The establishment phase of piano manufacturers occurred mainly in the 19th century and spread out over the entire century. The company formations listed here are not representative of a complete list; however, we have endeavored to name the most important manufacturers.
In 1794 Johann Adolph Ibach by Wuppertal began building pianos and constructed virginals. After 1817 he erected a production hall for construction of the instruments in which pianos were produced in a factory setting; he was the first German piano manufacturer who transformed the art from a small craftsman’s establishment into a business.
John Broadwood, who had been building pianos since around 1777, utilized after 1802 the support of steam engines for driving his machine tools. Gradually, out of small piano manufacturers, industrial companies developed that could produce several hundred instruments.
In 1807 the Austrian Ignaz Pleyel founded his piano factory in Paris. Later he arranged the so-called Parisian “Salons”, performances for the Parisian music scene of the time, where pianists could present their abilities and whom he furnished with his instruments — Frédéric Chopin counted among his loyal clientele.
In 1819 Johann Grimm founded a piano factory, which later became the Carl Sauter piano manufactory in Spaichingen. In 1828 Ignaz Bösendorfer began constructing pianos in Vienna. Six years later Ernst Wilhelm Ferdinand Thürmer did the same in Meißen. In 1835 Steinweg followed in Braunschweig, in 1845 Rönisch in Dresden. Eduard Seiler founded the Seiler Pianoforte Factory in 1849 in Liegnitz. Starting in 1851, Julius Feurich built his pianos and grand pianos in Leipzig, one year later Eduard Steingraeber opened his workshop Steingraeber & Söhne in Bayreuth.
In 1853, three large factories formed at the same time in different locations: Heinrich Steinweg, who had immigrated to the USA, founded Steinway & Sons in New York, Carl Bechstein`s beginnings in instrument construction in Berlin led to the Pianoforte Factory C. Bechstein, and Julius Ferdinand Blüthner began constructing instruments in Leipzig.
In 1859, August Förster followed in Löbau, in 1862 Joseph Anton Pfeiffer in Stuttgart and in 1864 Antonin Petrof in Königgrätz. A branch of the Steinway factory was set up in 1880 in Hamburg, which has served the European market to this day. Max and Richard Zimmermann founded their company in Leipzig with a concentration on pianos in 1884. One year later, Wilhelm Schimmel followed with his factory in Stötteritz by Leipzig. After 1890 the firm Steingraeber & Söhne expanded with branches in Nuremberg and Munich.
Torakusu Yamaha, the founder of the Yamaha Corporation, began in 1900 with piano production, and another Japanese firm, Kawai, was founded in 1927. In 1958, Korea established itself in the business with the company Samick. Concerned exclusively with grand pianos, the company Fazioli, based in Italy, was established in 1979. Incidentally, “Company Establishments” in piano production in the 20th century consisted primarily, due to economic reasons, of complete, global company mergers.
At this point, we would like to conclude with an explanatory remark regarding this list.
You will notice that some piano brands are not included in our listing. This is not a coincidence. In recent years there has been a surge of incidents of clients with sufficient capital affixing European-sounding brand names on pianos constructed in the Far East and then selling them as their own creation. We wish to distance ourselves from such “art brands” and therefore we have not included them in our list.