Well known throughout the world as a popular musical instrument with keyboard, a piano is widely used in classical, jazz and various other music, especially when it comes to solo performances. Even with its portability issues and expensiveness, ever since its invention in the early 1700s, the piano has become one of most familiar musical instruments all around the world. In an era of musical finesse and not to forget the industrial revolution, which meant stronger iron and steel for better piano wires, pianos got their biggest boost in the matter of 100 years between 1790 to 1890. For the earliest of the pianos to the latest that heavily use the perks of the current age technologies, history have seen a number of popular pianos, some that perished with time, and some that are still with us, producing the finest of piano music. Here is a list of top 10 piano brands that are used all over the world by musicians and composers alike.
10. Mason and Hamlin
Founded way back in 1854 by Henry Mason, Mason and Hamlin made the biggest name by the turn of twentieth century, an era when the golden age of piano was in full force. Even the likes of famous composer Maurice Ravel once quoted, “While preserving all the qualities of the percussion instrument, the Mason & Hamlin piano 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.” Mason & Hamlin pianos are still manufactured in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and distributed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia.
These musical artworks are created by Fazioli Pianoforti, a piano company based in Sacili, Italy. The Fazioli pianos are so immensely popular that in 2007 alone, 110 pianos were produced from a single factory with a combined revenue of more than 6 million Euros. Fazioli Pianoforti was started by Paolo Fazioli, the youngest of six sons, and an ardent musical talent. What started from a production area of 600 square meters set up in 1982, and an initial production of 2-3 pianos a month, is now a factory expanded over a massive production area of 14000 square meters creating more than 150 masterpiece instruments each year.
8. Stuart and sons
Stuarts and Sons came much later in the arena of handcrafted grand pianos, being established as recently as in the 1990. The founder of this popular Australian Piano manufacturer based in New Castle of New South Wales is Wayne Stuart. In 2001, Stuart struck a partnership with Sons Terra Australia and Albert Investments, thus leading to the name Stuart and Sons. The combination of Stuart’s love of piano and deep interests in mechanical and technical aspects as a piano maker, and the brand vision of Albert and Sons has made Stuart and Sons pianos one of the in-demand musical masterpieces in the world.
7. Charles Walter
The story of Walter Piano Company is the story of a man and his family – Charles Walter. He was already enjoying a notable career in piano building and design for other firms when he realized he could do things much better, that he could offer the customers more piano for the money most of the musical instruments are bought off in the market. The company does not built too many instruments each year, they limit their production to around 1000 pianos a year. However, the detail and workmanship on these instruments has received praise from pianists, technicians, and even from the competitors. The Charles Walter pianos are taken as one of the finest pianos in the present time, some even calling them as the Steinway of 21st century.
These pianos are created by Kuwai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai, a gifted piano craftsmen, in Hamamatsu of Japan. Ever since then, the company has grown into one of the largest and best known musical instrument companies in the world. The Kuwai brand offers a complete line of pianos, digital pianos and professional keyboards to musicians. With his love for music and musical instruments, Koichi Kawai proved to be a gifted inventor who became the first to design and build a complete piano action in Japan. From its first pianos, to highly popular grand pianos and to the upright pianos, Koichi’s aspirations have been turned into piano brand in the world.
The manufacturers to this highly touted piano claim that Baldwin is about more than pianos — it’s about peerless quality and the absolute best-sounding and best-playing pianos anywhere. Considering its rich history, the statement does sound just about right. A 150 years into the business, and Baldwin pianos has become the first choice for the world’s popular artists that includes the likes of Aaron Copeland, Liberace, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Ben Folds and Miley Cyrus. Baldwin was once the largest US-based piano manufacturer, but it ceased its US productions in 2008 and moved all its productions to China.
3. Steinway and sons
Dedicated in making some of the finest pianos since a 160 years, Steinway and sons produce one of the most talked about pianos in the world. Founded way back in 1853 by German Immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway, Steinway is a prominent piano company, known for making pianos of high quality and for its influential inventions within the area of piano development. Steinway pianos are built with such precision and care that nothing is hurried – each Steinway Grand piano takes nearly a year to complete. And at the end we get musical instruments renowned for their unsurpassed quality. These pianos are so impeccable both built-wise and quality-wise that they Steinway holds a royal warrant by appointment to Queen Elizabeth II of England.
Since Carl Bechstein founded in 1853 the pianoforte production facility in Germany, the name Bechstein has been reflective of one of the highest class of upright and grand pianos. At the epitome of its rave popularity, the likes of famous composer Claude Debussy had quotes that one should only write piano music for Bechstein. Bechstein has been known as a maker of one-of-a-kind artcase pianos since the 19th century – Pianos decorated with gold, hand-carved details, and hand-painted art on the piano case. And when it comes to music, Bechstein packs in such impeccable music the likes of Freddie Mercury, Beatles, Bob Dylon, John Elton and many others used it to create music for their songs time and again.
One of the oldest piano manufactures in the history of Piano, it was established by Ignaz Bosendorfer in 1828. It has a rich history of producing some of the highly appreciated musical instruments throughout its history. At present, Bosendorfer makes seven models of grand pianos and two vertical pianos. At 9’6″ size and with 97 keys, Bosendorfer’s Imperial Piano is one of the world’s largest pianos. A slightly darker and richer sound the comes from BWheosendorfer pianos, sets it apart from other contemporary and newer competitors like Steinway and Sons or Yamaha. And when the list of performers using Bosendorfer includes renowed musicians and composers of different era like Franz Liszt, Leonard Bernstein, Wilhelm Backhaus and many more famous musical prodigies of their times, it is obvious that Bosendorfer sits at the top of our list.
When we think about this grand instrument, composers like Mozart and Beethoven come to mind. Over the last two centuries and possibly more, these pianos have entertained and inspired millions of people in different corners of the world. A little taste of music is all it takes to appreciate the fine sound produce by these magical instruments. True it is to say, there are no strings in a piano, but the music it produces is always grand. And there is lot more to the classical piano music than it appears to seem. From relaxing to invigorating, and everything in between, there is piano classical music for everyone and every mood.
Pawan is a budding programmer who loves to write about anything he finds interesting. He is a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and loves reading spy novels in his leisure time.