A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The manufacture of musical instruments dates back to a remote antiquity. They were constantly in use by minstrels at feasts and pageants, and in religious services and ceremonies. At the pageant exhibited at Westminster Hall in 1502 on the occasion of an entertainment given to Catherine of Spain we read (fn. 1) that 'twelve ladies had claricordis, claricymballs, and such other.' Henry VIII and both of his daughters were skilful players upon the chief instruments of music in use in their day. London makers in the 16th century helped to supply the demands of the Continent, although musical imports from abroad were also considerable. In a little book entitled 'The rates of the Custome House, both inwarde and outwarde, very necessary for all merchants to knowe, Imprinted at London by Rycharde Kele, 1545,' will be found 'clarycordes the payre 2s., harp strynges the boxe 10s., lute strynges called mynikins the groce 22d., orgons the payre ut sint in valore, wyer for clarycordes the pound 4d., virginales the payer 3s. 4d.' Very few particulars of early makers exist. In April 1530 one William Lewes received £3 for two 'payer of virginalls' supplied to the king at Greenwich, £3 for two pair 'brought to the More,' and 20s. for 'a little payer.' In February 1531 Lewes received a further sum of £8 6s. 8d. for five pair of virginals supplied to his royal patron. (fn. 2) Nothing is known of Lewes, but in the Privy Purse expenses of the Princess Mary, (fn. 3) among various payments connected with instruction of the princess in the virginals are sums 'geven to one Cowts [or Cots] of London for mendyng of my ladys grace Virginalls at soundry tymes.' Several 'pairs' of virginals which once belonged to Queen Elizabeth are described by Dr. Rimbault, who wrote in 1860, (fn. 4) as existing in his time; that of chief interest is an instrument purchased at Lord Spencer Chichester's sale in 1805.
Some at least of the early musical instrument makers settled in London were certainly born beyond the seas, as, for example, William Treasurer, returned as 'virginall-maker Doucheman' in 1568. (fn. 5) Three years after it was reported (fn. 6) that he had been fifty years in England. His 'servant' or apprentice, Jasper Blanckart, may have succeeded to his business, for he is found in Aldgate Ward in 1582-3 as a virginal-maker. (fn. 7) Other foreign virginal makers were clearly religious refugees, (fn. 8) as 'Lodewyke Tyves' in 1568, while in 1582- 3 we hear (fn. 9) of 'Polle Fyeld and Marie his wief; he was borne at Loven, in England 3 yeares at September last and came for religion; he ys a sojourner with John James, a virginall-maker, no denizon and of the Duche churche.' Foreign lute and harp-string makers are also not uncommon, as Norde Pallarum a Sicilian (fn. 10) (1568), Audrian Daniell a Hollander (1571), and two Antwerp men, Joyce Vanderoke and Peter Wellence (1571).
Two celebrated virginal-makers in the latter half of the 17th century were John Loosemore and Stephen Keen. A fine instrument bearing Loosemore's name and the date 1655 is stated by Rimbault to be in private possession. (fn. 11) There is an advertisement of Keen at the end of Playford's Introduction to the Skill of Musick, 1672, stating that 'Mr. Stephen Keen, Maker of Harpsycons and Virginals, dwelleth now in Threadneadle Street, at the sign of the Virginal, who maketh them exactly good, both for sound and substance.' Keen was in business from 1685 to 1716.
The instruments above-mentioned all possessed key-boards, and were early precursors of the pianoforte. The clavier, or key-board, invented at the close of the 11th century, was at first applied to the organ, but was probably soon adapted to stringed instruments. One of the earliest of these was the clavicytherium-a small oblong box with the strings arranged in the form of a half triangle. The strings were of catgut, and were sounded by quill plectra rudely fastened to the ends of the keys. The clavichord or clarichord was a much superior instrument, in the shape of a small square pianoforte, but without frame or legs. The strings were of brass, and the action consisted simply of a piece of brass pin wire placed vertically at a point where it could be struck or pressed against its proper string. The virginal introduced a new plan of striking the strings by small quills attached to minute springs fitted in the upper part of small flat pieces of wood termed jacks. These jacks were perpendicular to the keys, and when after striking the string the jack had made its escape it fell in such a way as to be able at will to reproduce the sound anew. The strings of the virginal were of metal instead of catgut. The spinet was of similar construction, differing only in its shape, which was that of a harp laid in a horizontal position. The chief London makers of the spinet and harpsichord in the first three-quarters of the 17th century were the Hitchcocks and Haywards, fathers and sons. John Hitchcock made spinets with a compass of five octaves; some are known bearing dates between 1620 and 1640. Charles Haward or Hayward is also mentioned as a celebrated maker in 1672. (fn. 12) Hayward lived in Aldgate, and was patronized by Samuel Pepys.
Another celebrated maker was Joseph Baudin; a spinet by him, which belonged to Dr. Rimbault, has the inscription: 'Josephus Baudin, Londini, fecit 1723.' Another maker named Player is said to have made spinets with quarter tones. (fn. 13) In Hogarth's 'Rake's Progress' is a harpsichord by Mahoon, who was harpsichord maker to his Majesty and also a maker of spinets. Baker Harris was another eminent maker in the latter half of the 18th century; one of his spinets with white keys and dated 1776 was seen by Dr. Rimbault in 1858. Spinets ceased to be made in London or elsewhere, according to Mr. A. J. Hipkins, (fn. 14) in 1784.
A more important instrument than any of those yet described was the harpsichord, which held during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries a position similar to that of the grand pianoforte, an instrument which it also resembled in shape. It was used in the orchestra as an accompanying instrument from the time of the first opera and the first oratorio in the year 1600, and continued to be a favourite with musicians down to the times of Handel and Bach. The action of the harpsichord was simply a key and a jack, the latter consisting of a piece of pear-wood with a small movable tongue of holly through which crowquills or points of hard leather were passed to touch the string when the jack was in action. The larger harpsichords had two rows of keys and three strings to each note; of the latter, two were tuned in unison and the third sounded an octave higher.
Like the rest of the minor key-board instruments, the harpsichord was of Italian origin, the name being an English equivalent of arpicordo; but the Italian workmanship was inferior, and the finest examples of early harpsichords were made by the Ruckers family of Antwerp. Four members of this family acquired great reputation for their work from 1579 to the middle of the following century. Their instruments lasted long, and were sometimes expensively decorated a hundred years after they had been made. Many Ruckers harpsichords survived and fetched high prices until nearly the end of the 18th century, one being sold in 1770 for 3,000 francs, or £120. When the Ruckers family passed away the makers of London and Paris succeeded to their reputation. Tabel, a Fleming of whom very little is known, came over to this country and settled in London, bringing with him the influence of the Ruckers school. A harpsichord made by Tabel is possessed by Helena, Countess of Radnor, and bears the inscription 'Hermanus Tabel fecit Londini, 1721.' Harpsichords had, however, been made in London in the 17th century by the spinetmakers, the Hitchcocks, Hayward, and Keene; only one harpsichord by John Hitchcock is now known to exist, but spinets by the above makers are still occasionally met with in old country mansions. Another early maker was Johannes Asard, one of whose instruments is dated 1622. (fn. 15)
John Playford, the well-known music publisher who kept a shop in the Inner Temple near the church door, advertised in the second book of his Select Ayres and Dialogues, folio, 1669:-'If any person desire to be furnished with good new virginals and harpsicons, if they send to Mr. Playford's shop, they may be furnished at reasonable rates to their content.' Mace, writing in 1676, (fn. 16) gives a curious account of the pedal harpsichord, and mentions the price of these instruments, which was ordinarily £20, though two were bought by Sir Robert Bolles for £30 and £50 respectively.
