A History of Chappell Pianos of Bond Street, London



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Chappell Pianos



Chappell's was founded in 1811 by Samuel Chappell, Francis Tatton Latour, and John Baptist Cramer. Cramer was a highly fashionable pianist, composer, and teacher of the pianoforte. One of the company's first publications was by Cramer, "Studies for the Pianoforte," which has had many editions since the first publication. In 1812 Chappell targeted the nobility and gentry for sales of musical instruments. The company opened a special room and called it the "Ware room," which they the advertised in local papers. In this room they displayed cabinet pianos, squares and grands. The pianos sold at this time were not made by Chappell, but they used the fact that Messrs. Cramer and Latour had personally selected each of the instruments; this was a huge advantage over the rival retail outlets.



On 23 January 1811 the Morning Chronicle contained this advertisement:

"Chappell & Co. beg leave to acquaint the nobility and gentry that they have taken the extensive premises lately occupied by Moulding & Co., 124 New Bond Street, and have laid in a complete assortment of music of the best authors, ancient and modern, as well as a variety of instruments, consisting of Grand and Square Pianofortes and Harps for sale or hire."



Cramer suggested to Mr. and Mrs. Chappell that they should invite all their professional friends and colleagues to have a meeting. This meeting took place at 124 New Bond Street in January 1813, and from it the Philharmonic Society was born. Chappell was closely linked to the Philharmonic Society for many years. During the society's first year's concerts Cramer and the old master Clementi took turns conducting at the pianoforte on alternate concerts.



At some point a letter from Beethoven to his friend Ferdinand Ries came into Chappell's possession, dated 1819. Chappell treasured this letter, which read as follows:



"I am just recovering from a serious mishap which I had and am going into the country. I should like you to see the enclosed two works - a great solo sonata for pianoforte and a pianoforte sonata adapted by myself as a quintet for two violins, two violas, one violoncello - taken to a publisher in London, they would sell easily for, perhaps, fifty ducats in gold (if you can get more, so much the better, it would be very welcome). Pardon me if I come very heavily on you but my case is such that I have to look to every side and corner for bare life. Potter (Ciprian) says that Chappell's in Bond Street is now one of the best publishers."



In the early 1820s Chappell's were awarded the Royal Warrant. In 1840 Chappell's started producing their own pianos. They opened a factory in Phoenix Street, Soho, and after a short time Chappell pianos grew in popularity so they moved to their new factory at Chalk Farm. The Chalk Farm factory has been enlarged many times.



One of the nicest tributes came from Richard Strauss:

"Dear Sirs, I consider the tone of a remarkable sweet and sympathetic quality, and of musical sustaining power, and the touch is very responsive and light. Having always been used to pianos of German make, it was a great and agreeable surprise to me to find such a perfect instrument of English manufacture. Yours, Richard Strauss."

Samuel Chappell died in 1834, leaving a widow Emily, and three sons, William, Thomas, and Arthur. Emily took control of the company. Thomas worked for Chappell's for £26.00 a year. Not until 1840 did he become a partner in the company. Each of the sons did their part in running the company. In 1850 Thomas financed the building of St. James Hall in Piccadilly. The Hall opened in 1858 with a concert in aid of the Middlesex Hospital.



chappell_action.jpg - 58855 Bytes
Chappell Action.


Arthur directed the Ballad Concerts every Monday and Saturday; he ran them for 40 years. Chappell's ran their Ballad Concerts until 1926. In 1895 Henry Wood conducted the Promenade Concerts alongside Chappell's Ballad Concerts. Edward Speyer and Henry Wood ran the Proms until the war of 1914-18. Chappell then terminated their contracts and ran the Proms until 1926 when the BBC took them over.



William Boosey succeeded Thomas as MD when Thomas died. William had worked with Thomas for many years, having joined the company in 1894. William was responsible for introducing the royalty system as the only fair way to pay composers for their work. This of course was of little use until the reform of the Copyright Act of 1842, which did not occur until William Boosey formed the Musical Defence League. The league was driven to act in 1905, when they announced in the press that they would not be issuing any more new publications or contracts and also that they would not be putting any more adverts in the newspapers. This of course was an outrage - it would be equivalent to turning off all the TV stations today.



T. P. O'Connor, MP, put a private bill through Parliament and the Copyright Act of 1906 became law. This made it a criminal offence to pirate music, though it was only a civil offence to copy books. Most of the copyright acts in the UK and overseas came about through pressure from Chappell's. In 1920 Louis Dreyfus acquired Chappell Music.



In 1901 Chappell Piano Co. Ltd. was incorporated as separate company from the music publishing side, and in 1922 production for grands and uprights reached one hundred a week.



chappell2.jpg - 40050 BytesA group photo of the entire work force, from around 1900. A group photo of the entire work force, from around 1900.




In 1929 Chappell went into an expansion mode, acquiring Allison Pianos; later that year they bought Collard & Collard. As if this was not enough in 1938 they acquired John Strohmenger & Sons. Half of Chappell's production was for export.



