La belle histoire...

The beautiful story of Pleyel pianos began in 1807.
Since then, many celebrities have helped to forge the legend of this prestigious brand: composers, writers, painters, architects, businessmen, politicians, dignitaries, aristocrats...

Frédéric Chopin - César Frank - Charles Gounod - Claude Debussy - Edward Grieg - Frédéric & Arthur Kalkbrenner - Jules Massenet - Félix Mendelssohn - Giacomo Meyerbeer - Jacques Ofenbach - Maurice Ravel - Gioacchino Rossini - Arthur Rubinstein - Camille Saint-Saëns - Richard Strauss - Jacques Ibert - Marguerite Long - Maupassant family - George Sand - Eugène Scribe - Comtesse de Ségur - Alexis de Tocqueville - Léon Tolstoï - Ivan Tourgueniev - Eugène Delacroix - Puvis de Chavanne family - Ary Schefer - Horace Vernet - Viollet-Le-Duc - De Dietrich - Henry Lemoine - Ferdinand de Lesseps - Cognac Hennessy - Cognac Martell - Champagne Moët - Isaac Pereire - Louis Roederer - Famille Rothschild - Maréchal Exelmans - Comte Charles de Flahaut (Aide de camp de Napoléon Ier) - Patrice de Mac-Mahon - Victor Schoelcher - Prince Pierre d’Aremberg - Letizia Bonaparte (Napoléon's mother) - Jérôme Bonaparte (Napoléon's brother) - Prince François Borghèse - Prince Victor de Broglie - Prince de Clermont-Tonnerre - Duchesse de Crillon - Napoléon Joseph Ney (Prince de la Moskowa) - Prince Klemens de Mettenich - Madame Récamier - Jules Polignac (Prince du Saint-Empire) - Anna Pavlovna de Russie (Queen of the Netherlands) - Dom Pedro Ier (Emperor of Brazil and King of Portugal) - Ferdinand-Philippe d’Orléans (Crown Prince of France) - Isabelle II d’Espagne (Queen of Spain) - Wilhelmine de Prusse (Queen of the Netherlands) - Elena Pavlovna de Russie (Imperial Majesty) - Louis-Philippe (King of the French)...
To name but a few.

Painting of Ignace Pleyel

Ignace Pleyel
The founder

Stamp in marquetry
Stamp in marquetry on a square piano of 1809

A musician and a talented composer

Even though the name of Pleyel is known worldwide today, few people know who is behind this legendary name in music. Ignaz Pleyel was born June 18th 1757 in Ruppersthal in Lower Austria. A teacher’s son, the young man was very soon noticed for his musical skills by Count Ladislaus Erdöly who became his patron. He took prestigious lessons and became the favourite pupil of Joseph Haydn. With the support of his patron, Ignaz Pleyel made many trips to Europe where he was to meet the main actors in musical life at that time.
In 1783, Ignaz Pleyel arrived in Strasbourg where he took charge of the Prince of Rohan Music School and then in 1789 became the master of the Strasbourg Cathedral orchestra. By accepting this departure for France, the musician obtained the right of "Bourgeoisie" allowing him to become a French citizen and change his name to Ignace.

Painting from Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Girls at the piano (1892)
Pleyel Romantica model
Painting of Camille Pleyel

Camille Pleyel
A dynasty of musicians

Pleyel plate
Plate affed on Pleyel pianos in the 19th century

Camille Pleyel, a musician who amazed Chopin

Born in 1788 in Strasbourg, Camille Pleyel first studied with his father before receiving lessons from virtuoso Jan Ladislav Dussek.
A talented musician and concert performer, Camille made numerous trips through Europe and was particularly noticed in the court of the King of England. Less prolific than his father in terms of composition, Camille was nevertheless a better musician.
Moreover, his friend Frédéric Chopin said about him, "today, there is only one man who can play Mozart, and that is (Camille) Pleyel, and when he wants to play a four-hand sonata with me, I take a lesson."

