Get me Ulrich Gerhartz!
Is this the most powerful man in classical music? Jasper Rees meets the German who keeps the giants of piano - from Lang Lang to Alfred Brendel to Mitsuko Uchida - playing in tune
It's amazingly easy to disembowel a grand piano. With little more than a flick of his wrists, the blocks are removed from either end of the keyboard and the entire intestinal mechanism - keys and the hammers they are attached to - comes neatly away.
I'm watching this happen on stage at London's Barbican Hall. In front of me is Ulrich Gerhartz, a wiry man in a trim blue apron in whose lap a keyboard now heavily rests. Around us are three pianos with their lids gaping open, each one a £100,000 Steinway concert grand model D.
In an all but invisible way, Gerhartz is probably the single most important figure in the entire piano world, at least to pianists and to concert halls. He's just back from Melbourne, where he set up two concert grands in a new venue. Stored in his mobile phone, he has the numbers of just about every top piano player on the planet. "And their agents," he adds. When Alfred Brendel went on his farewell tour last year, he took Gerhartz with him. When Lang Lang lands in London in April and needs his Steinway set up to extract his trademark maximum-impact sound, who's he going to call? You guessed it. And in the last few weeks at the Barbican, this discreet figure in artisan fatigues has worked with Mitsuko Uchida, Evgeny Kissin, Imogen Cooper, Murray Perahia and Maria João Pires.
But back to the innards. With one hand, Gerhartz has isolated a particular hammer. With the other, he is brushing a clear liquid on to its green felt coating. "There was one note here, an F sharp, that wasn't bright enough," he says. "So I used a mixture of collodium and ether to bring the note out. You apply it right on the nose of the hammer and it stretches the felt, so it makes it slightly harder and gives it a bit more tension." This gives the note more attack and brightness - but the process is not yet finished. From his array of little instruments balanced on the strip of wood above the keyboard, Gerhartz chooses a small screwdriver-shaped device, attached to what looks like a hypodermic dart, and starts pricking the felt of the F sharp hammer nose once, twice, several times.
To call this man a piano-tuner would be to sell him a tad short. Gerhartz, Steinway's director of concert and artist services, is a master piano-tuner, maybe even a maestro. And tuning is not nearly as simple as it sounds. US orchestras specifically request a pitch of 440Hz for an A, while European ones generally go for 441. There is one horror story (from before Gerhartz's time, he quickly says). The Russian pianist Mikhail Rudy once requested a last-minute change of Steinway for a Prom. The Proms schedule is so tight that the windows for technicians are tiny. Somehow, no one noticed that the new piano was pitched at 440 while the orchestra, for some reason, played at 444. They noticed in the concert though. "It was awful," says Gerhartz. "Everybody could hear it. It made the newspapers."
Preparing a concert grand for performance is quite a task. Every note has to pull its weight, every hammer, every string, every key. This is why, when Gerhartz gets under the bonnet of a piano, he might not come up for air for an hour and a half. There is regulating, voicing and balancing between bass and treble to do. His fingers trickle neurotically up and down the keyboard playing chromatic scales. Anyone else would be doing this to hone technique. But Gerhartz is hunting for bum notes. When he finds something, he takes a stick of chalk - which has its own smart golden holder - and deftly marks the wood above the offending key.
Unsurprisingly, Gerhartz, who trained at Steinway's Hamburg factory, comes across as highly meticulous and methodical. I watch as he picks up, for the umpteen-thousandth time in his 20-year career, a short stick and begins to take measurements from inside the piano. "It's a blow gauge," he says, of this instrument designed to read the distance between hammer and string. "The hammer has a certain distance to accelerate before it hits. That has a big impact on the depth of touch - how far you push the key down in order to get the hammer to the string."
Depth of touch is all-important. Some pianists like the piano to be set up so that all they have to do is tickle the key and a note sounds. Others opt for resistance. Do preferences divide up on gender lines? "You could say a female pianist would like a lighter piano, although not all of them," says Gerhartz. "The keyboard I prepared for Mitsuko would probably be slightly too light for Imogen, so Imogen would find it hard to control."
The lightest touch of them all, although obviously before Gerhartz's time, was Vladimir Horowitz. Gerhartz is sometimes asked to set up a piano just as the Kiev-born maestro preferred it - in the delusional belief that it'll make someone sound like him. "Horowitz made an amazing sound with a very, very light, shallow keyboard with a very, very, very bright tone. He could control it and he created his colours with it. But if you gave a piano like that to Alfred Brendel, it would be unplayable for him. Unthinkable!"
And then each piano has its own personality, which gradually emerges in the first year or two of its performing life. It is Gerhartz's job to steer a pianist in the direction of the right instrument. The piano before him is an 099 (naming pianos is not one of Steinway's fortes). This, he says, "has always been a very strident concerto piano", while its younger stablemate, the 826, has "a tone with a lot of depth and brightness - but not brittle metallic brightness".
Steinway has an unchallenged monopoly in the concert hall. Unlike violins, however, Steinways have a brief lifespan, akin to that of a sports star. "To project sound well, with a nice musical tone, you need the pianos to be young," says Gerhartz. At Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester, the youngest is one year old, while the oldest is 12. Now confined to an orchestral role, the latter will soon be put out to grass. "It's like a high-performance athlete who eats the right thing, trains every day, is totally focused on performing," says Gerhartz. "As soon as their training regime goes and they have a normal life, they change." They get fat? "I didn't want to put it like that."
Gerhartz is ever the diplomat. But if anything in the highly strung world of solo performance tries his patience, it's younger pianists: "The problem is they don't learn how to work with a technician. A lot of them grow up in such a bubble of how wonderful they are and they just think, 'A piano-tuner is trade and I'm too good for them.' But it's all about the partnership. Pianists who don't talk to me won't get any service because I don't know what they want."
And talk to him all the leading ones do. His next set of conversations will be with Joanna MacGregor, Richard Goode, Nelson Goerner, Wayne Marshall and Barry Douglas - all of whom are performing this week at Bridgewater Hall's 2009 piano festival.
As he prepares all these pianos in all these empty concert halls, do Gerhartz's fingers never succumb to wanderlust? Do they not ache to explore a prelude, strike up a sonata? He looks sheepish at the very idea. "Not really, no. That's not my job. I come very much from the craft side. I can play a bit, yes. But I'm not a pianist by any means." And with that he gets back under the bonnet, looking for bum notes.
• Bridgewater Hall's Piano 2009 festival runs from Thursday to Sunday. Steinway pianos will be available to play in the foyer. Gerhartz appears on stage in conversation on Saturday at 6pm.
That which distinguishes Steinway pianos, more than all else, is summed in our dedication to a single ideal: Make the finest pianos in the world. Since the firm was founded in 1853 that ideal and its three basic principles, as stated by our founder Henry E. Steinway, have guided us:
"Build to a standard, not a price."
"Make no compromise in quality."
"Strive always to improve the instrument."
The Steinway Standard
The Steinway standard is to build each instrument to be the finest ever created and, then, as is illustrated by the photographs detailing Steinway craftsmanship on this page, to make the next one even better if possible.
Further, we do not build to match a price point or to fit short-term marketing schemes. Instead, we build our instruments to match the expectations of the world's most demanding critics — people who love music.
It has never entered our minds to compromise quality. Where some have substituted mass-produced, synthetic components to speed production or reduce costs, we apply technologies and new materials only when they provide proven enhancements to the piano.
We adhere to these principles for one reason — compromise quality, and you risk the sound, the touch and, ultimately, the integrity of the instrument.
Leadership Through Innovation
Finally, while we adhere to the traditional values of craftsmanship, Steinway & Sons has also consistently led through innovation. The very earliest pianos crafted by the firm were distinguished by their inventive features. And technical improvements have flowed as a continuous stream ever since, constantly enhancing our instruments.
Today, each Steinway piano is a summation of our commitment to innovation. Each incorporates over 100 patented features and processes, including our patented Diaphragmatic® soundboard, Accelerated Action® and Hexagrip® pinblock, as well as several recent improvements with patents pending.
Not a lot of people know about this, but neither do they know about the Cadillac vacuum cleaner.
“COMING OUT PARTY”
BÖSENDORFER LOUDSPEAKERS ENTER THE NATIONAL AUDIO MARKET
HOME ENTERTAINMENT SHOW HILTON NEW YORK - APRIL 28TH TO MAY 1ST
Cadillac Vacuum Cleaner
April 2005 – Bösendorfer Loudspeakers, widely acclaimed among European
and Asian audiophiles, made an appearance this weekend at the HE
Show 2005 at the New York Hilton to enter the national American high
end audio market.
Calling all Audiophiles: Bösendorfer Loudspeakers, produced by the world-renowned piano maker, and designed by Hans Deutsch, speaker creator extraordinaire, venture out to change the listening experience of American hi-fi aficionados: utilizing an advance design radically different from other speaker technologies they produce sound authentic to an actual live listening experience.
Musician and acoustics expert, Hans Deutsch who worked closely with Herbert von Karajan and dedicated his entire life to the creation of the ideal speaker for true-to-life sound reproduction, now incorporating piano making tradition and expertise, considers the Bösendorfer his crowning achievement: a new dimension in unsurpassed sound.
Bösendorfer Pianos - the heritage of the Bösendorfer Loudspeakers will be highlighted by the exhibit of two exceptionally designed pianos: Special Design and Limited Edition, Porsche and Emperor, with outstanding talent performing live during the course of the show. Bösendorfer Loudspeakers, the re-incarnation of the Bösendorfer Piano, “re-producing true sound on all instruments”.
“Everybody that designs speakers tries to do something different, but Hans Deutsch
has in fact an extraordinary approach”, says Marvin Welkowitz, professional audio engineer and recent associate of Bösendorfer New York. “No other speaker is built like this – built like an instrument. It is a complex way of producing sound, and the result is nothing short of incredible!”
Bösendorfer New York continues to partner with Art Audio and Synergistic Research “involving the listener and bringing the live experience closer to the heart”. Both makers of some of the finest audio equipment existing calibrate their components to Bösendorfer specifications, creating the perfect prerequisite for genuine sound to evolve. Further information will be obtainable during the exhibition: Bryant Suite, 2nd floor,
New York Hilton, 1335 Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave btw 53rd & 54th)
Bösendorfer is an Austrian piano manufacturer, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha. A Bösendorfer piano has a very rich, singing, and sustaining tone. Some Bösendorfer pianos are noted for their dark, full-bodied sound compared with other models. The company is unusual in producing 97- and 92-key models in addition to instruments with standard 88-key keyboards.
Bösendorfer, one of the oldest piano manufacturers, was established in 1828 by Ignaz Bösendorfer. From the outset, it has had a history of producing highly respected instruments; in 1830, it was granted the status of official piano maker to the Emperor. Ignaz's son Ludwig Bösendorfer (April 15, 1835 – May 9, 1919) took over in 1859, operating from new premises from 1860. Between 1872 and its closure in 1913, the associated Bösendorfer-Saal was one of the premier concert halls of Vienna. In 1909, the company was sold to Carl Hutterstrasser, who was succeeded by his sons Alexander and Wolfgang in 1931. In 1966 Bösendorfer was taken over by the Jasper Corporation (later renamed Kimball International), parent company of Kimball Pianos, where it remained before returning to Austrian hands when it was purchased by BAWAG PSK Gruppe in 2002. BAWAG signed an agreement to sell all stock in Bösendorfer to Yamaha on Decembe Bösendorfer pioneered the extension of the typical 88-key keyboard, creating the Imperial Grand (Model 290), which has 97 keys, and later the Model 225, which has 92. The extra keys, all at the bass end of the keyboard, were originally hidden beneath a hinged panel mounted between the piano's conventional low A and the left-hand end-cheek to prevent their being struck accidentally during normal playing; more recent models have omitted this device and simply have the upper surface of the extra natural keys finished in matte black instead of white to differentiate them from the standard 88.
The Bösendorfer sound is usually described as darker or richer than the more pure but less full-bodied sound of other pianos like the Steinway & Sons or Yamaha. On the Imperial Grand, this characteristic tonal quality in part derives from the inclusion of 9 additional bass notes below bottom A. These extra 9 keys were originally added so that pianists could play Busoni's transcriptions of J.S. Bach's organ works that required the 32' bass pipes (usually played on the pedal organ). As very little other music makes direct use of the extra strings, they usually contribute to the piano's sonic character not through being played directly but by resonating when other strings in the piano are struck, contributing additional body to the tone. Moreover, the bass notes of the Bösendorfer, including the extra bass keys, are very powerful, adding volume in demanding literature.
Music written to include rich harmonic colorations, such as bebop, often calls for the player to sound the upper parts of a musical chord's harmonic series (3rds, 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, for example) without playing the fundamental pitch. In these cases, it is up to the listener's ear to "replace" the missing fundamental. When such music is played on a large Bösendorfer, however, the additional strings generate, albeit at low volume, the fundamental by vibrating sympathetically with the played notes, contributing further to the fullness of the sound. The extra strings' contribution to classical music typically is more subtle, as compositions in that literature typically do not omit the fundamental, at least for long.
The latest development in the Bösendorfer range is CEUS - a computer controlled grand piano. The requisite equipment can be fitted to most Bösendorfer pianos to allow the direct recording of pieces whilst capturing all the subtle nuances of a performance. Since Yamaha acquired the Bösendorfer company in 2008 the future marketing and support of the CEUS equipped instruments is not well understood.
Bösendorfer makes seven models of grand piano (from 5'7" to 9'6") and one vertical piano (52" upright). The 9'6" Imperial Grand is one of the world's largest pianos.
The rim of a Bösendorfer grand piano is built quite differently from that of all other grands. Instead of veneers bent around a form, the rim is made in solid sections of spruce and jointed together. Spruce is better at transmitting sound than reflecting it. This is perhaps why Bösendorfers tend to have a more delicate treble and a bass that features the fundamental tone more than the higher harmonics. There are also two other features of Bösendorfers that are shared with only a few other piano brands. One is a removable capo d'astro bar in the treble, which facilitates rebuilding of the instrument and, Bösendorfer says, provides greater acoustic separation from the plate, decreasing tonal absorption. The other is single-stringing, providing each string its own individual hitch pin on the plate instead of connecting it to a neighboring string. This design may slightly improve tuning stability and is an advantage in case of string breakage.
Standard Black Models
Each numerical Bösendorfer model directly corresponds to its length in centimeters. For example, a Model 170 is 170 centimeters long (approximately 5'7"). The following table describes the current Bösendorfer models:
Name of Piano Brand:Baldwin, named after Dwight Hamilton Baldwin, a violin and reed organ teacher.
Year Started:In 1862 Baldwin opened a music store in Cincinnati, Ohio but the first Baldwin piano (an upright) was introduced in 1891.
Notable Models:The Baldwin grand piano was introduced in 1895. In 1936 the Baldwin Acrosonic vertical piano was introduced. In 1939 the Baldwin Hamilton studio piano was unveiled. In 1984, the Baldwin Model 6000 Concert Vertical piano was introduced. In 1985 Baldwin, under the managament of Lucien Wulsin II, unveiled the SD10 Concert Grand.
Newer Products:In 1995 the Baldwin Pianovelle digital piano was unveiled. In 1997 they introduced the Baldwin ConcertMaster Complete Player System. The Baldwin ConcertMaster Compact Disc player piano system came out in 1999. In 2002 they introduced the four-tiered Baldwin Custom Grand Piano Program.
Interesting Fact:When Dwight Hamilton Baldwin died in August 23, 1899, Lucien Wulsin, his bookeeper and partner took over. In the 1920's his son, Lucien Wulsin II, was named president of the company, his brother, Lucien Wulsin III would take over in 1961. In 2001 Gibson Guitar Corp. bought the assets. It is now managed by Gibson with headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.
Did You Know?:When World War 2 broke out, Baldwin constructed wooden aircraft wings as well as other aircraft parts. Their experience in constructing aircraft wings became the basis of their 41-ply maple piano pinblock.
Company Website:Visit them at Baldwin Piano.Com (click)
In 1906 the enterprise which was to become the Bentley Piano Company was founded in London by Douglas Grover, already the third generation of Grover piano makers, as his father and grandfather also produced Grover & Grover pianos. The earliest references date this business to 1830, and at its peak the annual output exceeded 500 instruments. A Grover & Grover from 1872 stands in the Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch.
In 1911 Douglas Grover moved his fledgling business to a well-known landmark in the Cotswolds, Woodchester Mills near Stroud. A mill stood on the site in 1605 and the still extant early deeds record fulling and grain mills with dye-houses nearby. A plaque, proudly displayed at the factory, commemorates the visit of HM King George III, Queen Charlotte, and the three eldest princesses in 1788. The handsome five-story mill erected shortly afterwards in 1804 proved an outstanding example of mill architecture during the heyday of the cloth industry along the Stroud valleys.
By the turn of the century demand for Stroud cloth had declined and empty mills abounded. The founder did not realise his far-sightedness when he moved from London, as only towards the end of this century has relocation away from the capital become fashionable. He brought with him a dozen leading workers and began training local labour.
The company was now known as the Stroud Piano Co. Ltd., and production expanded in the 1920s, as construction of keyboards began in 1921. In 1930, Douglas, now joined by his son Richard, launched a fresh overstrung design to be sold under the new Bentley name, followed four years later by a 4-foot 6-inch (1.37 m) grand. The Bentley models were an immediate success, so that during the 1930s the company became a major producer, with an annual output exceeding 3000 pianos.
In 1938, following a fire, the mill was rebuilt on a smaller scale and a further factory was acquired, which enabled the firm to become virtually self-sufficient for several decades, making actions, keys, hammers, soundboards, tuning planks and covered strings for its own pianos.
During the Second World War production was switched to aircraft components and the first jet, the Gloster 'Meteor', contained parts made at the piano works. After the war, the national interest demanded that the complete output be exported. Richard Grover swiftly developed world-wide markets for Bentley pianos, and in 1969 was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for services to exports. It was a well-deserved recognition of a quarter-century spent in developing overseas business, for over 65,000 Bentleys are played in a hundred countries.
In 1962, David Grover, grandson of the founder, joined the business and spent a period training in the German piano industry. In 1963, the 'Compact 85 Contemporary', which in 1991 won the Music Retailers Association British Piano Award, replaced the 'Studio' model introduced thirty years earlier; the 1960s and 1970s were dominated by 'modern' casework designs, characterised by simplicity of line. Close on the heels of the Compact's success came new scalings and iron frames for the larger models. Today the well-proven Bentley range is still assembled around the strung back which resulted.
In 1979 a new building was added adjacent to the original mill, making possible later concentration on one site. Now various highly specialised components (such as iron frames, steel wire, soundboards, and tuning planks) are acquired from manufacturers supplying parts of identical quality, albeit of individual design, to prestigious makers in Germany and elsewhere.
The 1980s witnessed Bentley pianos playing a full part in the reintroduction of period stylings, as the taller piano returned to favour. The 'Belgrave' model, for instance, its traditional cabinet incorporating decorative curl mahogany and boxwood inlay, a superb specimen of the cabinet maker's art, is only one of a number of period designs. As awareness of the limitations of mass production spreads, more discriminating buyers seek that much-cherished personal excellence. The Woodchester factory, depository of decades of accumulated experience in making crafted musical instruments, supplied distinguished pianos satisfying this need.
Also during the 1980s, several well-known brands, the oldest with a heritage stretching back to 1835, were acquired as the company diversified its model range while at the same time manufacturing progressively more accomplished specifications. Bentley consolidated its status as a European maker of refined pianos providing decades of reliable performing life. Good value is a characteristic, since craftsmanship is combined with a high degree of mechanisation in many processes where machines contribute beneficially.
In 1989, forty percent of the production area was destroyed by fire. The new building built on the historic site is a worthy successor, and was opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent in 1991. The traditional exterior recalls local mill architecture, while the interior facilitates modern production techniques, for the company has always been forward-looking.
Pianos have now been made at Woodchester Mills for over eighty years - longer than at any other location in the United Kingdom, with over 160,000 pianos dispatched. Sons have followed fathers in the firm's employment - and remember, with pianos experience counts!
In 1991, the Bentley Piano Co. Ltd. celebrated eighty-five years of business, benefiting from a family tradition extending back five generations to the first part of the last century.
In 1993, the Bentley Piano Co. Ltd. was acquired by another prestigious company, Whelpdale Maxwell & Codd Ltd. Production was moved to the Clapham Park factory, where Bentleys were made, and follows the original specifications that create that unique Bentley sound.
In 2001, Bentley pianos moved back to Woodchester Mills to form part of the British Piano Manufacturing Company Ltd., along with Broadwood, Knight, Welmar, and Woodchester pianos.
On Monday, 7th April 2003, the British Piano Manufacturing Co. Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation, taking with it Bentley pianos. InterMusic of Pool Dorset, England have bought the Bentley piano name.
|150 years Bechstein – Visions for a world brand|
|"Bechstein, a living myth. Bechstein sees its duty in preserving and developing the heritage of its founder. First of all, Carl Bechstein had been an expert. As a wanderer for the art of piano making he had learnt from the best in Europe to develop his own concept afterwards. Carl Bechstein had also been an entrepreneur who succeeded within very short time to gain worldwide prestige for his products. Carl Bechstein had also been a dialogue oriented citizen of this world. He was looking for interchanging ideas, yes, for accompanying important musicians critically; he led an active social life, he took over responsibility for his surroundings."|
|"Of course, to be able to preserve his heritage needs the economic competence and the courage to make the right decisions in order to guarantee a healthy survival of his brand. It also means struggling continuously for the quality of the instruments. The new grand piano line which will be completed during the anniversary year shows good response especially from the most competent ranks. When great musicians rediscover our grand pianos then we have succeeded in leading the initial struggle of the company's founder into the new century. Instruments in harmony with great music. Instruments with a beautiful soul. Tools for good music - for one of the first languages of mankind."|
|For more information visit: http://www.bechstein.de|
|A HISTORY OF THE BLÜTHNER PIANO COMPANY
Piano making has a long tradition in the German province of Saxony, especially in Leipzig, where the citizens have always cared about musical culture. The St. Thomas choir has existed since the 12th century, the Gewandhaus orchestra was founded in the 17th century, as well as the Leipzig Opera, and Mendelssohn initiated a conservatory that soon became famous.
One of the best known piano makers of that time was
Breitkopf & Hartel, still known today as a prominent music publisher.
These were strong reasons for Julius Blüthner to start his
piano making in Leipzig after having spent several years wandering
from one piano maker to another to improve on his knowledge of the
craft. In November 1853 he began with three men, and his instruments
found immediate acclaim among the musical bourgeoisie.
| It was also essential
to furnish instruments to the royal courts and Blüthner took
great pride in being appointed as official supplier to the royal court
of many European countries, among which were the German Kaiser, Queen
Victoria, the Russian Tsar, the Danish King, the Turkish Sultan and
of course the King of Saxony.
Export was an early goal of Blüthner. Considering
the fact that Germany and many other European counties were still
young political structures, concentrated mainly on their home market,
protected by customs barriers, it speaks for the foresight of Julius
Blüthner to have created a distribution network spanning the
In 1943 the factory was hit by an air raid and burned down and it was not until 1948 that production could be recommenced. However the limited possibilities under East Germany's socialistic system made it difficult to catch up with conditions on the world market. Sparse investments in production facilities and the utter lack of marketing made it difficult to line up with the rest of the world.
In 1972 the firm was finally nationalized but
remained under the direction of Ingbert Blüthner, who succeeded
his father in 1966. He served his years of apprenticeship in England
and became a master piano maker in 1958. In 1990 the firm was given
back to the family.
The Steinway designed Boston Piano is unrivaled in its class and unmatched in value and combines the highest musical standards with state-of-the-art technology to deliver a level of performance far superior to any instrument in its mid-price range. As the preferred piano of major Music Festivals, including Aspen, Tanglewood, Brevard, and Bowdoin, the Boston piano has received rave reviews from prestigious music publications, as well as, performing artists, music conservatories and piano educators worldwide.
Steinway (Trade-up) Promise (PDF: 555KB)
When you purchase a Boston piano, you have the option within ten years of the date of purchase to receive 100% of the original purchase price in trade toward a new Steinway grand piano.
Broadwood offers a history search on individual Broadwood pianos, a small charge of £50.00 is made for this service. Please print out the form if you would like to request a search on your piano. click here to print form1718
Burkat Shudi came to London, aged 16, from Switzerland where his family were craftsmen in wood. He became an apprentice in the Soho harpsichord workshop of Hermann Tabel. Tabel had learnt his craft in the Antwerp workshop of the Ruckers family, the greatest harpsichord makers of the 17th century. Tabel is also notable since he took as apprentice two of the greatest harpsichord makers of the 18th century, Jacob Kirkman and Shudi.1728
Shudi started his own workshop. This was the foundation of the business now known as John Broadwood & Sons.1729
Young Shudi (not yet 30) made a harpsichord for Handel, who wanted to give a special present to a soprano starring in his Italian opera season in London.1740
Shudi built a harpsichord for Frederick, Prince of Wales (it is now in Kew Palace). Other instruments were made for his father King George II, and Broadwoods have made instruments for every British monarch since. Broadwood have held the Royal Warrant longer than any other warrant holder.1761
John Broadwood came to London from his native Scotland to seek his fortune. Aged 29, he was the eldest son of the village "wright" or carpenter of Oldhamstocks in the Lothian hills, south of Edinburgh.1765
Nine-year-old Mozart, visiting London, played a Shudi harpsichord.1769
John Broadwood, a fine craftsman, married Barbara, Shudi's younger daughter.1771
Shudi handed over the running of his business to his son Burkat and John Broadwood.1773
Shudi died, bequeathing the workshop to his son and his son-in-law John Broadwood, who became its effective head.THE PIANO
1700 - 1800
Meanwhile the 'piano-forte' was being developed to provide more variation of tone and greater volume than the harpsichord could offer.
The first maker to create an instrument with hammers hitting the strings was the Italian, Cristofori, musical instrument maker to the Medici family. He had made three instruments on the style of the 'piano' by 1709.
Pianos were developed across Europe during the 18th century. The earliest ones to come to London were 'square' pianos. A leading workshop (Silbermann) was in Freiberg, Germany. When this was closed down by the Seven Years War, twelve workmen ("the apostles") came to London. One of them, Johannes Zumpe, worked for Shudi - where he would have known John Broadwood - before starting his own workshop making square pianos. They were advertised in London from 1763, and Bach's son Johann Christian Bach played one in a London concert in 1767.
Meanwhile John Broadwood joined with another Scot, Robert Stodart, and a Dutchman, Americus Backers, to design a piano in the harpsichord case - the origin of the 'grand'. They achieved this in about 1777.
By 1778, when John Broadwood had been in charge of Shudi & Broadwood for five years, he was not only a leading maker of harpsichords, but experimenting with the new, piano’ also (one of his own make on Zumpe's pattern survives, dated 1774, in working order).THE COMPANY
Broadwood supplied harpsichords to the painters Reynolds and Gainsborough, and Josef Haydn in Vienna ordered one. He was also exporting to Russia, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, France, the West Indies, and America (where his agent was John Jacob Astor).1783
Broadwood patented improvements in the piano, particularly the brass under-damper that made the square much more stable, and the English double action.1784
By this date, Broadwood was making more pianos than harpsichords. In this year he sold 38 harpsichords, and 133 pianos, having increased production ten times in twelve years.1785
Thomas Jefferson, later to be third President of the United States, visited Broadwood in Great Putney Street, Soho, to discuss musical instruments.1788
Broadwood commissioned scientific research (Royal Society and British Museum) on the improvement of the piano. This resulted in the introduction of the 'divided bridge' on the grand, which improved the bass tone.1789-94
'Additional keys' were added, increasing the keyboard from 5, to 5 1/2, to 6 octaves.1793
Last Broadwood harpsichords made. Other makers continued (e.g. Kirkman), but went out of business as pianos took the market.1795
Firm became 'John Broadwood & Son', with the introduction of John Broadwood's elder son James Shudi Broadwood.1796
A grand made as a present for the Queen of Spain, the case designed by Thomas Sheraton with Wedgwood medallions (now in the Boston Museum of Fine Art).1798
Main production, the grand and square. Not yet the upright, although the 'upright grand' was introduced - a grand on its end, over 8 ft high. Important customers included the wives of Nelson and Wellington.1808
Firm became 'John Broadwood & Sons', with the introduction of John Broadwood's second son, Thomas.1812
John Broadwood died leaving an immense estate. His sons increased production.1817
Thomas Broadwood, touring Europe after the Napoleonic Wars, visited Beethoven in Vienna, and in 1818 sent him a 6 octave grand, triple-stringed (now in the National Museum of Hungary, Budapest). It was later owned by Liszt.1821
Grand piano delivered to King George IV at Brighton Pavilion: rosewood with brass inlay, which was now becoming fashionable.1820-30
Introduction of metal bars to the grand, and metal stringplate to the square, giving greater power and volume.1836
Henry Fowler Broadwood (eldest surviving son of James Broadwood) joined the partnership, which he led through the century.1840
Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who bought a Broadwood square for Buckingham Palace, where the young couple made music with Mendelssohn.1842
2,500 pianos a year were being made in the great factory in Horseferry Road, Westminster. Broadwoods were one of the twelve largest employers of labour in London, in an industry that was still craft-based with all parts made in-house. A picture of a Grand circa 18311845
H F Broadwood commissioned scientists for advice, leading to the creation of a bolted iron frame for the grand, to rival the introduction of the American cast-iron frame.1848
Chopin provided with three Broadwood grands for his British tour - for his London lodging, London concerts, and Scottish concerts.1856
The Horseferry Road factory burnt down. Only about 200 pianos salvaged. Production continued elsewhere until the factory could be rebuilt.1860s
Broadwood craftsmen formed their own band, conducted by Mr Sullivan of the Royal Military School of Music, whose son Arthur played the big drum (to be the musical partner in Gilbert & Sullivan). A grand piano in satinwood, inlaid "in the style of Sheraton," designed by the Broadwood workshop to the order of Richard D'Oyly Carte, who was the impresario of Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy Operas, and the first Chairman of the Savoy Hotel. The piano is now in the Royal Suite at Claridges, London.1866
The last square made by Broadwoods - overtaken in the home by the 'cottage upright'.1867
At the Paris Exhibition, the Emperor Napoleon II presented the Gold Medal to Henry Broadwood.1871
Centenary of Beethoven's birth celebrated in Bonn. Charles Halle played a Broadwood grand.1878
Grands were designed in 'special' cases for the artist Lawrence Alma Tadema, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. Other customers in this period included Conan Doyle, Henry lrving, and Edward Elgar1886
Liszt played a Broadwood grand on his last visit to London.1888
Broadwood patent for improvements in the metal frame, leading to the 'barless' concert grand, with overstringing (despite challenges from Germany and America). You can buy this book The Broadwood Barless Piano by Alastair Laurence1890s
'Special' cases designed by the leaders of the arts-and-crafts movement, including C R Ashbee and Hugh Baillie Scott.1902
Factory moved to Old Ford, Hackney, with new machinery and methods. Cuthbert Heath "the father of British insurance" became Chairman, his sister having married a Broadwood son.1902-10
Player-pianos made. In 1910, a Broadwood player-piano went on Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition, was taken to the first base-camp, and played on the ice.1914-18
Factory turned over to aircraft manufacture. It is said that the early biplanes were held together with piano-wire: they were.1919-39
Difficult times for the piano trade generally. Broadwoods diversified (briefly) into gramophones. Production moved to Hendon. A new independent factory was opened on a modest scale in Acton in 1939, under the chairmanship of Captain Evelyn Broadwood).1952
Broadwoods supplied a piano to HMS Gothic for HM the Queen's first tour abroad.1954
HM Yacht Britannia equipped with numerous Broadwood pianos.1977
'Silvered frame' Broadwood grand accepted by HM the Queen for Balmoral to mark the Silver Jubilee.1978
250th Anniversary of John Broadwood & Sons marked with a concert on the South Bank (at which Malcolm Binns played five Broadwood pianos made between 1787 to 1978) and a dinner at The Savoy, where a congratulatory message from HM the Queen was read.1981
Broadwood grand accepted as a wedding present by the Prince and Princess of Wales for Kensington Palace.1986
Broadwood upright designed by Viscount Linley and his partner Matthew Rice. This was produced as a limited edition in sycamore veneer with ebony banding and marquetry panels.1988
The legendary Broadwood `barless' upright is re-introduced.1997
A new 'barless' grand is added to the product range and receives its debut at a concert at the Royal College of Music, London, on the 27th November of that year.2003
Broadwood piano production now commences in a small factory at Moss in Norway. The famous `green frame' upright is revived and one of these is supplied to the new Norwegian Opera House in Oslo.2008
For the first time in many years, the Company changes hands. The new chairman is Dr Alastair Laurence, and his son Sam Laurence becomes company secretary. In fact, the Laurence family ties with Broadwoods go back to the year 1787. To coincide with the change in ownership, new restoration and conservation workshops are under construction at Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent, England.
