History of Johann Baptist Cramer Piano Maker

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Johann Baptist Crame

Johann Baptist Cramer was Born in Sunday, February 24, 1771 in Mannheim, Germany he Died on Friday, April 16, 1858 at his home in Kensington, England and was buried at Brompton Cemetery.

In 1778 he did his first foreign tour in France and Germany, He returned to England in 1791. He began to aquatint himself with well know artists of the time such as Haydn. He again when on a tour in Europe he returned to England in 1800 and not long after he married.

Cramers first venture in to publishing was in 1805 the company was know as "Cramer & Keys" In 1813 Johann Baptist Cramer P. A. Corri and W. Dance invited distinguished musicians to take part in a meeting on Sunday 22 January. This meting was to establish a professional society of musicians; this society would meet and give concerts. Johann Baptist Cramer who was Clementis star pupil and enjoying the fruits of his labour as a composer, pianist and teacher. One of the first works published by Chappell was Cramers this was the 84 "Studies for the pianoforte" This collection has long been considered a cornerstone of pianistic technique. Cramer was now 40 years old he admired Clementi so much he also copied his business strategy and In 1811 Cramer & Chappell drew up a business partnership for the publishing of sheet music this was to last for seven years. In that seven years Cramer & Chappell became the leading music-publishing house Cramer was 40 at the time. Broadwoods, where not happy with this arraignment, Broadwood sent a letter to Cramer, especially after the meting of messes Cramer, Corri and Dance. Relationships with Broadwoods and Corri were so bad; Broadwood sent a strong letter Dated 16 Nov 1809.

"P.A.Corri, 36 Newman Street, We have received your letter containing the very predaceous statements of the case you have fought proper to lay before several truly respectable gentlemen. It would ill become us to notice your most insulting and ungentlemanly insinuations. And the purpose of this is to recommend you not to subject yourself to the degrading treatment you might experience should you again enter our house. We are, Sir, yours etc. John Broadwood & Sons."

Between 1810 - 1830 Johann Baptist Cramer devoted a lot of his time to teaching especially young ladies he acquired the name of "Glorious John"

Dr Cox writes. "I was not prepared for such effects as he produced the charm of which was not such much derived from his brilliant manipulation as from the feeling his exquisitely pure cantabile produced. In point of taste, expression and sensibility, I believe John Baptist Cramer to have been unrivalled: for he possessed the power of making the piano forte sing as if it were a human voice preferably under control."

In 1824 Johann Baptist Cramer set up the his own Music Publishing Company, at 139 New Bond Street, called "J.B. Cramer & Company" is partners where Robert Addison and Thomas Frederick Beale The company did more in publishing at first. The production of pianos started later around 1880. The first Cramer pianos are believed to be copies of Clementi's piano

In 1829 Cramer officially retired from public performances and gave a farewell concert in 1835. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 Johann Baptist Cramer noticed the Transposing Piano by Erard, he was impressed with this idea especially from a sheet music publishers point of view as most musicians complained bitterly of publishers changing the key to an easier key thus changing the sound of the original piece. The transposing piano allows the easy key to be retained and yet the power is possessed to make the song sound in the author's original scale. Johann Baptist Cramer considered this a useful tool.

In 1865 Henry Hicks wile strolling down Mooregate he seen a notice in the shop window "Porter Required " he started to work for Cramers and soon became there best sales man, Hicks learnt to tune and stayed loyal to Cramer. Hicks had a son who served his apprenticeship at Cramers but he refused to stay with Cramers and set up his own workshop.

The company was taken over by the Kemble piano group in 1964, who, for a limited period used the `Cramer' name. Today Cramer pianos are mades for the FarEast where they are made to Traditional British Piano Design.

Barrie Heaton Dip A.W.V.H. M.A.B.PT, M.I.M.T.
© copyright 1998 - 99

Piano Tuning in Lancashire. Acknowledgements. and Selective Bibliography