Pleyel square piano n°182 of 1813
that belonged to Letizia Bonaparte
Painting of Frédéric Chopin

Frédéric Chopin
The ambassador of pestige

Plaque Pleyel
Hendrik Siemiradzki
Chopin playing in the living room of Prince Radziwill (1887)

The artists, the best promotion for the brand

In this first half of the 19th century, Parisian musical life was in full swing. On January 1st 1830, Camille Pleyel organised the first public concert played on a Pleyel piano, ushering in what would become a custom: performing in public concerts on the company’s pianos.
This ability to surround itself with artists, discovering talents and having them play its instruments is one of the characteristics of the Pleyel Company. Camille regarded musical events where the public could appreciate and judge the sound qualities of the instruments he sold as complementary to his industry.

Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, Pleyel (Adolf Karpellus)
A great love story !
Pleyel plate

Worldwide success

Pianino George Sand model
Pianino George Sand Model - 1837

Continuous improvement of pianos

Camille intended to offer musicians a concert hall worthy of the name, but he continued in parallel to pay great attention to improving the instruments he produced.
He was the first to dare to use a metal frame for his pianos.
He gradually transformed the piano to meet the new demands of composers.
For powerful and rich sound, essential for some romantic works, he chose to place iron soundboard braces in grand pianos, which by their better resistance offered greater volume.
He also gave the keyboard perfect equality.
Camille never ceased to file patents.
He introduced the upright piano in France and perfected its production by inventing the "extended" sound.

Étienne Moreau-Nélaton - Children at the piano (1902) - Pleyel Pianino
Engraving of Auguste Wolff

AUGUSTE WOLFF
The golden age

Piano n°3 bis
Cross-strung baby grand piano, iron soundboard braces and pin board

An exceptional entrepreneur

Associated with Camille Pleyel in 1853, Auguste Wolff became head of the company in 1855. Like the Pleyels, he was also from a family of musicians. Born in Paris in 1821, Wolff,a talented composer and an excellent musician, was awarded fist prize in piano at the Paris Music Conservatory in 1839.
He had active entrepreneurial skills that allowed him to extend the work of Pleyel. He became an exceptional piano maker and contributed greatly to the development of the company, especially by the ingenuity and the quality of his innovations.

The Pleyel factory in Saint-Denis 1870
Engraving of Gustave Lyon

GUSTAVE LYON
Apotheosis of the dynasty

Concert at the Salle Pleyel by Camille Saint-Saëns
Concert at the Salle Pleyel in rue Rochechouart by Camille Saint-Saëns

Pleyel, the "French" sound

Following the disappearance of Auguste Wolff, Gustave Lyon took charge of the Pleyel Company. Born in 1857, Lyon was an alumnus of the Ecole Polytechnique and held a engineering degree from the Ecole de Mines. Also an accomplished musician, he used his scientific knowledge to improve the quality of pianos and deepen the acoustic secrets.
One of his fist innovations was to make a stainless steel metal frame for pianos - the famous "Pleyel steel", a specificless carburised metal cast in one piece and not assembled.
His inventions earned him an honorary award at the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition when the Pleyel Company produced its 100,000th piano. An exceptional title of glory since Pleyel was the fist piano manufacturer in the world to reach this figure.
At the turn of the new century, the Pleyel brand had its fans.
It was indeed Lyon that led pianists to adopt the famous Pleyel sound, embodying "the French sound" with its romantic colouristic characteristics.
Pleyel pianos had lightness, roundness, a powerful bass and an amazing sparkling treble, which gave them a real harmony.
The sound of Pleyel pianos seduced the whole young generation composed mainly of Russian composers.
In 1907, Gustave Lyon organised a concert in their honour at the Salle Pleyel in Rue de Rochechouart. Camille Saint-Saëns, launched by the Pleyel Company when he was 11 years old, organised the event that brought together prestigious pianists: Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov and Wanda Landowska.

Picture of the Salle Pleyel in 1927
The Salle Pleyel in 1927