John Harris, son of the celebrated organbuilder Renatus Harris, who was a maker of organs, harpsichords, and spinets in Red Lion Street, Holborn, claimed to have taken out the first patent (fn. 17) in this country for an improvement in the construction of the harpsichord. His invention is described in his printed advertisement, a copy of which is preserved in the Chetham Library, Manchester. (fn. 18) On a harpsichord with two sets of strings, by his invention, 'may be performed either one unison or two, or two unisons and an octave together; and the fortes or pianos, or loud or soft, or the contrary, may be executed as quick as thought; and double basses may be also expressed by touching single keys.' Harris was joined in partnership by John Byfield, and the firm built an organ in 1729 for Shrewsbury, and in 1740 one for Doncaster which cost £525.
William Barton, of whom nothing further is known, was granted a patent (fn. 19) for improving the tone and durability of harpsichords by using 'pens of silver, brass, steel, and other sorts of metall' in place of 'crow and raven quills of which they are now made.' The reputation of London makers of musical instruments now stood very high, especially abroad, and continued until the close of the century. It was much enhanced by several foreigners who found their way to this country and started business in London. Dr. Burney, in an account of his travels in Germany, (fn. 20) writes:- 'The Germans work much better out of their own country than in it, if we may judge by the harpsichords of Kirkman and Shudi, the pianofortes of Backers, and the organs of Snetzler, which far surpass in goodness all the keyed instruments that I met with in my tour through Germany.'
Rutgerus (or Roger) Plenius, one of these German makers, lived in South Audley Street, Grosvenor Square, 'ye King's Arms being over ye Door,' and in 1741 put forth a curious printed advertisement (fn. 21) in which he claims to have made 'more than twenty essential improvements' in the harpsichord, and sets forth the merits of his 'new invented musical instrument called a Lyrichord.' An advertisement in the Public Advertiser of 12 June 1755 states that his lyrichord was 'to be seen and heard 'till sold' daily from 11 till 2 'at the Golden Ball opposite the little south door of St. Paul's, in St. Paul's Church-yard, for half a crown each person.' Plenius and his invention are last met with in an auction sale on 11 February 1772 at Christie's in Pall Mall, when fifteen harpsichords, several 'with double and single bass pedals, being the stock in trade of Frederick Naubauer, harpsichord maker,' were advertised to be sold, together with a lyrichord 'made by the famous Rutgerus Plenius.' This instrument was intended to imitate bow stringed instruments, and was played upon by means of a keyboard and a treadle; the strings of wire and gut were set vibrating by rotating wheels, the keys when pressed down forming the contact. Plenius took out two patents, one dated 30 December 1741, (fn. 22) for various improvements in harpsichords, spinets, &c.; the second, dated 10 July 1745, (fn. 23) specifies among other improvements a 'Welch harp' stop which he worked by a pedal. Plenius was the first to make a pianoforte in England. (fn. 24)
During the 18th century Tabel's pupils Burckhardt Tschudi or Burkat Shudi, and Jacob Kirkman became famous as eminent makers. Shudi, who was the founder of the firm of Broadwood, was of noble parentage in Switzerland and born 13 March 1702. He came to England in 1718 as a simple journeyman joiner, and became, like his fellow workman Kirkman, a foreman in Tabel's London workshop. About 1728 he set up for himself in Meard Street, Dean Street, Soho. In 1742 he removed to 33, Great Pulteney Street, and took for his sign the Plume of Feathers to indicate his patronage by Frederick Prince of Wales. His new shop was well chosen, being then situated in the most fashionable part of London and close to the Court at St. James's Palace. Shudi was fortunate in obtaining the patronage of Handel; and the making of harpsichords, and their tuning and repair especially, being a lucrative business, he soon became wealthy. The harpsichord made by him which once belonged to Queen Charlotte and is now in Windsor Castle bears the date 1740. It has a 'lute' stop which, like the pedal, was an English invention of the 17th century. Shudi is said to have presented a harpsichord to Frederick the Great, whom he greatly admired and considered to be the leader of the Protestant cause, after the capture of Prague in 1744. A picture which was formerly in one of the rooms at Great Pulteney Street is said to represent Shudi, in the company of his wife and their two children, engaged in tuning this identical instrument. The picture is reproduced as a frontispiece to Dr. Rimbault's History of the Pianoforte. Frederick afterwards (in 1766) ordered from Shudi two double harpsichords for his new palace at Potsdam, where they still remain. One of these is described by Burney (fn. 25) as a magnificent instrument which cost 200 gns., 'the hinges, pedals, and frame are of silver, the case is inlaid, and the front is of tortoiseshell.'
The Potsdam harpsichords were made with Shudi's Venetian swell, which he afterwards patented. (fn. 26) Roger Plenius had in 1750 devised a swell imitated from the organ, which consisted of gradually raising or lowering by a pedal movement a portion of the top or cover of the harpsichord. Shudi improved upon this by a swell on the principle of the venetian blind.
John Broadwood, who had married Shudi's daughter Barbara, was taken into partnership by his father-in-law. A harpsichord exists dated 1770, with the names of Shudi and Broadwood as makers, but Shudi made harpsichords alone after that date. About 1772 he retired to a house in Charlotte Street, leaving the business in the hands of his son-in-law; he died on 19 August 1773. His son, the younger Burkat Shudi, then joined John Broadwood in partnership until 1782, when he retired; he died in 1803. A list of thirteen existing harpsichords made by this firm is given in Grove's Dictionary of Music. (fn. 27) The price of a single harpsichord about 1770 ranged from thirty-five to fifty guineas, that of a double harpsichord with swell was eighty guineas.
Tabel's other pupil, Jacob Kirchmann or Kirkman, obtained a success and reputation as a harpsichord maker quite equal to that of his eminent rival Shudi. A curious story is told by Burney of Kirkman's rapid courtship of Tabel's widow, whom he wooed and married in one morning, just a month after her husband's death. With the widow he secured also the business and the stock-in-trade. Kirkman was of high repute not only as a maker but also as a musician. He was organist of St. George's, Hanover Square, and the author of several compositions for the organ and the pianoforte which he published himself at the sign of the 'King's Arms' in Broad Street, Carnaby Market (now Broad Street, Soho). The rivalry of the two makers extended to their patrons, King George favouring Kirkman and the Prince of Wales, who was notoriously on ill terms with his royal father, patronizing Shudi. Burney relates another anecdote of Kirkman, by which he is said to have retrieved his fortunes when ruin threatened him through a sudden freak of fashion. The guitar suddenly rose into favour among ladies of fashion, who sold their harpsichords for what they would fetch. Kirkman bought them up at a nominal price, and succeeded in stopping the rage for the new favourite by giving a large number of guitars to girls in milliners' shops and ballad-singers in the streets whom he taught to strum an accompaniment. This had the effect of disgusting the fashionable ladies, whose favour soon returned to the more costly harpsichord. Kirkman died in 1778 and left a fortune of nearly £200,000; he had no children, but was succeeded in business by his nephew Abraham, whose son Joseph followed him. Harpsichords were made by this firm so late as 1798, which date appears on an instrument also with the name 'Josephus Kirckman.'
