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Instrument of the Month – The 1790 Dackweiller Square Piano, Paris

At the Carolina Music Museum nearly every instrument has a wonderful story to tell us but none quite so mysterious as the 1790 Dackweiller square. On the second floor in the museum, along with the other square pianos, the Dackweiller is a beautiful piece of furniture in addition to being a wonderful instrument. One is struck by the elegant incorporation of the two pedals into the piano’s design.

Paul Guillaume Dackweiller emigrated to Paris from Ubach, Germany, in 1783, and became an apprentice/associate of Jean Kilien Mercken, who was also from Ubach. By 1787, now 27, he was accepted into the “Community of Tabletiers (fine cabinet makers), Violin makers and Fan makers”, the quick acceptance into the “guild” an indication of the training he must have brought with him from Ubach. He was married and with his wife, Agathe, fathered six children, his wife dying with the birth of their sixth. He and Mercken both survived the 1789 revolution but, in 1801 Dackweiller was fished from the Seine the victim of a crime, probably a murder, unsolved, a mystery. This piano is one of only two known in the world by this maker, the other now in France and dated a year earlier.

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