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Amacher, Maryanne  

Gavin Borchert

(b Kane, PA, Feb 25, 1938; d Rhinebeck, NY, Oct 22, 2009). American composer, performer and multimedia artist. She studied composition with Rochberg at the University of Pennsylvania (BFA 1964) and with Stockhausen. A concern for physical space pervades her music, best exemplified by three ongoing multimedia installation projects. In City Links #1-22 (1967–), she transmits sounds picked up by microphones placed throughout a city to mixing facilities at a central location. The resulting sound collages are broadcast at ‘live’ performances or over the radio. Locations for this project have included Boston, Chicago, New York and, in the Netherlands, Groningen. In Music for Sound-Joined Rooms (1980–), careful loudspeaker placement within a multi-room space creates ‘structure-borne’ sound that travels through walls and floors rather than through air. As the listener walks through a site, he or she experiences multiple sonic viewpoints arranged by Amacher to produce dramatic or narrative effects. The result is electronic music theatre designed according to the architectural features of a particular building. In ...


Appunn, Anton  

Mark Hoffman

(b Hanau, June 20, 1839; d Hanau, Jan 13, 1900). German acoustician, son of Georg Appunn. At the Leipzig Conservatory he continued the acoustical experiments of his father, especially the determination of vibration ratios of very high tones by optical means, and constructed fine acoustic apparatus. He devised a new shape for the glockenspiel, with right-angled metal rods in a circular arrangement and a metal half-sphere above as a resonator....


Appunn, Georg August Ignatius  

Mark Hoffman

(b Hanau, Sept 1, 1816; d Hanau, Jan 14, 1888). German musical theorist and acoustician. He studied theory with Anton André and Schnyder von Wartensee, the piano with Suppus and Alois Schmitt, the organ with Rinck and the cello with Mangold. He became a well-rounded musician who could play almost every instrument. Until ...


Asuar, José Vicente  

Carmen Helena Téllez

revised by Juan Orrego-Salas

(b Santiago, July 20, 1933). Chilean composer and electro-acoustic engineer. He studied at the National Conservatory in Santiago with Urrutia-Blondel (1947–56), at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik with Blacher (1959–60) and at the Badische Hochschule für Musik with Wildberger. Simultaneously he studied engineering at the Catholic University in Santiago (1953–9). As part of his dissertation, in 1959 he assembled the first electro-acoustic music laboratory in Latin America, and composed the region’s first electronic composition, Variaciones espectrales.

Asuar was the Chilean delegate to the 1960 ISCM Festival in Cologne. In 1962 he directed a seminar of electro-acoustic music in Salvador, Brazil. He was Professor of Acoustics and Contemporary Music at the National Conservatory in Santiago (1963–5). In 1964 he taught a seminar in electronic music at the di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires. From 1965 to 1968, at the invitation of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura y Bellas Artes of Venezuela, he established and directed the Instituto de Fonología, the country’s first electro-acoustic music centre....


Backus, John  

Murray Campbell


(b Portland, OR, April 29, 1911; d Los Angeles, Oct 28, 1988). American acoustician. After studying at Reed College, Portland (BA 1932), he undertook postgraduate study at the University of California in Berkeley (MA 1936, PhD 1940). His early research work was in nuclear physics, working under the supervision of Ernest Lawrence in the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. In 1945 he was appointed professor of physics at the University of Southern California, and he continued in that post until his retirement in 1980. An accomplished performer on the piano and the bassoon, Backus was awarded the degree of MMus in conducting by the University of Southern California in 1959. In the later stages of his research career he made major contributions to the study of the acoustics of woodwind instruments, brass instruments and organ pipes. In 1969 the first edition of The Acoustical Foundations of Music...


Barbour, J(ames) Murray  

Jon Newsom

(b Chambersburg, PA, March 31, 1897; d Homestead, PA, Jan 4, 1970). American acoustician, musicologist and composer. He taught himself the piano and the organ and studied at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania (1914–18); after graduating he worked as organist and mathematics teacher at the Haverford School in Pennsylvania (1919–21, 1922–6) while continuing his studies at Dickinson College (MA 1920) and Temple University (MusB 1924). He subsequently taught music theory as assistant professor at Wells College, New York (1926–9), leaving with a fellowship to the universities of Cologne and Berlin. After studies at Cornell University under Kinkeldey (1931–2) he gained the doctorate in 1932 with a dissertation on the history of equal temperament from Ramis de Pareia to Rameau. He taught at Ithaca College, New York (1932–9), while working for the MusD of the University of Toronto (...


