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Article

Möller  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders . It was founded as M.P. Möller at Warren, Pennsylvania, in 1875 by Mathias Peter Möller (b Bornholm, Denmark, 1854; d Hagerstown, MD, 1937). After training as a mechanic Möller emigrated to the USA in 1872 and worked for the organ builders Derrick & Felgemaker, of Erie, Pennsylvania. While there he developed an improved wind-chest. In 1880 he moved his business to Hagerstown, where it remained, becoming the largest manufacturer of pipe organs in the USA. During the 1930s Richard Whitelegg, a noted voicer, was Möller’s tonal director. On Möller’s death, his son, M.P. Möller jr (1902–61), became president of the firm. Control stayed with the founder’s family: his son-in-law W. Riley Daniels became president in 1961, his grandson Kevin Mackenzie Möller in 1978, and another grandson, Peter Möller Daniels, in 1984. Two former employees of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. became tonal directors for Möller: Donald Gillett in ...

Article

Neupert  

Howard Schott

revised by Martin Elste

German firm of piano and harpsichord makers . Founded by Johann Christoph Neupert (1848–1921) in 1868 as piano builders, it was among the first German makers to add harpsichords, clavichords and fortepianos to its production, in 1906. The company, which has been based in Bamberg since 1874, had begun to assemble a collection of historical stringed keyboard instruments even earlier, in 1895. Eventually this grew to number more than 250 specimens when it was donated to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg in 1968 (a number of instruments from the collection considered to duplicate other examples had been transferred to the Händel-Haus Museum in Halle in 1939).

Hanns Neupert (1902–1980) joined the firm as technical director in 1928, after a three-year apprenticeship in piano building and studies in musicology and physics at the universities of Erlangen and Munich. He wrote a number of works dealing with historical stringed keyboard instruments and their revival in the 20th century. In ...

Article

Maria Calderisi

Canadian firm of music publishers, dealers and piano manufacturers . It was established by Abraham and Samuel Nordheimer, who, having emigrated from Germany to New York in 1839, opened a music shop in Kingston in 1842 and moved to Toronto in June 1844. By 1845 they had issued Joseph Labitzky’s The Dublin Waltzes, the earliest engraved sheet music in Canada. Despite provision for copyright protection under Canadian law, many of the firm’s early publications were engraved in New York and registered there by agents; Nordheimer did not choose to begin registering works in Canada until 1859. That year the firm became the only Canadian member of the Board of Music Trade of the USA, and nearly 300 of its publications were included in the Board’s catalogue (1870).

A. & S. Nordheimer, as the company was first known, issued the usual reprints of popular European songs and piano pieces, as well as new works by such Canadian residents as J.P. Clarke, Crozier, Hecht, Lazare, Schallehn and Strathy. Publications registered between ...

Article

Odell  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders . It was founded (as J.H. & C.S. Odell) in 1859 by John Henry Odell (1830–99) and Caleb Sherwood Odell (1827–93) in New York. Before starting their own company, the Odell brothers had worked for Richard Ferris, and for William Robjohn, whom they succeeded. Although the firm's output was never great and was largely confined to the New York area, the Odells are credited with several important inventions, mostly patented during the 1860s and 1870s, including a reversible coupler action, an early combination action and a crescendo pedal. They were also early experimenters with tubular-pneumatic action, for which they obtained patents in 1872 and 1898. Among their more notable instruments were those built for the Fort Street Presbyterian Church, Detroit (1876), and Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York (1893). After the deaths of the founders, the firm was operated for a time by John Henry's son, George Washington Odell, under the name of J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co., and the scope of the company's work gradually narrowed to small organs, rebuilding and maintenance. William Henry Odell, son of Caleb, later operated the company with his sons Caleb H. (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Swedish piano and harmonium maker. The firm was founded in 1888 in Arvika by Anders Nilsson Östlind (b Gunnarskog, Sweden, 30 May 1857; d Stockholm, Sweden, 14 Sept 1915). Östlind produced 19 harmoniums in 1888 and 59 in 1889. Anton Almquist (1864–1949), a music dealer, became a partner in 1890 in charge of the Gothenburg branch office, then was managing director from 1909 to 1928. In 1890 the company produced 128 harmoniums. The firm received a gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition in 1897. In 1918 a consortium was formed with six other piano and harmonium factories under the name AB Förenade Piano- och Orgelfabriker (Associated Piano and Reed Organ Factories), although the individual companies still existed. Almquist was the consortium director from 1918 to 1920. In 1928 Östlind & Almquist produced about 37,000 pianos and harmoniums, output rising to 47,200 in 1936. The company became part of the J.G. Malmsjö piano factory in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Chinese instrument manufacturer, based in Guangzhou. The government-owned firm was formed in 1956 from several piano-making facilities. In the 1950s they were producing four upright pianos per month for the Chinese market. In the mid-1980s the firm was granted import and export rights. By the 1990s, liberalized economic policies coupled with relatively inexpensive raw materials and very low labour costs allowed for rapid expansion.

Under the leadership of Tong Zhi Cheng beginning in 1992, the firm pursued a goal of becoming a world leader in piano sales. They invested in a climate-controlled, 93,000 m2 factory and CNC (computer numerically controlled) machinery from Germany. Foreign industry executives were hired as consultants. By the 2000s, the factory had expanded to 260,000 m2. With its own foundries, lumberyards, and sawmills, Pearl River produces nearly every part of each piano, using Chinese wood exclusively, including veneers. By 2010 the firm employed more than 4000 workers with a capacity of making 100,000 pianos per year....

Article

Howard Schott

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

German family of piano makers. Joseph Anton Pfeiffer (1828–81) established the firm in Stuttgart in 1861; it became Carl A. Pfeiffer & Co. after Joseph’s son, Carl Anton Pfeiffer (1861–1927), became head of the firm in 1888. The latter studied piano building in Berlin, London, and New York in the factories of Steinway & Sons and other leading firms. Learned and inventive, he developed pedal pianos for attachment to upright and grand pianos for organ practice, improved keyboard transposition mechanisms, built upright and grand pianos with the Jankó keyboard, and devised special tools for piano construction. As a donor and technical consultant he helped build the instrument collections of the Stuttgart Landesgewerbemuseum and the Deutsches Museum in Munich. He made a copy of the spurious ‘Bach harpsichord’ in Berlin, then still accepted as authentic, and also participated in the early stages of the harpsichord revival in Germany (...

Article

Pilcher  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders . It was founded by Henry Pilcher (1798–1880), a native of Dover who emigrated to the USA about 1832. He set up a business in Newark, New Jersey, in 1833, moving to New Haven, Connecticut, in 1839 and back to Newark in 1844. In 1856 he was joined by his sons Henry jr (1828–90) and William Pilcher (b 1830), the firm becoming known as Henry Pilcher & Sons; it moved to St Louis about 1858. There some notable organs were built, including a large instrument for St Paul’s Church (1859). In 1863 the firm moved to Chicago, where it remained until 1871 when its factory was destroyed in the great fire. The following year Henry Pilcher senior retired, and the firm, under the directorship of Henry jr and his sons R.E., William E., Paul B. and J.V. Pilcher opened a new factory in Louisville, where it grew and prospered. In ...

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

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, ...