Archive for September, 2011

Completely off the subject and nothing to do with Pianos

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

 

This is my brother and sis-in-law in N.C. after effects of hurrican Irene that came through N.C. last month.

Aftermath of Hurrican Irene in N.C.

Ibach Pianos another Master of the Piano Industry

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Johannes Adolf Ibach (1766 – 1848) After completion of his education at the Beyenburg Monastery in Southern Germany he had a burning desire to learn something about his country.  During this period of discovery he learned about piano and organ manufacturing

Johann Adolph Ibach

Johann Adolph Ibach

from some of the best craftsmen in the country.  After returning back to his home in Beyenburg he received the contract to refurbish one of the largest organs in the city of Beyenburg.  He had realized by this point that the piano had enormous potential.  In 1794 he set up a manufacturing workshop primarily building for local artists and musicians that had been also captured by the lure of this new instrument.

 

There were normal set backs in business including the Napoleonic Wars.  In 1825 Johannes failing health forced him to hand over the day to day operations to his eldest son, Carl Rudolf Ibach who was only 21. Carl Rudolph began to immediately implement the latest in manufacturing technology  and also marketing his new designs.  It wasn’t until almost 13 years later in 1838 that Ibach had introduced what is often regarded as the first upright that was available commercially in the world and later that year introduced the first cast iron plates.  Carl’s reputation and the strength of the company had soon spread across all of Europe. Sadly, Carls Rudolf, like his father died too young.

 

Ibach Upright

Ibach Upright

Ibach was then taken over by Carl’s son, PA Rudolph Ibach at the young age of 20.  Rudolph young vision made him arguably responsible for establishing the company to make it what it was to become.  Truly one of the greatest pianos ever built.  He was extremely charismatic, intelligent and had the foresight to make him a very bright and strong business man.  He kept the company of some of the most powerful and wealthy along with true royalty and some extremely well recognized composers and performers of the day.  People like Liszt, Wagner and Brahms were regular guests.  Rudolph sent his son to study the manufacturing methods that were then taking place in other piano manufacturers around the world and set up competitions for designs of pianos with the winner getting impressive cash prizes.  He was one of the first to introduce the idea of a dealer network and it was also Rudolph that changed the name to Rudolf Ibach Sohn and the shortened version Rud. Ibach Sohn.

 

Rudolf Ibach and his son J. Rudolf Ibach managed their way the wars and destruction of

Ibach Grand

Ibach Grand

their country and was able to stabilize the company again in 1952 when they started making pianos again.

 

The present status of the company is unknown.  One thing I will say.  This has to be one of the most impressive of all pianos and quite a status symbol among pianist and enthusiasts around the world.

I hope you find this series of Masters interesting.  I am enjoying writing about some of the most famous and important name brands in the piano industry.

Posted by Ric Overton of http://PianoSD.com via http://MaxMorganDesign.com

 

And then theres John Broadwood

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

John Broadwood and Sons Piano

Manufacturers

John Broadwood was born in 1732.  By the age of 29 he had started working as an apprentice to Burkat Shudi who owned a harpsichord workshop in Londonfor many years.  Mr. Shudi had quite a following with royalty from the Prince of Wales to Fredrick the Great of Prussia. By the time he had been at the workshop with Mr. Shudi about 8 years John Broadwood married Shudi’s daughter Barbara in 1769.  Two years later he started running the entire business and by 1773 had taken full control of the business because Mr. Shudi had passed away.  They had begun to manufacture square grands and grand pianofortes and business was doing so well they had to expand their present locations on Great Pulteney Streetand Bridle Lane, Soho. In 1796 at the age of  64 Broadwood accepted a commissioned work for Manuel de Godoy the Queen of Spain, with a case designed by Thomas Sheraton with Wedgwood medallions. It is now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA.

John Broadwood Piano

John Broadwood Grand Piano

At about the same as the commissioned work was being finished John Broadwood named his son James Shudi a partner and his other son Thomas followed in 1808 and created the firm John Broadwood and Sons.

Thomas Broadwood met Beethoven in August of 1817 in Vienna, and later said, ‘he was kind enough to play to me but he was so deaf and unwell that I am sorry to say I had no opportunity of marking any thing like an anecdote’. Thomas sent Beethoven a gift of a 6 octave grand pianoforte made from Spanish mahogany. Beethoven was so delighted that he wrote to Thomas in 1818 that ‘I shall immediately send you the fruits of the first moments of inspiration I spend at it’. The piano later belonged to Franz Liszt and is now in the National Museum of History in Budapest.  So many technological advancements in piano building were made that it became necessary to expand and Henry Fowler Broadwood, the eldest son of James Shudi Broadwood and the grandson of John, joined the partnership in 1836.  He helped advance the company so much that by the 1840s around 2500 pianos a year were being made at the factory in Horseferry Road, Westminster. Broadwood and Sons had become one of the largest employers in London.

In 1848 Chopin made a Royal visit where he was provided Broadwood pianos. The grand piano no.17047 he used for concerts is presently owned by The Royal Academy of Music and is on loan to the Cobbe Collection Trust in Hatchland Park,  East Clandon, Surrey and some other Broadwood pianos are at various collections throughout Europe.

John Broadwood Grand Piano

John Broadwood Grand Piano

The Horseferry Road factory burned to the ground in 1856. The Broadwoods were so determined to continue that much of the money needed to rebuild the factory came out of Henry Fowler Broadwood’s own pocket.

The company won many awards throughout the 19th century.  Many exhibitions including the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and the International Inventions Exhibition inLondon in 1885.

In 1893 Henry Fowler Broadwood passed away and the company fell into a great  financial crisis which led to the partnership being dissolved in 1901 and a limited company was put in its place.  Some of the family members remained as directors and employees and even Henry Fowler’s grandson, Captain Evelyn Broadwood was chairman from 1931 until his death in 1975.

