Pape, Jean-Henri (1789-1875)

Jean-Henri Pape (1789-1875) was born near Hannover in Germany . In 1811 he went to Paris to work in the factory of Ignace-Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831). His skills developed quickly, and by 1815 he had established his own workshop. Pape was well known as an innovative builder, throughout his life he took out 137 patents in France, England, and Germany. Several of his more important creations include the down-striking grand action now know as the “French Action,” and the pianino. The pianino utilized a cross-stringing design to create a more compact upright piano; these were popular throughout France and England. These patents helped make the Pape one of the most successful piano workshops in France, competing with Erard and Pleyel. Some of Pape’s other developments were much more novel, such as ovular and hexagonal shaped pianos, these were not popular as they did not fit in the the fashion at the time. The amount of money that Pape spent trying to develop and sell more novel pianos such as those will irregular shapes eventually caused the business to suffer, and by the end of his life Pape had very little money.

Literature References:

Clinkscale, M., 2006. Makers of the piano, 1700-1820. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.214.

Palmieri, R. and Palmieri, M., 2003. Encyclopedia of Keyboard Instruments. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, p.265.