This is written in response to Rob Buckingham's query about Weber
pianos. Probably the best testimony to their quality comes from
Steinway, of all people.
A few years ago, there was an article in AMICA Bulletin, or possibly
Pianola Quarterly, about the contract between Aeolian and Steinway that
allowed Aeolian to have exclusive rights to place player mechanisms
in Steinway pianos, starting around 1910. One of the conditions that
Steinway insisted on was that Aeolian redesign the Weber grand piano
so it was cheaper, and of lesser quality than before. The inescapable
conclusion is that Steinway knew the Weber was of such high quality
that Steinway did not like competing with them.
As anybody who has seen Webers from before and after 1910 can attest
to, Aeolian complied only too well with the contract. I believe that
the contract applied only to grand pianos because the Weber upright
remained one of the finest ever made, and it almost has a cult
Incidentally, any cheapening done by Aeolian was only a shadow of what
was going on in the entire industry, particularly the cheap idiots at
American Piano Co. who destroyed everything they touched, with the
exception of Mason & Hamlin. Has anyone ever seen a Knabe, formerly
their flagship piano, that didn't have cracked bridges?