Since its invention in the early 1700s by Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori, the piano has been modified and improved to become the instrument we all know today. The number of mechanical parts, the material the strings are made of and even the size of the keyboard have evolved, all in order to accommodate the demands from composers, performers, and audience alike.
Beethoven constantly complained about how pianos in his day didn't have enough sound to express his music. Chopin famously loved the Pleyel piano (famous piano maker during the Romantic period) for its touch and tone. Vladimir Horowitz had great admiration for Steinway & Sons, demanding that his personal Steinway Model D be the exclusive touring instrument during the last four years of his life.
Whether you are looking to get a new piano or just want to learn about the history and particularity of the most prominent piano makers today, here is our list of the 10 most famous piano brands of our time.
10. Stuart & Sons
The youngest piano maker in this list, Stuart & Sons was founded in Newcastle, Australia in 1990. Their models are all handcrafted and stand out for their originality and innovation. The most remarkable contribution they made is certainly the extension of the keyboard length from 88 to 108 keys! This upgrade happened gradually throughout the years, with models that featured 90, 92, 97, 102 and, finally, 108 keys. Why do we need more keys? According to Stuart & Sons:
In 1880, as the piano finally reached 88 notes, we can indeed assume that it was the mere result of those two parameters. Technical possibilities made it rather hard to go further and most composers were satisfied with it. Nevertheless, if the keyboard's range does not evolve for several years, pianists quickly settle into their habits. The more you wait, the more these habits become hard to change, for pianists as well as for builders. This probably explains the stagnation that has been observed for about 130 years.
Another interesting innovation that came along with the extra keys was the implementation of a 4th pedal. The extra pedal will help the pianist deal with the extended tonal range of this unique instrument. All in all, Stuart & Sons contributions over the past decades have been quite remarkable and we look forward to more exciting news in the years to come.
Click here to visit the Stuart & Sons website and learn about their famous pianos.
Dwight Hamilton Baldwin was a piano teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio, who founded in 1862 a piano dealership called Decker Brothers. Four years later, in 1866, Lucien Wulsin joined the company as a clerk, but soon became a partner in the new company called D.H. Baldwin & Company. Over the next century, Baldwin established itself as one of the most successful American piano makers until today. The company is proud of that tradition:
Fans of Baldwin pianos love the big “American” sound of the instruments, particularly in the bass area, and the clear “bell-like” quality in the high treble end. Fans of Baldwin vertical pianos love the beautiful cabinetry of the Acrosonic models and the durability of the institutional models.
In 2008 the company stopped the production of its instruments in the United States and moved the factories to China.
Clickhereto visit the Baldwin websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
Kawai is a well-known piano maker all around the world, especially for their affordable models that are attractive to music institutions and private owners alike. The company was founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai in Hamamatsu, Japan.
In addition to the international reputation built over the decades, the company is proud of its environmental policies:
In 1997, Kawai became the first in the piano industry to receive ISO 14001, the world’s foremost certification for excellence in environmental management. Awarded first to Kawai’s Ryuyo Grand Piano Facility, then to the company’s Maisaka Upright Piano Factory and most recently to Kawai’s Märchen Digital Piano Facility, ISO 14001 recognized exceptional achievement in reforestation, energy conservation, waste reduction and natural resource preservation. This unceasing pursuit of environmental excellence is an integral part of Kawai’s commitment to the future – and to our world.
Clickhereto visit the Kawai websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
7. Mason and Hamlin
Founded by Henry Mason in Massachusetts, United States, in 1854, Mason & Hamlin is one of the most prestigious piano makers in the world and is still manufactured in the US. The company originally manufactured organs and started making pianos only in 1883. By then they had already established quite an international reputation and were supplying organs to many prominent composers, most notably Franz Liszt.
In the turn between the 19th and 20th centuries, an era that is known as the "Golden Age" of the piano, many famous musicians aligned themselves with piano makers:
While preserving all the qualities of the percussion instrument, the Mason & Hamlin pianoforst also serves magnificently the composer's concept by its extensive range in dynamics, as well as quality of tone It is not short of being a small orchestra. In my opinion, the Mason & Hamlin is a real work of art
The most notable innovation of this piano is what the company calls the Tension Resonator, whichadds strength and rigidity to the rim (the body of the piano) by locking it into its permanent shape. Mason & Hamlin was acquired by Bugett, Inc in 1996.
