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#3080579 02/09/21 08:47 PM
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Does anyone have a Pleyel? The idea of getting a Pleyel at some point has been with me for a long time, I went to a piano auction to look at and play some but found it difficult to find a Pleyel which would still be functional enough to be acquired as a musical instrument and not as a piece of furniture. Does anyone have any experiences with this?

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It’s possible to find them but most of the mid 19thC pianos need extensive restoration from an expert. Try contacting David Winston at PeriodPiano.com


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Did they not go out of business in Paris, just a few years ago? If I am remembering that correctly, pianos newer than 70 years old might be available. It might take a trip to the Continent to locate them, though.

NatashaPianoLondon--- oh. You're already over there, just about. That should work in your favor.

Here we are:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleyel_et_Cie

I am wondering, Ms Natasha, why this marque is attractive to you. Of course, maybe one need go no further than Chopin, Schweitzer, soundboards in later models of Valle de Fiemme red spruce, maker of harps, including one for Wanda Landowska, which was said to have given new viability to the harpsichord. First maker to use an iron frame to support the strings. Pioneer in the manufacture of uprights. "Pleyel pianos were the choice of composers such as Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, de Falla and Stravinsky and of pianists and teachers Alfred Cortot, Philip Manuel and Gavin Williamson." [All these notes thanks to Wikipedia.]

Started in 1807, closed up shop in 2013.

I would imagine a dealer in London might be able to help you.

Best of luck. It would be nice to hear from you again, to learn how you have fared.

Last edited by Jeff Clef; 02/09/21 10:07 PM.

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twenty years ago some u.s. dealers (if that is where you are) had brand new Pleyel pianos ; it was on my short list for an upright before mi esposa querida insisted on a grand. the final generation of Pleyels, in other words, aren't that old in the context of quality pianos.

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Grandpassionpianos in London specialise in restored Steinway and Pleyel.

Also see C or K laviano.

Last edited by Withindale; 02/10/21 03:35 AM.

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Natasha, are you looking for a fairly modern Pleyel, or for a vintage instrument perhaps from the 19c?

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Thank you to all!

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You can hear a Pleyel in this very sparky performance of Beethoven piano trios from the Trio Sora:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR7JEvwpEeo

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Pleyel grand is not equal to Pleyel grand...

One should know that the name Pleyel is connected with one of the greatest composers (and most probably pinaists) of all times, Frederic Chopin. When he entered Paris in 1831, he was accustomed to the german kind of grands which were not found in any place of Paris, so he strolled around and looked for a kind of grand which came next to the german "snap" mechanism, and found Pleyel. Pleyel once built the "softest" grands.

The instruments of the Chopin Paris era (1831-1849) were characterized by non-overstringing (which was developped by Henry Steinway Jr. in 1858/59), and by an ULTRA complicated kind of manually made hammers (seven to nine layers starting with single strips of hard leather and becoming softer and softer to the outer materials), a method to make hammers which is EXTERMELY costy AND maintenance-intense...

And the string materials were other in those days; the Bessemer steel treatment process was not yet invented, so the pianos had cast iron wire.

Pleyel stuck long until 1875 to the straight-strung grands; Erard stuck to straight-stringing until 1900.

Then there were phases of putting french piano firms together, Erard and Pleyel and Gaveau.

Then there was a phase that the german Schimmel company of Brunswick bought the brands and tried to sell Schimmel grands with some extras under the old french brand names.

Then there were french amateurs, piano likers who again tried to bring new life to the brands, at the feet of the Pyrenean mountains. This also was of no success, they went back to Paris, to the old premises in the north of the city, and tried a handmade manufacturing process which also was stopped in 2013, so the famous brands of Erard, Pleyel, Gaveau are all history.

So one should decide which era and which type of Pleyel grands are preferred. The Chopin pianos? The later straight-strung pianos of the ending 19th century? The overstrung pianos of a still-strong french company? A "part-Schimmel" Pleyel? A manufactured handmade Pleyel of the very last era?

