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Piano Maker Directory

The 'Short Histories' presented here are a convenient reference point for those interested in the history of some of the great names of the piano world.

These piano-pioneers, dedicated themselves to producing the very best pianos possible, often facing fierce competition. Happily, such rivalry provides that extra drive to succeed and excel.   

These stories demonstrate how talent, technical understanding and sheer determination will overcome the formidable odds.
As a general overview:
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Top Piano Manufacturers
Top piano manufacturers enjoy the enviable advantages of a named brand. Steinway, Bluthner, Bechstein, Fazioli and Bosendorfer and others, have earned their reputations by doing what they do best: building great pianos!
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Piano Names
A Broadwood piano in referred to in at least one of Jane Austen's novels. In the early 19th century  pianos were status symbols. Being able to play one was praised by sophisticated society.
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Bechstein
Carl Bechstein was a born business man who understood the power of good publicity. He chose to devote his business brain to building pianos...
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Bentley
The Bentley Piano Company established by Douglas W. Grover. The ‘Grover’ name was long associated with instrument making in London but Douglas Grover saw potential in making pianos - and took the bold step of moving production out of London and down to the west country.
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Bluthner
Julius Bluthner began making pianos in 1853 in Leipzig. The Bluthner Piano earned recognition among the other great piano makers and among many Royal Courts - Queen Victoria, the Russian Tsar and many others owned Bluthner Pianos!
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Ignaz Bosendorfer began building his pianos in Vienna 1828. He began an apprenticeship at 19 years of age with Joseph Brodman - a builder of organs and pianos.
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The exact year the Challen piano company began is not clear. Some claim it to be 1804 but the earliest written record of piano-making under the Challen name was in 1835.  William Challen is likely to be the father of the Challen piano-making family. Successive generations continued to build pianos for nearly 100 years! 
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The story behind Collard & Collard pianos begins with a Music Publishing Company called Longmann & Broderip who dabbled in making pianos. The Collard & Collard piano company, started around 1760 and developed into a major producer of fine pianos.
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Duck, Son & Pinker
A brief look the history of Duck, Son and Pinker Ltd. Bath - the classic, local, music institution.
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Born at Strasbourg in 1752, Sebastian Erard who, from humble beginnings became a giant in the field of piano design. At just 8 years old, he was studying architecture and geometry but went on to create the 'modern piano action'.
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Since 1866, Grotrian have been making pianos of distinction. With a simple 'love of music', the family-owned Grotrian piano company has remained doggedly committed to craftsmanship of the highest quality.
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Ibach Pianos, established 1794 - is the oldest piano-making operation and still produces very fine pianos. Beautifully put together, Ibach Pianos are instruments of elegance, culture and class. 
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Kawai
Kawai pianos, was established in 1927. Kawai pianos have been in the forefront of efforts to maximise the benefits that research and technology can bring to the piano making process.
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Kemble
1911 in Stoke Newington. Kembles launched their own version of the mini piano. The Minx proved to be very popular.
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Alfred Knight was born into a family of piano makers - his great-great-grandfather worked for Broadwoods. Before leaving school he was already helping at the Hicks factory where in 1913, he began his apprenticeship.
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Ignace Pleyel was a student of Haydn for 5 years, spent some time at the court in Naples. In Strasbourg he spent much time composing. In 1793 he moved for a short time to London appearing in concerts but soon returned to Strasbourg...
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Balthasar Schiedmayer, who was born in 1711, just 2 years after the piano was invented.
The first Schiedmayer Piano was built around 1735. The Scheidmayer name would be associated with piano-making well into the 21st century.
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Schimmel Pianos, established in 1855. Perhaps, Schimmel is not among the best-known of piano makers, but they are superb pianos and should be rated very highly. When I have the pleasure of tuning a Schimmel piano, you can be sure the piano will respond beautifully...
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The history of the Steinway Piano might be well known, but when Heinrich Steinweg began making pianos, he could not have known the success that would follow. His father was a forester and had to leave his large family to fight in the Napoleonic wars. On his return, only Heinrich and 2 other children had survived.
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The story of the Welmar piano begins at the end of the first world war. The post-war economy was extremely tough for the piano trade as it sought to re-establish sales and profitability.
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The Japanese piano industry was slow to gather momentum during the later years of the 19th century. The early development of the piano was very much centred in European. A Japanese square piano (not a Yamaha) was exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1878...
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