Békésy, Georg von  

R.W.B. Stephens

revised by Clive Greated

(b Budapest, June 3, 1899; d Cambridge, MA, June 13, 1972). Hungarian acoustician. He studied at the universities of Berne and Budapest, where he took the PhD (1923). He taught at the University of Budapest until 1947, and was engaged in research with the Hungarian telephone service concerning the mechanical behaviour of the ear, work which led to a revision of the theory of hearing. He later worked on physiological acoustics at Harvard University, and is the only acoustician to have obtained a Nobel Prize. Békésy studied the acoustics of the ear, sometimes by direct microscopic observation through tiny holes bored into the bony wall of the cochlea. He made fundamental discoveries about the operation of the inner ear and the way in which it responds to complex sounds; these discoveries are described with great lucidity in his book Experiments in Hearing (New York, 1960)....


Bel Geddes, Norman  

David J. Hough

[Geddes, Norman ]

(b Adrian, MI, April 27, 1893; d New York, May 8, 1958). American stage designer. He studied briefly at the Cleveland School of Art, but had no formal education after the age of 16. His first wife, Helen Belle Sneider, became his collaborator, and ‘Norman-Bel-Geddes’ was their nom de plume for articles on art and the theatre, until their divorce in 1932. Notable designs for Montemezzi’s La nave for Chicago Opera (1919) and Henry Hadley’s Cleopatra’s Night for the Metropolitan (1920) attracted Broadway attention, and his innovative approach was soon recognized. At an early stage of his career he discarded the proscenium arch and planned open-stage projects. For a commission in 1924 to design Vollmöller’s morality play The Miracle with Humperdinck’s music for Max Reinhardt, he converted the theatre into a Gothic cathedral. His work for Broadway included Kurt Weill’s The Eternal Road (...


Benade, Arthur  

Murray Campbell


(b Chicago, Jan 2, 1925; d Cleveland, Aug 4, 1987). American acoustician. His parents being missionaries, he spent much of his childhood in Lahore. After returning to the USA to study at Washington University, St Louis (AB 1948, PhD 1952), Benade was appointed in 1952 to the physics faculty at Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland, which later became Case Western Reserve University. Promoted to a full professorship in 1969, he continued in that post until shortly before his death. A skilled woodwind player, he had an exceptional ability to relate the results of acoustical research to the practical requirements of musicians and musical instrument makers. Benade established a research programme which made many fundamental contributions to the understanding of the operation of wind instruments. Also active in string instrument research, he was a founding member of the Catgut Acoustical Society and its president between 1969 and 1972...


Beranek, Leo  

Murray Campbell


(b Solon, IA, Sept 15, 1914; d Westwood, MA, Oct 10, 2016). American acoustician. He gained the BS after studying at Cornell College, Iowa, and subsequently gained the doctorate under the supervision of F.V. Hunt. During the Second World War Beranek worked in the Cruft Acoustics Laboratory at Harvard University and later at MIT. In 1948 he founded a company of acoustics consultants (Bolt, Beranek, and Newman, Inc.) which quickly established an international reputation. Before writing his seminal book, Music, Acoustics and Architecture (1962), he travelled through 20 countries, listening and making measurements in many halls and consulting many acousticians. This preparation preceded the final designing of the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, for which he and his firm held the acoustic consultancy. Beranek was responsible for the acoustical design of many major concert halls, and through his writings contributed greatly to the dissemination of good practice in the design and construction of buildings intended for musical use. He was president of the Acoustical Society of America (...


Berliner, Emile  

Bryan S. Wright

[Emil ]

(b Hanover, Germany, May 20, 1851; d Washington, DC, Aug 3, 1929). Inventor of German birth. He graduated from the Samsonschule in Wolfenbüttel at age 14 and immigrated at 18 to the United States, working odd jobs in Washington, DC, Milwaukee, and New York City. Despite limited formal scientific education, Berliner pursued his interest in electricity and acoustics and in 1876 developed and patented an improved microphone for Bell’s newly-invented telephone. For the next seven years, he worked as a research assistant for the American Bell Telephone Company before leaving to become a freelance researcher and inventor. Between 1883 and 1886 he obtained patents for acoustic tiles and floor coverings and experimented with a lightweight internal combustion engine for helicopters.