In the hands of Tabel and his pupils Shudi and Kirkman the harpsichord reached its highest point of excellence in compass, tone, and power. The increase of power was obtained chiefly by the greater length of Shudi and Kirkman's harpsichords, which measured nearly 9 ft., whilst those of Ruckers were from 6 ft. to 7½ ft. long. Kirkman added a pedal to raise a portion of the top or cover. Both makers used two pedals; one for the swell, the other by an external lever mechanism to shut off the octave and one of the unison registers, leaving the player with both hands free. The English makers did not adopt the practice of decorating the cases with beautiful paintings, a practice which caused many fine Flemish harpsichords to be broken up when out of repair.
Many contrivances were invented by English harpsichord makers to produce sonority of tone and do away with the jarring noise of the quills plucking the string, but it must suffice to mention here the improvements effected by John Joseph Merlin. He was born at Huys in the Low Countries in 1735, and came to England in the suite of the Spanish ambassador in 1760. For several years he was director of Cox's Museum in Spring Gardens, where in 1768 he exhibited many of his curious inventions. He afterwards exhibited at his own museum in Princes Street, Hanover Square, (fn. 28) a great variety of musical instruments and remarkable pieces of mechanism designed and constructed by himself. In 1774 (fn. 29) he took out a patent for an improved harpsichord, in which he is described as a mathematical instrument maker living in Little Queen Ann Street, Marylebone. His patent was for a 'compound harpsichord in which, besides the jacks with quills, a set of hammers of the nature of those used in the kind of harpsichords called pianoforte are introduced in such a manner that either may be played separately or both together at the pleasure of the performer, and for adding the aforesaid hammers to an harpsichord of the common kind already made so as to render it such compound harpsichord.' Merlin effected another improvement in harpsichords in 1775. The larger instruments had ordinarily two rows of keys and three strings to each note, two of the strings being in unison and the third sounding an octave higher. Merlin abolished the latter and replaced it by another unison string which left the tone equally full and rendered the instrument less liable to get out of tune, the octave stop being very susceptible to atmospheric influences. He died in May 1804, and the 'celebrated musical instruments invented and manufactured' by him were sold by auction on 21 July 1837.
The Pianoforte.-The manufacture of pianofortes is an industry for which London has been long and justly famed. The origin of the invention has caused much controversy, but it is now generally conceded that the inventor of this beautiful instrument was Bartolomeo Cristofori, a harpsichord maker of Florence and custodian of the musical instruments of Prince Ferdinand dei Medici; he had in 1709 made four pianofortes in Florence, where they were seen by Scipione Maffei. The invention is described by Maffei (fn. 30) in the Giornale de Litterati d'Italia, 1711, and the idea seems also to have been independently arrived at by two other musicians, viz.:- Marius, a French manufacturer, who in 1716 submitted his instruments to the Académie des Sciences, and Christopher Gottlieb Schröter, a German musician, who constructed a model of a pianoforte at Dresden in 1717. Two instruments made by Cristofori still exist; one dated 1720 in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the other dated 1726 in the private museum of the Signori Kraus at Florence. The invention constituted a vast improvement upon the action of the harpsichord, which was the immediate precursor of the pianoforte. This was done by substituting for the quills formerly used leather-covered hammers to strike the strings. By this means the jarring noise of the old instrument described by Dr. Burney as a 'scratch with a sound at the end of it' gave place to a clear, precise, and delicate tone until then unknown. The great invention lay dormant in Italy, but was taken up in Germany, where Gottfried Silbermann, after some unsuccessful attempts, made a pianoforte which gained the unstinted praise of J. S. Bach; Frederick the Great also ordered some of Silbermann's instruments for his palace at Potsdam. Other famous German makers were Johann Andreas Stein of Augsburg, Johann Gottfried Hildebrand, and Johann Andreas Streicher. In France the chief manufacturers and inventors were Sebastian Erard and Ignace Pleyel.
The earliest pianos were horizontal and wing-shaped like the harpsichord, the oblong or 'square' of clavichord shape is said to have been invented by Frederici, the celebrated organ builder of Gera. The first piano seen in England was made, Burney tells us, in Rome by Father Wood, an English monk. This was copied by Roger Plenius, but without any attempt to place the enterprise on a commercial basis. Another German, Johannes Zumpe, who is said to have worked for Shudi the harpsichord maker, was more successful. At his manufactory in Princes Street, Hanover Square, he made small square pianos of very sweet tone, similar in shape and size to a virginal. These, from their low price and convenient size, soon became so popular that there was hardly a house in the kingdom where a keyed instrument had ever had admission but was supplied with one of them, and there was nearly as great a call for them in France as in England. (fn. 31) The oldest Zumpe piano known bears the date 1766 and is now owned by Messrs. Broadwood. Johann Pohlmann, another German maker in London, helped also to supply the demand, and his instruments also became widely known, although greatly inferior in quality to those of Zumpe. The action which Zumpe adopted or invented was simple and easy, and is said by some to have been suggested by the Rev. William Mason, composer, poet, and friend of the poet Gray. Zumpe had a partner named Meyer in 1778, and was joined by Buntlebart in 1784; after realizing a handsome fortune he returned to Germany to end his days in retirement.
The list of early German makers of the pianoforte in London is, however, not yet complete. A maker named Victor, resident in London, made several improvements in the instrument. He was followed by Americus Backers, who calls himself on one of his pianos which still exists, 'Americus Backers, factor et inventor, Jermyn Street, London 1776.' Backers had been in the employ of Silbermann of Neuberg, and is described by Burney as a harpsichord maker of second rank, who constructed several pianofortes, and improved the mechanism in some particulars, 'but the tone, with all the delicacy of Schroeter's touch, lost the spirit of the harpsichord and gained nothing in sweetness.' (fn. 32) He was, however, the inventor of what became known as the 'English action.'
In 1759 John Sebastian Bach came to London, and after his arrival 'all the harpsichord makers in this country tried their mechanical powers on pianofortes, but the first attempts were always on the large size.' (fn. 33)
In 1767 the pianoforte was introduced on the stage of Covent Garden Theatre as a new instrument. In a play bill for a performance of 'The Beggar's Opera,' on Saturday 16 May 1767, it is announced that at the 'end of Act 1, Miss Brickler will sing a favourite song from Judith, accompanied by Mr. Dibdin on a new instrument called piano-forte.'
