Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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The Voice of New Music (Eindhoven, 1989)

Self-Similar Melodies (New York, 1996)


Johnson, William Allen

(b Nassau, NY, 27 Oct 1816; d Westfield, MA, Jan 1901). American organ builder. The son of a contractor, he initially worked as a mason in Westfield; his interest in the organ was kindled when he helped in the installation of a Hook organ in a church he had worked on. The following winter, in 1844, he attempted the construction of a chamber organ. It was successful, and he spent subsequent winters in this way until 1851, when he abandoned masonry for full-time organ building and opened a small shop. In 1854 his first three-manual organ was built for the South Church in Hartford, Connecticut, and by the following year he was employing up to 20 men. In 1871 his son William H. Johnson (b 30 June 1841; d Westfield, MA, 20 April 1922) joined the firm, and in the same year the factory was destroyed by fire. The name of the firm was changed to Johnson & Son in 1875, and in 1885, owing to increasing popularity in the Western Reserve states, a larger factory was built. William A. Johnson retired in 1890, and his son closed the company in 1898, possibly because of his unwillingness to convert their operations to the increasingly popular pneumatic or electric types of action, although the Barker lever had been used in large installations since the 1870s. Johnson’s work was noted for its agreeable voicing, and his important instruments include those in St Mary of the Sacred Heart Church, Boston (1877), the First Methodist Church, Westfield (1876), and the Central Music Hall, Chicago (1880). He also built two studio organs for the organist and composer Dudley Buck.

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