Berliner is best remembered for developing the gramophone in 1887, a variation of Thomas Edison’s phonograph. Where the phonograph recorded sounds with a vertically-cut groove of varying depth on a rotating cylinder, Berliner’s gramophone recorded sounds with a spiraling laterally-cut groove of constant depth on the surface of a flat disc. Unlike Edison, who viewed his phonograph primarily as a tool for dictation, Berliner envisioned the commercial appeal of the gramophone as a device for home entertainment. In ...


Biebl, Franz  

Matthew Oltman


(b Pursruck [Oberfalz], Sept 1, 1906; d Munich, Oct 2, 2001). German composer, conductor, and recording engineer. At the Munich Hochschule, Biebl studied composition with Joseph Haas and Siegmund von Hausegger, conducting with Heinrich Knappe, and Catholic church music with Ludwig Berberich. He taught at the Mozarteum before being drafted into military service in 1943 and spent two years as an American prisoner of war at Fort Custer (1944–6) where he developed an appreciation for American folk songs and spirituals. After the war, Biebl directed a church choir and worked as a recording engineer for Bavarian Broadcasting where he helped facilitate choral programming. He was an advocate of amateur choral singing and composed over 2000 arrangements and original songs, many of which remain popular among German singing societies.

Biebl is best known for his Ave Maria (Angelus Domini). Originally written for double male chorus, it received its première in Munich on ...


Biehle, August Johannes  

Malcolm Turner

(b Bautzen, June 18, 1870; d Bautzen, Jan 4, 1941). German acoustician. After studying at the Dresden Conservatory he became Stadtkantor at Bautzen from 1898 to 1914 (from 1908 with the title of director of church music), where he organized music festivals in 1905, 1907 and 1912. He then went on to study acoustics, especially the acoustics of bells, in which field he was a pioneer, at the Technische Hochschule, Dresden. From 1916 he taught acoustics at the Technische Hochschule, Berlin, becoming professor in 1922. Meanwhile in 1918 he took up a lectureship in church music at the University of Berlin, and in 1920 became adviser on church bells and organs to the Prussian Ministry of Culture. In 1927 he set up the Institut Biehle, under the auspices of the University and the Technische Hochschule, Berlin, for the study of church buildings, organs, bells and acoustics. Further information is given in E.M. Müller, ed.: ...


Blaikley, David James  

E.D. Mackerness

(b London, July 13, 1846; d London, Dec 29, 1936). English acoustician. He was principally noted for his design and manufacture of wind instruments. He had a long career with the firm of Boosey & Hawkes and when Boosey’s took over the business of Henry Distin in 1868, Blaikley was appointed works manager. He became widely known as an authority on woodwind and brass, and in 1874 devised a system of compensating pistons (patented in 1878) which Boosey & Co. adopted (see Valve). The firm continued to use equipment designed by him until the late 1980s. Blaikley also devised other improvements for trumpets, horns and trombones. In 1875 he joined the (Royal) Musical Association and in 1878 read the first of many papers to that society. This highly technical discussion of resonance was followed by others on such subjects as quality of tone in wind instruments (...


Bode, Harald  

Hugh Davies

(Emerich Walter)

(b Hamburg, Germany, Oct 19, 1909; d ?North Tonawanda, NY, Jan 15, 1987). American designer of electronic instruments and equipment, of German birth. He studied at the University of Hamburg and the Heinrich-Hertz Institut of the Technische Hochschule in Berlin. He pioneered techniques that are now common in synthesizers and other electronic instruments, both to imitate existing instruments and to generate new sounds. He is credited with developing the first modular synthesizer/processor.

While in Germany, he designed the Warbo Formant-Orgel (1937), in which he introduced the “assignment” of notes on a partially polyphonic keyboard. Further developments were made in the Melodium (1938) and the monophonic Melochord (1947–53). He built a series of electronic organs beginning with the Polychord (1950) and the Bode organ (1951); the latter was the basis for the Polychord III (1951) and for electronic organs made in the United States by the Estey Organ Company from ...


