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Article

Cuatro  

Ramón Hernández

A small plucked instrument of the lute family. Although its exact origin is unknown, this instrument resembles the Spanish vihuela and the Portuguese cavaquinho. Employing different forms, sizes, playing techniques, and tunings, it has become popular in Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico, the United States, and especially Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, where the instrument has existed for perhaps four centuries, various types of cuatros (including a ten-string version in double courses, an eight-string in double courses, and a four-string) have become popular. The four-string cuatro is often used to perform jibaro music, while the ten-string cuatro version is used across a wide variety of genres, from salsa to jazz, classical to folk music. The playing techniques and character of the cuatro range widely, whether it is used to accompany dancing or singing or as part of secular events or sacred rituals....

Article

D’Espine, Alexandre  

Philip J. Kass

[Alessandro Despine ]

(b Plainpalais, nr Geneva, Switzerland, Nov 19, 1782; d Torre Pellice, Italy, Sept 1, 1855). Italian violin maker, from a noble Savoyard family. He came to Turin before 1814, when he is recorded in Count Cozio’s diaries as an amateur whose work was varnished by Gaetano Guadagnini II, a neighbour. By profession he was a dental surgeon, serving as such, from 1821 to 1831, to King Vittorio Emmanuele I of Sardinia. His training as a violin maker remains unknown. Early accounts report him as a pupil of Pressenda, also a neighbour, with whom he shared a use of the French forms and patterns found in most Piedmontese violin-making after 1814. His rare violins, while often described as modelled after Guarneri, have more in common with Pressenda’s approach, combining a French form with a soundhole design reminiscent at once of Stradivari and Guarneri. He and Pressenda both received copper medals at the ...

Article

Dall’aglio [Dalaglio], Giuseppe  

Philip J. Kass

[Joseph ]

(b Boretto, Italy, Jan 13, 1774; d Mantua, Italy, Sept 1855). Italian violin maker. He was the most important maker in Mantua following the death or departure of Tommaso Balestrieri, who might have been his teacher. Like his predecessors in Mantua, Dall’aglio followed a style derived from Pietro Guarneri. There is often a kink in the centre bout ribs, with the lower half following a straight trajectory. His scrolls and archings owe a strong debt to Balestrieri. He generally used local woods. His varnish is of good quality and texture, varying from golden yellow to deep red-browns. His name usually appears as ‘Joseph Dalaglio’ on his labels....

Article

Degani  

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

Italian family of violin makers. Its most important member was Eugenio Degani (b Montagnana, Italy, 4 April 1842; d Venice, Italy, 22 May 1901), who studied with his father, Domenico Degani (1820–87) and perhaps also with Gaetano Chiocchi in Padua; he worked in Montagnana from 1867 and moved to Venice in 1888. He won awards at numerous expositions between 1872 and 1894. In 1898 his son and pupil Giulio Ettore Degani (b Montagnana, Italy, 15 Sept 1875; d Dillonvale, OH, 21 May 1959) joined the business, which then became known as Degani e Figlio. A third maker, Eugenio’s nephew and pupil Giovanni Schwarz (b Padua, Italy, 18 June 1865; d Venice, Italy, 20 Nov 1953), was also closely involved in the Venice workshop.

Eugenio Degani is considered the founder of the modern Venetian school of violin making. His instruments are very well made, showing scrupulous craftsmanship. Whether based on his personal model or free interpretations of the great 18th-century models, his instruments possess a strong degree of individuality. The edges of his outlines, f-holes and scrolls are often flared, forming a distinctive ridge. Most of his violins are as long as 36 cm, and sometimes slightly longer. On many instruments, he inlaid a five-ply purfling adopted from Chiocchi. The varnish ranges from yellow-brown to orange- or red-brown. Tonally his instruments are clear and strong....

Article

Derazey, (Jean Joseph) Honoré  

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

(b Darney, France, Jan 17, 1794; d Mirecourt, France, April 23, 1883). French violin maker. He was employed in a series of workshops in Mirecourt and Paris. About 1830 he joined the Vuillaume workshop in Paris, staying until 1839 when he returned to Mirecourt to establish his own business. Derazey is credited with having made many of the so-called ‘Duiffoprugcar’ violins for J.-B. Vuillaume. These are generally large, with the backs measuring about 370 mm; their superior craftsmanship distinguishes them from the many mass-produced violins built along similar principles. His best work is mostly based on the Stradivari model, although rare copies of Amati and Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ can occasionally be seen. He is regarded as one of the finest craftsmen of his period, making instruments on which the varnishes simulated wear in the manner of Vuillaume. His successful workshop also produced a substantial number of trade-quality instruments. Although these rank with the very best of commercial work emanating from Mirecourt, they cannot be compared to Derazey’s own work. Apart from his early instruments, which seldom carry labels, Derazey’s instruments are either labelled or branded inside the back....