Finchcocks Goudhurst Kent England. TN17 1HH
Tel: 44 + (0) 1580 212713
The Joseph Brodmann Piano History1828 was an important year in the history of piano making in central Europe. Ignaz Bösendorfer the most famous of all Austrian piano builders took control of the Joseph Brodmann piano workshops which was then considered to be the most innovative and modern piano factory in Europe and therefore the world.
Joseph Brodmann was born in 1763 in Deuna/Eichsfeld (today Germany, Thüringen). As a young man, he came to Vienna and became the apprentice of the well known piano builder Frederick Hoffman. By this time, Vienna had already been established as the centre of the musical world influenced by the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert who all lived during his lifetime. Joseph Brodmann was one of the first and best known piano designers and craftsman of his time. In 1800, in the Lexicon of Musicians he was listed as “Joseph Brodmann - instrument maker, excelled in constructing horizontal fortepianos of solid finish“. In 1805 he was registered in the Court and State record department as an Organ and Piano maker.
His contribution to and inventions for piano design and piano making laid the groundwork for his most talented apprentice, Ignaz Bösendorfer whose pianos are still considered today by many as the finest pianos in the world.Joseph Brodmann was best known for his development work on piano soundboards. He is credited with greatly improving the necessary stiffness of the soundboard, so needed to withstand the increased string tensions demanded by the pianists of the day and therefore preventing the soundboard from tearing or splitting.
World famous musicians, composers and conductors, such as Carl Maria Friedrich Ernest von Weber purchased and endorsed Brodmann’s pianos. In a letter to his brother Weber euphorically praised his new Brodmann piano indicating it was the best piano he had ever played.
Carl Maria von Weber was not only a composer, but also a conductor and an accomplished pianist. His piano compositions showed a fertile imagination and a brilliant technical command of the piano. Weber com-posed a number of well known compositions on his instrument, amongst which are the operas Euryanthe and Oberon, several large choral works, 2 symphonies, 2 piano concertos and 4 sonatas as well as numerous songs.
Brodmann’s innovations in cabinet design made his instruments sought after not only by musicians, but also Vienna’s high society at the time. Examples of Brodmann pianos are still in working order in the piano collections of the Vienna Arts and Berlin Museums today. One of these pianos built in 1815, has a completely hand carved case with bronze fittings.
Joseph Brodmann’s original address in Vienna was at no 43 Glacis, Josefstadt (8th District), later 226 Johannes Street, which is called today Lenau Street 10, where he also had his workshops.
Ignaz Bösendorfer studied in the workshop of Joseph Brodmann from the age of 19 years, where he finished his apprenticeship. A great master found an ingenious pupil who took everything Joseph Brodmann had taught him and began to produce from 1828, when he took over Joseph Brodmann’s work-shops the world famous Bösendorfer Pianos. There are still early examples of Bösendorfer pianos today which state on the nameboard “Ignaz Bösendorfer pupil of Joseph Brodmann“ and “Ignaz Bösendorfer made in the workshops of Joseph Brodmann“. It would be true to assert that even today in every Bösendorfer piano, there is a little part of Joseph Brodmann’s designs and teachings.
Many Artists Say Fazioli Grand Pianos are the BestWhen those who play piano professionally are asked which piano is the best one in the world today--the easy answer, of course, is typically Steinway. A Steinway piano is still considered the greatest ever and ranks #1 with the majority of artists around the world endorsing it with their signature on the company's website. But in recent years, an Italian-made grand piano has started to capture the imagination of a lot of legendary pianists; so much so that a few internationally-renowned pianists have recently declared they'll only play on this one piano for all concerts and recordings in the studio. It's called a Fazioli, named after Italian concert pianist and engineer Paolo Fazioli. Even though it was created already in 1978--careful additions have been made to it through its evolution that make it one of the most carefully-crafted pianos in the world today.
The original aim of the company in the late 70's was to create a piano that had its own unique sound (in a time when many were made to sound virtually the same), produce smaller numbers of them due to the higher-quality materials put forth into making them and to make it an ever-evolving piano creation in progress to live up to modern standards as each decade wore on. When they were finally showcased for the first time at various preview shows in Italy during the late 70's and early 80's--it was treated almost as if it was an Italian fashion show instead of a preview of pianos. Well, the Fazioli was almost as beautiful as a female Italian model...and probably just as tall if set on its side.
Friedrich Grotrian (1803-1860) was the founder of
family's piano building tradition since 6 generations until up to
this day. In 1858 Friedrich Grotrian purchased the patrician
house of a medieval mayor on Bohlweg 48, home for the family,
central meeting point for their guests and birthplace of a
steadily growing figure of excellent instruments.
First sqare piano built in 1835 and marking the beginning of the company as stated
by 3 supreme court decisions in 1926.
(In the collection of musical instruments. Owned since 1985 by the City of Braunschweig).
Reference for ever.
The founders philosophy of an uncompromised quality was since the
beginning incorporated in each instrument of this reputated make.
The production of instruments grew in the same way with the increasing demand and
their expanding reputation. Uncounted letters and testimonies of unforgettable artists are then or today a convincing proof.
Many more than 30 emperors, royalties, duchies and nobles house bestowed the
Grotrians to their cuppliers. Their weapons and emblems are an expression of highest
reputation. Wilhelm Grotrian (1843-1917), Son and successor of Friedrich led the
company to further blossoms. When he introduced his sons into the business he
successfully adviced them "Boy's build good pianos, and the rest will take care of itself."
The original - always leading
Grotrian - this name is also a synonym for development and patents wich not only advanced the quality of our own products but pushed the construction of pianos in general considerably. For example the homogeneous soundboard, the legendary upright model 120, the first precise scale design, the even today used and imitated star-shaped back construction and many more.
Clara Schumann:"from now on only this grand and no other"
On top of her peerless career as the "Queen of Pianists" she only played
Grotrian grands. The last is part of the
collection of musical instruments of the City of Braunschweig.
Efficiency in research and innovation - The Duo-Concert-Grand
Grotrians really realized the dream of a couple of artists by combining 2 Grands under one special lid and connected by a soundboard bridge reflects really an so far absolutely unknown sound event. Of course both grands can also be used as solo instrument.
The principle of uncompromising quality
Sure, that todays grands and uprights can be quicker and cheaper produced but nowhere better than with Grotrian. This shows each detail wich is reponsible for the tonal caracter and the stability of the construction of all our instruments as for example the casted iron frame wich is not only distinguished by the most beautifull design but also the frame of security for the tension of all strings up to about 22 tons, or the patented back construction wich guarantees an uncomparable grade of stability and durability of tuning and regulating. Our action including not less than 6.000 harmony is really a master piece. The scale design as well as our unique soundboard which produces and guarantees the unimitable character of sound. All this and other specifications are much more than just the addition of parts. As a result they represent the Original wich incorporates the treasure of experience since generations as well as the precision of our-days chips and computers.
Our new factory
The design of our new factory includes the most actual standards of technology in combination with the bulk of experience assembled by generations of piano makers. It is the birth place of the Original. Grands and uprights start here their life and way to stages, conservatories, music schools and of course to all those piano players with highest pretensions all over the world.