Bouasse, Henri  

Murray Campbell

(Pierre Maxime)

(b Paris, Nov 16, 1866; d Toulouse, Nov 15, 1953). French physicist and acoustician. He studied physics at the Sorbonne (1883) and at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (1885–8). After teaching at the Collège de France and the Lycée at Agen, in 1892 Bouasse joined the staff of the University of Toulouse and obtained his doctorate in mathematics. In 1897 he gained the degree of doctorate in physical sciences and was appointed to the physics chair at Toulouse, where he remained for the rest of his academic career. Retiring in 1937, he continued to work in his laboratory until two years before his death. His research interests ranged widely and he made many discoveries of great importance to musical acoustics. In particular, his studies of woodwind and brass instruments provided the essential foundation for the modern understanding of how sound is generated in these instruments. Bouasse's work has been unjustly neglected outside France, partly because he published little in conventional journals. Instead, he wove his own theories and experiments into a 45-volume library of textbooks on classical physics, the ...


Bowsher, John  

Murray Campbell


(b London, August 26, 1933). English physicist and acoustician. He obtained a BSc in physics from Imperial College, London, later gaining the doctorate there with research into high-amplitude stress waves. After holding a research fellowship at the electronic music laboratory of the Canadian National Research Council in Ottawa, he worked for five years in the acoustics section of the UK National Physical Laboratory, where he carried out research on the psycho-acoustic perception of short duration and very low frequency sounds. In 1966 he was appointed to a lectureship in acoustics at the University of Surrey, where, in collaboration with colleagues in the US, Europe, Israel and Australia, he established a group which became noted for its research into the acoustics of wind instruments and their subjective assessment. He played a major part in the establishment there of the Tonmeister course in music and applied physics. An accomplished trombonist, his most notable research has been in the acoustics of brass instruments, where he supplemented and elucidated physical measurements by applying psychological testing procedures to the assessment of brass instrument tone quality. He developed a non-invasive technique which allows the bore of an instrument to be reconstructed by injecting acoustic pulses into one end and recording the reflections....


Buontalenti, Bernardo  

Manfred Boetzkes

[Bernardo delle Girandole ]

(b Florence, c1531; d Florence, June 6, 1608). Italian architect, stage designer, engineer and painter. He studied with Vasari and in 1574 succeeded him as director of all the elaborate productions staged at the Florentine court; the theatre that he built in 1586 in a hall in the Uffizi became the centre of all such festivities. For the Medicis he designed palaces, villas (including Pratolino, outside Florence), fortresses, canals and harbour installations in Florence and Tuscany.

Buontalenti had worked for the court before his appointment as director, designing costumes and special machines for transformation scenes in intermedi directed by Vasari in 1565 and Lanci in 1569. He gave the new theatre in the Uffizi an advanced system of revolving periaktoi that were a great improvement on the clumsy machinery of his predecessors, enabling the scenery to be changed virtually as often as wanted. The capabilities of the stage were demonstrated by the productions of the comedies ...


Burnacini, Giovanni  

Manfred Boetzkes

(b ?Cesena, c1605; d Vienna, July 21, 1655). Italian stage designer and architect. His first known works as an artist were the tournament theatre and stage designs for Marazzoli’s Le pretensioni del Tebro e del Po (1642, Ferrara). These show the influence of Alfonso Rivarola (‘il Chenda’), whose pupil he may have been and whom he may have succeeded as stage designer and engineer at the Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, about 1640, where he probably staged operas by Monteverdi. He was active there in 1643 and 1651 and may have built the small Teatro SS Apostoli (opened 1648), for which he directed and designed until 1651. With his brother Marc’Antonio he was summoned to Vienna by Ferdinand III in 1651, and until his death, assisted by his son Ludovico Ottavio, he was responsible for the décor of the operatic and festive productions at the imperial court....


Burnacini, Ludovico Ottavio  

Manfred Boetzkes

(b ?Mantua, 1636; d Vienna, Dec 12, 1707). Italian stage designer and architect, son of Giovanni Burnacini. He went to Vienna in 1651 as his father’s assistant and pupil. After his father’s death (1655) he at first succeeded him as stage designer at the imperial court, but on 30 June 1657 he was dismissed by the new emperor, Leopold I, in favour of G.B. Angelini. Re-engaged from 1 January 1659, for nearly five decades he designed all the stage sets, machines and costumes for the theatrical performances, sacre rappresentazioni, festivals and memorial ceremonies of the Viennese court. He also did architectural work, including the building of the new court theatres, 1666–8.

Burnacini’s unique scenic imagination stamped Viennese opera in the 17th century – the works of Bertali, Cesti, Draghi and the Zianis – with an unmistakable imprint. Surpassing even the masterly theatrical machinery of his father, he developed a spectacular style of courtly stage design, particularly in the great ‘homage operas’ of the 1660s and 70s (e.g. Cesti’s ...