Blüthner Grand Piano

Blüthner Grand Piano

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Description (Brief)

This piano was made by Blüthner in Leipzig, Germany, in 1900. It is a grand piano, Model 6, Serial #55501. Accessioned with bench (not-original).

Founded by Julius Blüthner in 1853 in Leipzig, Germany, Blüthner is one of the most respected German piano builders. Blüthner pianos rapidly acquired a sterling reputation, winning numerous prizes at international exhibits, including the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia.

>p>This Model 6 has a version of the ornate “Jubilee” cast-iron plates Blüthner produced from 1898 to 1907. It also has Blüthner’s Aliquot System. This patented system employs an additional fourth string for each of the keys in the instrument’s upper octaves. This string is not struck by the hammers, but vibrates through sympathetic resonance when the other three strings are struck, resulting in an enriched spectrum contributing to the distinctive “Blüthner sound.”

Otto Becker, whose name is inlaid in the piano’s lid flap, was a musical instrument dealer and music publisher in Santiago, Chile. The #55501 remained in Chile until 1986 when it was purchased by Fred Chaffee, a distinguished astronomer and amateur pianist whose career began in 1968 at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was donated to the Smithsonian in 2014 by Fred and Diana Chaffee “in loving memory of Roger G. Kennedy,” who served as Director of the National Museum of American History from 1979 to 1992.

Object Name
date made
place made
Germany: Saxony, Leipzig
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 40 in x 58 in x 75 in; 101.6 cm x 147.32 cm x 190.5 cm
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
serial number
Credit Line
Gift in loving memory of Roger G. Kennedy, Director of the National Museum of American History from 1979 to 1992
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Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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