KAWAI… the finest name in pianos.
Welcome to the home of Kawai pianos and digital pianos in the United States and Canada. Over the past eighty years, Kawai has earned a reputation for outstanding quality and workmanship in the crafting of world-class musical instruments. As a result, Kawai pianos and digital pianos have become the instruments of choice for pianists, teachers, churches, students and piano enthusiasts around the globe.
Building upon the legacy of company founder, Koichi Kawai, the people of Kawai have dedicated themselves to a singular pursuit—to transform the future of the piano by skillfully blending the precepts of traditional piano craftsmanship with the latest available technologies and materials. This never-ending quest for perfection, now led by the third generation of Kawai family leadership, has brought about the finest selection of grand pianos, upright pianos, digital pianos and professional stage pianos available today.
We invite you to
explore our collection of world-renowned instruments—from luxury grands
to elegant uprights to ground-breaking digitals.
The perfect piano awaits you.
Kemble and Co has been making
fine pianos in the United Kingdom since 1911 and for 3 generations. Our
well loved, rich and distinctive sound makes it true that “One note and
you’ll know it’s a Kemble.” Kemble’s was founded by Michael Kemble
in North London, the centre of piano manufacturing at that time . In
the 1960s his son, Robert, expanded sales and production dramatically,
and moved to modern new premises. In the 21st century,
Brian Kemble MBE, grandson of the founder, continues the tradition. We are now the exclusive British manufacturer and are the largest maker in Western Europe, with the most modern production facilities. We aim to combine the best of modern technology with traditional British craftsmanship and design in order to produce pianos of outstanding quality and value. Our dedication to quality and service helped us win the coveted Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.
"As you play one of our pianos we hope that you will not only fall in love with its warmth and richness of sound, its power and its superb responsiveness of touch, but also be impressed by its value. Pianos are our passion and we hope that we can share this with you. No matter what your style of playing and what music you love to play, let us “bring out the pianist in you."
Kemble Serial Numbers
|Date - Number||Date - Number||Date - Number|
|1930 - 32100
1931 - 34600
1932 - 37500
1933 - 39600
1934 - 43000
1935 - 47000
1936 - 52000
1937 - 57600
1938 - 62600
1939 - 67300
1940 - 70900
1941 - 73500
1942 - 74500
1946 - 75000
1947 - 76100
1948 - 77600
1949 - 79500
1950 - 81700
1952 - 87000
1953 - 90000
1954 - 92500
1955 - 95000
1956 - 97500
|1957 - 100500
1958 - 103500
1959 - 106300
1960 - 109700
1961 - 113200
1962 - 116200
1963 - 118500
1964 - 120800
1965 - 123500
1966 - 126100
1967 - 129200
1968 - 131200
1969 - 134100
1970 - 139100
1971 - 143500
1972 - 148000
1973 - 153500
1974 - 159500
1975 - 165800
1976 - 172000
1977 - 178600
1978 - 188550
1979 - 191500
1980 - 197980
|1981 - 202385
1982 - 211495
1983 - 211495
1984 - 212842
1985 - 217811
1986 - 222207
1987 - 223395
1988 - 229195
1989 - 234995
1990 - 235000
1991 - 240952
1992 - 247101
1993 - 252854
1994 - 257593
1995 - 262730
1996 - 267729
1997 - 279322
1998 - 286284
1999 - 292160
2000 - 298201
KEMBLE & CO LTD
Mount Avenue Bletchley Milton Keynes MK1 1JE England
Telephone: + 44 (0) 1908 371771 Fax: + 44 (0) 1908 270448
The Piano Industry has been active in the United Kingdom for over two hundred and sixty years and its craftsmen have passed down their traditional skills through the generations and have developed a musical instrument which is probably the most perfect ever designed.
The Knight Company was founded in 1936 by Alfred E. Knight, a man who dedicated his life to producing small pianos of exceptional tone and quality. We have flexibility designs, all with constant performance. Matching stools and music cabinets are also available - manufacture to provide pianos in a wide variety of finishes.
We have revived the old craft of marquetry in our Essex Suites and our craftsmen are creating exquisite inlaid panels of many designs. Each Knight Piano produced at the The British Piano Manufacturers factory represents a combination of high standards in materials, technical design and craftsmanship, together with meticulous attention to detail both inside and out. The responsive Knight Piano will always satisfy the knowledgeable musician who demands an instrument which allows full expression of their creative moods. We at The British Piano Manufacturers are the very proud manufacturers of the Knight Piano.
It is with regret that the UK Piano Page has to inform you that Knight Pianos Ltd, is no longer producing pianos.
Mason & Hamlin
Founded in 1854, Mason & Hamlin is one of America’s oldest and most respected piano manufacturers. Of the hundreds of American piano companies that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mason & Hamlin is one of only a handful that survive today.
Mason & Hamlin is headquartered in Haverhill, Massachusetts, not far from its original location in Boston, the birthplace of American piano design and manufacturing. Six floors of its busy factory are dedicated to handcrafting Mason & Hamlin pianos. Within its walls, a workforce of 70 highly skilled craftsmen complete every phase of production from rim-pressing to prepping the finished product. (See Craftsmanship.)
Attention to detail takes time, and Mason & Hamlin invests a great deal of it in every piano it makes. Before a Mason & Hamlin leaves the factory, it’s inspected no fewer than 12 times. Choosing quality over quantity, Mason & Hamlin limits its annual production to 50 uprights and 300 grand pianos.
Mason & Hamlin is a forward-thinking company that invests time and millions of dollars in creating its products. But along with its eye to the future is one trained on the past. That’s why the factory’s top floor showroom will one day house the Mason & Hamlin Museum, where vintage instruments, artifacts and memorabilia will be on display to the public. The museum and creation of the Mason & Hamlin Historical Preservation Society are just two ways the company is honoring its long and illustrious history.
“Mason & Hamlin pianos have a mystique about them,” explained Gary Burgett, who owns the company with his brother, Kirk. “There are countless Mason & Hamlin aficionados around the world. When we bought the company 1996, we heard from so many of them, all grateful that we were going to keep this great piano alive. They encouraged and inspired us. Now we’d like to show our appreciation for their interest and support with a special website where they can share their stories about the pianos they love, meet fellow Mason & Hamlin fans, and also have a place to see Mason & Hamlin treasures. We hope that someday soon everyone who’s interested will be able to come to our factory, see how we’re making our pianos today, what we have planned for the future, and then enjoy a glimpse at our past.”
For more information about Mason & Hamlin, please see History for
an historical overview of the company’s first 150 years; Showroom,
where all piano models and related products are displayed; and the News
page for company history in the making.
The Mason & Hamlin Story
In 1854, two brilliant idealists, Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin, founded the Mason & Hamlin Company in Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of American piano design and manufacturing. Although their backgrounds and interests were very different, the two men shared a common goal: to make the world’s finest musical instruments.
Henry Mason was a member of one of America’s oldest families—they were actually descendents of pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower. The Masons were renowned for their involvement in the arts. Henry Mason was a pianist and his brother, William, was one of America’s foremost classical pianists and composers.
Their father was the famous composer and educator Lowell Mason, a visionary who was the first to bring music into the public schools of America. He was also known throughout the world as a composer and publisher of hymns, and is often called the “father of American church music.” Henry Mason shared his father’s lifelong dedication to music.
Emmons Hamlin was not a musician, but instead a brilliant mechanic and inventor. While working at the melodeon factory of George A. Price and Company of Buffalo, Hamlin invented a way to voice organ reeds, so that they could imitate the sound of a clarinet, violin or other musical instruments.
Hamlin developed his discovery to perfection, and in 1854, he and Henry Mason formed their company for the purpose of manufacturing a new musical instrument that they called the “organ harmonium.”
Although the company was started with very little capital, the two owners were determined to make only the very best instruments, even if there were very few produced. Fortunately, the combination of limited production and great attention to detail paid off, and the company and its products were instantly successful and in great demand. Arthur Loesser summed up their success in his book, Men,Women and Pianos, A Social History: “Mason & Hamlin…soon became and remained the foremost in the field.”
From the organ harmonium, the company graduated to the American Cabinet Organ, a product that would earn Mason & Hamlin 1st prize at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. The fact that a small American company won the top prize over its much larger, more established European competitors astounded the music world. The fact that they continued to win year after year was even more astounding. It wasn’t long before Mason & Hamlin had established a worldwide reputation for excellence.
In 1881, the company decided to branch out into making pianos. Following traditions established in making its organs, Mason & Hamlin built its pianos with the very finest materials---slowly and meticulously, with great attention to even the smallest detail. Wisely, it also hired brilliant designers. Among them was Richard W. Gertz, a genius who contributed many innovations to the piano industry, including the Duplex Scale, screw stringer and the Tension Resonator, a remarkable device that was designed to maintain the crown of the soundboard for the life of a piano.
With Mason & Hamlin’s innovations, use of only the finest materials and expert craftsmanship, its pianos were the world’s costliest to produce and widely accepted as the world’s finest.
The Golden Age of the Piano
By the turn of the century, the Golden Age of the Piano was in full force and the most illustrious concert artists of the day aligned themselves with piano manufacturers. Mason & Hamlin was at the forefront, and great virtuosos, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, endorsed Mason & Hamlin pianos.
In 1909, Etude Magazine reported on Mason and Hamlin artist Harold Bauer, the only piano virtuoso who was originally a concert violinist. Although Bauer maintained his interest in the violin, he had such great technical ability as a pianist and such a remarkable gift for interpretation on the piano, that it became his instrument and the brand he preferred was Mason & Hamlin, of which he wrote: “The Mason and Hamlin pianos represent the most perfect example of the piano maker’s art. They are the most supremely beautiful instruments that I know.”
Bauer wasn’t alone in his love for Mason & Hamlin pianos. Composer Maurice Ravel chose Mason & Hamlin pianos for his first tour of America. Of them he said: “While preserving all the qualities of the percussion instrument, the Mason & Hamlin pianoforte also serves magnificently the composer’s concept by its extensive range in dynamics, as well as quality of tone. It is not short of being a small orchestra. In my opinion, the Mason & Hamlin is a real work of art.”
Great pianists weren’t the only artists endorsing Mason & Hamlin pianos. Many of the opera world’s greatest stars spoke on their behalf. Anna Case was an American-born singer who debuted with the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 20 and sang her first solo role six months later. She was in fact the firs American singer at the Met who had no European training or international reputation. She was a brilliant star there and remained at the opera house from 1909 to 1920. During her incredible career she endorsed the Mason & Hamlin piano.
One of the world’s most famous violinists was the American Yehudi Menuhin. In 1924, at the age of 7, Menuhin made his public debut. The child prodigy astounded the classical world with his artistry, and in 1935 he undertook his first world tour playing in 73 cities in 13 countries. The Mason and Hamlin archives include many letters from Menuhin extolling the virtues of his Mason & Hamlin pianos: “Among all pianos none compares with the Mason & Hamlin in beauty and grace of tone, or in mellowness and softness and yet in bigness, or in anything that a sensitive and, as it were, human piano should have.“ At one time. Menuhin had five Mason & Hamlin grand pianos in his West Coast home.
In 1929, the stock market crash brought on the Great Depression---an era when things like pianos became luxury items that were out of reach for most Americans.
Mason & Hamlin continued to produce pianos, but the company underwent several changes of ownership during this period until it became, in 1930, part of the giant Aeolian American Piano Company.
World War II brought the American piano industry to a halt, since basic piano building materials like iron had to used for the war effort. Mason & Hamlin turned from making pianos to building airplane gliders. This continued until the end of the war.
Beginning in 1945, Mason & Hamlin pianos were made in the Aeolian American plant in East Rochester, New York. Between 1983 and 1995, Mason & Hamlin changed ownership several times. In 1995, the company that owned Mason & Hamlin was forced to file for bankruptcy and close its doors.
In 1996, one of the most successful businesses in the piano industry was PianoDisc, a manufacturer of computerized player systems for acoustic pianos. Gary and Kirk Burgett, PianoDisc’s owners, were longtime fans of Mason & Hamlin pianos. When they heard that the company was for sale in bankruptcy court they put in a bid to buy it. The court ruled in their favor.
Just like Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin, the Burgett brothers brought unique and diverse experience and interests to their partnership. Gary is a pianist and music educator, with a degree in piano performance from Bob Jones University. Kirk has had over 25 years experience as a piano rebuilder and technician. He holds the prestigious rank of Certified Tuning Examiner in the Piano Technicians Guild. In 1979, the two went into partnership as piano retailers. In 1988, they started PianoDisc, which rapidly became America’s best-selling player piano system.
With the purchase of Mason & Hamlin, the Burgetts realized a lifelong dream. Their enthusiasm for vintage Mason & Hamlins motivated them to rebuild the company and restore the Mason & Hamlin name. Their manufacturing and marketing savvy made them uniquely qualified to succeed, and they set about to do just that.
Their first step was to use sophisticated computer software programs to archive original Mason & Hamlin company scale designs, jigs, fixtures and templates. Preserving these important company assets was paramount. Then they invested millions of dollars in high-tech computer controlled machinery and equipment to increase efficiency and productivity in the factory. Next they found experienced craftsmen and began making the new Mason & Hamlin pianos.
Wisely, the Burgetts retained many important original features and designs (including Richard Gertz’s Tension Resonator), and by incorporating technological advances made in piano manufacturing during the last few decades, they not only recreated the Golden Age Mason & Hamlin pianos, but in many ways improved on them.
Word spread quickly that the new Mason & Hamlin pianos had more in common with the old ones than their name. The new instruments received rave reviews in many music magazines and books. In his book The Piano, author John-Paul Williams wrote, “under new and committed ownership, every part of the company has been revitalized and, in 2002, Mason & Hamlin pianos are near-perfect reproductions of the very best early twentieth-century models.”
From a Downbeat magazine review: ”Mason & Hamlin’s Model BB Semi Concert grand plays with the consistency and response of the finest concert grand pianos.” In just a few short years, Mason & Hamlin pianos have returned to the concert stage, prestigious music schools, recording studios, conservatories and homes across America. History has indeed repeated itself and Mason & Hamlin is back—still the costliest piano to produce, still the choice of discriminating musicians and still the world’s finest piano.
In 1854, Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin joined forces to create a company with a single vision: to build the finest musical instruments in the world. Today, Mason & Hamlins’ vison is the same, and the standards of quality that were established one hundred and fifty years ago continue to guide a new generation of piano makers.
Loesser, Arthur, Men, Women and Pianos, A Social History, Simon & Schuster, 1954. Mason & Hamlin, Mason & Hamlin Pianofortes, D.B. Updike, Merrymount Press, Boston, 1925. Williams, John-Paul, The Piano, Quarto, Inc., Billboard Books, Watson-Guptil Publications, 2002. Enright, Ed, Down Beat, Vol. 68 - No. 5, Maher Publications, May, 200 1
Maxwell & Codd
17-23 Wigmore Street, London, W1. Telephone: Langham 14232-4. Cables: "Welpiano, Wesdo, London". (1947)
Welmar Pianos, London
- 1876 Company established
- Originally the company that built Welmar and Marshall and Rose Pianos, were set up as British agents for importing Bluthners from Leipzig. They are known as Whelpdale Maxwell and Codd Ltd (WMC).
- 1938 A fire at the Squire & Longson factory provided WMC with fully trained staff who produced the Welmar and Marshall and Rose range of pianos. They also kept the 'Bluthner Pianos, UK' name, although there is no connection between them and the real Julius Bluthner of Leipzig.
- 1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of the "Welmar" Upright and Grand Pianofortes of various modern designs, in any available woods and if desired, of special constrution throughout, for use in Tropical Climates. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. C.1556)
- Welmar pianos are probably the best pianos still made in the UK and still retain some of the Bluthner characteristics.
- WMC have subsequently taken over the Bentley Piano Co., which includes some of the famous British names such as Hopkinson and Rogers. WMC also own Knight.