It is time now to trace the further fortunes of the famous house of John Broadwood & Sons, founded as we have already seen by Burkat Shudi. John Broadwood, the first of that name connected with the firm, was born at Cockburn's Path in Scotland in 1732. He was a carpenter by trade and was employed by Shudi in his harpsichord manufactory in 1761. He was a partner of his father-in-law, the elder Shudi, and also of Shudi's son. From 1782 to 1795 he was sole partner in the firm of Shudi and Broadwood; at the latter date, by the admission of his son James Shudi Broadwood as a partner, the firm became John Broadwood & Son, and lastly by taking into partnership another son, Thomas, in 1807, the style of the firm was John Broadwood & Sons. The firm began to make pianos in 1773, the construction followed being that of Zumpe, but in 1780 John Broadwood produced a square piano of his own design for which he was granted a patent in 1783. (fn. 34) By this invention he remodelled the case, placing the wrest-plank which carried the tuning-pins along the back, besides effecting other improvements, all of which became generally adopted. John Broadwood died in 1812 at the age of eighty-one years; there exists a mezzotint portrait of him by Harrison and Say. The firm was continued by his son James Shudi Broadwood, who lived from 1772 to 1851; he was the first to use bracing or tension bars of iron or steel placed above the strings. This was to strengthen the wrest-plank, which had been so seriously weakened by the extension of the compass of his pianos, introduced in 1804, that the treble sank in pitch more rapidly than the rest of the instrument. The experiment, which was noted in the firm's work-books of that date, was repeated in 1818, and the method is now universally adopted. Henry Fowler Broadwood, grandson of the founder, was a member of the firm from 1811 to 1893. Henry John Tschudi Broadwood, great-grandson of John Broadwood, patentee of the 'Barless' grand piano, is a director of John Broadwood & Sons, Ltd., a private company established in October 1901. In 1904 the business was removed from its original quarters in Pulteney Street to larger premises at the corner of Conduit Street and Hanover Square. The earliest account book of this firm is lost, but later accounts show that between 1771 and 1851 no fewer than 103,750 pianos were produced from their workshops.
Robert Stodart of Wardour Street, Soho, who founded another well-known firm, is variously described as pupil and fellow-workman of John Broadwood. Stodart succeeded Backers in business, and jointly with Broadwood developed to a high degree the 'English action' of Backers. Stodart himself took out a patent in 1777 for 'a grand forte piano with an octave swell, and to produce various fine tones, together or separate, at the option of the performer.' (fn. 35) This firm became subsequently known as John, William, and Matthew Stodart, and on 29 January 1795 William took out a patent (fn. 36) for his 'upright grand pianoforte of the form of a bookcase.' They exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 as 'Stodart & Son.'
The early history of the great firm of Kirkman has been treated of above. Jacob the founder was succeeded by his nephew Abraham, in whose time the manufacture of pianos was first begun by the firm. Following Abraham Kirkman were two Josephs, his son and grandson; the latter died in 1877 at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. His second son, Henry, who pre-deceased him, greatly extended the business, which in 1896 was amalgamated with that of the Collards. The firm is described in 1794 as Kirkman & Son, harpsichord makers, 19, Broad Street, Carnaby Market. Later on, and for many years, their show rooms were in Soho Square.
An interesting list of harpsichord and pianoforte makers in London at the end of the 18th century is given by Rimbault; (fn. 37) it is taken from the Musical Directory for the year 1794. The thirteen makers mentioned include Shudi & Broadwood, Kirkman & Son, Stodart, and Buntlebart & Sievers (successors of Zumpe). Three other firms, those of Beck, Corrie, and Ganer, were in business in Broad Street, Carnaby Market. The six remaining makers were Done of 30, Chancery Lane, Elwick of Long Acre, Hancock of Parliament Street, Houston & Co. of Great Marlborough Street, Longman & Broderip of Cheapside, the Haymarket, and Tottenham Court Road, and Pether of Oxford Street.
The business of Longman & Broderip, of Cheapside, was taken over and reorganized by Muzio Clementi between 1798 and 1801. His most important colleague in the 19th century was F. W. Collard, whose name is connected with many improvements in the pianos produced by the firm, which is now known as Collard & Collard, of Cheapside and Grosvenor Square. Rimbault gives a list of 106 patents by various makers between 1774 and 1851 (fn. 38) which includes the names of every London manufacturer of high reputation. The pianoforte had a long struggle to fight its way to general appreciation. It was neglected in Italy, the land of its birth, and made slow progress in France and Germany. In England it long suffered neglect until the elder Broadwood, by constructing its mechanism in a superior style, was the first to show the superiority of this instrument over the harpsichord. The continental musicians still clung to the harpsichord after popular taste in England had decidedly pronounced for its rival the pianoforte. As the instrument came more and more into general use, rival makers were incessant in their efforts to improve it in power and quality of tone and in delicacy and effectiveness of touch. These improvements were effected chiefly by enlarging the instrument generally, by extending the scale and increasing the weight of the strings, by correspondingly strengthening the framework, and by improving the mechanism of the action.
The first pianoforte constructed in France was made in 1777 by Sebastian Erard, who became famous as an English maker. He took refuge in London during the Terror, and took out patents between 1794 and 1810 for improvements in harps and pianofortes, (fn. 39) in which he is described as a musical instrument maker of Great Marlborough Street. He returned to Paris in 1796 and made there his first grand piano, using the English action, which he continued to employ until 1808. He died on 5 August 1831, and the business was continued by his nephew Pierre, who took out six English patents between 1821 and 1850. This celebrated firm ceased to manufacture pianofortes in London in 1890.
In 1811 Robert Wornum the younger, of Princes Street, Hanover Square, patented (fn. 40) his improvements of the 'upright' pianoforte, which he afterwards more fully developed in his 'Cottage' and 'Piccolo' instruments. He was a man of remarkable ingenuity, whose improvements rapidly spread both in this country and abroad. Other patents were granted to him in 11 July 1820, 4 September 1826, and 14 January 1829, (fn. 41) in which his address is given as Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square. His last patent is dated 3 August 1842, (fn. 42) when he was living in Store Street, Bedford Square.
Another inventor of great skill to whom the pianoforte is indebted for many great improvements was William Southwell, a Dublin maker of musical instruments, who was in business in Lad Lane, London, when he took out his first patent on 18 October 1794. (fn. 43) He was living in Broad Court, St. Martin-in-the-Fields on 8 November 1798 when he took out a further patent; (fn. 44) and on 8 April 1807, when he patented his 'Cabinet' pianoforte, (fn. 45) he had returned to Dublin. His next two patents (fn. 46) are dated 4 March 1811 and 5 April 1821, when he was in business in Gresse Street, Rathbone Place. His name (or that of his son) occurs in a much later patent (fn. 47) of 24 August 1837, when he was living at 5, Winchester Row, New Road, Middlesex.
