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The »Weber-Fortepiano«

Carl Maria von Weber bought a fortepiano from Joseph Brodmann in 1813 while touring. In a letter to his brother, Weber expressed how delighted he was with the purchase: »I bought two fantastic instruments, one from Streicher and one from Brodmann. On one day I saw fifty different instruments from Schanz, Walter, Wachtl, etc., which all were not worth a bean compared with those two«. In 1881, Weber’s son gave the Brodmann fortepiano to Emperor Wilhelm I, King of Prussia. Emperor Wilhelm II then gave it to the Berlin collection of musical instruments in 1889.

Joseph Brodmann (1771-1848) ranks among the most famous German piano makers and not only Weber, but also Beethoven appreciated his instruments. After Brodmann’s death, his student Ignaz Bösendorfer took over the workshop.

The »Weber-fortepiano« has a walnut tree veneer and is triple-strung throughout. Four pedals and a knee-lever allow for five different timbres. Of special interest is the constantly applied »una-corda-pedal«, which makes it possible to carry out Beethoven’s performance instructions »una corda«, »due corde« and »the corde« (one, two or three strings). The three other pedals are: the damper pedal, the »moderator« pedal (which interposes two strips of cloth between the hammers and the strings to mute the sound), and the bassoon pedal (which loosely lays a strip of parchment onto the strings which produces a buzzing sound). The knee-lever also is a muffler (with only one strip of cloth).

Its light touch and small key dip made Weber’s fortepiano the perfect instrument for the brilliant playing technique of that epoch.

Brodmann Fortepiano, Cat.-No. 4073 (Flash)