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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

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© Steve Burden

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