Schomacker Piano Company


Vienna Master Raises Quality Standards in Philadelphia

Schomacker Piano CompanyJohn Henry Schomacker was a Vienna school master of piano making when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1837. Schomacker quickly partnered with a top piano maker in the city creating a business relationship that lasted for nearly half a decade. With the ambition and craftsmanship it takes to build a name for oneself at this time in the piano manufacturing industry, Schomacker worked hard to create a piano that would earn an honorable reputation. His plan was a success. In 1845, his piano entry received an award from the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, then went on to win high awards at the 1853 World's Fair in New York City.

With all this success, Schomacker built a state of the art piano factory about three streets south of South Street at the corner of Catherine and Eleventh. This was in 1855, about the time Henry Steinway was beginning to produce pianos from his small shop in New York.

The history of the Schomacker Piano Company is one of many 19th century American piano manufacturing success stories. John Henry devoted his entire working career to making pianos. First in Austria, then in Philadelphia where he retired from the family business in 1872.

Henry C. Schomacker, John Henry's son, followed his father's path into the piano making craft. In keeping with the old world teaching traditions, Henry C. took apprenticeships with leading craftsmen in Germany. After his studies, he returned to help manage the piano company in Philadelphia. This was a good move for the company, as Henry C. Schomacker's reputation as a master technician helped the company maintain its long standing reputation for producing high quality pianos.

Now, over a hundred years later, for production numbers so far removed from the present day, Schomacker pianos hold up surprisingly well. The company was known to have pride in workmanship, and the materials used were of the highest quality. Technicians will say that the Schomacker piano doesn't stand out over other well made pianos from that time. There are no erratic quirks to the design, no famous flaws. They do stand out, however, in that many of them remain in fine condition even after more than a century of use.

Sources

1972. Alfred Dolge, Pianos and their Makers: A Comprehensive History of the Development of the Piano. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 461 - 464.

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