The William Knabe Piano Company

The William Knabe Piano Company

By James Grebe


Wilhelm Knabe was born  in Kreuzburg, Germany.  He received training in cabinet making and piano making.  Knabe emigrated to the United States in 1833 and took a job with Henry Hartje, a fellow emigrant, in Baltimore.  At that time he changed his first name to William.  After a few years he founded his own business of buying, selling, and repairing pianos. In the year 1837, Knabe partnered with a another Greman, named Henry Gaehle to form the Knabe and Gaehle Piano Company.  In 1854 the pair split up into their own respective companies and his company continued under William Knabe & Co.  In 1860, he built a large factory on the corner of Eutaw and West Streets in Baltimore.  The factory occupied 2 city blocks and employed 300 workers.  Throughout the years, Knabe gained recognition for excellent sound and beauty in cabinetry. And won numerous awards.  A milestone happened when Carnegie Hall opened with a concert by Tehaikovski  featuring a Knabe piano.  Rutherford Hayes slectied a Knabe piano for the White House official residence.  Also a nabe was the first piano purchased in Japan for classroom use. 

                    William died in 1860 and his sons, William and Earnest, took over the business success began by their father and continued the company.  In 1908, Knabe became part of the American Piano Company   In 1932, Aeolian merged with American and became Aeolian-American Piano Company.  Production was then moved to a new factory in East Rochester, NY.     Many top-notch musicians endorsed the Knabe Piano, including President Rutherford Hayes, President of the country.  This popularity catapulted Knabe Pianos to be featured in the opening of Carnegie Hall in New York. The guest of honor, entirely financed by Knabe, was Petrer Tchaikovsky the worlds greatest composer of that time.  After decades of success Knabe became the official piano of the Metropolitan Opera in 1930.  In 1994 after Aeolian-American filed bankruptsy Knabe became part of Mason & Hamlin along with Sohmer and Falcone and George Steck.  In 1996 Young-Chang began production of Knabe Pianos for Mason & Hamlin.  Today, Knabe is part of the Samick Piano Company of Korea.  Samick has taken the original scale design of a number of Baltimore built pianos and have used them in conjunction with new improvements.  New is the introduction of 2 new Art Cased Pianos in limited numbers. The current Knabe lineup consists of grands of 5'3", 5'8",6'4", 7'6"as well as vertical pianos of 46&7/8"47&7/8", 51&3/8".

Please visit the other parts of my site to see the hand crafted items I produce from my shop in Arnold,. MO 


Copyright,2008/ Yesterday Once More Publications, James Grebe

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