Pleyel has been one of the world’s oldest and most iconic piano makers for a pretty long time. However, their factory doors in Paris will close by the end of 2013. The French press concluded that the bankruptcy was pretty much inevitable due to the way cheaper competition from China. Despite that, there are many who disagree. Instead, they felt that if Pleyel were to adapt better to the times, they would have been able to survive.
According to Bruno Canac, a former piano maker, the loss of Pleyel is a blow to France. “Pleyel was an emblematic brand with 200 years of history. It was not only the favorite of Chopin in the 19th century, but Pleyel was identified with French composers known as the impressionist musicians of the early 20th century — like Ravel and Debussy,” he explained. The company was first founded way back in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher who studied with Franz Joseph Haydn. Pleyel then went on to become a leader in acoustic innovation, making instruments for music greats such as Frederic Chopin, who was only willing to play Pleyel pianos when in France.
Eventually, the instruments managed to grace European royal residences and Paris salons. Just like the other piano makers, Pleyel was affected by the two world wars as well as the economic crisis that began in 1929. Over the past 60 years, Pleyel had been changing ownership on a regular basis. In the past four years, the company was affected drastically and produced an average of one piano each month. Bruno blames the demise of Pleyel on the financiers who most recently purchased the company. He stated that there wasn’t even a musician at the top anymore. “Fazioli is a very recent brand, but it has put all of its financial, technical and human capacity into making the best piano possible. If Pleyel had done this, instead of wasting money on communications and renovating its Paris showroom, it would still be a very successful French piano maker,” he explained.
At the moment, there is only one French piano maker, Colmann, that remains in the market. Its founder and CEO, Olivier Collin, who is a pianist himself, started the company back in 2004. He says that it has turned into the top-selling brand in France ever since, just merely behind Japanese success story Yamaha. For more of the story, do read it here.
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