When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

In France, The Final Note For World's Oldest Piano Maker

Pleyel pianos, founded in 1809, built pianos for Chopin and other masters. In the end, it couldn't find a new business strategy to survive against Asian competition.

Pianist Ivan Ilic on his 1930 Pleyel grand piano
Pianist Ivan Ilic on his 1930 Pleyel grand piano
Valérie Leboucq

SAINT-DENIS — Talk about a coincidence. Just a little more than a year before the prestigious Salle Pleyel classical music concert hall is to be converted to a more humble jazz locale, the Pleyel piano factory is now living its last days.

The workshop, located in Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, had long employed only 15 or so artisans, and it will close its doors permanently by the end of the year, a French artists federation recently confirmed to the Agence-France Presse.

Its owner, French entrepreneur Hubert Martigny — co-founder of Altran, the engineering group that also financed the rebirth of the Salle Pleyel concert hall — said a year ago that he was seeking a buyer for the piano manufacturer. It is the oldest still active in the world since its creation by Austrian-born French composer Ignace Pleyel in 1809.

[rebelmouse-image 27087498 alt="""" original_size="800x594" expand=1]

Paris' Salle Pleyel — Photo: Andreas Praefcke/GNUFDL

Despite the association with the master Frédéric Chopin — it once built pianos for him — the history of the Pleyel company has also been marked by its share of tragedy and accidents. Since the 1960s, the business has suffered in the face of Asian competition. After a short stint in Alès in the south of France and in Italy, the factory was back in the Paris region in 1998 — with Martigny managing to reposition Pleyel as an upscale brand, even restarting the production of grand pianos. But its revival never went as far as to convince concert-level players to trade in their Steinways for Pleyels.

To survive, Pleyel launched into custom-made pianos, investing in world-class instruments. The brand hired renowned designers — Andrée Putman, Hilton McConnico, Marco Del Rey — who signed exceptional pieces for wealthy amateurs willing to spend dozens (or even hundreds) of thousands of euros for customized instruments.

The piano maker thus revived the tradition of “decorative arts” that was en vogue in the 1930s. In the meantime, the workshop put its know-how at the service of luxury brands such as Hermès, providing decor for its shops.

Located close to the Stade de France football stadium, the workshop combines traditional craftsmanship and the latest technology — with a five-axis CNC machine capable of chiselling special piano frames. Sales, however, haven’t followed. Turnover never exceeded 1.5 million euros, leaving no hope of recovery. All that will be left of Pleyel now will be a jazz music hall with its name.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

Horror films have a complicated and rich history with christian themes and influences, but how healthy is it for audiences watching?

Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

"The Nun II" was released on Sept. 2023.

Joseph Holmes

“The Nun II” has little to show for itself except for its repetitive jump scares — but could it also be a danger to your soul?

Christians have a complicated relationship with the horror genre. On the one hand, horror movies are one of the few types of Hollywood films that unapologetically treat Christianity (particularly Catholicism) as good.

“The Exorcist” remains one of the most successful and acclaimed movies of all time. More recently, “The Conjuring” franchise — about a wholesome husband and wife duo who fight demons for the Catholic Church in the 1970s and related spinoffs about the monsters they’ve fought — has more reverent references to Jesus than almost any movie I can think of in recent memory (even more than many faith-based films).

The Catholic film critic Deacon Steven Greydanus once mentioned that one of the few places where you can find substantial positive Catholic representation was inhorror films.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest