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S & P Erard

The company S & P Erard was founded in the eighteenth century by Sébastien Erard (1752–1831). Trained in Strasbourg, Erard moved to Paris in 1768 and began making pianos for the French nobility. He was later joined by his brother Jean-Baptiste Erard (1749–1826) and the business grew, particularly after royal commissions from Marie-Antoinette. In 1789 the French Revolution prompted Erard to move to England. He opened a London branch in 1790/1, leaving the Paris branch to his brother. In London, Erard concentrated on the production of harps, which until then had been predominantly imported from France.

Sébastien is famous for making a great number of technical improvements and inventions for both the piano and harp, and he took out between 15 and 20 patents in England alone. After his death, Jean Baptiste's son, Pierre (1794–1855), took over the business in Paris and London. He won a gold medal at the 1824 Paris Exposition for his 'double escapement' piano, which allowed for a rapid repetition of notes that had not been possible before. This opened up new possibilities for composition. Liszt, Chopin and Mendelssohn were among early proponents of this new feature.

In 1839, Pierre Erard was appointed Pianoforte Maker to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. He also became piano maker to Prince Albert after winning favour by constructing a Renaissance-style horizontal grand piano for Osborne House. For the royal couple, pianos were at the centre of their enjoyment of music and, as such, they ensured that there were pianos at each royal palace and even on the royal yacht. By the time of the queen's death in 1901 there were 23 instruments in Windsor Castle, of which 15 were by Erard.

In 1933 Erard was taken over by the French firm Pleyel, which continued to produce pianos until 2013.