Sunday, 24 November 2013

Pleyel Pianos - A short history

Ignace Pleyel was a student of Haydn for 5 years, spent some time at the court in Naples, moved to Strasbourg where he devoted much time composing. In 1793 he moved for a short time to London appearing in concerts but soon returned to Strasbourg. 
During the French Revolution, to prove his loyalty to the cause of the Republic, he was ordered to compose music to a revolutionary drama. His composition was so well received that his allegiance was no longer doubted.

In Paris, 1805, he began a Music Publishing business. In 1807, opened a piano factory. The piano of the early 1800s was still a primitive instrument but being an accomplished player, Ignace could direct technical developments from a pianist's perspective. 

1824, he transferred the business to his son Camille who spent several years learning the art of piano making in London at Broadwoods and with Collard and Clementi, Camille too, was an accomplished musician and formed a close friendship with Frederick Chopin who became a great champion for Pleyel Pianos. 

When Camille died the business underwent various changes of name: Pleyel Wolff & Co. and late to Pleyel Lyon & Co. Under Gustav Lyon, the company developed the metal frame for the piano. Right up until our modern times, the Pleyel has always been a maker of fine pianos. They recently collaborated with Peugeot to produce a stunning concept piano. 

It is a very sad day when a well established piano maker has to close their operation down. All that history abruptly brought to an end! Pleyel is the most recent of the long line of piano makers who, due to a sharp decline in the demand for new pianos, have 'played through the final few bars' of their masterful piece of piano-making history.

Their passing is a great loss to the piano world. Let us hope that the makers that remain can weather the 'storm' until brighter times return. We must not lose the great diversity the piano world has always cherished

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Top Piano Manufacturers

The top piano manufacturers like Steinway, Bluthner, Bechstein, Fazioli and Bosendorfer have established their well-deserved reputations by continually building great pianos. They use the best materials and production methods available and go about the business of building a piano using the unique traditions handed down by their founders as the basis for their pianos. The finished product is an inspiration for any pianist!

In any year, a manufacturer can produce thousands of the same model of piano, but no two of them are exactly alike. A particularly good piano will command a lot of interest and mysteriously, pianists will select it from among others to use for a recital or recording. 

There are plenty of superb pianos makers that would not be listed in the Super-League of Piano Manufacturers, but whose pianos are superbly put together and reward their owners with faithful and ruggedly reliable service year after year.  

In days of old, piano makers used to categorise the various sizes of a grand piano by giving names to the different size-groups, e.g. boudoir grands, semi-grands and cottage grands mini grands. All these charming names, seem to have had precise meanings when the pianos were sold originally, but now, these meanings are not so clear and certainly, the top manufacturers ordinarily categorise grand pianos by size.

The pianos from the top manufacturers will always be expensive to buy, and will need plenty of tuning to keep them sounding good. Most people manage to come to terms with the best of what their own piano can give. But, dreams of one day buying a Steinway or something similar is not so out of place. Ah! One day... 

© Steve Burden