Fortepiano Graf, 1836

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Conrad Graf (1782 — 1851) was born in Riedlingen in Baden-Württemberg, and came to Vienna in 1799 as a joiner. He opened his piano-making workshop in 1807, and by 1820 his instruments were considered among the finest in Vienna. From 1824, he held the title “Imperial Royal Court Fortepiano Maker” (“k k. Hofpiano und Claviermacher”), supplying instruments not only to the Imperial Court but also to Ludwig van Beethoven (1825).

In 1822, Graf copied Broadwood by doubling his soundboard thickness. This represented a departure from the Viennese Classical sound world, with a truly Romantic timbre. The hammers were enlarged in proportion, but the pedals stayed the same: moderator, double moderator, sustaining and una corda. The soundboard pattern did not change between 1822 – 1840, proving the builder’s satisfaction with this design. Many composers felt the same: Chopin wrote home from Vienna that he preferred to use a Graf for his concerts, as most musicians considered him to be the best maker in Vienna.

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