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|Oral History, Paolo Fazioli talks about the decision to use red spruce for his pianos.” Interview date January 20, 2007, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library|
Fazioli Pianoforti (Italian pronunciation: [faˈtsjɔːli]) is a high-end maker of hand-built pianos, based in Sacile, Italy. Fazioli produces about 100 pianos a year from its single factory. The cost of these pianos ranges from $100,000 to $300,000.
Paolo Fazioli was born in Rome in 1944, into a family of furniture makers. In 1969 he graduated from the University of Rome 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, including wood furniture using rare and exotic woods such as teak, mahogany and rosewood. Paolo Fazioli joined the company, however, he left to pursue building pianos. At the end of the 1970s, the Fazioli Piano Factory was built within the Sacile furniture plant, about 40 miles north of Venice.
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 the latter half of the year, work began on the prototype of the F228 model.
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, although Alfred Brendel, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Nikita Magaloff, Michel Beroff, and Annie Fischer own and exclusively endorse Steinway & Sons pianos today. 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 one 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 and modernization, output hit 6 units per month in this period. In 1994, Fazioli Pianoforti attended its first exhibition at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California.
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 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, although Brad Mehidau, Chucho Valdez, Michel Camilo, and Kenny Barron own and exclusively endorse Steinway & Sons pianos today.
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 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.
By 2006, production fluctuates between 120 and 130 units per year.
The Fazioli piano is now present at the most prestigious piano competitions, as the last editions of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw (2010, 2015), the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (2011, 2015) 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.