Article

Dodd, Edward (i)  

Charles Beare

revised by Philip J. Kass

Member of Dodd family (i)

(b ?Simonburn, Northumberland, April 1705; d London, April 1, 1810). English bowmaker. He is first recorded in city directories as a bowmaker at 11 Paradise Road, Lambeth, from 1802 to 1807; he then moved to the parish of St Bride’s, Fleet Street, whose archives record his death at the age of 105. Most 18th-century English bows are or have been attributed to him although it is unlikely that he made bows prior to his arrival in London by the early 1780s. Enough bowsticks exist to show that English bows of the period 1700–1760 were often of very high quality. They can be dated approximately by the presence or lack of the tightening screw and later by the names of familiar instrument makers branded on them, such as Wamsley and T. Smith. About 1760 the bow began to evolve towards its modern form, which it attained rather after ...

Article

Dodd, James (ii)  

Charles Beare

revised by Philip J. Kass

Member of Dodd family (i)

(b Islington, London, May 7, 1792; d Clerkenwell, London, Dec 19, 1865). English bowmaker, grandson of Edward Dodd (i). He worked as a bowmaker with his brother Edward Dodd (ii) (b Lambeth, Surrey, 25 Dec 1797; d Lambeth, Surrey, 20 Aug 1851), who after 1833 appears to have concentrated on violin strings; he himself is known still to have been a bowmaker in 1864. Many if not most of his bows were probably made for the trade, including the firm of Betts. His early work, perhaps influenced by John, was his best, particularly the cello bows. Later he developed certain eccentricities and inaccuracies in his method. He used the brand j. dodd for many of his productions. The brothers both won awards at the London Expositions of 1851 and 1862, James for his bows and Edward for his strings.

For Bibliography ...

Article

Dodd, John  

Charles Beare

revised by Philip J. Kass

(Kew)

Member of Dodd family (i)

(b ?Simonburn, Northumberland, Dec 28, 1752; d Richmond, Surrey, Oct 4, 1839). English bowmaker, son of Edward Dodd (i). He was the greatest English bowmaker before Tubbs. According to Sandys and Forster (chap.26), he was a gunlock fitter and then a money-scale maker before turning to bows; he is said to have lived in Southwark, then in Lambeth near his family, then in Kew for several years after 1800, and finally at Richmond. Morris (1904) added that he was excessively fond of drink and indeed he finished his days in Richmond Workhouse. It seems probable that he began to make bows by the 1780s, a time when in England, at least, the evolution of the modern bow was far from complete. Bow heads then were of two quite different types, the modern bow head being in a sense a compromise between them: the tall, often graceful ‘swan’ head type, with the hair towards the point considerably separated from the stick, and the more squat ‘hammer’ head, in use in Italy and France before its introduction in England. As continental makers quite often made the ‘swan’ as well as the ‘hammer’, there were probably players everywhere who had a distinct preference one way or the other. It seems clear that John Dodd made both, but whereas hammer-head bows are often branded ...

Article

Dodd, Thomas  

Charles Beare

revised by Philip J. Kass

Member of Dodd family (i)

(b c1764; d London, Feb 8, 1834). English bowmaker, son of Edward Dodd (i). He first appeared in insurance records in 1784 as a ‘fiddlestick maker’ on Mint Street, Southwark, and appears in city directories as a music seller beginning in 1794, maintaining a music shop at 11 New Street, Covent Garden. From 1809 to 1826 the shop was at 92 St Martin’s Lane, closing, most likely, on Thomas’s retirement; his son Edward Dodd (iii) opened a second branch at 3 Berners Street in about 1819 which lasted until his death in 1843. Thomas is variously described as a music seller, a violin maker and bowmaker, piano maker and finally as a harp maker. As a dealer he rivalled the shops of Betts and Forster.

Most of the instruments made in Dodd’s shop were of excellent quality, modelled after Stradivari and constructed, it is believed, by Bernhard Fendt and Lott senior. Richard Tobin also appears to have worked for Dodd. Dodd himself was an enthusiastic experimenter with varnish, and probably varnished his assistants’ work. It is likely that he followed a contemporary trend of branding the bows that he sold with the name of the shop rather than the name of the individual maker. He doubtless sold bows made by his brother ...

