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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 (...

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 (...

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

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

Michael Sayer

English firm of organ builders. In 1868 the Bryceson brothers acquired the sole rights to use Charles Spackman Barker’s practical electric organ mechanisms in England, and the same year the firm, based in London, built organs with electric key action at Drury Lane Theatre, Christ Church, Camberwell, St Michael Cornhill and St George’s, Tufnell Park. The Camberwell instrument was first used at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral, where the organ was placed in the south aisle and its console in the orchestra. The firm also supplied an instrument for the Three Choirs Festival in 1869 in Worcester Cathedral, where it was placed on the chorus platform in front of the west window, with the console next to the conductor. Bryceson Brothers was taken over by Alfred Kirkland some time after 1874, and the combined business was later absorbed by Hill, Norman & Beard. A contemporary account is given in ‘Electric Organ’, ...

Article

Challen  

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. Thomas Butcher (fl 1804–47) started making pianos at 41 Great Titchfield Street, London, in 1804. William Challen (d London, 1861) was associated with Butcher from 1816, and by 1839 the firm had become Challen and Hollis. William’s son Charles went into partnership with (?Charles) Hodgson but when C.H. Challen joined, the firm became Challen and Son. They won a reputation for good-quality pianos at moderate prices. In World War I part of the firm’s woodworking machinery was commandeered and it was allowed to produce only four pianos a week. This led it to continue making relatively few models, thereby economizing in the range of machinery and raw materials required. Since the 1930s over 180 Challen pianos, from large concert grand pianos to small studio uprights have been used in BBC studios. Challen specialized in small grand pianos, and made the smallest on the market (122 cm long). The firm was acquired in ...

Article

Kyle Devine

American manufacturer of electronic keyboards and drum machines. The company was founded in Upland, California, by Harry Chamberlin in the late 1940s. Instead of the electronic circuits and digital processors used to generate sound in most synthesizers, Chamberlins replay the sounds of existing instruments and effects recorded to electromagnetic tape. In using prerecorded sound, Chamberlins are considered forerunners of digital sampling techniques and technologies.

Harry Chamberlin’s first device, the Rhythmate (considered one of the first drum machines) used a series of dials and switches to play back fourteen looped drum patterns. Later designs, such as the Model 200 (1950s) and the M1 (1970s), used a conventional keyboard to activate the tape mechanism. Instead of tape loops, these keyboard models used tape strips that played for several seconds before automatically rewinding. Using tape strips allowed the initial attack of the instrument to be heard.

Sales were sizeable but never enormous: several hundred Chamberlins were produced during the company’s lifespan (...

Article

Margaret Cranmer

English firm of piano makers. The firm was descended from the business established by James Longman in 1767, which changed partners over the years and became Longman & Broderip and later Clementi & Co.; the cumulative ink serial numbers in Collard & Collard square pianos continue Clementi’s serial numbers. It was Frederick William Collard (bap. Wiveliscombe, 21 June 1772; d London, 31 Jan 1860) who directed the business as senior partner after Clementi’s death in 1832. His brother William Frederick Collard (bap. Wiveliscombe, 25 Aug 1776; d Folkestone, 11 Oct 1866) – to whom Clementi had written from abroad: ‘Now, young Collard, you have a good pair of ears, see that the tone is pure and true’ – was a specialist in piano tone production. In 1821 he patented the ‘harmonic swell’ (see Clementi). When W.F. Collard retired in 1842, F.W. Collard, then sole proprietor, took into partnership his two nephews Frederick William Collard (bap. ...

Article

Guy Oldham

English firm of organ builders. Established in 1854 at Huddersfield by Peter Conacher, by 1906 it had built or enlarged more than 400 organs (many with tubular pneumatic action) and by 1921 more than 1600 organs in all parts of the world. Peter Conacher (b Scotland, 1823) is said to have served an apprenticeship in Leipzig, and worked for Hill & Sons and Walker & Sons before entering a brief partnership in 1854 with a Mr Brown. Financing from a new partner, Joseph H. Hebblethwaite, enabled Conacher to build a workshop equipped with a steam-driven circular saw. After Hebblethwaite’s death, Conacher was joined by his brother; their first organ won a medal at the Yorkshire Exhibition of 1866. Peter’s son, Joseph H. Conacher, joined his father’s firm after training in France.

At its opening, in 1873, Conacher’s Springwood Organ Works was claimed to be the largest and best-equipped organ factory in England; its 80 employees built about 30 organs annually before the works burned in ...

Article

Kurt Lueders

French firm of organ builders. It was founded in Paris in 1831 by Abbé J.-L. Cabias to market a plainsong accompaniment device he had patented. André-Marie Daublaine and B.L.J. Girard, who were civil engineers by profession, took over (from 1834 and 1841 respectively), and Louis Callinet merged his activity with the firm’s in 1838; accordingly, the titles Daublaine & Cie, Maison Daublaine-Callinet or Girard et Cie were variously to be found on contracts. Callinet was dismissed in 1843 after destroying much of the St Sulpice organ under reconstruction, in a fit of spite after a personal disappointment. Charles Spackman Barker took charge of the workshop in 1841; at that time, a branch was set up in Lyons under Théodore Sauer. Félix Danjou became the principal commercial agent and aesthetic apologist from 1839 to 1845, when Pierre Alexandre Ducroquet, an appraiser-auctioneer, purchased the firm and appended his name to the instruments. The firm was taken over by Joseph Merklin in ...

