Wolfgang Kater

Wolfgang Kater. Instrument builder and designer; b Drangstedt, Germany, 5 Jun 1946; B MUS (McGill) 1972. He came to Canada in 1953 and lived in Toronto until 1959, when he moved to Montreal.

Kater, Wolfgang

Wolfgang Kater. Instrument builder and designer; b Drangstedt, Germany, 5 Jun 1946; B MUS (McGill) 1972. He came to Canada in 1953 and lived in Toronto until 1959, when he moved to Montreal. Self-taught, he began building instruments at 11, at first producing guitars and later designing and building lutes. By the late 1960s he was constructing clavichords, virginals, and violas da gamba, and in the early 1970s he was commissioned to build his first harpsichord. He taught instrument making 1972-6 at Concordia University. In the 1970s he studied and exhibited harpsichords in Europe with the help of three grants from the Canada Council. Working at his studio in Ormstown, Que, Kater has built four to six instruments a year, mostly harpsichords but also spinets, virginals, clavichords, and occasionally guitars, lutes, and violas da gamba. In 1980 he designed and constructed the longest string instrument ever built (5.1 metres long), a Flemish harpsichord incorporating a justly-scaled 4.8 metre register played on a lower third manual, a pedal board, or both. In 1985 Kater expanded his business to include the design and construction of industrial sheet metal forming machinery. His instruments have been built on commission only, and each has followed traditional designs adapted to the needs of the individual musician. Those in Canada who have owned and/or played Kater's harpsichords include Wolfgang Bottenberg, Martha Hagen, Christopher Jackson, André Laberge, Mireille and Bernard Lagacé, and Valerie Weeks. Martin Lucker (Germany) and Edmund Shay (USA) also acquired Kater instruments. Both Weeks and Mireille Lagacé have recorded on his harpsichords. Kater was the subject of the 1975 film Harpsichord Builder by Bernard Sauerman.