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Article

Margaret Cranmer

French firm of piano makers . It was founded in 1807 at Paris by the composer Ignace Pleyel ( see Pleyel family ). The firm quickly adopted and improved the best features of English piano making; Pape, Jean Henri helped Pleyel from 1811 to 1815 with the building of cottage pianos or ‘pianinos’, small vertically strung uprights invented by the English maker Robert Wornum (ii) which were new to France. In 1815 Ignace’s son Camille Pleyel joined the firm; 14 years later the pianist Frédéric Kalkbrenner joined too and did much to publicize Pleyel pianos. Chopin became closely associated with the firm; he made his début in Paris (26 February 1832) at the Salle Pleyel and later owned a Pleyel grand of 1839 (no.7267) with a single escapement and a light touch. Chopin said ‘when I feel in good form and strong enough to find my own individual sound, then I need a Pleyel piano’. The soundboard introduced by Pleyel in ...

Article

Peter Ward Jones

( b Galway, 1766; d London, Aug 26, 1836). Irish music publisher and instrument maker . After starting out as a pewterer he entered the military instrument trade, and set up with his brother William in Dublin in 1797 as James and William Power, music selling and publishing being eventually added to their activities. Towards the end of 1807 he moved to London, where he established himself as a military instrument maker and music publisher. William continued the Dublin business as William Power & Co. until 1831, but the partnership with his brother ceased about 1810, although many publications were issued jointly by them up to 1820.

The brothers' major publishing venture was Moore's Irish Melodies. For this project they commissioned the poet Thomas Moore (ii) to provide original verses to be set to traditional melodies arranged by John Stevenson (a plan similar to the Scottish Melodies then being issued by the Edinburgh publisher George Thomson). The first two parts were published in London and Dublin in ...

Article

Premier  

James Blades

revised by James Holland

English firm of percussion instrument makers, renamed Premier Percussion in 1984. It was founded in London in 1922 by Alberto della Porta (d 1965), a dance band drummer, and his assistant George Smith. Having been bombed during World War II (radar equipment was also produced on the premises), the firm moved to Wigston, Leicestershire, in 1940. On his death, Alberto della Porta was succeeded by his sons Clifford, Raymond and Gerald, who ran the firm until 1983, manufacturing a comprehensive range of percussion instruments, notably pedal timpani and ‘Creative Percussion’ (formerly New Era Educational Percussion Instruments). In 1966 the firm became the first recipient of the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. Although they seemed to lack the drive of some of their competitors to update and extend their range of instruments, Premier remained an important manufacturer of percussion instruments at the end of the 20th century. For illustration of Premier instruments, ...

Article

QRS  

Bob Berkman

American manufacturer of piano rolls. The company was established in 1900 as an adjunct to the Melville Clark Piano Co. of Chicago. Clark’s invention of the ‘marking piano’ in 1912 made possible the cutting of rolls that accurately captured specific performances, although without expression. Involved at an early stage in the recording of ragtime, QRS soon also turned to jazz, especially after Max Kortlander joined its staff and it transferred its main recording activities to New York about 1920. Among the notable musicians who cut rolls for the company were James P. Johnson (1921–7) and Fats Waller (as ‘Thomas Waller’, 1923–31); in 1926 some 11 million rolls were cut. The company also established a record label of the same name, on which it put out three series of discs from the early 1920s until 1930; the second of these was most notable, with recordings supervised by Arthur E. Satherley. The third series appeared in ...

Article

Reil  

Adri de Groot

Dutch firm of organ builders. The firm, based in Heerde, was founded by the German-born Johann Reil (b Munich, 6 April 1907; d Zwolle, 5 May 1960). Inspired by the Orgelbewegung Johann built mainly mechanical organs and undertook the restoration of several old instruments. Subsequently the firm was taken over by Johann’s sons, Johann (Han) Ludwig Reil (b Heerde, 21 April 1939) and Wicher Albertus (Albert) Reil (b Heerde, 16 July 1942).

The celebrations held in Groningen in 1969 on the 250th anniversary of the death of Arp Schnitger caused Han and Albert to rethink entirely their firm’s approach to organ building. They resolved to build organs in accordance with historical practice, and set about learning how to do so by making copies of three organs: the 1701 Schnitger organ of Uithuizen (1973, Princess Juliana Church, Scheveningen); the 1734 Bielfeldt organ of Osterholz-Scharmbeck (...

