WROCLAW PIANO MANUFACTURERS AT THE END OF THE 18TH AND DURING THE 19TH CENTURY - A FOOTNOTE TO THE HISTORY OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS MANUFACTURE IN SILESIA
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Polish historiography of Silesia devotes relatively little space to the German contribution to the development of this region. This concerns also the manufacture of musical instruments, including pianofortes and pianos. The main centre of such manufacture was Wroclaw, although from mid-nineteenth century it was overtaken by Legnica. Polish musicians, as well as German ones, gave concerts using instruments (particularly grand pianofortes) built by Wroclaw firms. Instruments from Wroclaw and Silesia also found their way to buyers not only from the native German areas, but also from Polish lands, such as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Poznan. Information for this article was obtained mainly from printed sources of that period. For example, the Poznan press from the first half of the nineteenth century contained information about a number of Wroclaw piano makers who used Polish-language periodicals to reach Polish customers with their advertising. Paul de Wit's address books provided data about companies from the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Two Silesian music lexicons from the first half of the nineteenth century, containing short biographies of makers of musical instruments, proved to be a very valuable source of information. The article introduces biographies of only a few most significant piano manufacturers in Wroclaw. As research continues, particular biographical entries are bound to be extended by additional facts still to be discovered. Among the Wroclaw firms referred to, pianofortes and pianos from eight manufacturers are more familiar to us, because examples of them have been preserved in Poland. Their record cards are to be found in Krajowy Osrodek Badan i Dokumentacji Zabytkow (National Centre for Research and Documentation of Heritage) in Warsaw. These are instruments manufactured by the following companies: Berndt, Bessalié, Kuhlboers, Leicht, Raymond, Vieweg, Welck, Welzel.
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