Did You Know 2

Did You Know This About Pianos?

Page 2 of 3

© The Pierce Piano Atlas Anniversary Edition, Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Interesting tidbits from the world of pianos brought to you by Piano World.

  • The Aragon Ballroom, Ocean Park, California had a Steinway Grand for many years that was used by many leading bands, such as Harry James, Ted Weems, Harry Owens, Leighton Noble, Spade Cooley and Lawrence Welk.
  • The Brooklyn Museum has a very beautiful display of a Harp (or Giraffe) shaped piano made by Kuhn & Ridgeway.
  • Abraham Lincoln used Chickering Grand # 5070 while at the White House.
  • Sebastian Erard made the first French Square piano in 1777 and the first Grand in 1796.
  • The Smithsonian Institute has a Square Piano # 275 made by James Stewart, Baltimore 1812.
  • Christopher Gottlieb Schroeter was probably the first piano maker and maker of piano actions in Germany in the year 1721.
  • Johann A. Stein was an organ builder before making pianos. Many of the German piano builders were organ builders prior to making pianos. The making of pianos in Germany started about 1730.
  • Nanette Stein was one of the few women who became famous as a piano builder. She later became the wife of Andreas Streicher, who was also a famous piano builder.
  • John Broadwood enlarged the strings in the square piano; used two thick strings instead of three thinner ones and moved the wrest plank from the right side to the bottom of the case 1788.
  • McKay received patent for fitting hammer head of Pianoforte in 1828.
  • Johann Christian Schleip built many vertical pianos know as the “Giraffe Piano”.
  • John Broadwood did much to improve the Square Piano. Including making the case much stronger.
  • Heinrich Steinweg was born in Wolfshagen in the Harz Mountains of Germany in 1797; made his first piano in 1835 at Seesen, Harz. Steinweg arrived in America with his sons, Karl, Heinrich, and Alber; his son, Theodore remained in Germany until 1865, when he came to the USA, he sold his business to Grotrian, Helfferick & Schulz. (Now Grotrian).
  • Tschudi in 1769 tried to control the volume of the piano by a venetian blind which covered the strings like a swell box of the organ and was opened and closed by means of a pedal.
  • The first census giving figures for instrument makers was in 1860 which was 223 – about 110 were piano manufacturers.
  • Gilbert of Boston built a piano-organ about 1848.
  • Elias Schlengel built an oval piano in 1794.
  • Crosby Opera House on Washington Street, Chicago, was the home of many of Chicago’s firs piano stores. This building was destroyed by fire in 1871.
  • Alpheus Babcock patented a one piece cast iron frame in 1825. About 1828 he introduced in America cross-stringing and this invention was a sensation at the world exhibitions in Paris 1862 and 1867.
  • Although being credited with creating one of the first pianoforte instruments, Cristofori made few pianos. His attention was to the building of harpsichords.
  • Erard substituted wrapped steel strings in the bass for the strings which had been used previously.
  • Johann Behrent built the first piano in America at Philadelphia in 1775 under “piano Forte” name.
  • Many of the piano manufacturers who first built pianos in America came from England and Germany.
  • William Tonk & Bros. started business at 47 Mainden Lane, New York, in 1881.
  • One of the first builders to use cross-stringing was Henri Pape, 1828
  • A piano string can be vibrated in three different ways; plucked with the fingers, stroked with a bow, or struck with a hammer such as in the piano.
  • The Clavichord is struck, the Harpsichord and spinet are plucked, and the piano, like the Clavichord, is struck.
  • Frederici produced one of the first vertical pianos in 1745. This was of pyramidal shape and was to replace the upright spinet.
  • Mangeot of Paris built a piano with reversible keyboards in 1876; also Emanuel Moor.
  • Pedal board pianos were built with 29 pedals. Henry F. Miller built such a piano as late as 1875. Such a piano can be found at Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, California.
  • Sebastian Erard built a piano and organ combined for Marie Antoinette.
  • Hieronymous Albrecht made a large Harpsichord with two keyboards in 1734.
  • Erard of France constructed his first piano in 1777, his first grand in 1796.
  • George P. Bent started at State street, Chicago, 1878.
  • Piano Row was located on 14th Street, New York. It was the headquarters of such fine pianos as Steinway, Steck, Behning, Bradbury, Sterling, Hardman, Sohmer, Wissner and many others. The modern day Piano Row in New York is generally considered to be around W. 58th and W. 57th (piano stores, not manufacturers). Here is a post on our Piano Forums from a 2003 tour of Piano Row http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/921398/NYC_in_October_–_the_reports.html
  • Small Square Pianos were sold in England for 25 gunnies about 1800. This was probably a smaller grand than the square pianos which were made with 85 to 88 notes.
  • Stein replaced the knee pedals with foot pedals in 1789.
  • First quality piano manufactured on the West Coast in 1863 under the name of Walter S. Pierce (a distant relative of Bob Pierce, Atlas Publisher).
  • Jonas Chickering was the first exporter of American made pianos. The first shipment was to India in 1844.
  • As far back as 1901, Estey stated they had manufactured and sold 325,000 organs.


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