divider, followed by analogue delay modules, the ‘Dark Star’ (a mini noise module) and the ‘Syn-bow’, a self-contained wand-controlled synthesizer. With the popularity of digital synthesizers in the 1980s Blacet’s business plummeted, but renewed interest in analogue synthesis in the 1990s enabled him to produce a full line of kit and assembled analogue synthesizer modules in the Frac format. These modules are noted for fitting a large amount of functionality into very small modules. In spring ...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

German firm of piano makers. Julius Blüthner (b Falkenhain, nr Leipzig, 11 March 1824; d Leipzig, 13 April 1910) began working as a cabinet maker. After working for Hölling and Spangenburg (piano makers) in Zeitz, he started his own small business in Leipzig in 1853, building grand pianos with the assistance of three men and a boy. He patented his ‘repetition action’ after his success at the 1854 Munich Industrial Exhibition. In 1864 he began making upright pianos. He expanded his business as he won prizes and medals at various exhibitions and attracted orders from royalty. He strove constantly to refine his instruments and this work culminated in the 1873 patent for the aliquot scaling of grand pianos. This added a fourth, sympathetic (‘aliquot’) string to each trichord group in the treble to enrich the piano's weakest register by enhancing the overtone spectrum of the instrument. The Aliquot...

Article

Enrico Weller

German brass instrument manufacturer in Graslitz (Kraslice), Czech Republic. Births and deaths (below) occurred in Graslitz unless otherwise indicated. The company was founded on 28 July 1870 by Gustav Bohland (b 13 Feb 1825; d 19 March 1886), who was an independent brass instrument maker from 1850, and the merchant Martin Fuchs (b Hirschenstand, 17 March 1830; d 13 March 1893). In 1886 Martin Fuchs became sole owner of the company, followed by his sons Johann (b 26 Nov 1852; d Meran, 29 April 1905) and Hermann (b 8 Sept 1856; d 1921), and later by his grandchildren Karl (b 25 Feb 1884; d Waiblingen, 29 May 1964) and Adolf (b 7 July 1889; d Waiblingen, 12 April 1969). In 1945 the factory was expropriated and in 1948 became part of the Czechoslovak state enterprise ‘Amati’. Attempts to rebuild the company in West Germany (Neustadt/Aisch) failed in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

Registered trademark for sets of tuned percussion tubes. The tubes, made of coloured, radially flexible plastic, are of graduated length and pitch and produce sounds when hit against surfaces (including the human body), against one another, or by striking the tubes with mallets. An optional cap fitted to a tube lowers its pitch one octave; caps on both ends allow a tube to enclose rattling pellets. The descriptive name (‘boom’ plus ‘whacker’) was coined by Craig Ramsell, who invented the instruments in California in ...

Article

Leon Botstein

Austrian firm of piano makers. Ignaz Bösendorfer (b Vienna, 28 July 1796; d Vienna, 14 April 1859) founded the firm in 1828 after an apprenticeship with Joseph Brodmann. He recognized the need for an instrument that could respond to the demands for volume and pitch stability made by the virtuosos of the 1830s. In a legendary incident only a Bösendorfer piano survived an evening of Liszt's playing. In 1830 Bösendorfer received the first ‘kaiserlich und königlich’ designation granted to a piano maker. The firm reached its technological zenith and greatest fame under Ignaz's son Ludwig (b Vienna, 15 April 1835; d Vienna, 9 May 1919), who trained with his father. Ludwig's patents from the early 1860s concentrated on improvements to the Viennese action. He was staunchly conservative on issues of piano design, resisting the innovations made by Steinway and Chickering between the 1860s and the 1890s in both the use of metal and the technique of framing. Ludwig moved and expanded the factory but retained an artisan system of production. The output between the 1860s and ...

Article

Geoffrey Burgess

American makers of historic oboes. The craftsman Jonathan Bosworth (b Ithaca, NY, 18 June 1938) and oboist Stephen Hammer (b Rochester, NY, 14 April 1951) worked in partnership copying historical double-reed instruments from 1975 to 2002. Their first copy was of an oboe by Thomas Stanesby Sr, then in the possession of Dr Robert M. Rosenbaum. This was followed by copies of oboes by various 18th-century makers, including Thomas Stanesby Jr, J. Denner, Charles Bizey, William Milhouse, C.A., Heinrich Grenser, and J.F. Floth; oboes d’amore by Denner and J.H. Eichentopf; an oboe da caccia by Eichentopf; a tenor oboe by J.C. Denner; and shawms after anonymous specimens (in B.B.mim and CZ.P.nm). Working out of Acton, Massachusetts, they also began designing their own hybrid ‘Saxon’ model patterned after several original oboes from Dresden and Leipzig makers. Production of this model was subsequently transferred to Joel Robinson of New York. By the time their partnership ceased, Bosworth & Hammer had made more than 300 instruments....

Article

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano manufacturers. John Brinsmead (b Weare Giffard, Devon, 13 Oct 1814; d London, 17 Feb 1908) founded the firm in Windmill Street, London, in 1835. His sons Thomas James Brinsmead (d London, 9 Nov 1906) and Edgar Brinsmead (b London, March 1848; d London, 28 Nov 1907) became partners in 1863, when the firm took new premises in Wigmore Street. The firm became a limited company in 1900, by which time annual production totalled 2000 pianos. Following John Brinsmead’s death, the firm was run by his grandson Henry Billinghurst until a long strike in 1920 led the firm into receivership and Walter Saville, a director of J.B. Cramer & Co., purchased the controlling interest in the firm for £4000 in 1921. Manufacture of the Brinsmead and Cramer pianos continued until 1964, when the firm was bought out by Kemble & Co, which retains the title purely as a brand name....