One reason to use an old Pleyel grand is to use a straight strung grand, and this also applies for Erard.

Another reason is to have very light hammers and an extremely light touch which additionally have advantages of being fast with repeating notes. The maintenance costs of the Hertz hammers may be excessive... One should be warned, this is no quite-cheap Dolge stuff... There are only a handfuil of experts who know how to work with the multi-layer hammers.

So it depends.

It is no big problem to buy a super old Pleyel grand but for low figures there will be MUCH work...

Opposite, a working fine old Pleyel will fetch high price. One could ask some southern english specialists, or Mr Edwin Beunk of Enschede who owns two Pleyel grands of 1829 and 1842 (?) for classical concert purpose, together with a 1836 Erard grand and several other "timely" grands, or a Viennese specialist, Gerd Hecher.

Hope this might be of some help.
BTW I also once strive(d) for a super old "Chopin" pleyel for a long time.

best regards
Bernd A B


Pls excuse any bad english.

Centennial D Sept 1877

Working on Berceuse op.57
Nocturnes op. 9-1,3 15-1,2,3 27-2 32-1,2
Going Home (Mark Knopfler)
BerndAB #3081917 02/13/21 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by BerndAB
The instruments of the Chopin Paris era (1831-1849) were characterized by non-overstringing (which was developped by Henry Steinway Jr. in 1858/59)

BerndAB,

Your post was chock full of great information. Thank you so much for sharing. I do have to correct one fact that you shared. While the Steinway family would have us believe that they indeed invented over stringing, they did not. They only patented their scales that used over stringing.

Henri Pape began using over stringing as early as 1849.

My 2 cents,


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Rich Galassini #3082218 02/14/21 06:06 AM
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BerndAB makes a very true statement. If you are in the market for a vintage Pleyel, and there are hundreds in France, you are looking at two very different animals : The "Chopin" straight-strung Pleyel's of the 1830-80, or the quality modern parlor Pleyel of the 1918-1939 period (between the wars), typically a less than 6 feet "3bis" or "F".

The former (and similar Erard's) are worthy of ultra-expensive restorations as the correct period instruments for playing Chopin and Liszt.

The latter have a sentimental appeal for French (and other) pianists as the instrument their grandparents played on. They certainly lack the sound volume and the brillance of contemporary Bluethner's or Steinway's, but you can easily get addicted to that rich, more mellow and subdued sound. I am, and contemplating getting such a classic quality French piano of the twenties as a complement to my music room, which is built on a collector's taste for diversity.

Sylvie Fouanon in Paris is the expert of reference, and restores and sells many. Anyone interested in Pleyel should visit her website:

Pianos Balleron


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Great contributions, both.

Yes Rich, the patent thing was for the scaling, and even the Steinway bros. used overstringing, in their bigger squares, starting yet in their first year 1853 as the book of Roy Kehl shows.

But AFAIK there were no grands with overstringing until 1858, or am I wrong? Did the french make grands with overstringing, earlier?

Pianos Balleron will I visit when I am next time in Paris. Thanks for the advice! Didn't know that in the extremely dear city region 16 (near the horserace track.., where the most riches and the beautiest live) also is space for a piano shop. Mrs Fouanon or Mr Balleron ;-) only sell Pleyel grands of the 20th century... ;-)

But I am a hard-case geek..., always when I stroll into a piano shop, I ask for the utmost oldest "clunkers"...

Best regards

Bernd AB


Pls excuse any bad english.

Centennial D Sept 1877

Working on Berceuse op.57
Nocturnes op. 9-1,3 15-1,2,3 27-2 32-1,2
Going Home (Mark Knopfler)
David-G #3082790 02/15/21 12:44 PM
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David-G, I am looking at 19-century Pleyels and not the more modern ones.

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Natasha - Excellent. I wish you luck in finding a nice one.