A notable invention made by James Thom and William Allen, workmen in his employ, was brought out by Stodart in a patent dated 15 January 1820. (fn. 48) It consisted of a compensating system for grand pianos and a new method of bracing by metallic tubes. This paved the way for many later devices, such as the introduction of steel tension bars, metal bracings of various kinds, and steel string plates; all these had for their object the strengthening of the instrument to enable it to bear the enormous strain from the increasing weight and tension of the strings. Erard's patent for his 'repetition action' in 1821 effected a great improvement in the mechanism for the perfection of touch, which was still further perfected by the patent of John Hopkinson of Oxford Street for his 'repetition and tremolo action' granted to him on 3 June 1851. (fn. 49)
The principle of division of labour is adopted to a large extent in pianoforte making in order to ensure the utmost precision of detail. Rimbault gives a list (fn. 50) of over forty different workmen, each of whom, with his assistants, is exclusively engaged in a special branch of the manufacture. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 the exhibitors of pianofortes included thirty manufacturers in London and six from provincial towns.
The founder of the firm of John Brinsmead & Sons was John Brinsmead, who was born at Wear Gifford, North Devonshire, on 13 October 1814. He began business at 35, Windmill Street, Tottenham Court Road, in 1836, removing in 1841 to Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square; he took out a patent (fn. 51) in 1862 for improved mechanism in grand and upright pianos, 'producing a perfect check, great power, and quick repetition.' On taking his sons into partnership in 1863 the firm removed to 18, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, their present warehouse; and between 1868 and 1879 John Brinsmead took out three further patents. (fn. 52) For his meritorious exhibits at the Paris Exhibition of 1868 he received from the French government the cross of the Legion of Honour. Thomas James Brinsmead, a member of the firm, was granted a patent on 21 May 1881, (fn. 53) and Edgar William, his younger brother, and author of The History of the Pianoforte (Cassell, 1868; Novello, 1879), also patented some further improvements on 4 December 1883. (fn. 54) The firm became a limited company in January 1900.
Reed Instruments.- Messrs. H. Potter & Co. are a firm of high standing in the metropolis; eminent musical instrument makers of this family are met with from the 18th century to the present day. Richard Potter, who is said by Captain Day to have been the grandfather of the famous Cipriani Potter, (fn. 55) made flutes in London before 1774 with the then newlyinvented keys for f/?/, g/?/, and b/?/. On 28 October 1785 a patent.(no. 1,499) was granted to Richard Potter for improvements in the German flute. These consisted of a graduated tuning slide, graduated cork, and metal plugs. Four concert flutes by this maker were exhibited at the Royal Military Exhibition of 1890, one is illustrated in the catalogue, (fn. 56) and another gives Potter's address as Johnson's Court. In his patent he is described as of Pemberton Row (Gough Square) in the City of London, and this is the address also (no. 5) of William Henry Potter, flute maker, in the patent for improvements in the flute which he took out on 28 May 1808 (no. 3,136). An 18th-century tabor-pipe bears the inscription 'Henry Potter 2 Bridge Street Westminster,' but is probably before that maker's time. (fn. 57) The Hon. Artillery Company possess a key bugle, presented to their light infantry in 1828, which is stamped 'Potter King Street Westminster.' (fn. 58) Messrs. H. Potter & Co., who have for many years occupied their present premises at 30, Charing Cross, are contractors to the government for army instruments and large exporters to our colonies and to distant foreign countries. A branch of the firm was founded in 1860 and carried on under the style of George Potter & Co.
William Bainbridge, who devised several improvements in musical instruments, was living in Little Queen Street in 1803 when he patented a device for more easily fingering the 'flageolet or English flute.' (fn. 59) In 1807 he was in business as a musical instrument maker in Holborn and patented further improvements in the flute. (fn. 60) About this date he was joined by Wood, and flageolets with the makers' stamp 'Bainbridge and Wood, 35 Holborn Hill' are described in Day's Catalogue. (fn. 61)
Brass Instruments.-Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co. claim to be (with Messrs. Köhler) the oldest manufacturers of brass instruments in this country. The founder of the firm was Mr. Kramer or Cramer, who came over from Hanover in 1746 to take the post of bandmaster to King George II and established a music business. (fn. 62) Cramer subsequently took Thomas Key into partnership; a bassoon of late 18th or early 19th century is stamped 'Cramer and Key London Pall Mall,' and a clarionet of early 19th century bears the mark 'Cramer London.' (fn. 63) On another clarionet to which no date is ascribed the firm appears as 'Cramer & Son London 20 Pall Mall,' (fn. 64) and on two serpents occur 'Key and Co. 1820' and 'T. Key 20 Charing Cross' (date about 1830). (fn. 65) Rose states that Key had a workshop in High Holborn, (fn. 66) and that he made there in 1809 for the 2nd Life Guards the first circular bass tuba with rotary action used in this country. The firm next appears as Rudall and Rose of 15, Piazza, Covent Garden (about 1830), (fn. 67) and on 27 November 1832 a patent for improvements in constructing flutes was granted to George Rudall and John Mitchell Rose (no. 6,338). About 1844 their address was 1, Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, (fn. 68) and in a patent granted to Rose on 6 September 1847 (no. 11,853) they are described as of Southampton Street; this patent was taken out by Rose on behalf of Boehm for improvements in the 'cylinder flute.' The firm was now joined by Richard Carte, a professor of music residing at 38, Southampton Street, who is so described in a patent for improvements in flutes, clarionets, hautboys and bassoons registered on 7 March 1850. (fn. 69) Carte was an inventor of great skill and enterprise, and in the following year constructed a flute which became known as Carte's '1851 flute.' This procured him the award of a prize medal at the Exhibition of 1851, the object of his invention being to 'design a mechanism which should retain the open keys . . . of Boehm's flute, and yet secure a greater facility of fingering.' This flute is described and illustrated in Day's Catalogue. (fn. 70) The firm now adopted the style of Rudall, Rose, Carte & Co., and in a patent (no. 245) taken out by Carte on 9 February 1858 for his well-known improvements in clarionets (fn. 71) their address is given as 20, Charing Cross. Other important inventions by members of this firm were secured by patents on 4 October 1859 (no. 2,248), 3 December 1860 (no. 2,967), (fn. 72) 5 December 1866 (no. 3,208), and 5 June 1875 (no. 2,071). Their latest style is Rudall, Carte & Co., and the final removal of their premises was to 23, Berners Street. (fn. 73)
The Violin.-The violin in its present form is about three centuries old. In the second half of the 16th century Cremona was the chief centre of manufacture and owed its reputation to the Amati family, and especially to the brothers Antonio and Girolamo Amati. This reputation was carried well into the 18th century by Antonio Stradivari, who brought the Cremona violin to its utmost perfection. London also has for some centuries been famous for the manufacture of stringed instruments. The makers of the viol were very numerous, as that instrument was universally popular, and the names of many in the 16th and 17th centuries are given by Sir George Grove. (fn. 74)
The violin proper, although known in England as early as the reign of Elizabeth, was generally associated for many years after with popular merry-making, but became more highly esteemed amongst musicians when Charles II introduced his band of twenty-four violins, and thus gave a lead to fashion. The information, (fn. 75) however, which has come down to us with reference to the early London and Middlesex makers is very meagre, and it is difficult to determine whether they belong to Middlesex, the City, or Southwark. Three 17th century makers who are traditionally associated as partners were Thomas Urquhart, Edward Pamphilon, and one Pemberton, whose Christian name is uncertain. Indeed, it has even been suggested that the late date of 1680 assigned to Pemberton may be incorrect, and that he was in fact the J.P. of 1578 who made the instrument presented to the Earl of Leicester by Queen Elizabeth. Urquhart was probably an immigrant from beyond the Border, and his violins are said to be of unusual merit for the period at which he worked. From Urquhart Pamphilon may have learnt his craft, though his instruments, which are strong in wood, with a clear and penetrating tone, hardly reached the high standard of his supposed master.
