Pleyel The master in instrument making
The Pleyel trademark is the legacy of an accomplished musician, a genius inventor, a talent-spotter, a generous patron of music and an audacious publisher: Ignace Pleyel (1757-1831).
First a student and then a friend of Hayden’s, he was a renowned musician and composer from the end of the XVIIIth century, with 41 symphonies, 70 quartets, several quintets and operas to his name. He established himself in Paris in 1795, opening his first music shop and demonstrated his pioneering spirit with the publication of the first popular pocket music book collections.
With the aim of adapting instruments to the new requirements of the leading composers and musicians of his day, from 1807, Ignace Pleyel began manufacturing Pleyel pianos in 1807, dedicating himself exclusively to this new activity from then on.
At his death in 1831, Ignace Pleyel had become an established supplier to the Empress Josephine and to all the other European courts. He not only exported his pianos throughout Europe, but also to North and South America and the Eastern world. His son, Camille, a great pianist, continued his work, taking the family business to new heights. It was under his management that the “Maison Pleyel” acquired international acclaim.
At the height of the “Romantic” period, Camille set up his famous “salons”, prestigious meeting points for the Parisian music scene of the time, where numerous famous virtuosos and composers were heard for the very first time.
His successors played a significant role in strengthening and broadening the activities of the Maison Pleyel. Firstly, Auguste Wolff (from 1855), who introduced numerous technical innovations, constantly improving the reliability and solidity of the company’s pianos, and notably creating new models, such as the upright piano, which were to become a resounding success. And secondly Gustave Lyon, who took over in 1887, a distinguished engineer and a pioneer in architectural acoustics.
By opening the “Salle Pleyel” in rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris in 1927, Gustave Lyon was continuing a long tradition of love of music and fine instruments. Dedicated to all forms of artistic expression, it represented at the time the first true holistic arts centre, which was unique in the world. With the creation of this new space which offered the best working and interpretation accommodation of the time, the spirit of the famous Pleyel “salons” took on a new dimension. The “Salle Pleyel” was created to promote culture while providing a fittingly elegant place to display Pleyel’s fine instruments.
In January 2000, a private investor with a passion for music, Hubert Martigny, owner of the famous “Salle Pleyel” in Paris since May 1998, gave the last French piano factory a new boost by acquiring the three existing French trademarks and joining them under the name of “Manufacture Française de Pianos”.
Today, as a result of our established brand reputation and the high-end positioning of our instruments, the Workshop has been able to increase Pleyel’s market share significantly. Already represented on all continents, Pleyel produces just under 1,000 high-quality instruments annually – 900 upright pianos and 60 grand pianos – at the workshops in Alès in the South of France. Pleyel is dedicated to manufacturing prestigious traditional and tailor-made pianos and is expanding on foreign markets, with exports now representing 50% of the annual turnover.
At the avant-garde of tradition, a true vocationSince it was first established, the “Maison Pleyel” has drawn the greatest artists, musicians and composers. Ignace Pleyel let himself be guided by their love of music and passion for fine instruments when designing and manufacturing his pianos. Ever anxious to be in touch with his contemporaries and meet their artistic requirements, Camille Pleyel, in his turn, never ceased perfecting his instruments.
Driven by a taste for musical innovation and discovery, Camille Pleyel had an exceptional gift for “sniffing out” talent. It was Camille Pleyel who “launched” Chopin in 1832 with a concert in his “salons”. The two men became friends and the “Maison Pleyel” became Chopin’s official piano supplier. Chopin gave all his public concerts in Paris in the Pleyel “salons” and filled the house for his last concert, just a few months before his death in 1849.
Other famous composers have also linked their name to that of Pleyel: Liszt, Thalberg, Franck, Debussy, Grieg, Ravel, De Falla, Stravinsky... Established by a dedicated musician and composer, the “Maison Pleyel” has never ceased to communicate with musicians, involving them directly in its innovations. Originally “avant-garde”, these innovations often became classics.
To obtain the strong, rich tones so necessary to romantic works, Camille Pleyel introduced iron bracing into its grand pianos. He also sought to ensure perfect evenness of touch. He filed countless patents. Anxious to create a Pleyel instrument accessible to all, he developed an excellently crafted, square piano in 1839 at a very reasonable price. Camille Pleyel won countless gold medals and found a worthy successor in Auguste Wolff.
Pleyel pianos have only improved over the years. The keyboard has become ever more responsive, allowing for greater accuracy, finesse and speed. Technicians and stylists alike have even taken an ever more innovative approach in attempting to increase volume without sacrificing elegance.