Article

Laurence Libin

American firm of piano makers, active in New York from 1791 to 1793. The brief partnership of Thomas Dodds (b England; d ?New York, c1799) and Christian Claus (b ?Stuttgart, Germany; d New York, after 1799) was among the first to establish the piano industry in New York.

Dodds arrived in New York from London in 1785. In an advertisement in the Independent Journal of 13 August 1785, he offered to sell, repair, and tune string, wind, and keyboard instruments at his house on Queen Street, and cited his experience as an organ, harpsichord, and piano maker for “upwards of twenty years.” He was granted American citizenship in 1788. In 1789 he sold a piano to George Washington for his stepdaughter’s lessons. He was also active as a mahogany merchant from 1789 to 1793. In 1783 Claus had received a patent in London for a key mechanism applied to the English guitar. In New York he continued to build English guitars and repair violins; he is listed in city directories from ...

Article

Duo-Art  

Article

Edwin M. Good

Family of piano designers and builders. (i) Darrell Fandrich (b Philadelphia, PA, 31 Jan 1942). Piano designer and maker. After many years of experience as a pianist, piano technician, and concert tuner, he began design work, inventing a new type of action for upright pianos that was first patented in 1990. He founded Fandrich Design, Inc., to hold the license rights and promote the design of the new action mechanism; Heather Chambers (b 1948; later Heather Fandrich) joined this corporation in 1991. When other companies failed to adopt the Fandrich Vertical Action, Darrell opted to use it in pianos built by his brother Delwin Fandrich, who began piano production in 1992 and continued to 1994.

After this production ceased in 1994, Darrell and Heather founded Fandrich & Sons in Stanwood, Washington. Contacts in Germany, the Czech Republic, and China led to the purchase of new pianos, which Darrell has rebuilt in order to properly install his action in them. The pianos are then resold as Fandrich & Sons instruments. The Louis Renner Company in Germany manufactures the Fandrich action, which is also used in models of several European makers. The action, designed to feel as solid and responsive as a fine grand action, features carefully weighted keys, hammer return, and repetition springs. In addition to producing 50″ and 52″ uprights with the Fandrich Vertical Action, the company also builds 5′5″, 6′1″, and 7′1″ grand pianos....

Article

Farfisa  

Hugh Davies

revised by Brandon Smith

Italian company of instrument makers. It was founded about 1870 in Ancona to manufacture free-reed instruments, including piano accordions and reed organs. The modern Farfisa company (from FAbbriche Riunite di FISArmoniche, ‘United Accordion Factories’) of Castelfidardo/Camerano was founded in 1946 by Silvio Scandalli, Settimio Soprani (brother of Paolo Soprani), and the Frontalini Accordion Co. of Chicago. Farfisa revolutionized the mass production of accordions by replacing assembly lines with specialized departments producing components that were then assembled into completed instruments. In 1951 Farfisa developed the ‘Super 6’ accordion, considered by many to be the best in the world. Later, Farfisa began producing electronic keyboard instruments ranging in style from piano accordions to synthesizers. From about 1960 its range of electronic piano accordions included the 41-note Cordovox and Transicord (from ‘transistor’ and ‘accordion’), and in 1970 it manufactured an early electronic percussion unit; one Transicord model included an electronic rhythm section.

The company’s success led to a take-over in ...

Article

Feurich  

Laurence Libin

German firm of piano builders. Julius Gustav Feurich (1821–1900), a son and grandson of piano technicians, founded Pianofortefabrik Feurich in Leipzig in 1851, following his training with Pleyel in Paris. Initially the company produced upright models, adding grands in 1855; it was later designated an imperial and royal court supplier. A second factory opened in Leutzsch in 1910 to serve a widespread market, including South America, Australia, and Japan by the 1920s. The firm operated a concert hall in Leipzig and introduced several innovative designs for upright pianos, winning a prize at an exposition in Geneva in 1927. The Leipzig factory was destroyed and the Leutzsch factory was converted to living quarters during World War II, but production resumed thereafter, incorporating the brands Euterpe and W. Hoffmann from Berlin. After the company’s assets were expropriated by the East German government in 1958, the fourth-generation proprietor, Julius Hermann Feurich (...

Article

W.D. Jordan

Australian firm of organ builders. It was founded by George Fincham (b London, 25 Aug 1828; d Melbourne, 21 Dec 1910), the pioneer of Australian organ building. The family originated in the English village of Fincham, Norfolk. George’s father Jonathan George Fincham (1796–1863) and grandfather John (b 1754) were both organ builders. In 1901 George’s son Leslie Valentine Hunter (1879–1955) became a partner in the firm, which continued under the direction of Leslie’s son George Bowring (b 1917) and grandson David George (b 31 Jan 1944).

George Fincham was apprenticed to Henry Bevington in London (1843–9) and then worked as foreman for James Bishop & Son, London, and Forster & Andrews of Hull. He emigrated to Australia in 1852, intending to establish an organ-building enterprise; he set up his first factory in Richmond, Melbourne, in 1862...

Article

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 ...