Daniel Parker, who was still working in 1714-15, may be regarded as the last of the primitive school of English makers. Both in outline and model his instruments show an advance, and their tone is clear and strong. He seems, however, to have used a spirit varnish of a brickdust red colour, and very thickly laid on, which is in strong contrast to the pleasant oil varnish of Urquhart.
John Barrett, contemporary with the London maker Nathaniel Crosse, was a strictly Middlesex maker, whose place of business lay at the 'Harp and Crown,' in Piccadilly. His violins are of a long and high model, tending to the Amati pattern, but with distinct traces of the influence of Steiner.
In the work of Peter Wamsley some modification of the outline and model of John Barrett is apparent. The characteristic fault of his instruments, and especially the violoncellos, is that they are often worked too thin, and in consequence the tone is apt to suffer. His earlier labels bear the address of the 'Golden Harp,' in Piccadilly, the later of the 'Harp and Hautboy,' Piccadilly. Peter Wamsley was succeeded in business by his pupil Thomas Smith. In neither quality of tone nor varnish can his violoncellos compare with those of his master. Two apprentices of Smith, John Norris and Robert Barnes, were partners for a time in Windmill Street (1785) and Coventry Street (1794). Henry Jay, a maker of Long Acre (1746) and Windmill Street (1768) may, however, be mentioned as a neat and careful craftsman, who won repute for the kits he made for dancingmasters. Richard Duke, the elder, also gained a considerable name during the last half of the 18th century. At one time he lived in Red Lion Street, Holborn. His workmanship followed the Steiner pattern, and the tone of his violins was clear and silvery.
In 1741 the name of William Hill is first met with as a maker in Poland Street, near Broad Street, in Carnaby Market. He used a beautiful oil varnish of a transparent yellow colour. His brother, Joseph Hill, lived in Dover Street, Piccadilly, then at the 'Harp and Flute,' in the Haymarket, (where his house was burnt out with all his stock), and after that in Newington, to the south of the Thames. The work of these two brothers has remarkable affinities with that of Edmund Aireton, who at an advanced age was living in Hog Lane, Soho, as late as 1805. Aireton made inferior as well as high-class instruments, and his violins and tenors were built on the pattern of Stradivari.
John Edward, or old John, Betts and his nephew, Ned Betts, were Lincolnshire men, and both pupils of Richard Duke. The older man was a better dealer than maker, his nephew had more original ability, but both of them, as well as the Fendts, whom John Betts employed, were specially skilled in imitating the Italian and old English makers.
One of the most famous of the 18th-century makers has still to be mentioned, William Forster, (fn. 76) generally known as 'Old Forster,' to distinguish him from his son. Born in Cumberland in 1739 he came to London as a young man of twenty or twenty-one, and after working in the City set up for himself in St. Martin's Lane, from which he removed to 348 Strand, probably about 1784 or 1785. By 1781 he had gained the patronage of the Duke of Cumberland, and his instruments had become celebrated for the 'original varnish' to which he refers in his labels. His earlier instruments were after the Steiner pattern. About 1772 he adopted the Amati outline, though his first work in this manner lacks the elegance and delicacy which he achieved later. His violas and violoncellos were the most highly esteemed, though some of his violins reached a high standard. Henry Hill remarks of his 'amber-coloured violoncellos' that 'they are renowned for mellowness, a volume and power of tone, equalled by few, surpassed by none.' William Forster died at his son's house, York Street, Westminster, in 1808.
The last period of the London school dates from 1790 to 1840, when the influence of Stradivari and Joseph Guarnieri became predominant. Some Middlesex makers belong to this period. John Furber, 1810-45, worked for J. Betts of the Royal Exchange, and afterwards for himself at Brick Lane, Old Street; his instruments are copied from both the Amati and the Stradivari patterns. Samuel Gilkes, a pupil of Charles Harris of Ratcliff Highway, was born in 1787 and died in 1827. He worked as journeyman with William Forster the younger, and afterwards was in business for himself at James Street, Buckingham Gate; his better-class work was excellent. John Carter, of Wych Street, worked chiefly for Betts, but produced some violins on his own account of good quality. Henry Lockey Hill, 1774-1835, was the son of a violin maker, and a pupil of his father and of John Betts. He then became with his brothers partner in his father's firm, and by his talent and fine workmanship largely helped to make the name of Hill famous. He was succeeded by his even more celebrated son William Ebsworth Hill (1817-95), and the latter by his four sons, William Henry, Arthur Frederick, Alfred Ebsworth, and Walter Edgar. These gentlemen now constitute the firm of Hill and Sons, whose reputation is world-wide, and has been still further enhanced by the publication of several valuable works, including a life of Stradivari.
The abolition of the import duty on violins from abroad and the large number of violins of old makers upon the market, which were more in demand than new ones, ruined the English manufacture, and but few firms have survived. Whether the trade is destined to revive the future only can show.
The Organ.-As early (fn. 77) as the year 1528 we hear of John de John, a foreign organmaker in London, and from the Subsidy Roll of 1549 it is clear that William Tresourer, born in Germany, but at that time living in the parish of Christ Church, Newgate, made organs as well as virginals. The year 1644 was a fatal one for organs and for the art of organ-building in this country. On the 4 January in that year an ordinance or the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament was published for the speedy demolishing of organs and other so-called superstitious objects. Very few of the old organs in our cathedrals, collegiate churches, and chapels escaped. Organ-building must have practically ceased in England, and it was not till some fifty or sixty years after the Restoration that organs became common in the parish churches. (fn. 78)
To remedy the scarcity of native workmen (Dr. Burney tells us (fn. 79)), 'it was thought expedient to invite foreign builders of known abilities to settle among us; and the premiums offered on this occasion brought over the two celebrated workmen Smith and Harris.'