Clickhereto visit the Mason & Hamlin websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
The Bechstein manufacturer was founded by Carl Bechstein in Berlin, Germany in 1853, a year that also saw the creation of two other giants in this industry: Blüthner and Steinway & Sons. The second half of the 19th century was certainly a great time to be working with pianos, whether as a composer, publisher or manufacturer. The western world was celebrating piano music like never before and none other than Franz Liszt was in the height of his career, inspiring audiences all over Europe. Piano makers were constantly improving their instruments, so they could withstand the demands made by performers and composers of the time. An account from the Bechstein website explains that in detail:
But the year’s major event (1856) is a concert given by Liszt in Berlin, during which the strings of the Érard piano break one after the other under the maestro’s particularly powerful play — which prompts Bechstein to make a really modern concert grand that can withstand as ardent a pianist as Liszt.
The first public performance on a Bechstein piano was made by Hans Von Bülow, great German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and first husband of Liszt's daughter Cosima. Bülow played Liszt's epic B minor piano sonata.
After the Second World War, when the Bechstein factory in Berlin was destroyed, the company struggled to continue its century-old successful business. The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 made that reality ever harder, the company changed ownership several times and was finally sold to the American manufacturer Baldwin, in 1963.
Bechstein pianos are still today regarded as among the world's finest. Watch below the full documentary made by award-winning director Tom Nitsch.
Clickhereto visit the Bechstein websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
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Founded in 1900 byTorakusu Yamaha, the company is the world's largest piano manufacturer today. About 60 years after its creation, the company established itself in the US and by 1965, it was already was producing more pianos than any other manufacturer.
Like all other major piano makers, the Yamaha sought to align itself to the great pianists of its time. German pianist Wilhelm Kempff was the performer at a banquet to release a new concert grand and he said that the piano was "one of the top pianos in the world". During Richter’s first Japanese tour in 1970, he performed on a Yamaha concert grand with the serial number 1000000 (the one-millionth piano made by Yamaha). Glenn Gould famously purchased two Yamaha concert grands in 1980 and used them in his last 3 albums, including his second reading of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, now regarded as an all-time classic.
One of their most interesting innovations is the Yamaha SH Silent Piano. In short, it allows you to "turn the sound off" and play with headphones. And no, it is not an electric piano, it is a regular acoustic instrument. See the video below for more details.
Clickhereto visit the Yamaha websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
The company was founded by Julius Blüthner in Leipzig, Germany in 1853. The Blüthner family still runs the company that has made its way into one of the most respected and renowned piano makers in the world. The famous German pianist Wilhem Kempff was an admirer of Blüthner pianos and praised their instruments as "precise" and having "unrivalled beauty". Here are some other remarkable endorsements that speak for themselves:
There are only two important things which I took with me on my way to America. It's been my wife Nataja and my precious Blüthner
The tone he extracted from the Blüthner was the loveliest, the most elusive and ethereal I have ever heard
M. Dumesnil on Debussy's playing
This Blüthner had the most beautiful singing tone I have ever found. (...) The piano inspired me. I don't think I ever played better in my life
The Blüthner factory was destroyed in 1943 by an air raid during the Second World War, but it was rebuilt two years later in 1945. The company certainly holds its position as one of the top piano makers in the world, still producing some of the finest instruments we can find in the market.
Clickhereto visit the Blütner websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
The oldest manufacturer in this list, Bösendorfer was established in 1828 by Ignaz Bösendorfer in Vienna, Austria. It is well-known for making pianos of the finest quality since early on in its history. Just 2 years after its foundation, it was granted in 1830 the status of the official piano maker to the Emperor of Austria, then Holy Roman EmperorFrancis II.
Bösendorfer was one of the first manufacturers to extend the typical 88-key keyboard, creating a model with 97 keys (or eight octaves).The acclaimed Italian pianist Busoniinitially ordered this innovation in 1909 as part of a custom piano, as he wanted to transcribe an organ piece that extended to the C below the standard keyboard.
The company, since 2007, is owned by the Yamaha Corporation. Bösendorfer remains a highly respected brand, creating some of the best and most expensive pianos in the world.