Article

Remo  

James A. Strain

Drumhead and percussion instrument manufacturing company headquartered in Valencia, California. It was founded June 1, 1957, by Remo D. Belli (b June 22, 1927; d April 25, 2016), a professional drummer who was at that time a partner in Drum City with Roy Harte. Remo, Inc., was established to market the first successfully designed synthetic drumhead made of DuPont Mylar. Created by Belli, Harte, Sid Gerwin, and Sam Muchnick, the patented design utilized an aluminum channel in which the Mylar was glued, creating a functional mounting system. By 1977, 50% of all drumheads sold in the world were manufactured by Remo. First located in North Hollywood, the company moved several times to increasingly larger factories during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1996 a new 216,000-square-foot facility was built in Valencia, and former facilities were turned into showrooms and the Remo Recreational Music Center in 1998. The company also has production facilities in Taiwan and China....

Article

Reuter  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. Founded in Trenton, Illinois, in 1917 by Adolph C. Reuter (b Pomeroy, OH, 3 Dec 1880; d Lawrence, KS, 5 Jan 1971), Earl E. Schwarz and A.G. Ruegger, the firm moved to Lawrence in 1919. Reuter had previously worked for Barckhoff, Wicks and Casavant. Albert G. Sabol, Reuter’s nephew, joined the firm in 1917 as a designer and engineer; Sabol’s son, Albert Sabol jr, became president in 1964. The firm has always built electropneumatic-action organs, of which it had produced more than 2000 by the 1980s. In 1969 Reuter entered into a shortlived agreement to import tracker-action organs from Emil Hammer of Germany, but this was not particularly successful. R. Franklin Mitchell became a consultant to the Reuter Organ Co. in 1951, was named a vice-president in 1964, and became president in 1980 with Albert Neutel as vice-president; in 1983 Neutel became president and Mitchell chairman of the board. Mitchell favoured an ‘American classic’ approach to tonal design. The firm’s important organs include those for St Paul’s Methodist Church, Fort Worth, Texas (...

Article

Rieger  

Alfred Reichling

Two firms of organ builders, one in Austria and one in the Czech Republic, founded by the Rieger family of German origin. Franz Rieger (b Zossen, 13 Dec 1812; d Jägerndorf [now Krnov], 29 Jan 1885) trained as an organ builder with Joseph Seyberth in Vienna, and set up a workshop at Jägerndorf in 1844. His sons, Otto (b 3 March 1847; d 12 Dec 1903) and Gustav (b 1 Aug 1848; d 1905), both trained in Vienna, Bamberg and Würzburg (with Balthasar Schlimbach), and took over the firm in 1873 under the name Franz Rieger & Söhne (‘Gebr. Rieger’ from 1879 onwards). Whereas Franz Rieger used slider chests, his sons began building organs with cone chests. They exhibited an organ with 12 stops, later installed in Sts Peter & Paul, Jaktař near Opava, at the international exhibition in Vienna, 1873. They also exhibited at the Paris Exposition of ...

Article

Marc Schaefer

French firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1893 at Schiltigheim, near Strasbourg, by Edmond Alexandre Roethinger (b Strasbourg, 12 April 1866; d Strasbourg, 20 Feb 1953). He was apprenticed to Heinrich Koulen in Strasbourg from 1880 to 1886, and then worked for Maerz (Munich), Merklin (Paris), Cavaillé-Coll (Paris) and Didier (Epinal), before setting up his own firm. After 1942 the business was managed by his son Max Roethinger (b Strasbourg, 2 Nov 1897; d 22 March 1981) and grandson André (b 2 Feb 1928). Roethinger initially built mechanical-action organs with valved wind-chests, but later turned to pneumatic action, the most significant of these instruments being that built for Ernstein (1914). He subsequently sought to apply the principles of ‘Alsatian reform’ as proposed by Emile Rupp, Albert Schweitzer and F.X. Mathias: these organs include Strasbourg Synagogue, where Rupp was organist (...

Article

Rogers  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. George Rogers, a fine craftsman, founded the firm in London in 1843 as George Rogers & Sons. Shortly after World War I Rogers and the firm of Hopkinson amalgamated and became the Vincent Manufacturing Co. Ltd, after which Rogers and Hopkinson pianos – grand and upright – were made under the same roof. In ...

