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Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner #2763390
09/04/18 02:46 PM
09/04/18 02:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 281
Norway
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Skjalg Offline OP
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I browsed through the local market for grand pianos today, when I noticed something I had not seen before. It was an old Blüthner grand with the tag “Pariser Stimmung” on it. So I became intrigued, and looked it up.
[Linked Image]


According to the German wikiedpia,
Quote
Im Jahr 1788 einigte man sich zunächst in Paris auf 409 Hz für das eingestrichene a, die (frühe) Pariser Stimmung. Später wurde dort 1858 durch die französische Akademie, unter Napoleon III., der Kammerton a′ dann auf 435 Hz festgelegt (mit der damaligen Bezeichnung als „435 Doppelschwingungen pro Sekunde“), für Frankreich gesetzlich eingeführt und in benachbarten Ländern übernommen


Which basically says that the Pariser Stimmung dates back to 1788 and sets A at 409Hz. This was subsequently set at 435 Hz in 1858, introduced by law for France and adopted in neighboring countries.

According to the serial number, the date of manufacture for this piano was 1875-1880.

So that begs the question, why did Blüthner make a grand at that time, with the Pariser Stimmung?

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Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763409
09/04/18 03:57 PM
09/04/18 03:57 PM
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David-G Offline
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A topic of great interest to me! I will respond in a separate post. In the meantime, I would be seriously interested to see photos of the piano, particularly the strings and plate, so I can identify the style. Is there any chance you might be able to get a few such photos?


Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763411
09/04/18 04:07 PM
09/04/18 04:07 PM
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.

Last edited by David-G; 09/04/18 04:08 PM. Reason: mistake
Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763415
09/04/18 04:29 PM
09/04/18 04:29 PM
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Skjalg Offline OP
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Here are the images that were available:
https://www.finn.no/gallery.html?finnkode=128406944

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763416
09/04/18 04:31 PM
09/04/18 04:31 PM
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From PITCH REFORM IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND, The Spectator, 12 March 1859. (Click the link for the full article.)

Quote

There is but one remedy—to obtain a 'scientific, physical standard of pitch ;- and to agree universally to be governed by it. The first is easy. The pitch of a sound can be measured by the number of vibrations, or pulsations of air, made by the sounding body in a given time. You have only to say, the sounding stiang or pipe shall make so many vibrations in a second, and at a certain temperature of the atmosphere ; and the problem is solved. But the difficulty is to get the world to agree to one such standard. Congresses of musicians have been talked of at different times, but such things have always ended in smoke.

In France, however, the matter is now accomplished (insofar as that country is concerned) by turning it, more Galileo, into an affair of State. As we stated some time since,* the Emperor appointed an Imperial Commission, consisting. of the magnates of the Conservatoire, to investigate the subject: and, on their report, the following decree has been pronounced—

"Article 1. A uniform diapason (standard of pitch) is instituted for all the musical establishments of France, the imperial and other theatres of Paris and the departments, conservatoires, schools, and public concerts authorized by the State.

"Article 2. This diapason, giving the to (A) adopted for tuning instruments, is fixed at 870 vibrations per second: it shall be called the diapason normal.

"Article 3. The standard shall be deposited at the Imperial Conservatoire of Music and Declamation.

"Article 4. Every musical establishment authorized by the State shall be provided with a standard duly verified, in conformity with the prototype.

" Article 5. The normal diapason shall be in Moe from the 1st of July next in Paris, and the 1st of December in the provinces. From those dates, no instruments shall be admitted into musical establishments but such as have been verified as being of the normal pitch.

"Article 6. The state of the diapasons and the instruments shall be regularly submitted to administrative verifications.

"'Article 7. The present decree shall be deposited at the Secretariat General, in order to be notified to all whom it may concern,


A large number of Bluthner pianos had this "PARISER STIMMUNG" inscription, from serial number 9000 to 25000 approximately. Except that from about 15000, the inscription was changed to "TIEFE STIMMUNG". My understanding is that the reason for this change was that anything to do with Paris was not very popular in Germany from about the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870). My own Bluthner (no. 16189) has the "TIEFE STIMMUNG" inscription.

