Pleyel et Cie

Chopin's Pleyel piano in Cell No. 4 in Valldemossa Charterhouse in Majorca, one of only two in the world.[1]
Chopin's last piano made by the Pleyel company (no 14810) displayed in the Fryderyk Chopin Museum in Warsaw; Chopin played and composed on this instrument in 1848-49

Pleyel et Cie ("Pleyel and Company") was a French piano manufacturing firm founded by the composer Ignace Pleyel in 1807. In 1815, Pleyel's son Camille joined him as a business partner. The firm provided pianos to Frédéric Chopin,[2] and also ran a concert hall, the Salle Pleyel, where Chopin performed his first – and last – Paris concerts. Pleyel's major contribution to piano development was the first use of a metal frame in a piano. Pleyel pianos were the choice of composers such as Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, de Falla and Stravinsky and of pianists and teachers Alfred Cortot, Philip Manuel and Gavin Williamson.[3]


Pleyel pioneered the player piano with the Pleyela line of pianos. These were often very small pianos of a very unusual design.

Around 1815, Pleyel was the first to introduce the short, vertically strung cottage upright piano, or "pianino" to France, adapting the design made popular in Britain by Robert Wornum.[4] Their pianos were such a success that in 1834 the company employed 250 workers and produced 1000 pianos annually.

The company's success led them to invest in experiments, resulting in the Double Piano in 1890, invented by Hungarian composer Emanuel Moor. Although not the first company to experiment with building two pianos into the same frame, Pleyel's instrument, patented as the "Duo-Clave", was by far the most successful and produced the largest instruments. The company manufactured a very small number of Double Pianos in the 1890s and continued to make them until the 1920s. CDs can be bought today of performances on some of these pianos.

In 1913, Pleyel built the "Jungle Piano" for use by Albert Schweitzer in his hospital in Lambaréné (French Equatorial Africa – now Gabon). It was fitted with pedal attachments (to operate like an organ pedal-keyboard) and built with tropical woods that would acclimate to conditions there.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Pleyel firm produced the first chromatic harp. In the early 20th century, at the behest of Wanda Landowska, it helped to revive the harpsichord.

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