Article

Dolceola  

William E. Hettrick

Small stringed keyboard instrument with tiny keys and a simple down-striking hammer action. It was originally marketed for amateur players and made in Toledo, Ohio, first by the Symphony Manufacturing Co. (1903–5), and then by its successor, the Toledo Symphony Co., until this firm’s bankruptcy and liquidation in 1908–9.

The instrument (measuring 23 1/2 in. long, 17 3/4 in. wide, and 7 3/8 in. high, not counting the feet) consists of a zither-like body with an added upper housing at the front that contains the keys and the action. The 25 white and black keys (and as many strings) for the player’s right hand control a two-octave chromatic scale from c’ to c’’’. The 21 keys for the left hand are arranged in seven groups, each devoted to a single chord with a black key for the root, a white key for another low tone, and a wide white key for three higher tones (35 strings in all). The chords are related to the home key of E♭ major, representing the tonic, dominant, subdominant, dominant-seventh of the dominant, submediant, supertonic, and dominant of the submediant....

Article

Eberle, Tomaso  

Philip J. Kass

(b Vils, Italy, Dec 21, 1727; d Naples, Italy, after 1792). Italian violin maker, of Tyrolean ancestry. He went to Naples about 1750 and presumably worked with one of the Gaglianos, probably Nicolo. He was one of the best craftsmen of his period in Naples. He mostly made violins that exhibit a strong individuality, particularly in the f-holes and scrolls, which are very delicate. Eberle’s varnish is typically Neapolitan, thinly applied and firm in texture, and varies from yellow-brown to red-brown. In addition to his standard printed labels, he often followed a tradition, most often seen in the Gaglianos’ work, of inserting devotional texts, such as the words ‘Gesu, e Maria’, inside his instruments....

Article

Egan, John  

Nancy Hurrell

(fl c1803–39). Irish harp maker, active in Dublin. Apprenticed to a blacksmith in his youth, Egan constructed his first instrument in 1797, modelled on a French pedal harp; it sold immediately. He continued to produce harps, and by the early 1800s had become Dublin’s leading harp maker, patronized by the nobility and gentry. Egan established a manufactory at 25 Dawson Street (1804), later listed at 30 Dawson Street (1817–34), and resided on Cold-blow Lane (1834). A partnership of John Egan and Son was advertised in 1828, and he later joined with the firms of Egan, Read and Taylor (1835) and Egan, Read and Co. (1836), both at 21 Aungier Street. In 1819 the term ‘Inventor’ was added to his labels. Royal patronage was bestowed in 1821, and harps were thereafter inscribed ‘Maker by Special Appointment to His Most Gracious Majesty George IV’. In ...

Article

Emiliani, Francesco de  

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

(b Bologna, Italy, c1680; d Rome, Italy, Nov 21, 1736). Italian violin maker. He first appears in Roman documents in 1730 but had been active for some years before. His work represents a blend between the Stainer and Amati styles and shows some similarities with that of David Tecchler. The varnish is usually a golden yellow-brown with occasional reddish tints. Tonally these instruments are clear and mellow but not overly strong. Emiliani’s work and that of some of his Roman colleagues is rarely encountered with original labels today. Those labels, on which his name is latinized as Franciscus de Emilianis, can be either written or printed....

Article

Epiphone  

Laurence Libin

American manufacturer and brand of acoustic and electric guitars, other plucked string instruments, and electric guitar accessories. The company originated in 1873 in Smyrna, Turkey, where the Greek immigrant Kostantinos Stathopoulo opened a store selling and repairing string instruments. His son Anastasios opened an independent workshop about 1890. In 1903 Anastasios emigrated with his family to New York, where on 25 March 1909 he patented a bowl-back mandolin named the Orpheum Lyra. Two sons, Epaminondas (‘Epi’, b 1893) and Orpheus, joined him in the business, and when Anastasios died, in 1915, Epi took control and later patented a banjo tone ring and rim. Assuming ownership upon his mother’s death, in 1923, he introduced the Recording line of banjos. As business expanded, the family acquired the Farovan instrument plant in Long Island and in 1928 the incorporated firm became The Epiphone Banjo Corp. By that time Epiphone was making banjos for Selmer/Conn. To compete with their rival Gibson, Epiphone introduced their Recording series of acoustic guitars, both archtop and flat top, followed in ...

Article

Erard  

Ann Griffiths and Richard Macnutt

French firm of piano and harp makers and music publishers.

