Library - In Memoriam

Remembering oral history interviewees who have passed away.

Harry Benson became the president of William Lewis & Son when the company was under the ownership of Chicago Musical Instrument (CMI). Harry’s guiding principles resulted in the expansion of the violin line and the respect of fellow violin makers such as Kurt Glaesel. Harry was also the one-time boss of another industry veteran and strong supporter of this archive collection, Robert S. Johnson.

Ernesto Gittli was born in Uruguay and moved to the U.S. as a small boy before he began taking piano lessons. He met his wife, who also taught music, and together they envisioned a music school that would encourage all ages to become music makers. Gittli Music opened in the mid- 1960s with a strong focus on providing parents with an education regarding why music is important to their child long before “music makes you smarter” was ever a slogan.

Marie Jensen was born in Rosebud, Texas as the daughter of a Texas Ranger. She graduated college in Houston with a business degree before meeting Al Jensen on a blind date. The two were married in 1954 and had their only child, a daughter, in 1959.

 Jack Javens loved the piano business and became one of the industry’s quintessential salesmen.  He worked for the Aeolian Piano Company out of East Rochester New York beginning in the 1950s and stayed for 26 years.  He witnessed the famous merger between Aeolian and the Winter Piano Company in the mid 1960s and the strong competition of the home organ boom in the 1970s.  Jack was proud of the products he sold and spoke of the rich company history of Aeolian, which went back to 1903. 

Joseph Rashid studied the art of violin-making like few others.  His goal was not to mass produce the instrument or even to sell them, but rather to hand-make the instruments based on scientific evidence.  When he could not locate data on frequency measurements, he conducted his own studies to produce the needed data.  These studies helped him create a violin with a higher quality of sound and he happily shared his finding with other luthiers.  The results of many of his studies

Louie Bellson was one of the World's premier drummers and listed in every jazz encyclopedia. Even with great success, he remained humble and was one of the true gentlemen of American popular music.

Gottfried Möckel recounted the effects World War II had on the German music publishing industry during his NAMM interview. Even after the war, products made by German companies were not selling around the world or even in Europe. He witnessed first hand the changes in Germany over 60 years and was pleased to see many German contemporary composers of the 1940s and ‘50s gaining their well-deserved recognition. Gottfried worked along side Mrs. Sievers, Breitkopf & Hartel president, in bringing the company into the 21st Century.

Bob Seidman

Bob Seidman was born a salesman! Bob knew he loved selling before he was a teenager.

Manuel Rodriguez Sr. was very proud of his ancestry as a classical guitar luthier in the deep tradition of his native Spain.

Don Randall met Leo Fender before World War II when both men worked in radio repairs. After the war they decided to form a business together that would allow Leo to focus on developing a line of guitars.