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Article

Michael Sayer

English firm of organ builders. It was established in Leeds in 1869 by Isaac Abbott, who had worked for 20 years with William Hill in London. William Stanwix Smith, also a former Hill employee, was the firm’s manager until Abbott retired, in 1889; thereafter Smith and Abbott’s son continued the firm, which subsequently passed to Smith’s sons and grandson. In 1964 the firm was sold to its foreman, J.H. Horsfall, and in 1975 it moved to the premises of Wood Wordsworth & Co. Up to 1964, Abbott & Smith built or rebuilt hundreds of organs throughout Britain, including some 250 in Yorkshire, and more than 60 around Leeds. James Jepson Binns was head voicer from 1875 until 1880. Their earlier instruments, using mechanical action through the 1880s, have a robust singing quality suited to Yorkshire Methodist congregations, though several were in town halls, including those in Leeds and Ryde. Their organ for St Mark’s, Manningham, had four manuals and 48 speaking stops. The firm also built organs in St Albans Cathedral (...

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Adema  

Adri de Groot

Dutch family of organ builders . The firm, active from the mid-19th century onwards, was established by the brothers Carolus Borremeyes (1824–1905) and Petrus Josephus Adema (1828–1919) in Leeuwarden in 1855; they were joined by their brother Johannus Romanus (1834–62). Carolus Borremeyes had trained as an organ builder with the Van Dam and Witte firms, Petrus Josephus with W. Hardoff and H. Loret.

In 1868 P.J. Adema set up an affiliate workshop in Amsterdam, attracted by the renewed market for new organs among the more widespread Catholic community there, boosted by the reinstatement of the Bishopric hierarchy in 1853. He had been contracted to build a three-manual organ for the Catholic Mozes- en Aäronkerk. The French consul and organ expert Charles-Marie Philbert (1826–94), an ardent champion of the modern French organ-building style, acted as consultant. The resulting organ, largely influenced by Cavaillé-Coll, was the first in the Netherlands to employ Barker’s pneumatic lever in the main manual of the otherwise mechanical-action instrument. Between ...

Article

Agati  

Umberto Pineschi

Italian family of organ builders . Pietro Agati (b Pistoia, 15 Feb 1735; d Pistoia, 10 Dec 1806) served apprenticeships in the Tronci workshop in Pistoia, and later with Filippo Gatti in Bologna. He opened his own workshop in Pistoia, where he built his ‘secundum opus’ for the church of S Vitale (1760) with a case that bears a striking resemblance to that belonging to the organ by Willem Hermans in Spirito Santo, Pistoia (1664). From this Hermans instrument Agati copied the stopped flute 8′, Cornetto, Trombe, Voce umana (or Violoncello – a bass 4′ regal) and Mosetto (treble 8′ regal 8′) to his organ at Vignole di Quarrata (1797). Another outstanding instrument is at Tréppio, Pistoia (1794).

Pietro’s son Giosuè (b Pistoia, 21 Jan 1770; d Pistoia, 10 Dec 1806) built many fine instruments, including those at Serravalle Pistoiese (...

Article

Albani  

Patrizio Barbieri

[Albana, Albano, Albanus]

Italian makers of stringed keyboard instruments. At least four builders of this name were active during the 16th and 17th centuries, three of whom are known to have been members of the same Roman family. Documents show that from at least 1623 onwards Andrea Albani (b Rome, c1552; d Rome, 19 August 1639) built harpsichords at a workshop near the church of S Stefano del Cacco. He was assisted by his son Silvestro and his nephew Giovanni Battista Monti (b c1611). Although no instrument by Andrea survives, it is known from an essay by G.B. Doni (c1632–5) that he was persuaded by theorists to build some enharmonic harpsichords with split keys, each note divided either ‘into five parts, according to the principles of Don Niccola [Vicentino], or into four, following the practice which they attribute to Aristosseno’.

Orazio (b Rome, ...

Article

Laurence Libin

In 

Article

Barbara Owen

French firm of reed organ makers. It was founded in 1829 by Jacob Alexandre (b Paris, 1804; d Paris, 11 June 1876) for the manufacture of accordions; in 1834 he exhibited a small reed organ (two sets of reeds) in Paris. With the purchase in 1841 and 1845 of reed organ patents (among them percussion and prolongement effects) from Alexandre Martin of Provins, the firm soon became one of the leading harmonium makers in the country, although their instruments were first called ‘orgue-mélodium’ to avoid conflict with the patents of A.-F. Debain. These early instruments had four sets of reeds, a five-octave keyboard, couplers, a Grand Jeu, and an Expression stop which bypassed the reservoir to allow control of intensity through the blowing treadles. The firm was awarded a bronze medal for the instrument in the Paris exposition of 1844; this was the first of many awards, including gold medals and culminating in grand prizes in Brussels (...

