Logier, John Bernard (DNB00)

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LOGIER, JOHN BERNARD (1780–1846), musician, descended from a family of French refugees, was born in 1780 at Kaiserslautern in the Palatinate. His father and grandfather were organists, and the former gave him his early musical education. About 1790 he came to England, and for two years studied the flute and pianoforte. He then joined a regimental band conducted by Willman, father of the celebrated clarinet-player, and went with it to Ireland. In 1796 he married Willman's daughter, and took to composing for and teaching military bands and the pianoforte. On the disbanding of his regiment he became organist at Westport, co. Mayo, and while there invented a machine called the 'chiroplast,' designed to facilitate the acquirement of a correct position of the hands on the pianoforte, and devised the system of music teaching known by his name (for a description of the 'chiroplast' see Grove, Dictionary of Music, i. 346). Logier's method of teaching was novel in two respects: the use of the apparatus just named, and the plan of making several pupils, twelve or more, play at the same time on as many pianofortes. The system led to much controversy. Musicians in general were opposed to it, but Spohr expressed himself in its favour (Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, 1820), and Samuel Webbe [q. v.] adopted it in London. Several hostile pamphlets and articles (see list in Grove, i. 347) led to Logier inviting the Philharmonic Society and leading musicians to attend an examination of Webbe's pupils in London, 17 Nov. 1817. The results of this examination are detailed in 'An Authentic Account, etc., by J. B. Logier' (London, 1818), which was answered by 'An Exposure of the New System … published by a Committee of Professors in London' (London, 1818). Many pamphlets appeared later. Meantime, in 1821, the Prussian government invited him to Berlin, where he established a chiroplast school with such good results that the king asked him to instruct twenty professors, with the view of spreading the system over the whole of Prussia. He remained three years in Berlin, visiting England at intervals, and in 1826, having acquired a competency by the sale of his invention, the high fees he exacted for the use of his system, and his numerous classes, he retired and settled near Dublin, where he died 27 July 1846.

Logier arranged much music for the pianoforte, and composed sonatas and other pieces, including an ode for the jubilee of George III, performed in Dublin. Several works were written specially for his peculiar system, and he was the author of 'A Complete Introduction to the Keyed Bugle,' an instrument he is said to have invented. He was not without a taint of charlatanism; he established in Dublin a 'chiroplast club,' with a special button. He remarked to Mazzinghi that he 'considered himself an instrument in the hands of Providence for changing the whole system of musical instruction.' These pretensions were extravagant, but his object was good, and what he did has undoubtedly had a beneficial influence on pianoforte teaching, though his system and invention are no longer used.

[Grove as above, also ii. 161; pamphlets, &c., cited above.]

J. C. H.