The “Golden piano”, J.G. Malmsjö (KH 380)

Exhibition/Decorative Grand piano, J.G. Malmsjö, Gothenburg, nr 8800, KH 380

The Golden Grand Piano (KH 380)

J.G. Malmsjö was born in Skåne in 1815: a talented musician, he initially studied carpentry, and then worked in Malmö for the luthier Olaf Berndt Ekström, and then studying piano building with Marschall in Copenhagen.

In 1843 he moved to Gothenburg, where on December 1 of that year he signed his letter to open his own. Production and employees grew rapidly, and around 1860 the factory had been mechanized. It was far ahead of other piano factories in Sweden. Malmsjö is known for its high-quality and beautiful-sounding instruments. The factory was rewarded with countless awards at and art and industrial exhibitions and was clearly on a par with the best foreign ones.

Without a doubt, this magnificent grand piano from Malmsjö with the serial number 8800 (1908) is one of the most beautiful of its kind, made in Sweden. With a mahogany body, it is studded with geometrically shaped inlay work in brass and different colored woods, giving the grand piano a tight yet pleasant and refined impression. The harpsichord-like base cancels out much of the instrument’s gravity and contributes to a sense of floating elegance.

The grand pianos decoration shows stylistic and artisanal kinship with the Art Nouveau furniture in the salon in Mössebergs Kurort (Wintersanatoriet) in Falköping, which was designed by the architect Axel Lindegren (1860-1933) and executed by the Eriksson Brothers in Taserud (Arvika). We probably also have here the artisans behind the exterior of the Golden Wing, especially as Axel Lindegren at this time designed for Malmsjö, a piano with related decor in geometric patterns which was exhibited at the Konstindustri exhibition in Stockholm in 1909.

The gold grand piano may have originally been ordered for Mösseberg’s Kurort (Spa) but was not ready in time for the opening in November 1907. In the Vintersanatoriets salon there is now a black concert grand piano from Grotrian, which contrasts stylistically with the heirloom furniture. The instrument would have been included in the Art and Industry Exhibition in St. Petersburg in 1908 but never made it. On the other hand, it was probably at the Art Industry Exhibition in Stockholm in 1909, because according to the exhibition catalog a “mahogany grand piano with inlays of brass and various types of wood, comp. by Axel Lindegren, ed. and ext. by J.G. Malmsjö’s piano factory, Gothenburg”. The grand piano then stood in Malmsjö’s sales premises at Avenyn, where it was bought in 1912 by the director of Gothenburg’s Handelsbank Claes Andersson, whose daughter Margareta Orrenius (1915-2006) told what she knew about the grand piano until about 1970, when it left the immediate family. The grand piano is now included in Klaverens Hus collections (KH 380).

Strangely enough, there is another grand piano by Malmsjö with the serial number 8800. It is a black concert grand piano (D grand piano), which is also found in Klaverens Hus (KH 207).