Improvements to the Grand Piano
The Roller Action – Sebastien Erard
The most well know piano makers in France were Pleyel and Erard. However, it is Erard who is remembered for his work in connection with his revolutionary improvements to the grand piano’s action.
Erard was born in 1752 and he first arrived in Paris in 1768. He was to make his first piano in 1777 (a square) after spells of employment with various harpsichord makers. At first the French preferred the English square pianos, but Erard came to London in 1792 and opened a factory in Great Marlborough street, his brother (Jean Baptiste, who had become Erard’s partner) managed the business in Paris.
Erard made his first grand piano in 1796, and was to devote considerable time and effort to improving the grand action. It was the English grand piano action that was used as the working basis for Erard developing and improving the grand action. The grand roller action was patented in 1821. At first this action was considered very complicated, but improvements and some simplifications were later made by Henry Hertz, and now this action is used as the working basis for nearly all modern grand pianos.
As well as a great piano maker and inventor Erard was responsible for perfecting the modern harp.