Chappell's took out four patents:

14th April 1904    5684 Improvements in music supports for pianos and like
7th July 1919    129419 Improvements in or relation to piano actions
28th July 1921    166764 Improvements in or relation to upright pianos, organs or the like
7th Feb 1924 210694 Improvements in or relation to grand pianos




The Chappell's shop of Bond Street is still trading in music and pianos today. The pianos were made by Kemble until the 1st April 2000 at their factory in Buckinghamshire. Warner Brothers hold the sole rights to the name “Chappell” so we will see who they lease the name to in 2006. In November 2006, Chappell of Bond Street relocated from its home of 195 years in Bond Street to 152-160 Wardour Street, in the heart of Soho the Grade II listed Novello building..



To date your Chappell piano see Serial Numbers.



Barrie Heaton MABPT, FIMIT, AEWVH (Dip.), MMPTA, CGLI (hon.) (USA) © copyright 1998-2006.
Piano Tuning in Lancashire.

Bibliography
















PATENT SPECIFICATION

Application Date, July 6, 7978. No. 11,128/18. Complete left, Dec 5, 1918. Complete accepted, July 7, 1919.

Provisional, Specifcation.

Improvements in or relating to Pianoforte Actions.
We, CHAPPELL & COMPANY Limited of 50, New Bond Street, London, W. 1, Pianoforte Manufacturers, and WILLIAM CHARLES PEVIER, of 17, Brookfield Road, South Hackney, London E. 9, Grand-Pianoforte Regulator,
Hereby declare the nature of this invention to be as follows:

This invention relates to horizontal Grand-pianoforte actions, and its Object is to adjust the touch of such actions in an improved manner and to obviate the necessity of balancing the keys with lead as is customary at the present day. According to the invention a horizontal Grand-pianoforte action comprises the combination with the lever-beam, and the lever supported intermediate of its ends on a key and having one end pivotally mounted on the beam, of a spring interposed between the beam and the lever. For relieving the key of part of the weight of the action for the purpose of adjusting the touch and rendering, it is unnecessary to balance the key by means of lead weights. In a preferred construction the lever of the horizontal grand-pianoforte action is pivotally mounted at one end in the usual manner on a support carried by the lever-beam In addition to being thus supported the lever is supported in known manner intermediate of its ends by means of a projection resting of a capstan-screw carried by the key. The lever-beam has a recess made in it for accommodating one end of a spring the other end of which is accommodated in a recess in the lever. The latter end of the spring is held in place in its recess by a grub screw which also serves for adjusting the upward pressure of the spring. Both ends of the spring rest on felt pads in the recesses. The spring is thus interposed between the lever and the lever beam and support, the lever at a place intermediate of its ends, thereby relieving the key of part of the weight of the action. By turning the grub screw to the right or left the touch of the piano action can be made lighter or heavier.

Owing to the provision of the spring in the manner described not only can the touch of the action be readily adjusted by turning the screw but also the lead weights used heretofore for balancing the key can be dispensed with.

COMPLETE SPECIFICATION.



This invention relates to horizontal grand-pianoforte actions of the type wherein the level is pivotally mounted on a lever-beam and is supported at a point intermediate of its ends on a key, part of the weight of the action being removed from the key by the use of a spring.

According to the present invention, a grand-pianoforte action of the type described is characterised by a spring being interposed between the beam and the lever for relieving the key of part of the weight of the action. One embodiment of the invention is illustrated by way of example in the accompanying drawing in side elevation, some parts being shown in section. Referring to the drawing, the lever A of a horizontal grand-pianoforte action is pivotally mounted at one end in the usual manner with a support "B" carried by the lever-beam "C." In addition to being thus supported the lever, "A" is supported in known manner intermediate of its ends by means of a depending lug "A" resting on a capstan-screw "D" carried by a key "E." The lever-beam has a recess "C" made in it for accommodating one end of a spring "F" the other end of which is accommodated in a recess, "A2" in the lever "A." The latter end Of the spring "F" is held in place in its recess by a grub screw "G" which also serves for adjusting the upward pressure of the spring. Both ends of the spring rest on felt pads "G" in the recesses. The spring "F" is thus interposed between the lever "A" and the lever-beam "C" and supports the lever at a place intermediate of its ends, thereby relieving the key "E" of part of the weight of the action. By turning the grub screws "G" the touch of the pianoforte action can be made lighter or heavier.

It has therefore been proposed to relieve the key of part of the weight of a player grand action through the medium of a spring on a subsidiary lever, but this spring situated underneath the key and its pressure was conveyed to the lever "A" through a link connecting the lever and the lever "A."

Having now particularly described and ascertained the nature of our said invention and in what manner the same is to be performed we declare that what we claim is:

A horizontal grand-pianoforte action of the type described characterised as being interposed between the beam and the lever for relieving the key of part of the weight of the action. A grand-pianoforte action as described and illustrated in the accompanying drawing.





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1996-267729
1997-279322
1998-286284
1999-292160




Barrie Heaton MABPT, FIMIT, AEWVH (Dip.), MMPTA, CGLI (hon.) (USA) © copyright 1998-2000.
Piano Tuning in Lancashire.

Bibliography