Melchior Guante ca.1795 in Münster
5 1/2 octaves FF-c'''' - Prellmechanik (Stein school)
2 kneelevers : dampers lift (under dampers) - harp stop
He lived from 1759 – 1845 and opened his workshop in Münster in 1792 after
the death of his teacher Johann Andreas Stein.
There are 3 known grand fortepianos from him and 4 other square pianos
mostly in Metropolitan museum in Newyork.
His instruments show the quality of German craftsmanship and roubost structure
despite its light and lively sound. He is one of the few piano makers from North
Germany in 18th century. Most of German piano makers used to work in South and
It has the same action of Stein pianos, Prellmechanik or so called Viennese action
with wooden Kapsels, no checks and with under dampers.
One kneelever operates the dampers shift from below and the other is harp stop
It has got 5 and half octaves FF-c'''' which he probably started to make earlier
Soon there will be Video and Audio recordings of this lovely piano which is also
a suitable instrument for being accompanied by a violin.
Mozart also knew Baumann from Zweibrücken (in Germany) and wrote in a letter to
his father to commision one of his small pianos for Archbishop of Salzburg which is
today preserved in a museum in Salzburg. (surely meant square piano, this was a term
that was mostly used for square piano in Germany! kleine fortepiano, or Fortbien etc.
The term Tafelklavier was not known yet).
Baumann square pianos have all Prellmechanik but without escapement which is Johann
Andreas Stein's invention which
was the most important thing for the evolution of Viennese fortepiano. And as written
Guante was one of Stein's pupils (Geselle/n) so this piano has the more refind action
with escapement and it has under dampers as Baumann square pianos have.
In the grand fortepianos of Guante one can also find this wonderful function (to have
under dampers which work very fine)
For learning more about about Simple Prellmechanik (which has no escapement) please
refer to the two Italian square pianos in Radbon collection.
- Barbieri ca.1785
- Anon. Italian square piano ca.1800
Mozart was very found of Stein pianos and wrote in a letter to his father in 1777 about
how he is excited about Stein pianos. Stein himself played piano with Mozart in a
concerto that was written for 3 pianos and orchestra!
Guante pianos are basically the same as Stein pianos and they also have no check or any other significant difference.
Here, Mozart's letter about Stein to his father in 1777 :
''This time I shall begin at once with Stein's pianofortes. Before I had seen any of his make, Späth's[ claviers had always been my favourites. But now I much prefer Stein's, for they damp ever so much better than the Regensburg instruments. ... In whatever way I touch the keys, the tone is always even. It never jars, it is never stronger or weaker or entirely absent; in a word, it is always even. It is true that he does not sell a pianoforte of this kind for less than three hundred gulden, but the trouble and the labour which Stein puts into the making of it cannot be paid for. His instruments have this special advantage over others that they are made with escape action. Only one maker in a hundred bothers about this. But without an escapement it is impossible to avoid jangling and vibration after the note is struck. When you touch the keys, the hammers fall back again the moment after they have struck the strings, whether you hold down the keys or release them ... He guarantees that the sounding-board will neither break nor split. When he has finished making one for a clavier, he places it in the open air, exposing it to rain, snow, the heat of the sun and all the devils in order that it may crack. Then he inserts wedges and glues them in to make the instrument very strong and firm. He is delighted when it cracks, for he can then be sure that nothing more can happen to it. Indeed he often cuts into it himself and then glues it together again and strengthens it in this way ... The device too which you work with your knee is better on his than on other instruments. I have only to touch it and it works; and when you shift your knee the slightest bit, you do not hear the least reverberation.''
Mozart as a child at a square piano. It can not be a clavichord due to its style and seize, its nameboard and keywell. Besides, there is a small Zumpe style square piano since 2006 in Mozarthaus in Salzburg that was given as a gift to the museum from the family of Mozart widow's husband from Sweden! being said that it was used by Mozart in his childhood while travelling according to Constanze Mozart.
Johann Andreas Stein (1728-1792) in Augsburg.
Leopold Mozart who also came from Augsburg used to sell instruments made by Stein, specially travel clavichords.