Clickhereto visit the Bösendorfer websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
The Fazioli manufacturer was founded in Sacile, Italy, in 1978 by engineer and pianist Paolo Fazioli. It wasn't long until many renowned pianists endorsed the brand and begun requesting its instruments for their concerts. In one of such occasions, the famous pianist Alfred Brendel chose a Fazioli piano for his concerts in 1985.
Among its innovations, Fazioli offers a concert grand model that includes a fourth pedal. This pedal brings the hammers closer to the strings, making the piano sound softer without losing its tone (an issue created by the standard soft pedal).
Fazioli's rapid growth is remarkable considering that the golden age of the piano is long gone. The company today holds its place among the very best and most expensive piano manufacturers in the world.
Clickhereto visit the Fazioli websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
1. Steinway & Sons
Years before founding the company, Heinrich Englehard Steinway built his first piano in the kitchen of his home in Germany (this piano is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). The Steinway family moved to the US in 1850 and 3 years later, in 1853, the famous Steinway & Sons was founded in Manhattan.
Over the next century, Steinway became the world's most prestigious piano manufacturer. The company was endorsed by nearly all major pianists of the time, most notably Vladimir Horowitz. In January of 1928, Horowitz and Rachmaninoff met in the basement of Steinway Hall. There they played Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto.
In early 1970, due to financial struggles and management problems related to the Steinway family, the company was sold to CBS. The purchase was not a successful one and Steinway saw its sales numbers drop even further. In 1985 CBS sold the piano company to a group of Boston-area investors. The new company was then sold again in 1995 to Selmer Industries (an American music manufacturer), a transaction that created a new music conglomerate named Steinway Musical Instruments. Finally, in 2013, the conglomerate was sold to private investment firmPaulson & Co. Inc for$512 million.
The company also offers 2 other brands: Boston and Essex. Both are intended to reach the entry to mid-level markets. It is important to note, however, that these pianos are not manufactured by the Steinway company. Boston is manufactured by Kawai, in Japan, and Esses by Pearl River, in China.
Steinway continues to lead the industry, featuring their pianos in most concert venues and prestigious music institutions of the world.
Clickhereto visit the Steinway & Sons websiteand learn about their famous pianos.
Sauter. The oldest piano company in the world and one of the last remaining few that craft their instruments entirely in-house, using parts only manufactured in Germany, Sauter is still one of the most well-respected piano builders in the world today.What is the famous American piano brand? ›
Today, only two active manufacturers remain: Steinway & Sons in New York, and this place — Mason & Hamlin. Over the past century, nearly all American piano manufacturers have been eradicated by foreign competition, declining domestic craftsmanship, and the rise of competing technologies.Who is the largest producer of pianos? ›
Pearl River is the world's largest piano maker. It is also the fastest-growing piano maker in North America, with the largest dealer network in Canada and the United States. The company has in fact surpassed Yamaha and Steinway, both of which are reputed piano-making companies.Who is the most famous pianist today? ›
Lang Lang (born 1982)
Lang Lang is arguably the most famous Classical musician of today and the ultimate modern Classical pianist. The Chinese pianist took an interest in the instrument at just two years old after being inspired by a Tom & Jerry cartoon (The Cat Concerto).
- Maria Joao Pires (1944-) ...
- Maurizio Pollini (1942-) ...
- Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) ...
- Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997) ...
- Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) ...
- Clara Schumann (1819-1896) ...
- Jean-Yves Thibaudet (1961-) ...
- Mitsuko Uchida (1948-)
- Beethoven – 'Moonlight' Sonata.
- Clara Schumann – Piano Concerto.
- Debussy – Clair de Lune.
- Chopin – Nocturne in E flat major (Op. 9, No. ...
- Rebecca Clarke – Piano Trio.
- J.S. Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier.
- J.S. Bach – Goldberg Variations.
- Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue.
Ten to Thirty Years
Normal regulation and voicing will maintain good tone and touch if usage is moderate. If the piano suffers wide temperature and humidity swings, it will being to show permanent deterioration during this time: loose tuning pins, rusty strings, soundboard cracks, and aging of the finish.
