Anyone who played the piano or harp between the late 18th and the mid 20th century probably did so on an Erard instrument. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of this brilliant builder to the development and performance of the Romantic repertoire. Founder Sébastien Erard’s one man project grew into a flourishing family business, with a branch in London as well as its Paris headquarters. Maison Erard continued trading until 1959. Erard’s innovations in piano building gave free rein to a powerful, transparent and colourful sound that enchanted and inspired composers such as Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn and even Wagner. Erard also made his mark on music and performance as an innovator of harp mechanics.
Six years after the Steinway170 Festival, the Concertgebouw is now turning the spotlight on Erard. Spearhead of this festival is a unique exhibition of some twenty grand pianos and harps that illustrate Erard’s innovations during the course of the 19th century. Erard and the music of his time will also be the focus of four concerts. Expert René Beaupain will be telling the story of the Erard dynasty and placing the company in the wider context. And finally, we will assess the importance of Erard to pianists, instrument restorers and today’s music lovers.