Fortepiano Stein

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One of the most important fortepiano makers of Mozart’s time was Johann Andreas Stein (1728-1792), who was born in Heidelsheim in the family of organ builder. He apprenticed near Stuttgart with J.A. Silbermann and established his own workshop in Augsburg in 1751 where in 41 years he built around 700 instruments. By 1770 he was well known as an organist and organ and fortepiano builder. When Mozart paused in Augsburg in 1777, he befriended Stein. Mozart used Stein’s fortepianos in a public performance of the triple concerto given on October 22, the three soloists being Mozart, cathedral organist Demmler and Stein. Mozart was most impressed with Stein’s instruments quality and wrote to his father:

«…But now I much prefer Stein’s instruments, for they damp ever so much better than Spath’s instruments. When I strike hard, I can keep my finger on the note or raise it, but the sound ceases the moment I have produced it. In whatever way I touch the keys the tone is always even. It never jars, it is never stronger or weaker or entirely absent: in a word, it is always even. …they have this special advantage over others that they are made with escape action. Only one maker in a hundred bothers with this. But without an escapement it is impossible to avoid jangling and vibration after the note is struck. When you touch the keys the hammers fall back again the moment after they have struck the strings…»

After Stein‘s death, his son, Matthäus Andreas and his daughter Nanette Streicher moved to Vienna where they continued building pianos using their father’s designs. Following developing trends, Streicher‘s instruments dominated the piano trade in Vienna until the 1870s.

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