Ann Griffiths

The firm was founded by Sébastien Erard (b Strasbourg, 5 April 1752; d La Muette, nr Passy, 5 Aug 1831), the fourth son of the church furniture maker Louis-Antoine Erard (b Delemond, Switzerland, 1685; d1758). As Sébastien Erard was only six years old when his father died, accounts of his having acquired his woodworking skills in his father's workshop cannot be substantiated. He was, however, brought up within a community of skilled artisans, with uncles, cousins, his godfather and older brother all being employed as joiners, cabinetmakers and gilders, for the most part in an ecclesiastical context. He may have known and worked with the younger Strasbourg-based members of the Silbermann dynasty.

Erard most probably arrived in Paris in 1768. The Duchesse de Villeroy (1731–1816) was an early patron, providing him with workshop premises at her mansion in the rue de Bourbon, and in ...

Article

Erdesz, Otto  

Laurence Libin

(b Hungary, 1917; d Toronto, ON, July 12, 2000). Hungarian luthier. While studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest he became interested in violin making under the influence of Max Frirsz, and made his first violins while working as a graphic artist. Conscripted in World War II, he was captured and imprisoned by the Russian army. Following the Hungarian uprising in 1956, he and his first wife and two sons emigrated to New York and opened a fabric design studio, but he gave up the business, divorced, and turned to making violins professionally. Having met the Israeli violist Rifka Golani when the Israel Philharmonic purchased two of his violas, he moved in 1973 to be with her in Tel Aviv. The following year the couple emigrated to Toronto, where Erdesz opened a successful violin shop. Leaving Toronto about 1990 after his second divorce, he opened a shop in Niagara Falls, New York, and later one in Fort Lee, New Jersey....

Article

Fabris, Luigi  

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

(b Venice, Italy, Feb 5, 1809; d Venice, Italy, March 25, 1889). Italian violin maker. Son of a horn player, he was active as a violin maker from the 1830s. His instruments are based on a fairly flat model, mostly after the Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ pattern, though some modelled after Stradivari are also known. While the workmanship is not especially fastidious, the tone of his instruments is almost always very good and robust. Most of the labels printed after ...

Article

Fétique  

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

revised by Philip J. Kass

French family of bow makers. Victor Fétique (b Mirecourt, France, 19 Oct 1872; d Paris, France, 9 Jan 1933) apprenticed in Mirecourt with the Husson family, then with Emile Miquel, and finished his training under C.N. Bazin. He left for Paris in 1901 to join the workshop of Caressa & Français. In 1913 he set up his own business, where he was assisted by his brother Jules, his son Marcel, his nephew André Richaume, and other makers from Mirecourt. His bows exhibit the classic post-Bazin style and are highly regarded by players and connoisseurs. He favoured the stronger sticks then coming into vogue; they are stamped ‘vtor fétique à paris’ at the heel. He expositions of 1925 (at which he received the title Premier Ouvrier de France) and 1931.

His younger brother Jules Fétique (b Mirecourt, France, 6 Jan 1875; d Paris, France, 22 Oct 1951) also trained under Miquel and Bazin before moving to Paris in ...

Article

Forster, William (i)  

Charles Beare, Peter Ward Jones, and Philip J. Kass

Member of Forster family

(b Brampton, Cumberland, 1739; d London, Dec 14, 1808), English violin maker, known as ‘Old Forster’, was instructed by his father in the making of spinning-wheels and violins. He went to London in 1759 and within a short time had established himself in St Martin’s Lane. By the early 1770s his violins, copies of Stainer instruments, were in demand, and he had learnt to make the thick dark-red varnish with which almost all Forster instruments are covered. In due course, in common with his London contemporaries, he came to be influenced by Cremonese instruments, particularly those of the Amatis. Benefited by royal patronage, he moved to the Strand about 1785, by which time he was styling himself ‘violin maker to the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cumberland’. He also made violas, cellos and double basses (including three at the king’s command), and had excellent bows made for him. He was also active as a music seller and publisher, issuing instrumental music by J.C. Bach, G.M. Cambini and Haydn (over 100 works; Forster made an agreement with Haydn in ...

Article

Forster, William (ii)  

Charles Beare, Peter Ward Jones, and Philip J. Kass

Member of Forster family

(b London, Jan 7, 1764; d London, July 24, 1824), English violin maker, the son of William Forster (i), followed in his father’s trade; his earliest known violins were made in 1779. For many years the two worked side by side, writing in respectively ‘Senr’ and ‘Junr’ on the printed label. Most of the instruments were also signed in ink on the rib above the tail-button, together with the date and serial number. William Forster (ii) took over the selling and publishing side of his father’s business after his marriage in July 1786, and as well as reissuing some of his father’s publications he published annual country-dance books. In 1816, following a speculation in a business of which he was not knowledgeable, he went bankrupt. His last years showed declining business activity, and his sudden death in a young woman’s chambers prompted a coroner’s inquest....