Upright (Lyre) Piano with Pedalboard

Johann Christian Schleip (1786–1848) German

Not on view

This type of upright piano was made almost exclusively in Berlin between 1820 and 1850. The Lyraflügel was a fashionable fixture of middle-class Biedermeier parlors in northern German lands. In the period of the Napoleonic occupation (1806–13), the lyre had become a symbol of freedom and liberation. It was popularized in songs based on the collection of patriotic poems, With Lyre and Sword, by the poet Theodor Körner (1791–1813). These songs, with their references not only to the lyres of Orpheus and Apollo but also to Friedrich Schiller’s ideas of freedom and liberation from tyranny, were sung for decades. The lyre became a widespread emblem, as ornament, as lyre guitar, or, here, as frame for the piano pedals. Schleip was the principal manufacturer of the Lyraflügel, even claiming in 1820 to be its inventor.

This example is even more incredible as it originally had a full pedalboard of 27 notes that could be played by a player's feet (like an organ). Two of these pedals actually were used to control the dampers and una corda, while the remaining were bass notes, some of which duplicated the low notes on the manual, while the others extended the range from a low FF to low CC.

Technical description: Upright (Lyre) piano with pedalboard: mahogany veneer case with metallic striping inlaid on nameboard and inner side of cheeks, upper portion lyre-shaped with gilt border and shafts representing springs; lyre arms extending from a central medallion bearing a relief profile of Mozart? backing on lyre panel; pedal action mounted on case floor, separate pedal soundboard and strings facing rear of case; compass manual FF-f4 (73 keys), pedal CC-d? (27 keys); ivory naturals, ebony accidentals, 2 pedals with hitches for dampers and "una corda" ; Action: manual, German "hangende" action with escapement, backcheck and spring return; damper arm lifted by back of key lever; pedal, German "stehende" action with escapement, back of key lever; pedal, German "stehende action with escapement, backcheck, spring return; pedalboard missing. Stringing: manual, lowest 22 notes, double-strung, rest triple-strung; lowest 8 notes wound with brass; pedal, double-strung throughout, lowest 13? notes originally wound with brass; pedal, double-strung throughout, lowest 13? notes originally wound. (L. Libin 19 Oct 76).

Upright (Lyre) Piano with Pedalboard, Johann Christian Schleip (1786–1848), Wood, various materials, German

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