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Karl Benedict c. 1785


Date: 1785

Origin: Graz

Serialnumber: 1

This fortepiano is a typical example of the instruments from the period of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791). It is the first and oldest built piano by Karl Benedict in Graz and dates back to around 1785. To this day it is an absolute rarity that the first built instrument of an instrument maker has been preserved.

The case (in angular shape) is made of veneered cherry with frame and fillings and is inlaid with various woods on the sides. The instrument stands on 4 tapering legs. A white enamel plaque on the nameboard bears the inscription:

„Karl Benedict


in Gratz”

Behind the nameboard is the handwritten serial number “1“. The compass is 5 octaves + 2 tones (FF – g3) and the keyboard is made of ebony and bone. The instrument has a Viennese action with single dampers and a continuous bridge. A knee lever controls the dampers and in the middle of the nameboard is a hand stop for controlling a moderator.


Today little is known about Karl Benedict. He was active in Graz around 1785/90. However, the few surviving instruments by him show clear parallels to the instruments of Ferdinand Hofmann (1756 – 1829). It is highly probable that Benedict knew the instruments of his colleague well or even was an apprentice of him. Yet there is no more information. Further research to the instrument is still ongoing!


Other preserved instruments by Karl Benedict:



Length: 210 cm

Width: 98,5 cm

Height: 24 cm

Circumference: 5 octaves + 2 tones (FF - g3)

Mechanics: Viennese Action

Pedals: 1 knee lever (dampers), 1 hand stop (moderator)

Signature: „Karl Benedict
in Gratz”