Conrad Graf, (1782 - 1851), who had from
1824 the title of "Imperial Royal Court Fortepiano Maker"
(" k. k. Hofpiano und Claviermacher"), was born
in Riedlingen (Wurttemberg) and came to Vienna in 1799 as
a joiner. He became a piano builder and opened his own workshop
in 1804. By 1820 his instruments were considered "the
reatest and most renowned in Vienna and throughout the empire."
Graf not only supplied instruments to all the apartments of
the imperial court but also provided a pianofortes for Ludwig
van Beethoven in 1825. Chopin, Robert and Clara Schumann,
Liszt, Mendelssohn and Brahms held Graf pianos in the highest
The fortepiano used for this concert was made by Paul McNulty,
who is one of the most highly respected builders working today.
His instruments, modeled after the fortepianos of J.A. Stein,
A.Walter, and C.Graf, are the result of meticulous research
of the originals. McNulty fortepianos are owned by many fine
players and feature in many recordings.
The McNulty instrument is a copy of Graf opus 318 (ca.1819)
from Castle Kozel near Pilsen, Czech Republic. In this period
the pianos of Graf still retained the thin soundboard and
light hammers of the Viennese classical era, with somewhat
thicker strings. The fuller tone is nonetheless clear and
projecting, which, coupled with the various expression tops,
provides convincing Schubertian palette. These pedal effects
are: moderator, adouble moderator, sustaining and "una corda".