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The Piano in Sweden – historical survey

Ideas of a new sound

In the 1740s, the first signs of a hammer action appeared, giving a new sound. From the 1750s a few makers copied imported instruments (pantalons) and organ builders who had always built strung keyboard instruments alongside pipe organs began to experiment with instruments with combined actions, thus causing a meeting between older aesthetic ideas of using stops with the new hammer actions.

Gustavian burgeoning

The first regular hammer instrument manufacturers with a serial production were established with a concentration in Stockholm (Pehr Lindholm, Mattias Petter Kraft, Pehr Lundborg, Henric Johan Söderström, George Christoffer Rackwitz, Göran Garman, Lorentz Mollenberg, Johan Söderberg etc.). English instruments were mostly used as models.


Swedish keyboard making opened up to Europe with journeymen traveling to St. Petersburg and Germany. In 1816, the prohibition of 1756 against importing musical instruments was cancelled. Domestic manufacturing spread outside Stockholm through establishments in the countryside towns (Gothenburg, Karlstad, Ystad, Söderhamn, Vadstena, Kalmar, Karlskrona etc.).

Stability and change

Firms with long-term enterprises were founded (A. Söderberg-A. Hoffman, Ekström, Malmsjö, Baumgardt, Nyström, Östlind & Almqvist, A.G. Rålin, Gustafson & Ljungqvist etc.). Continuous development of actions and models (27 patents taken out during the period 1835-1885). Parallel to this development there were many small workshops with a production of mainly square pianos.

The golden age

Swedish piano making reached its peak with high quality and sonorous instruments.


World War II caused difficulties in getting materials from abroad, especially Germany, a reason for the introduction of plastic actions (Östlind & Almquist). Around 1950, high costs, low-price importation and a common use of television caused sales problems for the piano factories. The last new constructions were made by Georg Bolin c. 1957-1967.

The great piano death

Mass media, ‘synth culture’ and the beginning computer age complete the elimination.





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