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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 ...

Article

Geib  

Margaret Cranmer, Barbara Owen, W. Thomas Marrocco, Mark Jacobs and G. Kaleschke

German family of organ builders, piano makers, instrument dealers and music publishers. One branch of the family worked first in England and later in the USA. Johann Georg Geib (i) (b Staudernheim an der Nahe, 9 Sept 1739; d Frankenthal, 16 April 1818) established his own business around 1760 in St Johann, near Saarbrücken. In 1790 the business was transferred to Frankenthal, and from about 1786 his son Johann Georg (ii) worked in partnership with him. Geib’s work was typical of the Middle Rhine school of organ building. Of the 16 instruments that can be attributed to him only six survive: the best-preserved is in the Protestant parish church in Lambrecht.

Johann Georg Geib (ii) (b Saarbrücken, 14 June 1772; d Frankenthal, 5 March 1849) ran the family business after his father’s death, first on his own and then jointly with Josef Littig. Only about nine of his organs can be traced; his work did not attain the same quality as his father’s, and the firm ceased after his death....

Article

[GDS]

A polyphonic digital synthesizer, developed in 1978–80 and manufactured and marketed from 1981 by the Digital Keyboards division of Music Technology (MT), the American branch of Crumar, in Garden City Park, New York. Derived from research by Hal Alles of Bell Laboratories (hired by MT as an advisor) and based on a Z80 microcomputer system with 32 digital oscillators, the large, cumbersome General Development System was originally the testbed for the company’s Synergy. It includes a cathode-ray-terminal visual display unit, two disc drives, an alphanumeric keyboard, a five-octave, velocity-sensitive keyboard with 62 manual controls (32 of which are slide potentiometers), and three foot controls; a printer was also available. Up to eight synchronized tracks can be recorded by the sequencer memory. A voicing program facilitates the creation of new sounds with immediate audio feedback. State-of-the-art in its day, the GDS was the first digital synthesizer used by the composer Wendy Carlos, notably to simulate an orchestra in ‘Digital Moonscapes’ (...

Article

Christopher Kent

English firm of organ builders . It was established in 1980 by Dominic Gwynn (b Ealing, 18 Aug 1953), Martin Goetze (b Luton, 14 Sept 1951) and Edward Bennett (b Coln St Aldwyns, Glos., 18 Aug 1948) with the aim of rediscovering the pre-Victorian (classical) tradition of English organ building. Their instruments reflect the findings of archival and fieldwork research, and address the requirements of soloists and ensembles dedicated to historically informed performances of early music. They have also contributed to the conservation of Britain’s organ heritage with reports and pre-restoration surveys of significant instruments and contributions to organographical conferences and literature (writings by Gwynn are listed below). Restorations undertaken by the firm have included a number of chamber and barrel organs. Among the reconstructions are the Handel organ at St Lawrence, Little Stanmore, London (1994), the 1743 Thomas Griffin organ at St Helen Bishopsgate, London (...

Article

Kurt Lueders

French firm of organ builders. The founder, Victor [Victorino] Gonzalez (b Hacinas, Burgos, 2 Dec 1877; d Paris, 3 June 1956), trained with Cavaillé-Coll (1894–9) and worked for Gutschenritter, Limonaire and Masure before going into partnership with Victor Ephrème at Malakoff, near Paris, in 1921; from 1929 he and his son Fernand (1904–40) worked together as Etablissements Gonzalez in Châtillon. The influential support of Norbert Dufourcq and the organist André Marchal gradually led to the creation of the neo-classical or eclectic organ, seeking to fuse elements of the French classical organ with the then dominant late-Romantic style. Rudolf von Beckerath, who worked in the shop until 1936, introduced German influences. Georges Danion, who married Victor’s granddaughter, headed the firm after 1956, incorporating workshops in Rambervillers from 1963 and later Lodève, and transferring the headquarters to Brunoy in 1965. From the 1980s the company’s operations diminished, and by the end of the 20th century only the Lodève shop remained active....

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