Last summer the Cobbe collection streamed a Chopin recital played on Chopin's own Pleyel, which he brought to England. You can see the recital here:

https://www.cobbecollection.co.uk/event/online-concert-chopins-music-on-his-own-piano/

In his introduction Alec Cobbe says how difficult it was to find a Pleyel. (And then many years after acquiring it he discovered it had been Chopin's - I wish I had luck like that!)

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...sry nope. ;-)

AFAIK Doctor Cobbe owns the Pleyel grand of Ms Jane Stirling, Chopin's secretary in his later years ca. 1843/44-1849. Same instrument type like Chopin's last one (which in reality was the proprietary of Mr. Pleyel who had lended the grand to his friend Chopin.)

Jane Stirling bought Chopin's grand from Mr. Pleyel and gave the instrument to Chopin's sister to Warszaw. Mrs Stirling yet had her own Pleyel grand.

Chopin had played the instrument, of course, as he was in Scotland and "had to visit" Miss Stirling's whole big scottish clan family on his 1848 journey which was organised by the Stirling sisters - to come off of the french revolution which destroyed Chopin's chances to gain income from piano lessons. At that time he yet was every ill and a real poor man. The sisters took every efforts to compfort the dying composer. Part of Jane’s striving must have been with financial assistance of the very famous swedish singer Jenny Lind. Lind and Chopin knew each other from Paris, and Jane Stirling arranged two “surprise diners” on the Scotland England journey where nobody else than Jenny Lind was present. Jenny also had tried to become Mrs Jenny Lind Chopin, and there exists a speech of Chopin to his friend Auguste Franchomme that he “regretted to be too old” to marry Ms Lind as the both had gorgeous music in duet, and Chopin was an ultra adorer of educated female singers voices, and Jenny was the best of that time, famous in Europe like Madonna in actual times.

Ms Lind and Ms Stirling worked together and organised money for Chopin, without the knowing of the composer. Tha last address of Chopin, 12 Place Vendôme, which formerly was the Russian embassy must have been for an incredibly high monthly rent...

There he died. Cared by his friends and Ms Stirling.

BTW: Jenny Link also marks the “missing link” if anybody doubts that the Steinway company would have anything in real to do with Chopin… When Chopin had died, Jenny Lind was annoyed of the European musical “Industry” and at last followed an invitation of the impresario Phileas Barnum to do a concert tournee in the US.

At the opening concert of Jenny Lind in New York 1850 there was an old man of the auditory who went on stage and intensely regarded and analysed the Chickering grand on stage – Mr Heinrich Steinweg the founder of Steinway and Sons who had done his travel to the US some weeks before. They had to grab Mr Steinweg off of the stage to be able to start the Jenny Lind concerto…
;-)

Jane Stirling, 6 years older than Chopin (same as Mrs George Sand) may have had hoped to become at any lucky day Mrs. Jane Stirling Chopin, and was regarded after Oct 17, 1849 in Paris as "Chopin's widow" but Chopin disliked her boring thinking and talking. (Especially her sister Mrs Erskine was very very very close with the christian religion. And also Jane Stirling had a lot of charing activities which had nothing to do with her adoration of Chopin.)

May it have been like it was, the rich Stirling sisters (there was also her elder sister Erskine, an early widowed woman) were half part time in Scotland, half part time in Paris, and they were music adorers of endless striving for Chopin's welfare. Jane Stirling must have been a very beautiful girl, it was said that she had denied trials to marry her in the dozens, and she in the end never married. One room of her scottish home became a private "Chopin Museum", she had bought nearly the full household stuff of Chopin after his death, and when she died early, she gave all her Chopin goods to the Chopin family in Warszaw. This Stirling gift is the main base for the Chopin Museum in Palais Ostrogsky but which suffered from a second russian war and occupation of Poland.

And Ms Stirling "got" dedicated a nocturne op.55 from Chopin. (the whole dedications of half of the Chopin oeuvre is a history book full of friends and beautiful, and mostly rich girls and ladies, partly musicians also.)