In 1902 The Horseferry Roadfactory was moved to the Old Ford Works, Stour Road, Hackney. The company then began to manufacture player pianos (Pianolas) and gramophones in the ‘20s.

During the First World War the company voluntarily made aircraft bodies and parts for De Havilland and other things for the cause such as ammunition boxes. In a show of solidarity and appreciation King George V and Queen Mary visited The Old Ford factory in 1926.

 

John Broadwood Upright

John Broadwood Upright Piano

 

 

When Captain Broadwood died in 1975, the Broadwood Trust sent the archives of the business and a large number of papers relating to members of the Broadwood family, and their long and illustrious history to Surrey History Centre inWoking.

The last recorded Broadwood serial number is from 2003.  It is unclear whether they still produce pianos today.

Ric Overton

Ric Overton of  Https://PianoSD.com via https://MaxMorganDesign.com

Sebastian Erard Pianos

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Sebastian Erard was born in Strasbourg, Germany in 1752.  He showed a lot potential as an mechanical architect.  When he was 16 his father passed away and he was moved to Paris.  He got a job with a harpsichord maker.  After some time his speed, accuracy and excitement got him fired by his jealous supervisor.  However, by this time a lot of musicians and music instrument makers had come to not only know him but, respect his work.

Erard

Erard

 

By the time he was 25 he had started building pianos in a small workshop in a hotel owned by a duchess.  He built his first Pianoforte in 1777 in his Paris“factory”.  15 years later he move to Great Marlborough Street in London where he stayed for almost 20 years.  By this time he had built pianos for Louis XVI and for Marie Antoinette.

Erard Pianoforte

Erard Pianoforte

 

In 1796 he returned  to Paris and started immediately making grand Pianofortes with some noticed improvements. He returned   a couple of years and returned back to Paris where with his new creation of the double-movement harp.  Until his death in 1831 at the age of 79 he made Pianofortes and Harps.

Erard Pianos has been long associated as one of the finest pianos in the world.  Erards were greatly used by Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Verdi and Sir Paderewski (who travelled with his own personal Erard) were among the list of composers and musicians who appreciated his work.

 

I have only had the priveledge to play on an Erard once.  It was a beautiful restoration that was superbly done.  Although the sound was “different” it was a seriously nice piano that deserves a lot of respect  because of the “updates” and improvements that Mr. Erard would implement and encouraged others to do the same.

 

Until then

 

Ric Overton

 

Posted by Ric Overton of http://PianoSD.com via http://MaxMorganDesign.com

Who was Chickering?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Jonas Chickering was born in Mason Village, New Hampshire in April of 1798 to Abner Chickering  who was a farmer and a blacksmith.  He originally worked as an apprentice to a cabinet maker and in 1818 moved to Boston to continue his work. This lasted for about one year until he ran into John Osborn on Orange Street and began working for him as a piano maker. In 1823, Chickering and James Stewart entered a partnership and began making pianos under the name Stewart and Chickering.  They made 15 pianos that first year which sold for around $275.00

Chickering Square Grand Piano

Blog by PianoSD.com

Stewart & Chickering dissolved after four years, and in 1830 Chickering started working  with John Mackay who had a piano store and also made organs and piano.  John had also worked with Alpheus Babcock who was doing business as Chickering and Company at  416 Washington Street.  In 1837 Chickering & Mackays along with Mackay’s son William H. Mackay built a new five story factory.  The factory had a retail store and a  concert hall, at 334 Washington Street.

John Mackay passed away in 1841 so Chickering mortgaged the factory and bought out the remaining shares from Mackay’s family which he paid out over time. On December 1, 1852 the factory burned putting over 200 people out of work and a sustained loss of over $250,000.00.  All of the tools and patters were lost and according to reports say that one of the first overtstrung pianos was lost in the fire too. Chickering then began to rebuild a new “state of the art” steam powered factory according to Mr. Chickering’s specifcations. This new factory was located at  791 Tremont Street.

 

Sadly, Chickering died before the new factory was completed in December of 1853.   His death was important to the city of Boston that there was almost 1000 people at his funeral and the mayor even ordered the city’s churches to ring their bells out of respect.  By 1853, Chickering had manufactured more than 12,000 pianos and was building more than 100 a month with sales of over almost $10,000.00 a month. The might Chickering Piano display at the London International Exhibition of 1851 earned a gold medal.  The also got  special mention for their grand pianos noted for brilliancy and power. Chickering had many patents which included: single piece iron frames,along with wrest plank bridges and damper guides in square pianos, wrest plank terminations in grands as wel as several others. Chickering & Mackays also had control of an action patented created by Alpheus Babcock and they also had control of  licensed actions patents by Edwin Brown and George Howe. Chickering made curved hammer strike lines in square grands which permitted larger hammers.  Chickering is also said to have helped Ichabod Washburn  develop the first piano wire that was made in the United States.

Chickering Concert Grand Piano for Ric Overton blog of PianoSD.com

Chickering Concert Grand Piano for Ric Overton blog of PianoSD.ocm

Among many of his musical accomplishment Chickering, Henry W. Pickering and Edward Frothingborn helped to form the society which was responsible for erecting the Boston Music Hall which was built in 1852.  There were four children: Thomas Chickering, C. Frank Chickering, George H. Chickering, and Anna Chickering. Who all worked as pianomakers and partners in the company forming Chickering and Sons.

Although Chickering was purchased by Gibson several years ago and ceased production, Chickering remains one of my favorite pianos.  Its clarity of sound and very smooth action is incredible.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed.

Ric Overton of http://PianoSD.com via http://MaxMorganDesign.com

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