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Fazioli Pianoforti (Italian pronunciation: [faˈtsjɔːli]) is a premier high-end piano manufacturing company based in Sacile, Italy. Fazioli produces around 100 handcrafted pianos a year from its single factory. The cost of these pianos ranges from $100,000 to as much as $300,000.
Paolo Fazioli was born in Rome in 1944, into a family of furniture makers. From a very early age he demonstrated a gift for music and a keen interest in the piano.
He consequently took up piano studies, which he continued all the way through high school and university. During his studies he developed an interest in piano construction technology, broadening his expertise by visiting manufacturing and restoration workshops and reading the most authoritative literature on the subject.
In 1969 he graduated from the University of Rome[disambiguation needed] with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and in 1971 received a diploma in piano at the G. Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, under the instruction of Sergio Cafaro. In the same period he also earned a Masters degree in Music Composition at the Academy of St Cecilia, where he was guided by the composer Boris Porena.
In the meantime his elder brothers took over the family business, manufacturing office furniture and exporting it throughout the world under the brand of MIM (Mobili Italiani Moderni). The firm's Turin factory specialised in the production of metal furniture, while the Sacile factory (in the province of Pordenone) manufactured wood furniture using rare and exotic woods such as teak, mahogany and rosewood.
Paolo Fazioli joined the company after graduation, honing his management skills as a production planning manager first in Rome and then at the Turin factory, while at the same time developing his expertise in wood processing.
However, he soon left the family business in order to pursue his dream of designing and building new pianos. He began by dedicating himself to the detailed study of contemporary grand piano production, analysing their structure and performance while consulting researchers and experts in the sector. His family, and particularly his eldest brother Virgilio, an expert in wood technology, were hugely supportive, providing him with the necessary backing to carry out research, development and production.
During this initial phase, Paolo Fazioli defined the basic characteristics of the piano that he wanted to build. He was convinced that, by introducing a number of design changes based on the latest research in acoustics and materials development, he would be able to build an innovative and superior instrument. At the end of the 1970s, Paolo Fazioli's expertise in traditional piano manufacturing, coupled with his engineering research, experience and creativity, finally brought about the establishment of a new business. The Fazioli Piano Factory was built within the Sacile furniture plant, about 40 miles north of Venice.
This choice of location fulfilled a number of organisational and production needs: materials were close to hand, as were research and analysis laboratories and, most importantly, specialist craftsmen.
In 1979 he started designing his first prototype for a baby grand piano. He was assisted by a small team consisting of Professor Pietro Righini, an expert in musical acoustics, and Professor Guglielmo Giordano, an eminent wood technologist, as well as Virgilio Fazioli and Lino Tiveron. The prototype of the F183 model was completed in June 1980, followed at the end of the year by the prototypes of two other models, the F156 and the F278.
In January 1981, Fazioli Pianoforti was officially incorporated. The prototypes of models F183, F156 and F278 were presented to the press and trade professionals. Participants at the press conference included renowned musicologist Piero Rattalino, in addition to professors Giordano and Righini. In February, the same pianos were first exhibited at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, where the presence of an Italian piano maker created something of a sensation. In the latter half of the year, work began on the prototype of the F228 model.
In the meantime, pianist Nikita Magalof accepted an invitation to visit the Sacile factory and performed successfully in concert with a F278 concert grand piano.
The philosophy of Fazioli Pianoforti remains the same to this day: -To produce grand and concert grand pianos exclusively, aiming for the highest quality with no concern for large production; -Not to imitate any other existing pianos, but rather to create an original sound; -To individually handcraft each piano using time-honoured traditional methods combined with the latest technological advances; -To strive constantly to improve product quality by using cutting-edge technology.
In February 1982 all four models – the F156, F183, F228 and F278 – were shown at the Frankfurt Musikmesse. The production area within the MIM factory was expanded to 600 square metres, increasing production to 2 pianos per month.
In 1983 the company began collaborating with Zeltron (Zanussi Institute for Research) with the aim of further improving tonal quality. Initial success followed in 1984 and 1985 when well-known pianists including Aldo Ciccolini, Alfred Brendel, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lazar Berman, Nikita Magaloff, Michel Beroff, Annie Fischer, Louis Lortie and many others began to play Fazioli pianos. A number of important concert halls purchased the F278 concert grand piano and the firm started exporting to major European countries and the United States.
The demand for an instrument having even greater power and richness of tone, for use in large concert halls, inspired the concept of the F308 model, which is still the longest piano available on the market. Alongside this project, work began on a new model to complement the existing line, the medium-size F212 with a length of 212 cm. The prototype of the first F308 received its first public performance in 1987, at the Teatro Comunale in Monfalcone, when French pianist François Joël Thioller performed both Tchaikovsky piano concertos.
Toward the end of the year, Alfred Brendel chose the Faziolis for his Italian tour. The cooperation with the Zanussi R&D Centre led to the optimisation of the entire product line: the six improved models (F156, F183, F212, F228, F278, F308), which today still represent the entire Fazioli range, were showcased at the 1988 edition of the Frankfurt Musikmesse.
