The history of Knabe pianos began about 200 years ago when the Knabe couple gave birth to Wilhem Knabe in 1803 in the German town of Kreuzburg. Wilhelm learned the art of piano and cabinet making through apprenticeships, hard work, and devotion. As he grew older, Wilhelm immigrated to the United States and settled in Baltimore, Maryland.
It was in Baltimore that he met Henry Hartye, a prominent piano maker, and worked under him for several years. Sometime in 1835, Wilhelm formed his own company that bought, sold, and repaired used pianos.
How it all began…
As the years went by, Wilhelm collaborated with Henry Gaehle to form Knabe & Gaehle Company, the origins of Knabe pianos storied history. The company built superior uprights, squares, and grand pianos in a small factory located in Baltimore. Even though it was a small company, it was able to compete with bigger and more established American piano makers.
The Star-Spangled Banner
In 1838, Knabe & Gaehle became a part of American history when Francis Scott Key who composed, The Star-Spangled Banner, hired the company to customize a grand piano for his humble abode. Knabe produced a lavish, hand-carved piano for Francis with a detailed rosewood case that extended to all four sides and right down to its legs. The keys were surfaced with luxurious mother-of-pearl and Francis was certainly satisfied with the craftsmanship. He used it until he died in 1843 and at this moment, the piano is proudly residing in the Peabody Hotel situated in Memphis, Tennessee.
Wilhelm or William Knabe passed on in 1864 and the company was handed over to the hands of William Jr. and Ernest Knabe. During the Civil War and declined of the Southern market, the company kept afloat by increasing their markets in the expanding American west. Later in the 19th century, Knabe pianos became some of the most prominent musical instruments and were admired by professionals and consumers alike.
Opening of Carnegie Hall
In 1891, the Knabe brothers sponsored Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the world’s renowned conductor of his decade, during his appearance as the guest conductor for the official opening of Carnegie Hall. They presented a grand piano, as Tchaikovsky escorted the evening’s concert. Additionally, he led the orchestra of the New York Music Society in his famous Festival Coronation March.
New York Metropolitan Opera
Knabe pianos made history yet again, when they were chosen to be the official musical instrument at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1926. At the time, the grand piano was played by Rosa Ponselle along with other magnificent artists of the Metropolitan Opera. Along the years, Knabe Company has been categorized as part of prominent establishments in the likes of Mason Hamlin, Aeolian Corporation, and the American Piano Company.
New Generation of Knabe Company
In today’s generation, Knabe pianos are the premium instruments for Samick Music Corporation (SMC), which is one of the world’s principal musical instrument producers. Knabe musical instruments are known for their beauty of cabinetry and sound, and for this reason, SMC has proudly continued to manufacture and produce these remarkable works of art.
Limited, Handmade Pianos
Knabe pianos are handmade and limited, and each piano is crafted in the finest tradition since hundreds of years ago. These pianos continue to have a place in the music world, because of their consistent tonal quality and durability. Every Knabe piano is created with its own personality, and every time you play this piano, you will sense the dissimilarity. The tone or sound produced by a Knabe piano has been described as, “the human singing voice” by many musicians and celebrities as well as professional pianists from all corners of the world.
Have you ever played a Knabe piano?