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Albrecht Square Piano (ca. 1790)

About the Albrecht Square Piano (ca. 1790)

Charles Albrecht was one of the foremost piano makers of German descent in Philadelphia in the 1790's, when this five-octave, mahogany instrument was made. Attractively inscribed and decorated over the keyboard, it has two knee levers beneath, one to raise the dampers and the other to operate a louvered panel over the soundboard. Like the hinged lid panel on the contemporary Broadwood & Son piano also displayed here, this device permits limited dynamic control; however, no serious piano music requires such a gimmick, which was more a selling point than a musical necessity. Unlike Broadwood's factory, which virtually mass-produced standard models, Albrecht evidently custom-made pianos to suit his customers' wishes; no two of his extant instruments are quite alike, but all reveal the fine craftsmanship and tasteful design for which he is noted.

Image of the Albrecht Square Piano