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Anton Walter Fortepiano


The fortepiano by John Lyon is a composite of extant fortepianos in Salzburg, Linz and Eisenstadt by Anton Walter, a Viennese maker active between 1790 and 1820. The term “copy” is as ambiguous as “historical demonstration.” Each original piano represents a differing answer to an aesthetic desire. Mr. Lyon’s reproduction copies Walter’s “answer to an aesthetic desire” in the five-octave plus two notes compass (FF to g3), the Viennese action, the stringing scale, the knee pedal mechanism, and the design of the case and its reinforcement. A feature such as the blocks for supporting the damper rail when removing the action represents a 20th century concession to convenience.


Anton Walter

The re-covering of the wooden core of the treble hammers that I have done – and re-done many times over – is a further re-interpretation affecting the tone one can draw from the piano. The hammers in this segment of the compass are covered with sheepskin, producing, with adjustment for tightness and light ironing of the surface, a brighter sound than deerskin in this register. This instrument illustrates the term "style-copy" as opposed to "work-copy" (an exact replica) as used by Bruce Haynes in his book, The End of Early Music -- A Period Performer's History of Music for the Twenty-First Century.


Deer Skin Hammers

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With respect to outward appearance, the sharps are covered with bone and the case done with exotic woods.

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Mr. Lyon originally intended the piano to remain in his possession -- English walnut for the lid, American burl walnut veneer above the keyboard, Circassion walnut veneer on the exterior of the case, and French walnut veneer on the interior.

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The pictures of the action show the backchecks, the capsules and hoppers.


The sheepskin covering of the hammer produces a bright sound in the fortepiano but is unsuitable for the 1816 Broadwood.

Quoting Steven Manley, a technician who worked with John Lyon in the construction and who is now an attorney in Lansing, "The purpose for the "cut-off bar" [lying diagonally across the left segment of the soundboard] is to deflect sound energy from a dead corner to a lively part of the soundboard. That is one of the special, if not unique, features of the Mozart piano, by the way. You won't find it on many, old or new, fortepianos. On Mozart's the bar itself performed that function as best it could without help from any other structure, but John took the concept to its logical extreme and apparently anchored the thing to the floor."

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