6 1/2-Octave Viennese Fortepianos by R. J. Regier


Fortepianos by the Viennese builder Conrad Graf (1782-1851) were prominent at the highest level of early 19th-century musical life. Schubert knew them; Beethoven was given one in 1825; Chopin and Liszt played them; one was presented to Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann when they were married in 1840; the Schumann instrument was later owned by Brahms. Graf received the imperial court appointment "k.k. hof Fortepianomacher" in 1824 and a gold medal in 1835 at the Vienna trade exhibition. Extant Graf fortepianos in good condition are remarkable instruments having the same immediate touch and musical clarity of their predecessors, but capable, too, of dynamic power inconceivable at an earlier time.
Our 6 1/2-octave fortepianos after Graf are framed of hardwood stacked in interlocking layers and veneered using boldly figured material typical of furniture from the Biedermeier period. These instruments are triple-strung except for the lowest notes, which are bichord and overspun. There are separate bridges for brass and iron strings. Adjustment screws to regulate the escapements have been added to the Viennese action.

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