Schanz was among the great Viennese makers in the early 19th Century and was favored by Haydn and Beethoven (early in his career) who had a special arrangement with Schanz, often writing to his friends to arrange sales of this maker’s pianos. Schanz’s largest clientele was in Italy, though, and most of his extant pianos came from that country, ours among that group.
Viennese pianos were common in Baltimore where a large German community sought instruments with which they were familiar. However, an elegant home in Charleston would have had one of these pianos as an exotic specimen, telling of their superior taste and community standing.
As with most Viennese-built pianos from about 1805 to the late 1830’s, our piano is equipped with the latest bells and whistles, almost literally. Equipped with five pedals, visitors to the Carolina Music Museum burst into gales of laughter when they hear the drum and bells, activated by one of the pedals and, then, wide-eyed, they listen to the story of Sultan Mahmud II who, suspecting a coup from his “Imperial guard” –the Janissaries, abolished the Corps and massacred over 6000 of its members. With the extinction of the Corps and their music, interest in Europe fell away swiftly.
(Much of what you read here may be found in the soon to be released book, Facing South, Keyboard Instruments in the Early Carolinas, by Thomas Strange and Patrick Hawkins. Strange is the Curator of The Carolina Music Museum collection.)