"Tiefe Stimmung" means "low pitch", so presumably the Bluthners which did not have this inscription were tuned to a higher pitch. I would love to know what that was! Presumably it was higher than A=440; it would hardly seem worth having an alternative pitch option where the difference (435/440) was so small. Perhaps it was A=450 or higher?

So the question comes down to this - why did Bluthner think it worth offering pianos at two alternative pitches? And given that they did, why did none of the other manufacturers do likewise? I would love to know the answers!


Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763418
09/04/18 04:36 PM
09/04/18 04:36 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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Interestingly, I own Bluthner #13431...not far off from that one.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763420
09/04/18 04:38 PM
09/04/18 04:38 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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Interestingly, I own Bluthner #13431...not far off from that one. I have not looked to see if mine says similar.

Sorry for double post.


Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 09/04/18 04:39 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763421
09/04/18 04:38 PM
09/04/18 04:38 PM
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Do you think that there would be a difference in the build of the pianos set at 435 compared to those set at 440? Or would it just be a matter of tuning the same model of piano higher than the other?

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763422
09/04/18 04:41 PM
09/04/18 04:41 PM
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joe80 Offline
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PS... that piano looks very interesting, it's almost straight strung in that the bass section doesn't overlap the treble section, but the treble section goes under the higher pitched section of the tenor. It's also interesting that there are two tenor bridges and a separate bass bridge. I'd love to hear that piano regulated, tuned and voiced and hear what its voice is like.

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763423
09/04/18 04:42 PM
09/04/18 04:42 PM
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Posts: 281
Norway
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Skjalg Offline OP
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My understanding was that the Pariser Stimmung was 409 Hz, and if that is correct, then it seems odd to have that produced 20 years after the law was changed in France. If anything with Paris was not popular, why would they use the PARIS STIMMUNG, 20+ years after it was obsolete?

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763430
09/04/18 05:02 PM
09/04/18 05:02 PM
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Posts: 281
Norway
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Skjalg Offline OP
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England also used to have a preference for lower pitch, so maybe they changed later than France? In which case this could have been an export model to England? After all, Blüthner seems to have been rather popular in England in the past.

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: joe80] #2763431
09/04/18 05:08 PM
09/04/18 05:08 PM
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Norway
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Skjalg Offline OP
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Originally Posted by joe80
I'd love to hear that piano regulated, tuned and voiced and hear what its voice is like.


Me too, but I doubt it will happen. Apparently it has been in current family ownership for 60 years, prior to that it was owned by Per Borten, who later became prime minster of Norway, (1965 to 1971).

Last edited by Skjalg; 09/04/18 05:09 PM.
Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: joe80] #2763432
09/04/18 05:09 PM
09/04/18 05:09 PM
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David-G Offline
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Originally Posted by joe80
PS... that piano looks very interesting, it's almost straight strung in that the bass section doesn't overlap the treble section, but the treble section goes under the higher pitched section of the tenor. It's also interesting that there are two tenor bridges and a separate bass bridge. I'd love to hear that piano regulated, tuned and voiced and hear what its voice is like.

Very well observed! The design of this piano is virtually the same as mine - I also have separate tenor and bass bridges, and the straight-strung bass has great clarity and incisiveness. You are welcome to come and try it any time!

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763436
09/04/18 05:24 PM
09/04/18 05:24 PM
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David-G Offline
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I raised this question of "Tiefe Stimmung" in this thread from 2007.

Look from about a third of the way through the thread. I am copying here a picture of my piano from this thread.

[Linked Image]


Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763449
09/04/18 05:59 PM
09/04/18 05:59 PM
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Norway
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Skjalg Offline OP
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Thanks for the link. I read through the thread, but I think maybe I should write to Blüthner and ask if they can shed some more light on it. Very interesting piece of piano history.

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: David-G] #2763458
09/04/18 06:24 PM
09/04/18 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by David-G
"Tiefe Stimmung" means "low pitch", so presumably the Bluthners which did not have this inscription were tuned to a higher pitch. I would love to know what that was! Presumably it was higher than A=440; it would hardly seem worth having an alternative pitch option where the difference (435/440) was so small. Perhaps it was A=450 or higher?


