Fortepiano C.Graf op. 423, 1822 — Kunsthistorishes Museum Wien

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The connection between Beethoven and Graf dates from a letter of 1816, in which Beethoven indicated his wish to own a Graf piano. When Graf loaned Beethoven a four string instrument in 1825, it was not the first or only one of this type. Graf occasionally made four string pianos, and one dating from 1822 is the basis for this replica.

In 1820, the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in Leipzig reported a visit to Graf’s factory by two royal guests: The local piano builder Conrad Graf had the honored recognition of a visit from Her Majesty the Duchess Maria Luisa of Parma and His Majesty Archduke Rudolf, Cardinal-Archbishop of Olmütz, who not only toured with approval his entire extensive establishment, but also ordered certain of his instruments. In fact, this tireless artist manufactures the most excellent pianofortes; they do not find an equal in beauty, consistency, strength and fullness of tone, and the solidity of their construction insures their durability. His unceasing endeavour to achieve the highest possible perfection in his instruments and his attempt at quadruple-strung unisons have delivered the most beautiful results… The foremost virtuosos make use of his instruments for their public performances.

Graf is frequently mentioned in Beethoven’s conversation books. On 2 September 1825 he spent a day hiking in the hills near Baden bei Wien with Beethoven, the composer Friedrich Kuhlau and other friends. When Beethoven died on 26 March 1827, Graf and Schubert were torchbearers at his funeral.

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