Article

Edmund A. Bowles

American firm of instrument makers. In 1849 Joseph Rogers, an Irish parchment-maker and musician, established a tannery (eventually located in Farmingdale, New Jersey) to manufacture high-quality animal skin for the fast-growing banjo and drum industry. For this purpose he used superior calfskin, and the best of his banjo heads became famous. The business prospered for several generations, but by the late 1930s the decline of the banjo’s popularity created a need to diversify the product line, so Rogers began to turn out drums and drum accessories. When Roger’s great-grandson, Cleveland Rogers, died without heirs in 1953, the firm was purchased by Henry Grossman and became a subsidiary of Grossman Music Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Three years later Rogers moved to a new factory in Covington, Ohio; its range of products was expanded, but when plastic heads became the norm the manufacture of calfskin heads was discontinued. The student market, in particular, grew after Donald G. Canedy, an educator, bandmaster, and percussion expert, was retained as a consultant. The company’s centerpiece was the Dyna-Sonic snare drum, with a unique cradle in which the snares were supported, so that the wire and snare tensions could be adjusted separately and the drum played at both low and high dynamic levels. Other innovations included the Dualmatic High-Hat Clutch, designed for the player of twin trap-drums; the Memriloc hardware system, which allowed the drummer to set up his equipment in precisely the same position each time; and the Swiv-O-Matic pedals for bass drum and hi-hat. In ...

Article

Roland  

Hugh Davies

Japanese company of electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Osaka in 1972 by the electronics designer Ikutaro Kakehashi (who had co-founded Ace Electronic Industries in Osaka in 1955, marketing rhythm machines and Ace Tone electronic organs); it was named after the legendary medieval French hero. Expansion was rapid, and by the early 1980s the company employed over 500 people in Osaka alone. During the period 1988–90 Roland bought three foreign electronic keyboard manufacturers: Siel, Rodgers and Rhodes.

The range of Roland instruments has included monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers, synthesizer modules, remote keyboard controllers, electronic organs and pianos (many digital models), a digital harpsichord, home keyboards, guitar synthesizers, samplers, vocoders, sequencers and many electronic percussion devices and effects units, some under the names of Roland’s offshoots, Boss and Amdek. The company also manufactures a variety of sound equipment as well as a teaching system designed for use with Roland electronic keyboard instruments....

Article

Rolfe  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers, publishers and music sellers. It is thought that the business started in 1785 at 112 Cheapside, London. From 1795 to 1797 William Rolfe, Thomas Culliford and a Mr (Charles?) Barrow formed a partnership, and Rolfe managed the business on his own from 1800 until about 1807, when his sons Nicholas Rolfe (b London, bap. 29 Aug 1784) and Thomas Hall Rolfe (b London, bap. 8 Nov 1785) joined him to form W. Rolfe and Sons, which briefly became Rolfe & Co. about 1820. In December 1802 William was elected Constable Inquestman and Collector of the Consolidated Rates for the parish of All Hallows, Honey Lane. James Longman Rolfe (relationship not certain) joined the firm in 1836. The firm ceased production in 1888.

In 1797, with Samuel Davis, Rolfe patented (no.2160) the earliest specification for ‘Turkish music’ in pianos, where a hammer strikes the soundboard to produce the sound of a drum. The hammer action, based on the English single action (...

Article

Stephen Bicknell

English firm of organ builders. It was founded in Liverpool by William Rushworth. The firm became Rushworth & Dreaper at the beginning of the 20th century when Rushworth absorbed the Dreaper brothers’ music retail business. After World War I the company was able to offer first-class work at competitive prices, securing the contracts for new organs at Christ's Hospital chapel, Horsham (5 manuals, ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Harpsichord manufacturing firm founded by Simon Sabathil (b c1896; d Vancouver, 1980) in 1948 near Salzburg. Sabathil was a choir director, pianist, and organist who had worked for the Förster piano firm in Munich. His son Sigurd (b Marienbad, Czechoslovakia, 1939) began working with his father at the age of nine. In 1959 they emigrated to Canada and in 1960 established S. Sabathil & Son, Ltd in Vancouver, moving to Bowen Island in 1989. In the 1970s they manufactured annually about 100 harpsichords, virginals, and clavichords of modern design, the largest harpsichords being more than three metres long and having eight pedals. After Simon’s death the firm turned more to historical prototypes, but in the 1990s production dropped to 10 to 30 instruments annually, and output declined into the 2000s, when Sigurd shifted his business to the restoration of antique pianos. Sabathil’s modern harpsichords have an aluminium frame that overclads a wooden pinblock, adjustable plastic jacks, a crowned soundboard (which in later years was made from local western red cedar), and double-pinned laminated maple bridges. About 30% of the firm’s instruments were sold in Canada, most of the rest in the USA....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

