Five London Piano Makers

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The artistic, technical and commercial aspects of piano making, illustrated by the histories of five famous firms: with biographies of the colourful characters who created them, and anecdotes from the factory floor.

Pianos were made in London for two hundred years, in factories and workshops scattered among the houses in residential districts. This book tells the story of five well known firms. Collard & Collard were direct descendants of illustrious eighteenth-century harpsichord makers; Brinsmead, Challen and Danemann had their origins in the vigorous commercial life of nineteenth-century London; Welmar brought to success a manufacturing venture begun in the difficult times of the nineteen-thirties. All five declined in the late twentieth century, and by 2004 all had closed.

This is both a human and a technical history. A host of characters inhabit its pages: the bosses, nearly all of them with direct hands-on experience of work in the factory; the craftsmen, whose skill and experience were the principal asset of each firm; and the designers, on whose technical understanding and innovative flair the success of the enterprises depended. The author knew many of these people personally, and the book contains many details which are based on their first-hand accounts.

Dr Alastair Laurence is himself a piano maker. He has first-hand knowledge of several piano workshops, both in this country and in Norway, and is now the head of the celebrated firm of John Broadwood & Sons. He is an experienced and engaging writer, and author of a number of books on piano subjects and local history.

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