Oral History -

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Ray Kurzweil appeared on the popular 1950s and 1960s quiz show “I’ve Got a Secret” to reveal that he had made a computer that could make music. Since those early days, Ray has come to define the computer age of music making. Founder of Kurzweil Music, Ray designed some of the industry’s most noted electronic instruments of the 1980s and 1990s.

Hap Kuffner was eleven years old when he was given his first guitar during the folk music boom of the early 1960s. As he learned to play the instrument he also taught himself to repair guitars and to teach. In 1969 he teamed with friend Stanley Jay and opened a vintage instrument shop in New York, naming it Mandolin Brothers.

Irv Kratka had the idea of creating recordings of music while leaving out an instrument, such as the piano. Piano students could then play along with the band on the recording. The success of his efforts resulted in the establishment of his company, Music Minus One.

Al Kowalenko oversaw one of the largest growths in the music products industry during the 1980s and 1990s –the Canadian market. As president of MIAC, beginning in 1979, Al fostered the development of the Canadian annual music fair and the relationships between retailers and suppliers.

Kay Koster was a pioneering woman retail owner, who not only successfully ran a business on her own beginning in 1940, she also personally repaired guitars and amps of all makes and models for decades – even after she closed her retail store. Koster Guitar Center in Rockford, IL was primarily a guitar store; perhaps the first such store in the country.

Akira Komaki recalled the early days of his grandfather’s career as a Japanese retailer. Akira took over the company from his father, the eldest son of his grandfather. Komaki Music opened its doors in 1931 and has since become a part of the Tokyo landscape.

Barrie Kolstein has proudly followed in his father’s footsteps as a noted authority, builder and restorer of fretted musical instruments. His father was an expert repairman and bow maker who opened Samuel Kolstein & Son Ltd. in 1943. Barrie grew up close by his father’s side watching his father work. After music studies that included bass lessons from Fred Zimmerman, Barrie returned to the shop to work along side his father.

Fritz Kollitz was an expert on woods used for musical instruments and gained an international reputation for his knowledge and service to violin and guitar luthiers alike.

Stan Kitchen, along with his late wife Shirley, were the co-owners and founders of Studio Music. This music publishing company was established in 1957 in London and has grown over the years to include a special method of engraving that Stan developed in the days before the musical typewriter.

Mildred Kirschner was simply known as Millie around the NAMM headquarters office where she was hired in 1946. The Chicago based association was being run by Mr. Mills when a heart condition forced him to retire. A young William Gard became the next leader of NAMM who has since become a legend in the industry. Millie spoke of her role as office manager and the caring way Mr.