South Korean manufacturer of acoustic and digital instruments. The name Samick (‘three benefits’) refers to benefits to the company, its customers, and the national economy. Founded in 1958 by Hyo Ick Lee (d 1990) as a Baldwin piano distributor, the Samick Piano Co. began building uprights from imported parts under the name Horugel in 1960. In 1964 Samick became the first exporter of Korean pianos and in 1970 manufactured the first Korean grand. Guitar production began in 1965, eventually expanding to acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitars, banjos, and mandolins under the names Samick, Abilene, Silvertone, and the Greg Bennett Signature series. In 1973 the company was incorporated as Samick Musical Instruments Co., Ltd. In 1983 Samick engaged the German piano designer Klaus Fenner. Fenner introduced European-style scale designs and three-ply ‘surface tension’ soundboards, which are claimed not to crack or lose their crown and to suffer only a slight tonal disadvantage compared with solid spruce soundboards....

Article

Schantz  

Barbara Owen

[Tschantz]

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in Kidron, Ohio, in 1873 by Abraham J. Tschantz (b Kidron, 7 March 1849; d Orrville, Ohio, 14 Sept 1921), a cabinet maker of Swiss descent. Abraham (who dropped the T from his name in 1899) at first built only reed organs, and was so successful that he moved to a larger factory in Orrville in 1875. His first pipe organ was built in 1890 for the First United Brethren Church of Canton, Ohio, and not long afterwards he developed and produced the Zephyr electric fan blower. Shortly after the turn of the century Abraham’s sons Edison (1878–1974), Oliver (1882–1938) and Victor (i) (1885–1973) joined the firm, followed in the 1930s and 40s by his grandsons John, Paul and Bruce, later the principals of the company with Victor Schantz (ii) and Jack Sievert. The Schantz Organ Co. grew considerably during the 20th century, and between World War II and ...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

The name of two German firms of piano makers. The first was set up in 1809 by Johann Lorenz Schiedmayer (b Erlangen, 2 Dec 1786; d Stuttgart, 3 April 1860) and his partner Carl Dieudonné (d 1825) in Stuttgart. Johann’s grandfather, Balthasar Schiedmayer (b Erlangen, 25 Oct 1711; d Erlangen, 5 Oct 1781), and father, Johann David Schiedmayer (b Erlangen, 20 April 1753; d Nuremberg, 24 March 1805), had both been well-established piano makers, the latter working with J.A. Stein at Augsburg from 1778 to 1781. Johann Lorenz soon became a well-known maker nationally, competing successfully with imports from Vienna, Paris and London. Upright pianos were produced as early as 1842. The business became Schiedmayer & Söhne in 1845 when his sons, Adolf (b Stuttgart, 1819; d Stuttgart, 17 Oct 1890) and Hermann (b Stuttgart, 1820; d Stuttgart, 1861...

Article

Cyril Ehrlich

revised by Edwin M. Good

German firm of piano makers. Established in 1885 in Leipzig, the firm moved to Brunswick in 1929 as part of a cooperative, becoming independent in 1931. Destroyed by bombing in 1944, the factory was again producing pianos by 1948. Thereafter production expanded vigorously, reaching a peak of approximately 9000 instruments a year about ...

Article

Selmer  

William McBride and Carolyn Bryant

French, American and British firms of musical instrument manufacturers. The American firm also imports and distributes wind, string and percussion instruments.

William McBride

The firm was founded in France by Henri Selmer (b Mézières, 20 Oct 1858; d Paris, 29 July 1941). Selmer, who was born into a family of military musicians, studied clarinet at the Paris Conservatoire, obtaining a deuxième prix in 1882. Such was his preoccupation with reeds that in 1885 he set up a business in Paris to make and adjust them. In 1896 he won a silver medal at the Montpellier Exposition and before the end of the century he hired an experienced clarinet maker, who made the firm’s first set of clarinets. He exhibited reeds at the Paris Exposition of 1900, winning a bronze medal. In 1901 Selmer advertised clarinets, flutes, oboes, bassoons and saxophones under their own trademark; however, the quantities produced were small. A catalogue published in ...