Ms Stirling partly overtook music lessons for Chopin when he fell bad. She had been Chopin's pupil in the start. Later on she took piano lessons at Mr Tomas Akte Tellefsen of Norway, a pianist and composer who also was a Chopin pupil and strived for nocturnes.

Further information - if pleased by this stuff - in the Wikipeda articles about Jane Stirling, Jenny Lind, Frederic Chopin. For whom is able to read german: the german version is the - IMHO -much better, loooooonger version compared to the english one. I know who was part of that writing... :-D

Again: Doctor Cobbe now owns the Pleyel grand of Ms Stirling.
Chopin had played on this instrument.

Best regards
Bernd A B

Last edited by BerndAB; 02/15/21 10:45 PM.

Pls excuse any bad english.

Centennial D Sept 1877

Working on Berceuse op.57
Nocturnes op. 9-1,3 15-1,2,3 27-2 32-1,2
Going Home (Mark Knopfler)
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What bad English?

BerndAB, thanks so much for your posts. This kind of information is fascinating to me. I will take a look at the Wiki articles you mentioned, but I have to wonder how else you acquired the details recounted in your posts. Are you writing a book? Perhaps you're simply an especially avid reader (like me; my partner complains about it. Evidently I don't watch enough television,). Or a Music History major? Possibly, an heir to an oral tradition in Europe which, if it exists at all in America, it's inconspicuous enough that I, an avid reader of musicians' biographies, have never heard of it. That is not unlikely.

Anyway, thanks for posting. Let's see how NatashaPianoLondon fares in her search for a Pleyel. Hopefully, she will write back and let us know.


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Hello Jeff,

many thanks for the kind words. Yes, I am avid reader, and this I did for a sequence of "sequentially monogame" hobbies, like tinkering around old Volkswagen beetles, old Mercedes Diesel (I am technician by profession, mechanical engineering, when you see a square shirted man drilling holes or welding an old clunker car, most probably it is a brother-in-mind).

Playing the piano, which I was able to start very late at the age of 17, 12 years ago I had an awakening experience. We visited our brother-in-law, a music professional, church organist, and there were open notes on his piano, which I carefully fingered. It sounded interesting and nice, I probably played for half an hour or three quarters of an hour - then I wanted to see what it was that seemed a little familiar to me.

Waltz, I recognized that. I slammed the music ribbon - and from the cover picture I was struck by writing:

CHOPIN…

I had practiced a Chopin waltz without knowing that it was Chopin's.

I had always admired my brother-in-law for his piano playing since I knew him, and I never thought it possible that one day I would play Chopin. My music was American, ragtimes by Scott Joplin, the Blues by Jelly Roll Morton, and I played the Boogie Woogie before. And as an autodidact, I would never have thought it possible that the ragtime game would one day provide me with the practice that would allow me to dare to approach Chopin's piano literature.

So the beginning of my fascination for the music of Choipin, as well as the historical interest, the living conditions, the technology of his time and much to want to get to know. Today I am in the situation that I read a book by the Geneva professor Jean-jacques Eigeldinger in French, Chopin from the point of view of his students, I sink into time, and I am - almost - there at the tables in the Parisian salons, when there is dinner first, and then - very politely and carefully - the lady of the house asks a guest to consider whether he would like to please the house with his playing - without wanting to push him.

Because he doesn't like that, he is not a servant, he associates with princes, generals and kings.

The king of piano playing.

Frederic Chopin.

Yes, the history of the piano became my particular passion. The next day I immediately bought the waltz music book myself and began to practice. Then I was able to procure an ancient grand piano, the Centennial D. What it is and what it means, that only became clear to me after months of studying the instrument, tinkering with the Steinway company and family history.

And so I have two hobbies in one: I research the history of Steinway, and at the same time I devote my time at the piano to Chopin's music, and the evenings to reading Chopin's literature. I would like to claim that I have probably read all German literature on Chopin, and have a large part here, and a not inconsiderable part of English literature.

I then found out that the origins of the Steinway grand pianos from 1856 onwards lay in the copy of the then – timely - leading grand pianos from Erard, Paris. Thanks here to a colleague in Loma Linda, California.

