1920’s Erard and Mercier grand piano discovered in Paris and now on display in New Orleans
New Orleans, July 21, 2004 – During their last buying trip in Paris, France, Henry Granet, proprietor of the French Antique Shop, discovered a rare “Erard” grand piano in pristine condition and immediately had it shipped to their galleries on Royal Street.
“In the 45 years of dealing in antiques, I have occasionally come across a piece that has literally taken my breath away and this was one of those pieces.” Said Granet.
“Among the things that make it so special are the exquisite details on the ‘Mercier’ designed cabinet – worthy of this magnificent instrument created by the famous ‘Sebastian Erard’ craftsmen in Paris in 1920. This piano carries with it the double escarpent action originally invented by Erard in the early 1820’s and perfected by him and his staff over the course of the century,” Granet continued.
The semi-concert grand piano was tuned recently by local piano tuner, Matthew McWilliams, of New Orleans
“Out of approximately 2,000 pianos I tune every year, I may come across one Erard, but never of this quality and pristine condition. The cabinet and key action is excellent.” McWilliams said.
The Erard grand piano displayed in the galleries of the French Antique Shop is inscribed with the proud signatures of “Erard” and of “Mercier,” the award winning ebeniste who designed the exquisite mahogany and ormolu encrusted piano case in 1920. It exemplifies the finest accomplishments of both these renowned personages.
Recognized as one of the greatest (and oldest) builders of pianos in France, Sebastian Erard established the Erard firm in Paris in 1777. His pianoforte attracted the attention and admiration of Beethoven, whose compositions could not be fully realized on the Viennese instruments of his day.
The introduction of this new action coincided with Franz Liszt’s first visit to Paris at the age of thirteen. Liszt was enthralled by Erard’s grand piano and remained a loyal patron throughout his career.. The Erard family reciprocated by providing instruments as well as the use of their sumptuous reception area, known as “one of the most important music rooms of Paris” as a venue for many of Liszt’s concerts and recitals.
The prestige of the Erard grand piano was further enhanced when the foremost Parisian cabinet makers were commissioned to design sumptuous and often unique piano cases for the elegant salons and drawing rooms of 19th and early 20th century Europe and America. Using the finest and most exotic woods, framed in exquisitely chased gold-plated bronze mounts, these remarkable pianos successfully married esthetic genius and musical integrity.
The French Antique Shop was founded in 1927 in Paris by Marie and Marcel Granet, parents of Henry Granet and Nicole Granet Friedlander, and grandparents of Marc Friedlander, all current owners.
In 1939, prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Marie and Marcel came to America, planning to
re-establish their antiques business in Houston, Texas. During a stopover in New Orleans, the Granets fell in love with New Orleans and the French Quarter and they proceeded no further on their journey.