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Conrad Graf, Vienna, ca. 1835

Opus no. 2258. The keyboard compass is 6 1/2 octaves: CC – g4. The case is in cherry. Four pedals: una corda, moderator, double moderator and damping.

Conrad Graf, ca. 1835

Conrad Graf was one of the most famous builders in Vienna. His instruments were exported to Italy, Hungary, Germany and Sweden among other. Famous composers like Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt and Chopin played on his pianos. 

Graf began his career as a cabinet maker, studying the craft in his native Riedlingen in south Germany. He migrated to Vienna in either 1798 or 1799. He became apprenticed to a piano maker named Jakob Schelkle, who worked in Währing, then a suburb of Vienna. When Schelkle died in 1804, Graf married his widow Katherina and took over the shop. It is not known how Graf developed his style or methods for building pianos. None of the pianos of his teacher Schelkle survive, and the surviving early Graf instruments are not much different from his fully mature ones. 

The early 19th century was a period of ferment in piano building; Wythe (in “Makers of the Piano”) describes the work of contemporary builders as “a volatile blend of traditional craftsmanship and new technology, carried out in an atmosphere of intense competition.” Graf was successful in this milieu. By 1809, he was employing ten workers. In 1811, he relocated from the original suburban location to new quarters in the (more expensive) central city. In 1824 he was appointed as Royal Piano and Keyboard Maker to the Imperial court in Vienna.
(extract from Wikipedia-Conrad Graf).

The portrait is of an unknown gentleman by Claude Pierre 1837.

Conrad Graf 1835

restoration, 1993 & 2006

This instrument was found in Budapest. It was in a very bad condition: the cheek was warped, it had serious soundboard cracks and there were pinblock problems besides. The strings were all missing –  the instrument had not been under tension for a long time. 
Thirteen years after the first restoration the tail had also become warped.
So the instrument underwent a second restoration straightening the tail.

Parts of bottom
Pinblock layer
State of pedals

Recordings, a selection

Malcolm Bilson Schubert

Malcolm Bilson
Schubert, Sonatas, op.53 D850, op.122 D568
Hungaroton Classic HCD 31586

Malcolm Bilson, John Elliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir
Schubert, Choral Works Voices in the Night 
Philips Classics PH454 428-2

FukudaKoch Chopin

Riko Fukuda and Tobias Koch
“Grand Duo” Chopin, Mendelssohn, Moscheles, Hiller, Liszt.
Recorded on two Grafs in the collection, 1835 and 1830. ARS 38530

Nicolaus Lahusen 
F. Schubert, Sonata D 960, Klavierstücke D 946
Celestial Harmonies 13195-2


Nicolaus Lahusen

Nicolaus Lahusen
F. Schubert, Sonata D850 Gastein, Valses sentimentales D 779
Celestial Harmonies 13221-2