Renatus Harris, the famous organ-builder, and his rival Bernard Schmidt, better known as Father Smith, both lived in the City of London, but John Harris, a son of Renatus, set up in business in Red Lion Street, Holborn. In March 1738 he contracted to build 'a good tuneful and compleat organ' for the parish church of Doncaster at a cost of £525. He appears to have been in partnership with John Byfield, who married his daughter; the firm must have enjoyed a great reputation, as they built organs (among others) for Grantham Church, Lincolnshire; St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol; and two churches in the City of London, viz., St. Alban's Wood Street, and St. Bartholomew Exchange. Christopher Schrider, who built the organ of Westminster Abbey in 1730, and those of the Chapel Royal, St. James's (1710), St. Mary Abbot's, Kensington (1716), and St. Martin in the Fields (1726), probably lived at Westminster. He was a workman employed by Father Smith, whose daughter he married in 1708. He succeeded Smith in his business after the latter's death, and in 1710 became also organ-builder to the Chapels Royal. He died in or before 1754, when his son Christopher held the appointment of king's organ-maker in succession to his father. (fn. 80)
Richard Bridge, a builder or high reputation, is said to have been employed as a workman by the younger Harris, and was probably in business in Hand Court, Holborn, in 1748. Nothing further is known of his biography except that he died before 1776. Between 1730 and 1757 or later he built many fine organs for churches in the Metropolis; among these were St. Paul's Deptford; Christ Church Spitalfields (one of the largest parish church organs in London); St. Bartholomew the Great; St. Anne's Limehouse, and the parish churches of Shoreditch and Paddington.
To meet the great demand for organs which arose early in the 18th century, when so many new churches were being erected, and to prevent the employment of incompetent persons, the three great makers of that time undertook jointly to supply instruments of good quality at a moderate cost. The makers uniting in this strong combination were Byfield, Jordan, and Bridge, who built the organ for Great Yarmouth Church in 1733. John Byfield, junior, of whom no personal particulars can be found, has been treated by most writers only as a partner or assistant to his father, but Rimbault has shown (fn. 81) that the younger Byfield was a builder of note on his own account, and gives a list of eighteen organs constructed by him between 1750 and 1771, including those of St. Botolph's Bishopsgate; Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin; St. John's College, Oxford; Drury Lane Theatre; the chapel of Greenwich Hospital; the theatre, Oxford; and St. Mary's Islington.
Messrs. William Hill & Son of York Road, Islington, take their origin as a firm from the celebrated John Snetzler, who was one of the most famous of our early English organ builders. He was born at Passau in Germany about 1710, and after gaining a reputation in his own country came over to England. Here the excellence of his work and the novelty of some of his methods soon procured him many commissions, and Dr. Rimbault gives a list of thirty-five organs built by him, most of them between 1741 and 1780. Among them were Chesterfield, Derbyshire; Finchley, Edmonton, and Hackney, Middlesex; St. Mary's Hall; Beverley Minster; Leatherhead and Richmond, Surrey; Leeds Parish Church; St. Martin's Leicester; St. Clements, Lombard Street; the German Lutheran Chapel in the Savoy, and Buckingham Palace, the last-named being now in the German Chapel, St. James's. One of his noblest organs was that for King's Lynn, Norfolk, where the churchwardens inquired what their old organ would be worth if repaired. His reply was, 'If they would lay out a hundred pounds upon it, perhaps it would be worth fifty.' Snetzler lived to an advanced age and died at the end of the 18th or the beginning of the 19th century. Having realized a competent income he returned to his native country to settle for the remainder of his life. He had, however, become too much of a Londoner to live elsewhere, and the attractions of London porter and London living proved so great as to compel him to return and spend the rest of his days in the Metropolis.
Snetzler was succeeded in 1780 by his foreman Ohrmann, who took W. Nutt into partnership in 1790. Thomas Elliott next joined the firm, but appears in 1794 (fn. 82) as in business by himself at 10, Sutton Street, Soho, and one of six organ-builders then carrying on their trade in London. Elliott took into partnership in 1825 William Hill of Lincolnshire, who had married his daughter, and was the inventor of a pattern of viola da gamba which became extensively used. On the death of Elliott in 1832 Hill remained alone till 1837, when he was joined by Frederic Davison, who shortly afterwards retired to become a partner of John Gray. Thomas Hill then joined the firm, which became Hill & Son, and William Hill died 18 December 1870. He will long be remembered for having in conjunction with Dr. Gauntlett introduced the C C compass into this country. The present partners of the firm are A. G. Hill and W. Hill. The firm has built, amongst many others, organs for Westminster Abbey, 1884, Ely, Worcester, and Manchester Cathedrals, Birmingham and Melbourne Town Halls, St. Peter's Cornhill, and All Saints' Margaret Street. One of the present partners, Mr. Arthur George Hill, is the author of a valuable work on Organ-cases and Organs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, published in 1883.
The firm of Bishop & Son of 20, Upper Gloucester Place, London, N.W., was established about the end of the 18th century by James C. Bishop, and has always had a high reputation for excellent workmanship. The invention of the double-acting composition pedal, the clarabella stop, and the anti-concussion valve is to be placed to the credit of the founder of this firm. Among the finest specimens of their work are the organs of St. Giles's Camberwell; St. James's Piccadilly; the Brompton Oratory; Jesus College, Cambridge; and those of Bombay Cathedral and Town Hall. After the death of J. C. Bishop the style of the firm successively became Bishop, Son & Starr; Bishop, Starr & Richardson; Bishop & Starr; and Bishop & Son. Mr. C. K. K. Bishop is the author of Notes on Church Organs, published in 1873.
Messrs. Gray & Davison are a London firm of long standing and high reputation. Robert Gray established an organ factory in London in 1774, and was succeeded by William Gray, who died in 1820. John Gray then became head of the firm, which became in 1837-8 John Gray & Son; shortly afterwards Frederic Davison was received into partnership, when the style of the firm was altered to Gray & Davison. John Gray died in 1849, but the style of the firm continued, their premises in London being at 6, Pratt Street, N.W.; they have also a factory at Liverpool. Among the many fine organs built by this famous firm are those of the Crystal Palace; St. Paul's Wilton Place; St. Pancras; Magdalen College, Oxford; and the Town Halls of Bolton, Leeds, and Glasgow. The Keraulophon stop was invented by the firm in 1843.
Samuel Green, who appears to have been a London maker, was born in 1740, and died at Isleworth 14 September 1796. He is said by Rimbault (fn. 83) to have been a partner of the younger Byfield, and to have probably learned his trade in the workshops of Byfield, Bridge & Jordan. Green was organ-builder to George III, and much patronized by the king. The royal favour brought him much business, but little financial benefit; although he was so long at the head of his profession he yet scarcely obtained a moderate competency, and died a poor man. Green was a true artist, and his zeal for the mechanical improvement of the organ consumed a great part of his time in experiment and research which brought him little or no emolument. The organs built by Green possess a peculiar sweetness and delicacy of tone entirely original, and probably in this he has never been excelled. There is a list of fifty organs of his construction taken from his own account book and printed in the Gentleman's Magazine. (fn. 84) It contains no less than twelve cathedral and collegiate organs, including that of Canterbury Cathedral, eleven London organs, including several City churches and Freemasons' Hall, and twenty-seven others built for the country or abroad.
