Christian Baumann ca. 1800 Tafelklavier in Zweibrücken
2 Kneelevers for divided dampers lift of the treble and bass
Hand stop for Buff stop
Christian Baumann is not only one of the most important piano makers of the history because of being addressed by Mozart in his letters but because of the high number of pianos he made with highly craftsmanship throughout his life.
This piano is the 20th and probably the latest piano from him.
One or two decades ago to Brauchli and Beuermann there were only up to 8 Baumanns known and there was no worthy study on these highly important pianos by this notable German maker who appearantly made only square pianos!
He was also an organ maker but only 20 instruments have come down to us and they are all square pianos without any exception but it is very well possible that he also made grand pianos but its number must have been very limited if any because statistic of surviving instruments shows approximately how many instruments must have been produced by a maker. It has indeed nothing to do with blind guesses but is based on science of statistic.
The great scholar, restorer and maker of early keyboard instruments Christoph Clarke finally did the very wide and long study on the Baumanns and I was lucky to be of a little help to his study because of having and restoring two of these 20 surviving Baumann pianos.
I am thankful to him for providing a big amount of information, many hours of correspondense, consultation and sharing endless number of detailed photos about other Baumanns for example for reconstructing the sophisticaed the ribbing system of my other earlier Baumann which you can find in the collection.
Doubtless there has not been such a vast
Study about Baumann pianos till 2017 and my collection is proud of introducing you two of most interesting Baumanns (specially this one) in detail but also in playing order in a near future.
A view from above before cleaning the soundboard with rubber but without its treble dampers and the Prell-leiste of the treble part of its retro action part.
A view from above after the soundboard was cleaned with rubbert but with complete parts (treble Prellleiste and over dampers)
This is the only piano known having two kinds of dampers (on one piano) and the simple Prellmechanik being divide to retro and intro actions which makes it not only historically/technically very special and important but also had a reason to be made so, and that is because he had gained a special practical thing which is having the length of the hammer-shanks as long as needed to have a bit more weight to have a more balanced volume at the treble.
On his other pianos and all other square pianos, the length (and therefor the weight) of hammers increasingly becomes smaller but here one can reach a more singing quality at the treble.
The extensive study of Clarke on Baumann pianos will be published in a near future.
All Baumann square pianos have exactly these note names curved into the soundboard on the pin-block.
Above is a key from the left side of the instrument, (concerning middle c being in the middle) where the action is intro prellmechanik with under-damper in Baumann style.
Below is a key from the right side having a rather long hammer shank instead of being naturally shorter, giving the tone more power which gives the whole piano more balance and unity in touch, a great invention of Baumann only seen on this very square piano.
Unlike the ca.1785-90 Baumann of Radbon collection, this ca.1800 Baumann has almost lost all its cork on the hammers.
Apearantly all except one of the 20 Baumanns known to us had originally cork hammer coverings. The one has leather.
Some rests of the original cork is to be found an all hammers of this Baumann.
The action is complete and non touched since ca.220 years! no sign of repair, with even original cloth etc.
The photo on the left shows that on this very piano (again, never seen on any other piano anywhere else) the kapsel holds a rather hard leather in between which goes through the hammer shank were it is pivoted by an axle. This kills any noise and does not allow hammers to be stuck there.
Maybe he went on with these great inventive ideas which are truly developments within the tradition of 5 octave square pianos all having similar dimensions, corked hammers, light touch etc.
Here are the two two notes (middle c and natural semitone before it ''b'') which are located where the action becomes retro from intro (the Prell-leiste is not under the hitch-pin rail anymore but towards the pianist)
A beautiful profil of the block which holds the left side of the Prell-leiste.
The iron one behind the wooden profile which is also beautifully made holds the under-damper wood which works as damper lift for all of Baumann's pianos the same way.
The two hand-stops which can called strangely knee-levers here! because they can be used either by hand or easily be knees. Not pushing but moving to left or right to raise dampers on the treble side or the bass side of the piano.
The great advantage of this invention which is also to be found on few Baumann pianos is that the played does not need to push his knee for a long section and if they were like most of hand stops on the piano where they could only be operated by hand, the hand(s) needed to be busy even for a moment with them where one needs to continue playing and does not want even a little break.
Here Baumann uses Buff stop instead of his usual velvet silk which means he got the idea more from France/England.
After the French Revolution the city he worked in (Zweibrücken) which was called Deux-Ponts (which also means two bridges) and was a part of France for years.
Not only this feature shows the French connection but also the outlooking of the piano with its mahogany case, looking a bit...and according to Christopher Clarke most Baumanns were found or at least lived at the beginning in France which is also the case for both Baumanns of Radbon collection too.
Another great thing about Baumann's hand stop as buff or lute is that they were all made from iron which hardly goes out of order unlike many other wooden buffstops.
The reason that it is covered with yarn is probably because gluing the buffalo leather on yarn is much easier than on iron!
His silk-velvet lute stops are covered with the velvet completely.
Here is a view of the piano before restoration.
On extremely rare occasion one has the chance to receive the original hammer that was delivered with the piano to the first buyer over 200 years ago!
It matches the original Baumann tuning pins exactly.
A stuning lid hinge in great shape from late 18th century-early 19th century made by Baumann.
Except the green cloth of ca.1950 the rest of what is shown here (over-dampers of the right side of the action) is in untouched original condition.
Over dampers of the Baumann piano in great shape
2 Endoscope photos showing underneath the soundboard and its sophisticated ribbing system. The bridge of some Baumann pianos were screwed firmly to the soundboard, while the earlier type had many bent nails in the older (harpsichord) style.
The few cracks are now repaired from above without any need to remove the soundboard for repair.
A view of the city ''Zweybrücken'' in 1790