The secret of the success of the Steinway men lay in an incredibly fast and intensive further development and improvement of the grand pianos, which within only two or three years were far removed from their French ancestor models - Erard.

Chopin is the fifth deep hole of knowledge that I am bringing down. Steinway is the sixth, here I have two areas of interest in parallel because I see them linked.

The first area was the technical development of the VW Beetle, the second the development of the diesel cars from Mercedes, the third researching the history of ascents of Mt Everest (I am one of the 30 or so people who could find the solution to the greatest puzzle in alpinism, Mallory, Irvine…, was the Everest besieged on May 29th, 1953? Hillary, Tenzing? Or were there one or two men on June 6th, 1928 who met the top of the world then, without the luck to go down safely…)

The fourth area was the wine of Bordeaux.

I begin to be interested in a topic on the sidelines, allow the topic a while, and then it grabs me. Or it doesn't grab me, I'll do something else. Chopin grabbed me, and the qualities of the ancient Steinway D grabbed me too. Now I'm already drilling my seventh deep hole. I research the technology and history of BMW motorcycles, and that is another topic that began to fascinate me. In my garage one of the best, most comfortable motorcycles is being rebuilt, called “the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles”, a BMW R 69 from 1955, which happens to be one of the very first 30 motorcycles in the “full swing” series. I started with the frame-only..., a lucky find one year ago which was named falsely on ebay - and I identified that it was no frame of a cehap monocylinder but of the extremely dear and sought-after two-cylinder airheads of the fifites...Frame-only, first no number. Then found a number, and it was no cheaper touring bike R 50 nor sidecar puller R 60, it disclosed as the sporting model R 69, the fastest thing on german highways at the time built, a more-than-real 100 mph burner.

I was lucky. Sometimes the luck is with the people who strive the deepest, the longest, who only give in when they came down to the end of a knowledge, when there is nothing more to explore...

Just like my Steinway D is about one of the first 30 instruments of the 424 Centennials built.

This is me. A hobbyist only. Yes, and a bit a writer, without professional ambitions. (started writing at a logbook on several months working on a southeast Asean island, Langkawi, to erect a Cement plant , in 1994.) Maybe that my stuff would be good to do a doctorate in musiceology... , I don't mind.

I most probably could not stand the entry tests for a musical university... ;-)
My nocturnes are far from being perfect. One has to know his own limits... ;-)

Best regards
Bernd A B


Pls excuse any bad english.

Centennial D Sept 1877

Working on Berceuse op.57
Nocturnes op. 9-1,3 15-1,2,3 27-2 32-1,2
Going Home (Mark Knopfler)
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Originally Posted by BerndAB
The first area was the technical development of the VW Beetle, the second the development of the diesel cars from Mercedes, the third researching the history of ascents of Mt Everest (I am one of the 30 or so people who could find the solution to the greatest puzzle in alpinism, Mallory, Irvine…, was the Everest besieged on May 29th, 1953? Hillary, Tenzing? Or were there one or two men on June 6th, 1928 who met the top of the world then, without the luck to go down safely…)
Bernd A B

Excuse my jumping into this thread here but I admire a man with many passions. As I grow older, I have come to realize the importance of having passions in one's life. Perhaps that's why Picasso had so many lovers smile (though I am not advocating that we all do the same)

Originally Posted by BerndAB
The fourth area was the wine of Bordeaux.

Here though I must respectfully disagree. Bordeaux doesn't hold a candle to Burgundy smile

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Bernd
Thanks so much for your posts ! The Chopin book ‘Chopin pianist and Tescher’ is an outstanding book — and luckily for me, is available in English


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by Aritempor
[quote=BerndAB]



Excuse my jumping into this thread here but I admire a man with many passions. As I grow older, I have come to realize the importance of having passions in one's life. Perhaps that's why Picasso had so many lovers smile (though I am not advocating that we all do the same)

smile

This (almost) escalated rather quickly HAHA!


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