Crang & Hancock were a London firm established in the last quarter of the 18th century. John Crang came from Devonshire and joined in partnership with Hancock, a good voicer of reeds. Hancock added new reeds to many of Father Smith's organs, and Crang was chiefly occupied in turning the old echoes into swells. Among the organs thus treated by the firm were those of St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Peter's Cornhill, and St. Clement Danes. There were two Hancocks, James and John, who with John Crang were employed in repairing the organ of Maidstone Church between 1755 and 1790. In some particulars taken from the churchwardens' accounts published by Mr. W. B. Gilbert, (fn. 85) 'Mr. Hancock,' who is described as 'organbuilder of Wych Street, London,' is stated to have died suddenly near Maidstone in January 1792. James Hancock was living in 1820, and perhaps some years later. The following are some of the organs built by this firm:- St. John's Horsleydown, 1770; Barnstaple Church, 1772; Chelmsford, Essex, 1772; St. George the Martyr Queen's Square, 1773; St. Vedast Foster Lane, 1780; and Brompton Chapel.
John Avery, whose work was held in high reputation, was in business at this time in the churchyard of St. Margaret's Westminster. No other particulars of his life are known. His organs were built between the years 1775 and 1808; in the latter year he died whilst constructing the organ of Carlisle Cathedral. The list includes the following: Croydon, Surrey, 1794, which he considered his best work; Sevenoaks, Kent, 1798; Winchester Cathedral, 1799; Christ Church Bath, 1800; St. Margaret's Westminster, 1804; King's College Chapel, Cambridge, 1804; in which he incorporated portions of Dallam's earlier work and the case made by Chapman & Hartop in 1606; and Carlisle Cathedral, 1808.
Henry Willis, one of the greatest of English organ-builders, was born on 27 April 1821, and was articled in 1835 to John Gray. In 1847 he rebuilt the organ of Gloucester Cathedral with the then unusual compass of twenty-nine notes in the pedals. In a patent (fn. 86) which he took out on 28 August 1851 for 'improvements in the construction of organs,' he is described as of Manchester Street, but on 9 March 1868, when another patent (fn. 87) was granted him, his address is given as Rochester Terrace, Camden Road. He obtained much fame at the Exhibition of 1851 for the large organ which he exhibited there, and this led to his receiving the commission to build the organ for St. George's Hall, Liverpool, which so greatly enhanced his reputation. For the Exhibition of 1862 he made another organ, which became the nucleus of that of the Alexandra Palace, unfortunately destroyed by fire on 9 June 1873. He next built the splendid organ at the Royal Albert Hall, which for its size, and the efficiency of its pneumatic, mechanical, and acoustic qualities, shares the high reputation procured for him by his second Alexandra Palace organ, which was opened in 1875. The improvements in organ-construction which he effected in 1851 comprise the application of an improved exhausting valve to the pneumatic lever, the application of pneumatic levers in a compound form, and the invention of a movement for facilitating the drawing of stops, singly or in combination. Sir George Grove (fn. 88) thus estimates the work of this celebrated maker:-'Mr. Willis has always been a scientific organ-builder, and his organs are distinguished for their excellent "engineering," clever contrivances, and first-rate workmanship, as much as for their brilliancy, force of tone, and orchestral character.' Willis died in 1905. Besides his principal works already mentioned he also built or renewed the organs of nearly half the English cathedrals, besides those of numerous halls, colleges, churches, &c.
George England, a notable builder, flourished between the years 1740 and 1788, and is stated to have married the daughter of his contemporary, Richard Bridge. He built the following among many other fine instruments: -St. Stephen's Walbrook (1760); Gravesend, Kent (1764); St. Michael's Queenhithe (1779); St. Mary's Aldermary (1781); (fn. 89) St. Alphege Greenwich; and Dulwich College Chapel. The last organ, built in 1760, cost £260, together with the old instrument by Father Smith, which England took in part payment. In 1887 the organ was restored on the advice of Dr. Hopkins, who pronounced it to be a magnificent specimen of England's work, and well worthy of reverent and thorough restoration. An illustration of this organ is given in J. W. Hinton's Organ Construction. (fn. 90) George England was succeeded by his son, G. P. England, at Stephen Street, Rathbone Place, who carried on the business until 1814, and built twenty-two organs between 1788 and 1812. The list of these taken from England's own account book (fn. 91) includes St. James's Clerkenwell; St. Margaret's Lothbury; Gainsborough, Lincolnshire; Sheffield Parish Church; and Richmond, Yorkshire. The Englands' business was taken over by their apprentice, Joseph William Walker, in 1819, (fn. 92) or according to another account in 1828. (fn. 93) Walker started in Museum Street, and removed in 1838 to 27, Francis Street, Tottenham Court Road, where the business is still carried on. Walker died in 1870, and was succeeded by his four sons, whom he had previously taken into partnership, the style of the firm being changed to J. W. Walker & Sons. The high reputation of the firm is shown by the large number of important organs which have come from their works, including those of York Minster; Exeter Hall; St. Margaret's Westminster; Bow Church, Cheapside; the Royal College of Music, South Kensington; and Sandringham Church.
The firm of Flight and Kelly, organ builders of Exeter Change, Strand, is one of the six London makers recorded in the Musical Directory of 1794. (fn. 94) Nothing further is known of John Kelly, but Benjamin Flight was succeeded by his son, also named Benjamin (born in 1767), who commenced business about 1800 in partnership with Joseph Robson, in Lisle Street, Leicester Square, under the style of Flight and Robson. They afterwards removed to St. Martin's Lane, where they constructed and for many years publicly exhibited the Apollonicon, a large chamber organ of peculiar construction, comprising both keyboards and barrels. They had previously exhibited a smaller instrument made for Viscount Kirkwall, and in consequence of its popularity they designed one of larger dimensions in 1812 which occupied five years and cost £10,000 in its construction and perfecting. For nearly a quarter of a century after its completion in 1817, an exhibition of its mechanical powers was daily given. The performance of the overture to 'Oberon' has been especially recorded as a notable triumph of mechanical skill and ingenuity, every note of the score being rendered as accurately as though executed by a fine orchestra. Flight also perfected and gave practical form to the invention of an improved form of bellows by which a supply of steady wind is maintained. (fn. 95) The partnership was dissolved in 1832, after which Robson's share of the business was bought by Gray and Davison, whilst Flight in conjunction with his son J. Flight, who had long actively assisted him, carried on business in St. Martin's Lane as Flight and Son. Benjamin Flight died in 1847, Robson in 1876, and J. Flight in 1890 at Strathblaine Road, Clapham Junction.
The firm of Bevington and Sons was founded about the beginning of the 19th century by Henry Bevington, who was apprenticed to Ohrmann and Nutt, successors to the famous Snetzler. The present members of the firm are Henry and Martin Bevington, sons of the founder, who are in business in Rose Street, Soho. The organs of St. Martin's in the Fields, the Foundling Hospital, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, were built by this firm. The firm of Bryceson Brothers was founded in 1796 by Henry Bryceson, and carries on business at St. Thomas's Hall, Highbury. The principal organs which they have built are those for the great Concert Hall, Brighton; the Pro-Cathedral, Kensington; St. Michael's Cornhill; and St. Peter and St. Paul, Cork. Many equally famous builders had their works within the City of London. Such were, among early makers, the Dallams and the Jordans; the last-named were the inventors of the Swell Organ, which they first introduced in 1712 in the famous organ of St. Magnus London Bridge.