'La Campanella', which translates as 'little bell', comes from a larger work – the Grandes études de Paganini – and is famous for being one of the most difficult pieces ever written for piano. The piece's technical demands include enormous jumps for the right hand played at an uncomfortably speedy tempo.Which piano has the best sound quality? ›
Some of our top picks in the digital piano category are the Roland FP30X, Casio Privia PX-S1000, and Yamaha YDP103. These models have a good-quality acoustic piano sound and can be satisfying to play. However, there are many more options that you rate on your own using our Buyer's Guide.What piano does Elton John play? ›
Sir Elton has used Yamaha Disklavier® grand pianos exclusively since he first played one many years ago. "When it comes to my piano," he says, "Yamaha shares my philosophy that anything short of perfect simply isn't good enough. I feel that I can always rely on my Yamaha piano to give me its best."
Meet the man who invented the most popular instrument in the world: Bartolomeo Cristofori. The piano is one of the most popular and influential instruments ever invented.Who is known as the king of piano? ›
|Born||Bartolomeo Cristofori di FrancescoMay 4, 1655 Padua, Republic of Venice|
|Died||January 27, 1731 (aged 75) Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany|
|Occupation(s)||Inventor, instrument maker|
|Known for||Inventor of the piano|
1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart is most famous for being a composer, and although he got an early start at that by creating music from the age of 5, he was also a virtuoso performer and also known as the child prodigy.Who is the best female pianists alive today? ›
Martha Argerich is perhaps the most well known female pianist of today. Born in Argentina in 1941, she proved to be a child prodigy and started performing professionally by the age of eight.Who is the genius pianist? ›
Chopin was the first composer of genius to devote himself uniquely to the piano — every one of his works was written for it either as solo instrument or in combination with other instruments. The majority of his solo pieces are in shorter forms, and improvisatory by nature.What is the most overplayed piano piece? ›
- Für Elise. We wonder if Ludwig Van Beethoven really knew the lasting effect his composition of “Für Elise” would have. ...
- Heart and Soul. ...
- Chopsticks. ...
- Canon in D. ...
- The Entertainer.
- Stravinsky – Trois mouvements de Petrouchka. Noah Johnson. ...
- Ravel – Gaspard de la Nuit.
- Liszt- La Campanella. Rousseau. ...
- Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. Prok Prok. ...
- Beethoven – Hammerklavier. ...
- Chopin – Fantaisie – Impromptu, Op. ...
- Ligeti – Etudes for Piano. ...
- Scriabin – Sonata No.
Steinway & Sons are possibly the most well known and revered piano manufacturer in the world. Every Steinway & Sons piano takes over a year to be built by their master craftsman and each piano is made of more than 12,000 parts.Is 70 too old to learn the piano? ›
People can start piano at 60, at 70, at 80, even later. Your brain can still form new connections at any age. You can always learn new skills. For those who begin piano later in life, learning the piano may take a little more patience.How much is a 50 year old piano worth? ›
|Piano Type||Age||Approximate Value Range|
|Steinway & Sons||40+ years||$1,000- $15,000 “shell value”|
|Steinway & Sons||5-10 years||Around 80% of new $60,000 to $90,000|
|Steinway & Sons||10-20 years||60-70 % of new $45,000 to $70,000|
|Steinway & Sons||20-30 years||50% of new $40,000 – $60,000|
Are old pianos better than new ones? The answer is: it depends. Old pianos can continue to sound wonderful for many years with regular maintenance and care, but even pianos that have deteriorated can often be restored to their former glory, and in many cases made to sound even better than when they were new.What is the oldest piano song? ›
The earliest music definitely written and published specifically for the piano were twelve Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti (Florence, 1732) by Lodovico Giustini (1685–1743), dedicated to Don Antonio of Portugal, uncle of Maria Barbara and another student of Scarlatti.What is the most beautiful classical piano piece? ›
- Beethoven: Bagatelle No. ...
- Rachmaninov: 5 Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. ...
- Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. ...
- Liszt: Liebesträume, S. ...
- Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. ...
- Chopin: Nocturne No. ...
- Debussy: Suite bergamasque, CD 82, L. ...
- Bach, JS: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (from Cantata No.
- Beethoven: Für Elise. ...
- Debussy: Clair de lune. ...
- Mozart: Sonata No. ...
