Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/73

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AMERICAN ORGAN.
61
AMNER.

sixteen-feet, those on the upper manual being also voiced softer for the purposes of accompaniment. A mechanical coupling action is also provided by which the whole power of the instrument can be obtained from the lower row of keys. Pedals, similar to organ pedals, are also occasionally added and provided with reeds of sixteen- and eight-feet pitch. The names given to the stops vary with different makers; the plan most usually adopted being to call them by the names of the organ stops which they are intended to imitate, e. g. diapason, principal, hautboy, gamba, flute, etc. Two recent improvements in the American organ should be mentioned the automatic swell, and the vox humana. The former consists of a pneumatic lever which gradually opens shutters placed above the reeds, the lever being set in motion by the pressure of wind from the bellows. The greater the pressure, the wider the shutters open, and when the pressure is decreased they close again by their own weight. In this way an effect is produced somewhat similar, though far inferior, to that of the expression stop on the harmonium. The vox humana is another mechanical contrivance. In this a fan is placed just behind the sound-board of the instrument, and being made to revolve rapidly by means of the pressure of wind, its revolutions meet the waves of sound coming from the reeds, and impart to thdm a slightly tremulous, or vibrating quality.

The principle of the American organ was first discovered about 1835 by a workman in the factory of M. Alexandre, the most celebrated harmonium-maker of Paris. M. Alexandre constructed a few instruments on this plan, but being dissatisfied with them because of their want of expressive power, he soon ceased to make them. The workman subsequently went to America, carrying his invention with him. The instruments first made in America were known as 'Melodeons,' or 'Melodiums,' and the American organ under its present name, and with various improvements suggested by experience, was first introduced by Messrs. Mason and Hamlin of Boston, about the year 1860. Since that time it has obtained considerable popularity both in America and in this country.

A variety of the American organ was introduced in 1874 by Messrs. Alexandre under the name of the 'Alexandre Organ.' In this instrument, instead of the single channel placed above the reeds there are two, one opening out of the other. The effect of this alteration is to give a quality of tone more nearly resembling that of the Sue-stops of an organ. The reeds are also broader and thicker, giving a fuller tone, and being less liable to get out of order.

[ E. P. ]

AMICIS, ANNA LUCIA DE, a very celebrated singer, born at Naples about 1740. She was at first successful only in 'Opera Buffa,' in which she sang in London in 1763, appearing in 'La Cascina', a pasticcio, given by John Christian Bach, and other similar pieces. Bach, however, thought so highly of her that he wrote for her in serious opera, in which she continued afterwards to perform until she left the stage. Burney says she was the first singer who sang rapid ascending scales staccato, mounting with ease as high as E in altissimo. Her voice and manner of singing were exquisitely polished and sweet; and 'she had not a movement that did not charm the eye, nor a tone but what delighted the ear.' In 1771 she retired, and married a secretary of the King of Naples, named Buonsollazzi. In 1773 she sang in Mozart's early opera, 'Lucio Silla,' at Milan, the principal part of Giunia. On this occasion she exerted herself much in behalf of the young composer, who took great pains to please her, and embellished her principal air with new and peculiar passages of extraordinary difficulty. On the night of the first performance the tenor, who was inexperienced, 'being required, during the first air of the prima donna, to make some demonstration of anger towards her, so exaggerated the demands of the situation, that it seemed as if he were about to give her a box on the ear, or to knock her nose off with his fist, and at this the audience began to laugh. Signora de Amicis, in the heat of her singing, not knowing why the public laughed, was surprised; and being unaware of the ridiculous cause, did not sing well the first evening, and an additional reason for this may be found in a feeling of jealousy that the primo uomo (Morgnoni), immediately on his appearance on the scene, should be applauded by the Archduchess. This, however, was only the trick of a musico; for he had contrived to have it represented to the Archduchess that he would be unable to sing from fear, in order to secure immediate applause and encouragement from the court. But to console de Amicis, she was sent for the next day to court, and had an audience of both their royal highnesses for an hour[1]. In 1789 she still sang well, though nearly fifty years old. The date of her death is not known.

[ J. M. ]

AMICIS, Domenico de'. This artist, who is not mentioned by any of the biographical dictionaries, sang with Anna de' Amicis in 1763 at London, in 'La Cascina.' It is impossible to say how he was related to that singer; but it is possible that he was her first husband.

[ J. M. ]

AMILIE, OR THE LOVE TEST, a romantic opera in three acts, words by J. T. Haines, music by W. M. Rooke. Produced at Covent Garden Theatre Dec. 2, 1837, and ran for more than twenty nights.

AMNER, John, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Ely Cathedral. He succeeded George Barcroft in 1610, and held the appointments till his death in 1641. He took his degree as Bachelor in Music at Oxford in May 1613. In 1615 he printed his 'Sacred Hymns of 3, 4, 5, and 6 parts, for Voices and Vyols,' dedicated to his 'singular good lord and maister,' the Earl of Bath. He composed much church music. Three services and fifteen anthems are preserved in the books at Ely; and several other specimens of his skill are to be found in MS. else-

  1. Letter of Leopold Mozart.