close close
previous project
previous project

A piano reborn

Analysis and reproduction of an original model from 1802

Paris's Musée de la Musique studied and recreated a facsimile version of an Erard piano, in collaboration with a master piano-maker.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - A piano reborn
© Cité de la musique–Musée de la musique/J.M Angles

The superb visual and sound displays at Paris's Musée de la Musique trace musical culture from the 17th century to the present, with a fine collection of instruments. In 2008, the museum's workshop embarked on a unique project to create a facsimile of the famous Erard grand piano, dated 1802.

Today, the favourite instrument of Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven is a collector's item: less than ten survive worldwide. Built in 1800 and 1803 respectively, Haydn's and Beethoven's models (the latter is now in Linz, Austria) have suffered damage.

Initially, a study of the original will shed new light on the ageing process of leather components in early 19th-century instruments, and research new conservation techniques. In phase II, artisan piano-maker Christopher Clarke created a facsimile of the original, working with an apprentice.

Built using authentic, period techniques and tools, the facsimile piano recreates the original sound of musical works of the period.

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is delighted to support the whole of this ambitious, three-year initiative, centred on the reproduction of an exceptional object, the transmission of unique skills, and an in-depth study of the use of leather in instruments of this type. In 2011, the facsimile piano entered the museum's collection, and will soon feature in concert performances.

next project
next project


Triennial project
Research: 2008-2009
Facsmile reproduction in 2010-2011