J. & C. Fischer Piano Company, New York, New York
Vienna Piano Makers Migrate to America
Both John U. and Charles S. Fischer, great grand children of the famed piano maker to King Ferdinand I, of Naples, were already professional craftsmen when they arrived in New York City in 1839. Making connections in the heart of the piano manufacturing industry in New York, within a year the brothers were able to assume a well established space for making pianos and begin their own company, J. & C Fischer. The high quality production line quickly put the Fischer name in the top list of well respected piano builders in New York and their reputation lasted throughout their long, highly successful careers. The J. & C Fischer piano company continued into the next generation of the Fischer family with phenomenal success by the end of the century when the Fischer piano factory was turning out more than 5,000 pianos a year, and as Alfred Dolge contends, "at the same time studiously improving the quality." (Dolge, 290.) Dolge's assessment is typical of owners of vintage American made pianos like J. & C. Fischer. The family owned and operated business, with its origins in the very top piano makers in Italy and Europe, produced an exceptional blend of old world craftsmen making pianos with the best new world materials available using highly evolved and logically applicable designs. The design and workmanship of Fischer pianos, in fact, can represent a clear example of the height of achievement in American piano making. Fischer grand pianos tend to be worthy of repair and restoration. The cabinets on Fischer pianos can be very beautiful, as well.
Notes and Sources
1972. Alfred Dolge, Pianos and their Makers: A Comprehensive History of the Development of the Piano. Dover Publications, Inc., New York.
A Fischer Piano Family Upgrade
A customer with quite an extensive, localized background in music and the arts came into the shop with a note book full of ideas he had written down while doing some research on traditional arrangements for the fingering of tones and semitones, and he wanted to know how this related to the keyboard of the Fischer grand piano being restored for his family. He was interested in what it was, exactly, that made piano restoration a worthwhile effort, a solution to a particular problem, namely the fact that the Fischer piano had been in the family for three generations and was dearly loved by everyone, but it had become less and less a gathering magnet for holidays and celebrations. It didn't sound the same anymore. "The piano sounds tired and the keyboard feels arthritic," was his description. "Our family loves this piano, which is why we want to have it repaired. I'm wondering, I know the sound and feel of the piano can be changed, even reversed, but what is it exactly that makes this possible?"
"Do you mean, why would someone want to restore an older piano?"
"No, although that's an interesting question, too," the customer said, "I want to know what it is about the process of piano restoration that transforms the piano from what it was -- its former self -- to what it will be. What it is that you do that reverses the process of decline? What is it about the piano that changes inside during its visit to the shop?"
Perhaps the best way to answer this particular question is to define the piano restoration process as a gestalt or collection of events, rather than a single or isolated action. In other words, the question can't be adequately answered by pursuing or highlighting one particular change made to the piano, although of course, some changes will make more of an impact than others. But to single out one particular event would be an inadequate way of describing the change that takes place when the piano is restored. Would it be the dissembling and reassembling of the cabinet and parts? Does something like removing and replacing the iron plate make a difference? Is it the new felt? The new finish? The new pin block and pins? The new strings? Is it the regulation of the action? The replacement of the dampers?
Our answer is that the change the piano customer recognizes is a result of all these changes and more. It is an overall change, a change that is the result of a combination of changes. It is the result of a process where the result is more than a collection of the steps taken in the piano restoration process.