The difference between 435 and 440 is quite noticeable to me.


Semipro Tech
Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: David-G] #2763510
09/05/18 04:53 AM
09/05/18 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by David-G
From PITCH REFORM IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND, The Spectator, 12 March 1859. (Click the link for the full article.)

Quote

There is but one remedy—to obtain a 'scientific, physical standard of pitch ;- and to agree universally to be governed by it. The first is easy. The pitch of a sound can be measured by the number of vibrations, or pulsations of air, made by the sounding body in a given time. You have only to say, the sounding stiang or pipe shall make so many vibrations in a second, and at a certain temperature of the atmosphere ; and the problem is solved. But the difficulty is to get the world to agree to one such standard. Congresses of musicians have been talked of at different times, but such things have always ended in smoke.

In France, however, the matter is now accomplished (insofar as that country is concerned) by turning it, more Galileo, into an affair of State. As we stated some time since,* the Emperor appointed an Imperial Commission, consisting. of the magnates of the Conservatoire, to investigate the subject: and, on their report, the following decree has been pronounced—

"Article 1. A uniform diapason (standard of pitch) is instituted for all the musical establishments of France, the imperial and other theatres of Paris and the departments, conservatoires, schools, and public concerts authorized by the State.

"Article 2. This diapason, giving the to (A) adopted for tuning instruments, is fixed at 870 vibrations per second: it shall be called the diapason normal.

"Article 3. The standard shall be deposited at the Imperial Conservatoire of Music and Declamation.

"Article 4. Every musical establishment authorized by the State shall be provided with a standard duly verified, in conformity with the prototype.

" Article 5. The normal diapason shall be in Moe from the 1st of July next in Paris, and the 1st of December in the provinces. From those dates, no instruments shall be admitted into musical establishments but such as have been verified as being of the normal pitch.

"Article 6. The state of the diapasons and the instruments shall be regularly submitted to administrative verifications.

"'Article 7. The present decree shall be deposited at the Secretariat General, in order to be notified to all whom it may concern,


A large number of Bluthner pianos had this "PARISER STIMMUNG" inscription, from serial number 9000 to 25000 approximately. Except that from about 15000, the inscription was changed to "TIEFE STIMMUNG". My understanding is that the reason for this change was that anything to do with Paris was not very popular in Germany from about the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870). My own Bluthner (no. 16189) has the "TIEFE STIMMUNG" inscription.

"Tiefe Stimmung" means "low pitch", so presumably the Bluthners which did not have this inscription were tuned to a higher pitch. I would love to know what that was! Presumably it was higher than A=440; it would hardly seem worth having an alternative pitch option where the difference (435/440) was so small. Perhaps it was A=450 or higher?

So the question comes down to this - why did Bluthner think it worth offering pianos at two alternative pitches? And given that they did, why did none of the other manufacturers do likewise? I would love to know the answers!


Perhaps something to do with German organs of that period, e.g. my church's EF Walcker & Co (Munich) pipe organ 1880 was and still is at 435Hz
Ian


I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Beemer] #2763536
09/05/18 09:59 AM
09/05/18 09:59 AM
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A lower pitch/string tension may affect the tone quality of earlier instruments constructed without agraffes such as mine in more profound ways. In the entire base section, strings terminate with pins on a wooden termination bar causing the strings to slightly be lifted off their termination points, especially when hit hard. This results in a vibrato-like effect, which would be more pronounced with lower string tensions.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...el-or-symmetrical-grand-serial-1134.html

So does anyone kmow the German pitch of this period?

Re: Pariser Stimmung - Blüthner [Re: Skjalg] #2763558
09/05/18 12:11 PM
09/05/18 12:11 PM
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I appologize, this was quite unclear because it cannot be seen well on these general pics. Here is what I meant:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1v7YmcOzZ9qbqLZRiidvdyp9sOO5Nz0ax

A hammer strike from below will lift off any base string from the termination bar, a design obviously later abandoned for a cleaner tone with agraffes. Cleaner is however not necessarily more beautiful, in fact the base on this piano sounds mesmerizing (even unrestored).

Last edited by Klavimaniac; 09/05/18 12:11 PM.

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