makers / Sebastian Erard
The founder of the world renowned company of piano and harp makers, Sebastian Erard was born in Strasbourg on 5th April 1752. He moved to Paris in 1768 and worked for an unknown harpsichord maker. His ability brought him to the notice of Louis XVI, who protected him against complaints by other instrument makers and granted him a licence on his own authority. In 1777 Erard made his first square piano, with a five octave range, and bichords, graduating to making for Marie Antoinette, a combination organ and piano, with a double keyboard.
The revolution of 1789 destroyed his business in Paris and in 1792 he opened a factory in Great Marlborough Street, London. , leaving his revolutionary minded brother Jean-Baptiste to carry on the French branch. According to the London Post Office Directory, he opened an English branch as early as 1786, at 18 Great Marlborough Street, London.In 1802 they moved to 189 Regent Street, and then in 1804 to 158a New Bond Street, London.
As an inventor and ground breaking innovator, he patented improvements to the piano and introduced the double action harp. He introduced loud and soft pedals to the piano. The concert harp of today basically maintains his original design, as does the roller action for grand pianos.