Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Oberek [obertas].

Polish folk dance in triple time, with a rhythmic character similar to the Mazurka, but distinguishable by its rapid tempo. The term ‘obertas’ is first recorded by Adam Korczyński (Lanczafty, 1697), with the now preferred ‘oberek’ dating from the 19th century. The dance originates from the Mazovia region, and with its increasing popularity has in some areas overtaken the Krakowiak. Today it is usually performed by an instrumental group of violins, drum and harmonium. It is a whirling, circular dance for couples with stamping and kneeling figures. These figures are indicated by the music, which is performed with much rubato and freedom in the placing of accents within the bar. Several of Chopin’s mazurkas have oberek characteristics, and there are also examples by Wieniawski, Szymanowski (the third of his Four Polish Dances of 1926), Statkowski and Bacewicz.

For bibliography see Mazurka.


Oberheim, Thomas Elroy

(b Manhattan, KS, 7 July 1936). American designer of electronic instruments. His name is primarily associated with the range of synthesizers designed by him and manufactured since 1974 by Oberheim Electronics, first in Santa Monica, California, then (from c1980) in Los Angeles. While working as an electronics engineer for a small computer company in the late 1960s Oberheim built amplification equipment for musicians in his spare time. He was asked to construct a ring modulator, and the success of the original device led to requests for others. In 1971 Maestro marketed both Oberheim's ring modulator and his phase shifter; Oberheim Electronics was set up in connection with their production. In 1973, when he was an agent for ARP synthesizers, Oberheim devised a digital sequencer (DS-2) and the following year he and Jim Cooper developed the ‘Synthesizer Expander Module’, a small monophonic synthesizer with two oscillators. In 1974–5 Oberheim marketed the first polyphonic synthesizers, the three-octave Oberheim 2-Voice and four-octave 4-Voice; these were based on the expander module (one module for each voice) combined with a keyboard developed by the newly formed E-mu Systems. The 8-Voice (one or two manuals) and less popular 6-Voice followed soon afterwards. The company then produced two programmable synthesizers, the monophonic OB-1 (1976) and the polyphonic OB-X (1979). Several variants of the latter followed, as well as (up to 1985) a further expander module, the Matrix 6 and 12 synthesizers which were based on it, a digital sequencer and an electronic percussion unit.

In 1985 Oberheim lost control of the company he had founded, which became part of ECC Development Corporation in Los Angeles; he left the company in 1987. After producing the Matrix 1000 and a sample player, Oberheim/ECC went bankrupt in 1989. It was briefly owned by Suzuki, then relaunched in 1991 by Gibson Guitars in North Hollywood and later Oakland, California; it is currently owned by the Italian electronic organ manufacturer Viscount.

In 1987 Oberheim founded Marion Systems in Lafayette, California, specializing in sampler and synthesizer modules, and carrying out external design work (including non-musical consulting). In 1999 he launched the first product from his new company Sea Sound.

See also Synthesizer.


T.E. Oberheim: ‘A Programmer for Voltage Controlled Synthesizers’, Audio Engineering Society Preprint, no.1172 (1976)

D. Heckman: ‘Tom Oberheim's Magical Music Machines’, High Fidelity/Musical America, xxvii/4 (1977), 127–30

D. Milano: ‘Tom Oberheim: Designer of Synthesizers’, Contemporary Keyboard, iii/5 (1977), 20–21, 32 only; repr. in The Art of Electronic Music, ed. T. Darter and G. Armbruster (New York, 1984), 92–7

J. Burger and J. Aikin: ‘The New Oberheim: Mean and Lean’, Keyboard, xiii/3 (1987), 30–32

R. Moog: ‘Vital Statistics: Oberheim SEM Module’, Keyboard, xv/12 (1989), 116–17; rev. in M. Vail: Vintage Synthesizers: Groundbreaking Instruments and Pioneering Designers of Electronic Music Synthesizers (San Francisco, 1993), 151–6

P. Forrest: The A–Z of Analogue Synthesisers, i: A–M (Crediton, 1994, 2/1998), 259–60; ii: N-Z (Crediton, 1996), 7–24




See under Klang (ii).

Oberlender [Oberländer].

German family of woodwind instrument makers, active in Nuremberg. Johann Wilhelm Oberlender (i) (bap. 14 March 1681; bur. 25 Oct 1763) founded the family tradition of making woodwind instruments. He was granted master's rights as a wood turner in 1705, and was first mentioned as a turner of flutes in 1710. He soon rose above the rank of craftsman; documentary evidence shows him holding such positions as member of the Greater Council (1719) and sworn master of the turners' guild (1721–2). After the middle of the century, at the latest, his advanced age probably meant that he was no longer working himself, but he was still employing travelling journeymen around 1750. Salomon Heckel (1719–91), a town musician and turner, took over the workshop after Oberlender's death.

Heckel's advertisement stating that from now on ‘Oberlender's musical wind instruments may only be obtained from him’ drew a protest from Oberlender's son, Johann Wilhelm Oberlender (ii) (bap. 12 Sept 1712; bur. 29 Nov 1779), who had become a master in the turners' guild in 1735. That this date coincided with the death of Jacob Denner led to the now discarded assumption that Johann Wilhelm (ii) had taken over Denner's workshop. However, economic and personal problems prevented him from achieving success. His professional failure was due in part to the keen competition in Nuremberg, where several workshops were active concurrently, including those of his father and of another brother, Wendelin Oberlender (bap. 4 April 1714; bur. 17 March 1751). Also trained by his father, Wendelin was granted master's rights in 1738. At his funeral he was described as ‘the honourable Wendelin Oberlender, experienced in his art, Vicarius of the town musicians, also oboe and flute maker’.

The last member of the family to be active in instrument making was Franz Adolf Gabriel Oberlender (bap. 11 March 1748; bur. 19 May 1805), the son of Johann Wilhelm Oberlender (ii). He received master's rights in 1774, but made instruments only as a sideline. Documentary sources usually describe him as a turner, gatekeeper and dealer in musical instruments.

After the Denners, the Oberlender family was probably the most important in the history of woodwind instrument making in Nuremberg. Their position is due primarily to the work of Johann Wilhelm (i), who was active during the period when woodwind instrument making in Nuremberg was in its heyday. Following the examples of the successful J.C. Denner and J. Schell, Oberlender specialized in woodwind instruments of high quality; he also profited from the high reputation of Nuremberg instruments. His master's mark (‘I.W. OBERLENDER’ in scroll, ‘OB’ and ‘ND’ as ligatures, with an ‘O’ underneath) imitated the marks of Denner and Schell. Attribution of the more than 50 extant instruments to their individual makers is still unsatisfactory, since masters' marks were inherited in Nuremberg, a fact that has been overlooked in the past. Extant instruments (see Young) include: flageolets; recorders of various pitches, including some with strikingly carved decorations (not, however, done in the Oberlender workshop itself); transverse flutes (including a tierce flute and a flauto d'amore); oboes (including oboes d'amore); and clarinets. The tierce flute and the clarinets are among the earliest specimens of their kind.

The instruments changed in style but also declined in quality through the generations. Those which can be dated with certainty to an early period show clearly the characteristics of a ‘Nuremberg School’; in particular, they may be compared with instruments from the Denner workshops, their rivals then as now.




E. Nickel: Der Holzblasinstrumentenbau in der Freien Reichsstadt Nürnberg (Munich, 1971)


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