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Margaret Moreland Stathos

Babcock, Alpheus (11 September 1785–03 April 1842), piano maker, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Lemuel Babcock, a music teacher, singer, and composer, and Sarah Savil. During his youth the family moved to Milton, Massachusetts, where he attended the village school. Babcock learned to make pianos while serving an apprenticeship in Milton with noted musical instrument maker Benjamin Crehore. Crehore’s important “Boston School” of pianoforte makers, established around 1792, included Babcock, his brother Lewis Babcock, and John Osborne, teacher of ...

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Chickering, Jonas (05 April 1798–08 December 1853), piano manufacturer, was born in Mason Village, New Hampshire, the son of Abner Chickering, a blacksmith, and Eunice Dakin. Not long after his birth, the family moved to New Ipswich, New Hampshire, where as a youth he attended the village school and worked on the family farm and in his father’s blacksmith shop. He showed natural musical ability at an early age and taught himself to play the fife and clarinet and to read music at sight. Chickering also had a mechanical bent of mind and apprenticed himself to a cabinetmaker, John Gould, at age seventeen. As a youth of nineteen he reportedly repaired the only piano in town, a delicate instrument that at one time had belonged to Princess Amelia, the daughter of King George III....

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Kees Kooper

Gemunder Family, violin makers and dealers, was active in New York City from 1852 to 1946. Johann Georg Heinrich Gemünder (?–1835) (the umlaut over the “u” was dropped by the descendants in America) was the first Gemunder to take up violin making, in the town of Ingelfingen, Württemberg, Germany, where three of his sons, August Martin Ludwig (22 Mar. 1814–7 Sept. 1895), Johann Georg (13 Apr. 1816–15 Jan. 1899), and Albert (1818–after 1867), learned the craft from him. After their father’s death the brothers continued the business until 1839, when they closed the shop and each went his own way. Nearly a decade of unsettled life followed....

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Hutchins, Carleen Maley (24 May 1911–7 Aug. 2009), inventor of the violin octet, was an only child born in Springfield, Massachusetts, to cigar factory owner Thomas Maley and Grace Fletcher, both of Brooklyn. Though Thomas and Grace were childhood sweethearts, Thomas nevertheless ran off and married another woman named Nellie Reeves. When Nellie died in childbirth, Thomas lived for seven years with Nellie’s parents—and then returned to Grace, marrying her in ...

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Johnston, Thomas (1708?–08 May 1767), engraver, organ builder, and decorative painter, was a prominent . His parentage and place of birth are unknown. Several artists and artisans named Thomas Johnston (or the variant Johnson) were active in eighteenth-century America and England, and early references sometimes confuse them. Nevertheless, his is one of the better-documented careers among craftsmen of colonial Boston....

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Steinway, Christian Friedrich Theodore (06 November 1825–26 March 1889), piano manufacturer, was born in Seesen, in the duchy of Brunswick (central Germany), the son of Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg ( Henry Steinway), a piano manufacturer, and Julianne Thiemer. He attended Jacobsohn College in Seesen, where he excelled in the sciences, especially acoustics. He was also an accomplished pianist, and in 1839, at age fourteen, he demonstrated his father’s pianos at the Brunswick State Fair, where they won first prize and a gold medal. After completing his college education, he went to work making pianos in his father’s workshop in Seesen. When the Steinway family left Brunswick for America in 1850, C. F. Theodore (originally Theodor) remained in Seesen, where in 1852 he married Josephine Luederman. The couple had one child. Seeking to expand his piano business, he moved to Wolfenbüttel in 1853 and to Brunswick in 1860. Friederich Grotrian became his partner in 1856; the piano firm would later be known as Grotrian-Steinweg. After the tragic deaths of his two brothers Charles and Henry, Jr., in 1865, Theodore sold his business to his partners, Grotrian, Helfferich, and Schulz, and left for America to help his aging father and younger brothers carry on their business....

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Steinway, Henry Engelhard (15 February 1797–07 February 1871), piano manufacturer, was born Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg in Wolfshagen, in the duchy of Brunswick (central Germany), the son of Heinrich Zacharias Steinweg and Elizabeth Rosine. As a youth he was forced to overcome seemingly insurmountable hardship and tragedy. When Napoleon’s troops invaded Germany, they killed several of his brothers and burned the Steinway home. At age fifteen a tragic accident killed his father and remaining brothers. In 1815, at age eighteen, he joined the army and is said to have fought in von Blucher’s army at the battle of Waterloo, where he won a medal for “bugling in the face of the enemy.” As a youth he was interested in musical instruments and, although lacking formal musical training, made a zither or a dulcimer while in the army. He also had a natural talent for working with wood and, after leaving the service, was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker in Goslar. In 1820 he settled in the nearby town of Seesen, where he worked in the shop of an organ builder and where in 1825 he married Julianne Thiemer. Nine children were born to the Steinways: Christian Friederich Theodore (C. F. Theodore), Doretta, Charles, Henry, William, Albert, Anna, Hermann, and Wilhelmine....

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Steinway, William (05 March 1835–30 November 1896), piano manufacturer, was born Wilhelm Steinweg in Seesen, in the duchy of Brunswick (central Germany), the son of Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (Henry Steinway), a and Julianne Thiemer. He attended the Jacobsohn Hochschule in Seesen, where he majored in music and languages. He is said to have played the piano well and to have had such a good ear that he could tune a three-stringed grand piano to perfection. Although too young to have worked with his father and brothers in the piano-making business in Seesen, he grew up in an atmosphere that helped prepare him for his future work in the family company....