Erard Grand Piano

Erard Grand Piano

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Description (Brief)
This piano was made by Erard in London, England in 1854. Sébastien Erard and his brother Jean-Baptiste entered a partnership in 1788 and became the leading French piano company in the 19th century. During the French Revolution, Sébastien Erard went to London and opened a branch of the company. Queen Victoria bought this instrument from Erard’s London establishment in 1854 as a gift for Prince Albert. It was housed in Balmoral Castle, Scotland. The piano is serial number 3964 and has a compass of AAA-a5, Erard repetition action of 1840, felt over leather on wood core hammers, copper-wound and plain steel strings, 1, 2, or 3 strings for each note, 2 pedals: una corda and damper lifter, a partial iron frame with tension bars and gap spacers, straight-strung, and a rosewood veneer case.
The Parisian firm of Erard dominated innovative piano technology during the first half of the 19th century and their instruments were favored by virtuosos like Liszt and Thalberg. Queen Victoria selected this piano, produced in Erard's London factory, by for Prince Albert's use at Balmoral Castle. The royal family's heraldic device is stamped on the iron framing.
It has a range of seven octaves, iron framing, and a case eight feet long. Erard's action eventually developed into the modern grand piano action.
Object Name
date made
associated person
Victoria Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India
Albert Prince Consort of Great Britain and Ireland
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
steel (strings material)
leather, felt (hammers material)
wood (case: material)
iron (frame: material)
overall: 95 cm x 136 cm x 242 cm; 37 3/8 in x 53 9/16 in x 95 1/4 in
ID Number
serial number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Herbert R. Axelrod and the Friends of Music at the Smithsonian
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I own a duplicate Erard grand piano numbered 18116 with C. Martin on the name plate. It's number suggest it was made circa 1846, eight years before Queen Victoria's piano gift to prince Albert. It seems the sequence number of this piano is out of order with my Erard and others. My understanding is my grand piano was owned by Queen Isabella II of Spain and donated to the Madrid Opera house. My piano was put in storage in 1925 and auctioned off in 1978 to my relative. There is much more history about this instrument should you be interested

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