- J.S. ...
- Einaudi: Primavera. ...
- Schumann: 'Einsame Blumen' from Waldszenen. ...
- Beethoven: 'Moonlight' Sonata (I) ...
- Satie: Gymnopédie No.
Are old pianos better than new ones? The answer is: it depends. Old pianos can continue to sound wonderful for many years with regular maintenance and care, but even pianos that have deteriorated can often be restored to their former glory, and in many cases made to sound even better than when they were new.Which is best piano to buy? ›
- Casio CT-S300 – Best Cheap Portable Keyboard (Under $150)
- Yamaha PSR-E373 – Best Beginner Keyboard Piano (Under $300)
- Roland FP-10 – Best Beginner Digital Piano (Under $500)
- Roland FP-30X – Best Intermediate Digital Piano (Under $700)
An upright piano costs between $3000 – $6500 on average. High-end upright pianos average around $10,000 – $25,000. Entry level grand pianos costs between $7000 – 30,000. High-end grand pianos such as Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha can cost between $65,000 – $190,000.How much is a cheap good piano? ›
A digital piano costs anywhere between $500 - $2000 – the low-end, beginner models can cost even less! As a beginner, it's completely alright to start between the $150 - $500 price and move up from there.Which piano did Freddie Mercury use? ›
As Queen once sung: "Money Can't Buy Happiness" but it can buy their Kawai EP 308 baby grand electric piano. It was used by Queen both in the studio and on the road in the 1980s and featured in The Works, which included the single Hammer to Fall.What piano does Lady Gaga have? ›
Steinway Model D Concert Grand piano.
Lennon composed his biggest solo hit "Imagine" on a Steinway upright piano.Who made the first piano in America? ›
In 1775 Johann Behrent built the first American-made piano in Philadelphia calling it under the name "Piano Forte." In 1775 Johann Behrent built the first American-made piano in Philadelphia calling it under the name "Piano Forte."Who made the first piano and why? ›
The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) of Italy. Cristofori was unsatisfied by the lack of control that musicians had over the volume level of the harpsichord. He is credited for switching out the plucking mechanism with a hammer to create the modern piano in around the year 1700.What is a master pianist called? ›
Master composers, pianists, cellists, guitarists, and conductors are often called maestros.What is a master piano player called? ›
pi·a·nist pē-ˈa-nist ˈpē-ə- Synonyms of pianist. : a person who plays the piano. especially : a skilled or professional performer on the piano.Who is the most famous piano composer? ›
While fame is not quantifiable, perhaps the most famous piano composer is Ludwig van Beethoven. That's because of the overall recognizability of his works. For instance, Beethoven's Ninth symphony features in films like A Clockwork Orange and Immortal Beloved.Who is the best piano player in the US? ›
- Leonard Bernstein.
- Herbie Hancock.
- Amy Beach.
- Scott Joplin.
- Chloe Flower.
- Brad Mehldau.
- Murray Perahia.
Kawai pianos offer a warmer, fuller quality of tone when compared to a normal piano built by Yamaha. This has made them the preferred choice of many classical pianists. The stereotypical sound of a Kawai is broad with a rich fullness which is quite pleasant and lacking unwanted harshness.Who was the king of pianists? ›
Gottschalk grew up in New Orleans and at the age of twelve was sent by his parents to study in Paris. There, tutored by Charles Hallé (founder of the Hallé Orchestra in England), Frédéric Chopin and Hector Berlioz, he was hailed as the “King of Pianists,” rivaling Franz Liszt and Sigmund Thalberg.What type of piano has the best sound? ›
There are three types of digital pianos: the grand piano, upright piano, and portable piano. The grand piano has a higher-quality sound system and better key movements.
It has been said that composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) had extraordinarily large hands. If you ever attempt to play one of his extremely difficult piano pieces, you might agree.Who is the fastest piano player in the world? ›
Meet Domingos-Antonio Gomes, the fastest pianist in the world.Who was the first known pianist? ›
|Born||Bartolomeo Cristofori di FrancescoMay 4, 1655 Padua, Republic of Venice|
|Died||January 27, 1731 (aged 75) Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany|
|Occupation(s)||Inventor, instrument maker|
|Known for||Inventor of the piano|