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Although France does not have any piano factory at the moment, it played a great role in the development of piano building as a whole.
Paris was, together with London and Vienna, one of the most important piano-cities and the French brands Pleyel, Erard, Pape and Gaveau belonged to the world `s finest quality instruments. Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, an Austrian composer and piano manufacturer, was born on June 18 of 1757 in Ruppersthal and died on November 14 in 1831 in Paris. The famous `Salle Pleyel` in Paris is named after him.
Pleyel produced magnificent instruments of which Chopin said: `when I feel the music come into my body and I feel well enough to create my own sound, I need a Pleyel`. Public relations were taken good care of by Pleyel. His son Camille married a famous pianist and Camille`s daughter married Auguste Wolff, teacher at the Conservatory of Paris. This fact played, as co manager of the Pleyel company, a role in the development of the third or sustain pedal. That he took good care of public relations is shown in the fact that he attracted in 1815 Henri Pape, who was with 137 inventions very important for the further development of the piano. His most important invention was the felt hammerhead (1826). Besides he invented the cross-string system (1828), which provoked an enormous improvement of the tone because longer strings could be used and the tension of the strings was better distributed.
After World War II the French manufacturers could not meet the modern produced German pianos. In 1960 Pleyel was forced to merge with Erard and in 1971 the German factory Schimmel obtained the rights of the brand name Pleyel. Around 1993 the production was transferred to the Leipziger Pianofortefabrik and in 1995 Pleyel, Erard and Gaveau moved back to France. In 2006 the last French piano factory in Southern French Alps closed its doors.
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