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Article

Andover  

Barbara Owen

American firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1955 by Thomas W. Byers and Charles Brenton Fisk in North Andover, Massachusetts. It moved shortly afterwards to Methuen, Massachusetts, and in 1961 to Gloucester, Massachusetts, being renamed C.B. Fisk, Inc. A new Andover Organ Co. was formed in Methuen by two former employees, Leo Constantineau (b Lawrence, MA, 1 Nov 1924; d North Andover, MA, 1 Feb 1979) and Robert J. Reich (b Urbana, IL, 15 Dec 1929). Beginning modestly with rebuilding and restoration work, the firm soon began attracting contracts for new organs such as that for St John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minnesota (1965). This organ, like several subsequent instruments, was designed by Constantineau and voiced and finished by Reich. In this same period a small continuo positive was designed, several examples of which have been built. The firm later became a multiple partnership with Robert Reich as president, Donald Olson as vice-president, and Donald Reich as treasurer. In ...

Article

Antunes  

John Koster and Gerhard Doderer

Portuguese family of harpsichord and piano makers . Manuel Antunes (1707–96) and Joaquim José Antunes (1731–1811), the only children of Julião Antunes, a maker of string instruments who served in the royal chapel, shared a workshop in Lisbon. Two harpsichords, dated 1758 (in the Museu da Música, Lisbon) and 1785 (in the Finchcocks collection, Goudhurst, Kent), are signed by J.J. Antunes. Other Antunes instruments are signed only with the surname, including a grand piano of 1767 (in the Shrine to Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota) and a harpsichord of 1789 (in the Museu da Música, Lisbon); these were presumably made by both brothers working together. The harpsichords each have a single manual with two 8′ stops. In 1760 Manuel Antunes received a ten-year privilege for making pianos. The surviving example is virtually identical to Antunes harpsichords in design and construction, except for its action, which is very similar to that of Bartolomeo Cristofori. Manuel's grandson, João Baptista Antunes (...

Article

Hans Klotz

German family of organ builders. Daniel Bader (b ?Münster, ?c1560; d ?1638) might have been a pupil of Arendt Lampeler (who worked in Münster from 1573 to 1579 and from 1585 to 1588). Bader moved to Arnsberg in Westphalia in 1595, then possibly on Lampeler’s recommendation he went to Antwerp, where he joined the Guild of St Luke in 1600 and in 1603–4 worked in the church of St Jacob; he also worked in Liège. He carried out extensive rebuilding of Lampeler’s organ in Münster Cathedral (1610–12). His son Hans Heinrich Bader (d 1631) repaired the Münster instrument in 1624 and worked in Paderborn (1626–7, 1655–60), Zutphen (1639–43), Wesel Cathedral (1644–50), Unna (1661–5), and Hildesheim (1655–64). In Zutphen he was first contracted to add a Rugpositief to the existing organ, then to add a new ...

Article

Guy Bourligueux

Spanish family of organ builders. José Ballesteros y Latuente (bc1710; d ?Valladolid, after 1763) established himself at Valladolid and restored the organs at Mucientes (1730), Villaverde de Medina (1755) and S María de Torrelobatón (1762–3); he also offered his services for instruments at Villabáñez (1733) and Castromocho. He was asked to inspect the organ built by Manuel González Galindo at Becerril de Campos. Valentín (b ?1740–50; d ?Valladolid, after 1782) was possibly his son; he worked at Tordehumos (1772–9), probably at the church of S Miguel, and repaired organs at Torremormojón (1777) and La Pedraja de Portillo (1778). In 1779 he set himself up in Valladolid and built the organ at S Pedro de Alcazarén (1781–2). Angel Ballesteros might have been Valentín’s son or grandson; he also worked at Valladolid and repaired the organ at Cogeces de Iscar (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

