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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 9, No. 8

The Popular Yamaha

by Jean-Sébastien Gascon / May 10, 2004

Version française...

The success of Yamaha pianos is based on the company's comitment to producing a dependable, affordable instrument that produces a high quality sound. The production of its first concert grand, over 35 years ago, marked the company's evolution into the whole gamut of instruments. Yamaha pianos are some of the best represented in concert halls the world wide.

Surprisingly, Torakusu Yamaha began by making organs. Over 100 years ago he built his first piano in his workshop in Hamamatsu, Japan. Although the company has diversified its range of instruments--from violins to guitars and wind instruments--it has continued to develop its expertise as a piano manufacturer.

5 important dates

  • 1887 Torakusu Yamaha, clock maker, maked his first organ in his workshop.
  • 1902 Yamaha (then the Nippon Gakki Company) maked its first grand piano, two years after producing its first upright.
  • 1967 Yamaha officialy unveiled its first concert grand.
  • 1982 Yamaha introduced their new "disklavier" technology. The disklavier combines midi and fibre-optic technology to facilitate the communication of the subtleties of a musician's performance.
  • 2002 Yamaha's most recent success was at the 12th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Four different manufacturers were featured at the competition: Yamaha, Steinway, Kawai and Bechstein. From the eight finalists, including first prize winner Uehara Ayako from Japan, four chose the Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand


Some statistics

  • Years of production: 102
  • Number of pianos: 6 million
  • Pianos sold in Canada are manufactured in Japan, Indochina and the USA.

The Prestigious Steinway
Jean-Sébastien Gascon

Steinway has always strived to redefine their pianos, as much through technological development as through the designs it patented with help from famous artists and fashion designers. Its strategy of community involvement and marketing (going so far as to provide pianos to GIs during the war) has made Steinway the most famous piano manufacturer in the world.

In 1850, Henry Steinway (1797-1871) arrived in New York and was hired with his sons by a piano manufacturer. Three years later, during a strike at Bacon & Raven where he was employed, he and his sons founded the company that would become one of the most important piano manufacturers in the world. Last year Steinway and Sons celebrated their 150th anniversary.

5 Important dates

  • 1853 Foundation of Steinway
  • 1867 Steinway unveiled its first one-piece steel-frame piano. The new frame was able to support the enormous tension put on the instrument from the longer bass strings, which produced more sound and resonance.
  • 1878 Steinway developed and patented a method of shaping the interior and exterior of the belt of the piano. Moulding from one piece of wood created the shape of the modern instrument.
  • 1880 Opening of the Hamburg factory
  • 2003 Steinway & Sons celebrated its 150th anniversary. Some 563,000 handmade pianos had been produce.

Some statistics

  • Years of production: 151
  • Number of pianos made: 563,000
  • Annual production: 5000 pianos
  • Number of manufacturing plants: one in Manhattan (USA) and one in Hamburg (Germany)

[Translation: Anna Sampson]

Version française...

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