French luxury piano maker Pleyel plays its final notes

French luxury piano maker Pleyel plays its final notes

PARIS - Top-end French piano maker Pleyel, whose instruments were used by the likes of Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy and Franz Liszt, announced Wednesday it will end production by the end of the year.

Founded in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer who was a student of Joseph Haydn, the firm has fallen victim to cheaper options offered by Chinese, South Korean and other Asian manufacturers.

The company said it was shutting its workshop in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis "given the recurring losses incurred and the very low level of business."

"An initial solution aimed at keeping a certain level of production going has not succeeded," said Bernard Roques, the head of Pleyel's manufacturing division.

Pleyel has manufactured nearly 250,000 pianos over two centuries.

It recently focused on luxury and custom-made pianos in a bid to stay afloat. But production has steadily dwindled from nearly 140 instruments a month in 2000 to about two at present.

The pianos have hefty price tags, ranging from 42,000 euros to 200,000 euros (US$56,000 to US$268,000). Pleyel also dabbled in designer furniture.

A Pleyel piano is made up of 5,000 separate parts, involving between 500 and 1,500 work hours and 20 different crafts.

Roques said the company had enough stock to meet current orders.

Pleyel is often referred to as the "Ferrari of pianos" in France.

Fabrice Perret, the deputy director of the Saint-Denis workshop, bemoaned the "loss of a unique know-how," adding: "We delivered them to yachts, in the Emirates, to Australia.... Now Pleyel is dead."

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