Steinway & Sons or just Steinwayi/ˈstaɪnweɪ/ is an American and German manufacturer of handmade pianos, founded in 1853 in New York City, by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later Henry E. Steinway). The company's growth led to the opening of a factory and employee village in what is now Astoria, Queens in New York City, followed by a second factory in Hamburg, Germany, in 1880. Its early success has been credited both to the quality of its instruments and its effective marketing, including the company's introduction of Steinway Halls (in German: Steinway-Häuser).
Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano manufacturer, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha. The brand is known for producing pianos with a uniquely rich, singing, and sustaining tone. Bösendorfer is unusual in that it produces 97- and 92-key models in addition to instruments with standard 88-key keyboards. Bösendorfer makes seven models of grand piano (from 5'8" to 9'6") and one vertical piano (52" upright). The 9'6" Imperial Grand is one of the world's largest pianos.
Blüthner, formally Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH, is a piano-manufacturing company founded by Julius Blüthner in 1853 in Leipzig, Germany. Today Blüthner pianos come in several sizes of grands from 5 ft to 9 ft in size. Innovations such as aliquot stringing and angle-cut hammers create a unique voice for the Blüthner instrument. The special lightweight piano for use on the ZeppelinLZ 129 Hindenburg was also a Blüthner.
Sébastien Érard (April 5, 1752 – August 5, 1831), born Sébastien Erhard, was a French instrument maker of German origin who specialised in the production of pianos and harps, developing the capacities of both instruments and pioneering the modern piano. Érard's pianos were widely appreciated by the foremost musicians of the time: Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Verdi are just a few of the famous composers who owned Érard pianos.
Pleyel et Cie ("Pleyel and Company") is a French piano manufacturing firm founded by the composer Ignace Pleyel in 1807. In 1815, he was joined by his son, Camille, as a business partner. The firm provided pianos to Frédéric Chopin, and also ran a concert hall, the Salle Pleyel, where Chopin performed his first — and last — Paris concerts. Pleyel's major contribution to piano development was the first use of a metal frame in a piano. Pleyel pianos were the choice of composers such as Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, de Falla, and Stravinsky.
Chickering and Sons was an American piano manufacturer located in Boston, known for producing award-winning instruments of superb quality and design. The company was founded in 1823 by Jonas Chickering and James Stewart and manufactured pianos until 1983. Jonas Chickering made several major contributions to the development of piano technology, most notably by introducing a one-piece, cast-iron plate to support the greater string tension of larger grand pianos.
Bechstein is a German manufacturer of pianos, established in 1853 by Carl Bechstein who set out to manufacture a piano able to withstand the great demands imposed on the instrument by the virtuosi of the time such as Franz Liszt. In 1857, Hans von Bülow (Liszt's son-in-law) gave the first public performance on a Bechstein grand piano. Today, Bechstein is in competition with Steinway & Sons, although the Bechstein sound is very different from Steinway's.