(bap. London, England, Jan 1, 1685; d London, England, by 1735). English spinet and harpsichord maker. His father, also Thomas, was a butcher. He was apprenticed to Stephen Keene from 1 Aug 1699 for seven years and his initials (TB) appear in a Keene spinet of 1705. Barton became a freeman of the Joiners’ Company in Aug 1706 and moved to the neighbouring parish of St Martin Outwich in 1708, the same year in which he became the master of John Ladyman, and in which his first son, also Thomas, was born. With Cawton Aston he made a bentside spinet dated 1709, indicating at least a brief partnership. Barton spinets seem normally to have had a continuously curved tail instead of the common mitred tail. Styles of keyboards (ebony naturals with either solid ivory or skunktail accidentals) vary. Based on surviving examples (e.g. spinet of 1730, US.W.si), Barton was apparently one of the first spinet makers, along with Hitchcock, to expand the compass to five octaves (...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

(fl c1780–90). French keyboard instrument maker. Little is known about him; possibly he was related to the harpsichord builder Jean Bas of Marseille. A grand piano (1781, US.V.n) by Louis Bas, the earliest known French grand (excepting Johann Heinrich Silbermann’s from Strasbourg), is inscribed ‘Villeneuve lès Avignon’ on its interior. Inscriptions on two spinets seem to indicate that he worked in Marseille in 1783 and Lyon in 1786. The 1781 grand is double strung throughout, has a compass of F″–g , a painted case (later stripped), and an ornately decorated soundboard like a contemporary French harpsichord’s. At one time the piano apparently had dampers (now missing) held in upper and lower guides like those of a harpsichord. Damper and una corda effects were controlled by knee levers or pedals (missing). Its inverted wrestplank and action resemble those by Cristofori, but with significant differences: the keys are guided by end pins that move in a slotted rack; the pearwood escapement jacks looks like harpsichord jacks but with the top shaped into a T, and they are mounted in holders attached to the key levers with threaded iron wire; the action lacks a check. The treble is scaled for iron strings similarly to Silbermann pianos but has a strike point much closer to the nut, producing a brighter tone. These features point to a Cristofori influence that might have arrived in France via Silbermann....

Article

Bätz  

Barbara Owen and Adri de Groot

[Baetz, Baitz, Beets, Beetz, Betz]

Firm of organ builders of German origin, active in the Netherlands. The first organ builder of the family was Johann Heinrich Hartmann Bätz (b Frankenroda, nr Eisenach, 1 January, 1709; d Utrecht, 13 December 1770). Having learned cabinet making, Johann Heinrich was apprenticed to the organ builder J.C. Thielemann in Gotha for four years starting in 1729. In 1733 he joined the organ workshop of Christiaan Müller in the Dutch Republic and helped to build the organ in the Bavokerk of Haarlem. In 1739 he settled in Utrecht as an independent organ builder. His work shows many similarities with the work of Müller in its cases, pipes and mechanisms. He built at least 16 new organs, many of them quite large, with two to three manuals. The most significant instruments are: Grote Kerk, Gorinchem (1760; rebuilt by Witte), Evangelische Lutherse Kerk, The Hague (1761–2), Hoorn, Oosterkerk, (...

Article

Christopher Nobbs

(b Ely, England, June 2, 1941). English clavichord and harpsichord maker. Educated in London and Exeter, he worked for many years as a civil servant in London. After building his first instrument, based on an Italian polygonal spinet, he studied early keyboard instrument making at the London College of Furniture under Lewis Jones from 1981 to 1984. After two years working with the harpsichord builder John Rawson, he started his own workshop and produced instruments based on a Goermans–Taskin harpsichord (now in GB.E.u). Since 1996 he has concentrated on restoring, researching and making clavichords. Bavington has produced instruments based on those of C.G. Hoffman, J.H. Silbermann, J.J. Bodechtel, and anonymous German, Portuguese, and Latin American examples, as well as a travelling clavichord more freely based on historical models. He has also made a hypothetical reconstruction of the clavichord described and depicted by Marin Mersenne (Harmonie universelle...

