Johann Schanz in Wien ca.1822
6 octaves FF-f'''' - Viennese action
5 Pedals : una chorda - dampers lift - Moderator - Bassoon - Turkish music
He was one of the 5 notable fortepiano makers in Vienna of that time.
(Walter, Streicher, Graf, Seuffert and Schanz)
Haydn even favored Schanz fortepianos to those of Walter!
Beethoven recommended his pupil Varena in a letter (you can find on
Seuffert page of this collection) to buy either a fortepiano by Seuffert
or Schanz. In another letter a few month after that he also writes to
Varena on 23rd of July 1815 that the piano he could find for him costs 400fl
and is from Schanz :
''...if you want decorations, please add 50 fl. and write at once to me. This instrument is by Schanz, from whom I also have one.
Yours in haste,
In the other letter he writes that Schanz asks for 400 fl. and Seuffert for 460 fl. which is possible to negotiate down to 400 fl.
In 1807 Beethoven wrote to Baron Gleichenstein :
'' As Frau M. told me yesterday that she really wanted to select another piano at Schantz's to-day, I wish she would give me full liberty to select one. It shall not cost more than 500 fl. but will be worth a great deal more. You know that although the firms offer me a certain sum, I never accept it. But as by this means I can buy an expensive instrument at a very cheap price, I would willingly, on this occasion, make the first exception to my fixed practice in such matters, as soon as you let me know whether my proposal is accepted.
Farewell, dear good Gleichenstein. We shall see each other tomorrow and you can give me the answer.
So we can see how Beethoven favored Schanz fortepianos.
Johann Schanz was born around 1762 in Kaldrob (Bohemia) and died in Vienna in 1826.
When he moved to Vienna he started to work with his brother Wenzel who died in 1790 and Johann took the business after that for about 36 years. From the beginning he was already famous in Vienna and his pianos were compared to those of the famous Anton Walter and Streicher.
(referring to 1796 Jahrbuch der Tonkunst von Wien und Prag)
Schönfeld wrote '' The second master is Mr. Schanz who lives ... . He has began his own business after his brother's death since 5 years now and the price of his pianos are from the range of 40 to 100 docats.
The sound of his pianos are not so strong like those of Walter but it has the same clarity and even lighter and easy to play and easier to maltreat.
They keys do not go so deep and are not so wide like those of Walter.
I would say this his pianos are almost being like copies of the Stein pianos.
He also makes many of those English type small pianos which are easy to play too and have a nice lightly stronger sound. For these he asks for 25 docates.''
In 1788 Joseph Haydn purchased a piano from Wenzel Schanz and described fully to his pupil why he prefers Schanz fortepianos to those of Walter.
Schanz was not only making wonderful pianos in his workshop (in 1803 reported 130 pianos per annum) but he was like Walter an innovator in fortepiano making. He developed the Viennese piano by :
- Deviding the bridge (separate bridge for bass) .
This had been taken place on English pianos long before but not yet in Vienna.
- Equalizing the strings.
- Making individual adjustable checks in the action.
These were adopted by other makers in Vienna since after.
He was also very active in exporting his pianos to various other countries specially to Italy. Today about 65 Schanz fortepianos are found and preserved.
Vienna in early 19th century
Photos taken after its arrival. Some hammers were out of order, a very few broken, porcellain was broken and dirty. Of course the whole piano had suffered so much dust and keys (which are made of bone) were too yellow. Many strings were replacements, done in an unpleasant way. The soundboard, pinblock, dampers and the whole structure was relatively in wonderful condition though.