Following the expansion of the production facility inside the MIM factory, as well as the introduction of modern technology, output hit 6 units per month in this period.
In the same year, the company displayed at MUSIC CHINA in Shanghai, paving the way to sustained success in the Far East. A concert grand piano was installed in the Sydney Town Hall in Australia and its debut performance came in a concert attended by Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating. Fazioli pianos were also chosen for the Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in Salt Lake City, USA. In 1995 the F308 model was unveiled at the NAMM Show and subsequently used for concerts in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. In June, the F308 model was presented in China, leading to the purchase of one of these instruments by the Beijing Conservatory.
In 1996 a Fazioli was chosen for concerts in the Wiener Musikvereinshalle by Ingeborg Baldaszti, Markus Schirmer, Jasminka Stancul and Elisabeth Leonskaya. The unique Brunei concert grand was built to order for the Sultan of Brunei, featuring inlays of precious stones, mother of pearl and exotic woods. In addition to standard black instruments, the company developed a series of unique art case models to cater to its most exacting customers.
In 1997 Fazioli pianos were used for the first time at Umbria Jazz, one of the world's most renowned jazz festivals, both for the summer edition in Perugia and the winter companion festival in Orvieto. Through Umbria Jazz, a number of eminent jazz artists have since become devotees of Fazioli pianos, including Herbie Hancock, Martial Solal, Brad Mehldau, Chucho Valdez, Michel Camilo, Uri Caine, Kenny Barron, Stefano Bollani, Enrico Pieranunzi, Danilo Rea etc.
In 1998 the company purchased an area of approximately 14,000 m2 next to the existing factory, leading to the construction of a new plant capable of producing approximately 150 instruments per year. The new facility includes a laboratory for acoustic research and a concert hall in which new instruments can be tested. In 2001 the new factory was finally opened. Production edged closer to the target of 100 pianos per year. The company's relationship with pianist Angela Hewitt became even more productive in 2003, when the artist began requesting Fazioli pianos for her world concert tours.
In May Louis Lortie used a Fazioli grand piano to perform a recital in place of Maurizio Pollini at Carnegie Hall in New York, earning glowing reviews. During the same year The Economist reported that "some artists believe that Fazioli now makes the best pianos in the world".
In September 2003, during a memorial ceremony for the victims of the September 11 attacks in New York, 21 Fazioli pianos were used for the world premiere of "Sinfonia per 21 Pianoforti" by Italian composer and pianist Daniele Lombardi.
In 2004 large orders were placed and production finally exceeded 100 units. That same year, the company transferred to new offices and the Fazioli Concert Hall was completed. Equipped with variable acoustic devices, the hall is ideal for instrument testing, concerts and recordings.
The Fazioli Concert Hall's first Concert Season was opened by Aldo Ciccolini, playing the instrument which still stands in the hall to this day: the F278 concert grand piano, nicknamed Merlin the Magician.
In November 2006 the company celebrated its 25th year in business with a ceremony attended by dealers, staff and a number of the most devoted pianists.
Today production fluctuates between 120 and 130 units per year.
The firm cooperation with prestigious university institutes on research and development projects is testament to its continuous commitment to quality and the improvement of its products.
Fazioli refuses to impose limitations on musical artists, convinced that they should have the freedom to choose which instrument to play, based purely on the belief that it is the best vehicle to express their talent.
For this reason, Fazioli has always been opposed to signing exclusivity contracts with artists, preferring instead to establish reciprocal partnerships for the sake of upholding artistic standards, which should always take precedence over commercial considerations.
Recently the famous Juilliard School, New York, bought a Fazioli grand piano. For the first time this institution - among the most important in the world for high level musical training - has broken the monopoly that it had with Steinway and Sons for more than 80 years.
The Fazioli piano is now present at the most prestigious piano competitions, as the last editions of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw (2010), the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (2011) and the “Rubinstein” in Tel Aviv (May 2014), where five out of the six finalists chose the FAZIOLI piano for their concerto performance.
Since June 2011, each Fazioli piano is built saving 1 tonne of carbon dioxide thanks to the use of electricity produced by the new photovoltaic system installed on the roof of the Fazioli factory.
Fazioli currently offers six models of grand pianos, the largest being the Fazioli F308, which at 3.08 m (10 ft 2 in) in length is the longest piano available on the general market. The Fazioli is noted for its inclusion of a fourth pedal on the F308. This pedal brings the hammers closer to the strings, decreasing the volume while maintaining a normal tone, functioning just like the soft pedal on an upright piano. Camerata Tokyo released a Blu-ray named The Sound of the Concert Grand Fazioli F278: Costantino Catena plays Debussy and Schumann (Camerata Tokyo 2013, CMBD-80005).
In Popular Culture
In the 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey plays a Fazioli piano.
- "Fazioli, Paolo", Grove Music Online, 2009. Accessed 12 April 2009.
- "Model F308", Official Fazioli Website. Accessed 1 June 2012.