The History of Weber Pianos
One of America’s leading piano manufacturers for many decades, the Weber Piano Company was a piano builder based out of New York. With a focus on high-quality workmanship and fine materials, the Weber Piano Company was one of the most well-known during the beginning of the North American piano industry. The history of this company with its growth and changes is one worth knowing.
Weber Piano | A Rich Worldwide History
The Weber Piano Company was founded in 1851 by Albert Weber Sr. Born in Germany, Albert Weber immigrated to the United States when he was 16. As a musician, he supported himself as a music teacher and as an organist. He first entered the piano manufacturing industry as an apprentice of Charles J. Holder and later as a builder for the D.J. Van Winkle piano company. He began his own manufacturing of pianos at his own shop based in Manhattan. By 1852 he had completed several instruments and moved his shop to a larger factory located at 119 7th Avenue & 17th Street in New York City, about two blocks away from the company’s main showroom on 5th Avenue and 16th Street. Weber was known as well-educated and his studies assisted him in innovating piano parts and he made improvements to the felt, hammer, and steel frame. During the company’s prime, they were a primary competitor of the famed Steinway & Sons Company.
The opening of the large and luxurious showroom was a bold and expensive move, but the company benefited as it helped establish the brand as a premium product.Weber’s pianos became well respected for their high quality and exacting attention to detail. His process of manufacturing focused less on new ideas and more on perfecting proven methods. One interesting fact is that it is believed that Weber coined the now popular (and probably overused) term ‘Baby Grand’ to describe smaller grand pianos. The business continued to grow in both size and recognition. They received numerous awards and medals at several world’s fairs between the 1870s and the 1890s. The company advertised aggressively which helped fuel growth. Weber pianos were considered the official piano of many European royal families. This is why Weber pianos earned the nickname “The piano of the royal family.” This growth put them in direct competition during this period with companies like Steinway & Sons. Sadly Weber’s personal success was cut short by his untimely death at the age of only 50. His dedication to work and long hours at both his business and his social life led to declining health and he was ill for nearly a year leading up to his death. Unlike other companies, his death was a huge lose for the business. He was known for being very involved with the day to day operations of the manufacturing and unfortunately lacked delegation skills.
“The Wonderful Weber Tone is found ONLY in the WEBER Pianos.” – 1896 Weber Advertisement
A Change In Leadership | The Merger
Albert Weber Jr. took over as the head of the Weber Piano Company and continued to expand the reach of the growing business. A well-educated man in business and manufacturing he led the way in improving the piano’s production methods and engineering. Weber opened a company showroom in Chicago in 1880 and expanded a few years later to create the Weber Concert Hall. Sadly, Weber Jr. did not have the focus that his father had. He accrued a number of debts and was known for working diligently to avoid creditors. He had various run ins with the law and was known as someone who enjoyed the playboy lifestyle. He retired from the business and moved to Florida where he died at the age of 50 like his father.
1892 saw the company go through a change in leadership. William E. Wheelock, Charles B. Lawson and John W. Mason took over the Weber Piano Company. The new Weber-Wheelock company was split into three factories, Weber, Wheelock and Stuyvesant all producing different levels of quality pianos with Weber being the highest quality offering of the three. The well known Aeolian Company merged with the Weber-Wheelock Company in 1903. Weber pianos continued to be known as well built pianos and became the flagship brand of the new venture as the company’s highest quality offering. Sales took a dive during the Great Depression and the company struggled through those years.
Changing times and tastes led to upheaval in the piano industry. Aeolian collapsed in the mid-1980s and the assets of the large conglomerate were sold off. The Weber Piano name was sold to Young Chang who continues to produce pianos utilizing the Weber and Albert Weber names. The entry and mid-level instruments are produced under the ‘Weber’ name while the higher-end pianos are built under the ‘Albert Weber’ line.
The Weber Piano Legacy | Historic Quality
During the company’s height, Weber was one of the leading piano manufacturers in the world. A main rival of Steinway & Sons, Weber was well respected for crafting fine quality instruments and for helping to expand the entire piano industry. Although Weber and Albert Weber pianos are no longer manufactured here in the United States, the name lives on through pianos built by the Young Chang Piano Company. Albert Weber and the rest of the historic company leadership contributed tremendously to the growth and development of the pianos we know and love.
Chupp’s Piano Service is dedicated to helping you find the perfect piano whether you’re interested in a brand new piano or a fully restored, pre-owned piano. We are proud to carry a wide range of new and completely restored & original condition quality pianos from the most well-known and respected names in the industry. Our facilities feature premium restored Steinway & Sons, select pre-owned Yamaha and brand new Kawai pianos for you to select from. Our main focus is the full rebuilding and restoration of golden age vintage grand pianos. If you are interested in purchasing a vintage Weber piano, contact us today
Chupp’s Piano Service | Specializing in Restored Steinway & Sons