Pearl River is More than Pianos: A network of Pearl River factories feed the market with quality band instruments, stringed and percussion instruments and guitars. For example:
- The Pearl River Guitar Factory and its 600 workers build 60,000 acoustic guitars and several thousand electric guitars per month
- The 265 employees at the Pearl River Violin Factory produce 6,000 violins per month
- Our Orchestral Instruments Factory with its 100 workers produce a full line of fine brass orchestral instruments
- A wide assortment of ethnic Chinese percussion instruments and drum sets are produced at the company's percussion factory by its skilled workforce of 150
The history of the Perzina piano begins on July 1st
1871. On this day Julius and Albert Perzina opened
their shop in Schwerin, North Germany. The brothers
were both in their late twenties and were sons of
a Saxon piano builder and wanted to carry on their
fathers work. The Perzina brothers followed in the
rich tradition of centuries. Training in all the skills
needed to build the perfect instrument. During those
apprentice years they worked for many piano factories,
including the famous "Carl Bechstein". The
ideal of every apprentice is to become the master
and on that July day in 1871 their dreams were realised.
In the first year of operation 20 pianos were produced. Around 1900 the company expanded rapidly and by 1910 production had increased to 1000 per year (Grand piano production started in 1905).
Perzina by this time had established a distribution network spanning the world and with the Royal patronage of Queen Wilhelmina in 1906, went from strength to strength. Some years later the factory was relocated some 60 kilometres south of Schwerin in the little town of Lenzen on the Elbe River. During the 1990s production was transferred to the far east. The company was reorganised, but retained the values and tradition of the Perzina brothers. The production process has been thoroughly modernised emphasising the outstanding musical character of the instrument.
Innovation through tradition.
Perzina brothers mission
Their piano had to have an outstanding sound and
a beautiful design, be able to offer pleasure to generations
and, moreover be sensibly priced.
The company has remained faithful to the formula set out by the brothers Perzina some 125 years ago.
Our instrument production is based on traditional techniques done by hand with focus on the resulting tone colour and top surface treatment. The modern elements of instrument design includes magnetically balanced action enabling correction of play weight and quick repetition in the whole key range. Therefore our instrument is able to adapt to the requirements and individual abilities of the player.
Reid-Sohn are a superb piano at an attractive price. They incorporate the latest developments in piano technology including finest quality spruce and air-dried maple and tempered, nickel-plated pins, German hammer felt and laminated German pin blocks.
pianos have won the prestigious Music Industry Association award in
2002 and 2003 for the best traditional piano with their RS112R1. They
supply the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music as well as
teachers and performers everywhere.
The finest quality spruce and air-dried maple are combined with tempered nickel-plated pins, German hammer felt and laminated German pin blocks. These create fine pianos long appreciated by discerning and exacting pianists.
All Reid-Sohn pianos incorporate the latest developments in piano technology with the careful guidance of Klaus Fenner, co-developer of the Imperial German scale.
The company was founded in 1885 in Leipzig by Wilhelm Schimmel. This company is especially popular for its high quality concert grand pianos. In August 2009, the biggest piano maker in Germany became insolvent and was protected from its creditors in a manner similar to "chapter 11" in the USA. In April 2010, after the firm was financially restructured, it became solvent and healthy again and has been released from its protected state by the German authorities. The company is now fully owned by the Schimmel family.
In January 2016, the Chinese Pearl River Piano Group took over 90% of the shares of Schimmel
After resolute practice and long-term experience credit building, Nanjing Schumann Piano Co., Ltd has gradually developed Moutrie and Schumann into trans-regional and international brands. At home, a steady distribution network has been set up; at abroad, the products has largely distributed to middle and high-end European markets and also made new breakthroughs in America, Middle East and Southeast Asia. For the past twenty years, hundreds of thousands of Moutrie and Schumann pianos have been supplied to the society, offering numerous users with excellent choice and satisfactory consuming experience. For successively many years Moutrie and Schumann piano have won honors including Jiangsu Famous Mark and Jiangsu Famous Brand, etc, and the company was awarded as Powerful and Strong Company of Musical Instrument Industry in China for many years.
Nanjing Schumann Piano Manufacturing Co., Ltd insists on creating artistic, original and unique excellence by means of abundant professional knowledge and experience. Each piano product has embodied innovation in design intent and material. Excellence, individuation and innovation have endowed Moutrie and Schumann pianos with permanent value and time spirit.
In respect of quality control, the company has been insisting on the production flow of “Process Excellence”. All kinds of professionals are taking full-course supervision on the whole production process so as to ensure the product and service quality and meet satisfaction of customers. The company has been improving itself and persistently implementing ISO:9001（2000）Quality Management System, have passed international and domestic quality authentification, and established and completed management mode of modernized enterprise; besides, having attached great importance to technology advancement, it has entered into technology cooperation and seek for further procession with German and Austrian piano manufacturing companies in the manner of introduction and collaboration, and adopted internationally leading manufacturing craft and standard production arrangement to constantly improve the inner quality of piano product, which have helped it win the title of Nanjing New High-tech Enterprise.
Nanjing Schumann Piano Manufacturing Co., Ltd is an enterprise in constant innovation and development with deep cultural deposits. Depending on its outstanding culture, mechanism and systemized and institutionalized human resource training system, it has cultivated more and more remarkable groups and individuals. With collective wisdom and strength as the solid developing base, the employees' value is allowed to be realized during continuous achievements of the company, which means a perfect combination of personal value and enterprise value.
To Bring Impressiveness with the Tone is our forever tenet. We look forward to joining of friends from all circles of life at home and abroad and work for a prosperous future.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Yamaha today (13 January, 2011) introduced the DCFX Disklavier Mark IV PRO™ concert grand piano at Winter NAMM 2011. The handcrafted instrument incorporates the unsurpassed functionality of the Yamaha Disklavier PRO™ performance reproducing piano into the acclaimed CFX concert grand.
"With the DCFX, superb craftsmanship and peerless technological innovation meld to form an instrument of remarkable versatility and potential for countless educational and performance applications," says Yamaha Disklavier Marketing Manager Jim Levesque. "Its stunning performance and re-performance capabilities make it ideal for recording, composing, music broadcasting, conservatory study and film scoring."
The hand-built Yamaha CFX concert grand piano is the result of nearly two decades of product development with input directly from many distinguished pianists from around the globe. Since its introduction at Winter NAMM 2010, the CFX has already been celebrated for being the piano of choice by the winners of the 2009 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition, the 8th National Chopin Piano Competition in Miami, and most recently, at the 16th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in October 2010.
Engineered to the exacting standards of professional music production, the Disklavier PRO™ Series is designed with greater emphasis on leading-edge sensor and playback technologies for unsurpassed digital and acoustic performance. Merging top-tier technology into professional-caliber Yamaha grands, the Disklavier PRO™ Series delivers the ultimate in power, precision and control, offering advanced components and technologies including a Sound Muting System, XG instrument tone generation, MIDI and PC connections, a SmartKey™ play-assist system, expanded memory, and a convenient pocket remote control. The Disklavier can now also be controlled by an innovative iPhone application.
Remote Lesson – a pioneering, Internet-based educational application – will be a key application for the instrument. "With Remote Lesson, transcontinental piano lessons, master classes and performances are possible between two Internet-connected Disklavier pianos," added Levesque. "It shatters geographic and logistical barriers by enabling students and teachers located thousands of miles from each other to work together in real time on pacing, dynamics, color control and other sophisticated musical and pedagogical nuances."
Disklavier users can also videotape their performances and enjoy them later while the instrument's playback and the television's image are in perfect step with each other. This technology has been used to dramatic effect in the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition.
In addition to drawing on its 108-year heritage of manufacturing the world's finest pianos, the Yamaha CF Series represents 19 years of research and development conducted by Yamaha craftsmen, designers and engineers to create this extraordinary handcrafted piano series. The process culminated with a series of top-secret, in-depth evaluation sessions conducted in New York, Paris and Tokyo with top artists and Yamaha Artist Services over the last few years. Offering the pianist outstanding expressiveness and singing legato tone, the Series also provides unprecedented power and tonal projection.
For more information about the dcfx, visit Yamaha at Winter NAMM 2011 at the Marriott Hotel Marquis Ballroom; write Yamaha Corporation of America, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622; telephone 714-522-9011; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visitwww.yamaha.com/press.