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Laurence Libin

(bc1730; d London, UK, Jan 2, 1804). English piano maker, possibly of German origin. During the 1750s he worked as an organ builder in St Pancras parish, London; he married in Soho in 1760. His workshop, established in 1768 on Compton Street, Soho (very near the premises of Frederick Neubauer, who advertised pianos for sale in 1763), produced more than 900 square pianos, many apparently sold and even copied abroad; his earliest known signed piano dates from 1771 (earlier he probably made pianos for Jacob and Abraham Kirkman and others in the trade) and the latest from 1798. Beyer’s instruments exhibit refined craftsmanship and unusual features that added to their cost and doubtless appealed to an elite clientele. Some of Beyer’s pianos incorporated organs. One square from about 1775, probably commissioned by Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, for Syon House, Middlesex, is enclosed in a remarkably ornate ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Chelsea, London, UK, Dec 20, 1957; d London, UK, Aug 18, 2007). English organ designer and organ historian. He attended Westminster School, Winchester College, and St Chad’s College, Durham University, before beginning work in 1979 for N.P. Mander Ltd. He collaborated with his architect brother Julian on the case for Mander’s organ at Magdalen College, Oxford, completed in 1986. In 1987 he was employed by J.W. Walker & Sons, designing instruments for Oriel College, Oxford (1988), Carlisle Cathedral (quire organ), and Kesgrave parish church near Ipswich. In 1989 he surveyed Buckingham Palace’s much-deteriorated ballroom organ. Returning to Mander as head designer in 1990, Bicknell undertook restoration of the chapel organ at St John’s College, Cambridge, designed a four-manual mechanical-action organ inspired by Cavaillé-Coll for St Ignatius Loyola in New York (1992) and two organs for Chelmsford Cathedral (completed 1994 and 1995), and directed construction of the organ in Gray’s Inn Chapel (...

Article

Benjamin Vogel

(b Osiek, Poland, Dec 8, 1870; d ?Włocławek, Poland, Oct 26, 1928). Polish organ builder. At 14 years of age he took over the organ workshop of his father, Hugon Ernst (b c1829; d 17 June 1884), in Osiek; Hugon was reputedly a pioneer of organ mass production. After 1890 Dominik founded a new workshop in Dobrzyń on the Vistula River. In 1898/9 he purchased the workshop of Wacław Przybyłowicz (founded 1848) in Płock, and in 1902 moved it also to Dobrzyń. He employed about 80 workers at that time. In 1905 he opened a branch in Vilnius under the management of his brother Wacław (b 27 Sept 1878; d 4 Aug 1954), who bought it out about 1908. In 1914 Dominik Biernacki moved to Włocławek, where he employed about 30 workers and built up to 20 instruments per year. One of the largest organ factories in Poland, the firm built altogether about 250 instruments, including one in Shlisselburg near St Petersburg in ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

(b 1786; dc1850). Austrian piano maker. He opened his workshop in 1813 and was granted Austrian citizenship on 6 July 1821. In that year he received a five-year privilege for a music desk with a foot-operated page-turning mechanism, and also a privilege for an organized piano. In 1823 he obtained a five-year privilege for a piano with a transposing keyboard, endorsed by Salieri and noted by Beethoven in his conversation book, vol.3. Böhm’s workshop was at Mariahilf Nr. 77 until about 1831 when he moved to the Neue Wieden 698, the same location becoming Lumpertgasse 821 from 1833 to 1940. In 1835 he was named Second Representative of the Viennese Piano Builders Guild, becoming president in 1836. In July 1837 he received a privilege for an organized piano with a 22-note pedalboard connected to the manual by trackers. Surviving Böhm grand pianos are elaborately encased, with fine veneers, rounded cheeks, ormolu trim, and sculpted legs. No upright or square pianos of his are known. One six-octave (...

Article

Kurt Lueders

French family of organ builders . Robert Boisseau (b Bordeaux, 9 March 1909; d Poitiers, 29 Feb 1979), after studying engineering in Nantes, set up an independent organ building workshop in Poitiers in 1931. During the difficult economic conditions of the postwar period he worked for Roethinger in Strasbourg until about 1960, after which, teaming with erudite organists such as Edouard and Léon Souberbielle, he took the lead in championing a return to pre-19th-century production methods, using hammered pipe metal and mixture compositions after Dom Bédos de Celles (Benedictine convent in Limon, near Bièvres, 1959; St Nicolas du Chardonnet, Paris, 1960; Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, 1962). Often overshadowed by more prolific, high-profile firms, Robert Boisseau’s work is nonetheless widely considered to be some of the finest examples of the ‘neo-classical’ or eclectic style, epitomized by his syncretic rebuild of the Isnard/Cavaillé-Coll organ in Pithiviers (1965) and by large new organs in Royan (...