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Joseph Simon c. 1827 – 1830


Date: 1827

Origin: Vienna

Serialnumber: ---

This fortepiano by Joseph Simon was built around 1827 – 1830 in Vienna and shows the traditional construction that Simon had taken over from his teacher Conrad Graf and continued. The names of Beethoven and Graf are closely connected together in musical history. The instruments of Graf are characterized by high craftsmanship and charming sound. (see also the instrument of Conrad Graf c.1835 in the Eric Feller Collection – click here) But this knowledge was also passed on to his pupil Joseph Simon and so this fortepiano impresses by high craftsmanship and an outstanding sound.

The walnut case with angular shape stands on 3 baluster legs and has a lyre with 4 pedals.

The nameboard is decorated with a ceramic plate in a brass frame and bears the signature:

“Joseph Simon in Wien

Schüler von Conrad Graf”

The bridge of the piano is divided into two parts and it has a Viennese action. The keyboard is made from bone and ebony and the hammers are covered with leather. The compass is 6 ½ octaves (CC – g4). Overall this piano impresses with its excellent workmanship and sound.

Interesting is the inscription “Schüler von Conrad Graf” on the nameboard. It shows (in addition to the high reputation that Graf’s instruments had) the business sense of Joseph Simon. He wanted to generate more sales for his instruments with that addition.

Similar examples can be found in England in the 1780s. The pianos made by “Schoene & Co.” used the additional signature “Johannes Zumpe” on their nameboards. Zumpes instruments had an enormous reputation and the Schoene brothers wanted to generate more sales with that addition (see the three instruments made by “Schoene & Co.” in the Eric Feller Collection from: 1788, 1792 and 1799).



So far, there is little information about Joseph Simon. He is was active from 1817 to 1860. Around 1817 he worked as a journeyman with Franz Werle. In 1827 he received his degree as a piano maker and became self-employed. (See M. Clinkscale: Makers of the Piano 1820-1860, Oxford University Press 1999)

In “ Gemeinnütziger und erheiternder H a u s = K a l e n d e r für das österreichische Kaiserthum, vorzüglich für Freunde des Vaterlandes, oder Geschäfts=, Unterhaltungs= und Lesebuch auf das Schaltjahr (von 366 Tagen)” of 1832, his address is given as Wieden No. 597.

Later in the “ Adressen-Buch der Handlungs-Gremien und Fabriken der kaiserl. königl. Residenz- und Hauptstadt Wien” from 1851 he is listed by V. F. Gottfried as “Clavier- und Fortepianomacher” with the address bgl, Laimgrube, an der Wien 68, zum weißen Ochsen, 2. Stiege, 1. Stock.



Other preserved instruments by Joseph Simon:

  • c.1825 Fortepiano – Christoph Kern, Staufen i. Brsg., Germany
  • c.1835 Fortepiano – Edward Swenson, Trumansburg, USA



Length: 240 cm

Width: 125 cm

Height: 35 cm

Circumference: 6 ½ octaves (CC – g4)

Mechanics: Viennese action

Pedals: 4 pedals - dampers, una corda, moderator 1, moderator 2

Signature: „Joseph Simon in Wien
Schüler von Conrad Graf“