Mozart Timeline

Anton Walter – Creator of Mozart’s Famous Pianoforte

Even the most beautiful melodies diminish when they are played on inferior instruments. It is likely that Mozart had a very similar thought in mind when he commissioned the leading piano maker of his time, Anton Walter, to build his immeasurably precious pianoforte.

11 February 2014 Events

It may have transpired like this: Maestro Mozart was looking for a piano – it goes without saying, the best piano in the world, because when it came to music, Mozart was not one to make compromises. Of course he must have known which workshop to go to in order to have his demands fulfilled. The piano maker of his choice was Gabriel Anton Walter, one of the most esteemed craftsmen of the Viennese Classical Period. Walter was only a few years older than Mozart, and it is not too hard to imagine that both masters met in Walter’s workshop to chat and share common experiences. Most likely Mozart sat down at one of the pianos on display and fell in love with the masterpiece instrument after his fingers touched the keys, eliciting the unique sound of a Walter piano.

In 1782 Mozart purchased the very instrument from Anton Walter, which today is the property of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation. He must have been very pleased with this purchase; the sound of the pianoforte is especially colourful and vivid and has, despite its size, a remarkable sonority. Pianofortes are instruments with metal strings using a keyboard. The strings are struck with small wooden hammers covered with felt or leather. Mozart played on his instrument until his death.

Anton Walter – a contemporary of Mozart

Gabriel Anton Walter was born in 1752 in Neuhausen auf den Fildern in the German province of Baden-Württemberg. It is most likely that his workshop was located in the Laimgrube area of Vienna from 1778 to 1825. His fame as piano maker preceded him, and not only Mozart but also musical geniuses such as Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert swore by the quality of instruments from his workshop. In 1790 he was awarded the title of Imperial Organ Maker and Instrument Builder and he was widely recognised as the best piano maker of his time. Even today Walter pianos – either originals or replicas – are played on the great concert stages of the world. Walter died in 1826 in Vienna.

Piano maker Anton Walter (at the age of 73)

Piano maker Anton Walter (at the age of 73)

Oil painting by Friedrich Gauermann (1807–1862) 1825 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) Source: Wikimedia