On 2015-04-28 2:31 PM, Paul Stamler wrote:
> And, to add to the muddle, A-440 is a relatively recent standard.
> According to the always-reliable Wikipedia:
> "Prior to the standardization on 440 Hz, many countries and
> organizations followed the Austrian government's 1885 recommendation
> of 435 Hz. The American music industry reached an informal standard
> of 440 Hz in 1926, and some began using it in instrument
> manufacturing. In 1936 the American Standards Association recommended
> that the A above middle C be tuned to 440 Hz."
> It's worth noting that Edison got out of the record business in 1929
> -- only three years after the American music industry's "informal
> standard" was adopted.
This might be of interest from 2012
> Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2012 09:28:57 -0400
> From: Gerald Fabris <[log in to unmask]>
> ubject: [ARSCLIST] Steinway pitch chronology - share
> Earlier this week, Steinway & Sons company forwarded to me some
> interesting information about the history of frequency standards for
> tuning pianos. It might be of interest to ARSClisters.
The link that Gerald published at that time (at box) is no longer
active, but here is a text version of the letter:
> March 31, 1980
> Dear John [Steinway]:
> The last time we met, there was a discussion of pitch prompted by a letter from a customer who wished to know if their old Steinway could be tuned to a-440.
> Helmholtz has 20½ pages on the “History of Musical Pitch in Europe” which shows that it varied all over the map over the centuries. The most significant information I can find relative to pianos and as a standard for piano design is the following:
> 1834: A gent named Scheibler proposed and was adopted at the Stuttgart Conference a standard of c-256, or a-440.
> 1859: “French Pitch” was established by a super tuning fork at the National Conservatory in Paris at a-435.
> All this effort seems to have settled nothing as various musical organizations continued to use a variety of pitches according to their traditions or whims. However, we poor pianomakers had to have some standard, and:
> 1868: Mason & Hamlin used “French” pitch 435
> 1870: Steinway [dealer] (London) used 454
> 1879: Steinway (U.S.A.) used “American” pitch 457
> 1880: Steinway (U.S.A.) tuning fork measured 458
> 1891: American Piano Manufacturers Association
> adopted the “International” (French) pitch 435
> 1918: American Federation of Musicians adopted
> the “Stuttgart” pitch 440
> 1926: Music Industries Chamber of Commerce, U.S.A.
> established and adopted International Standard Pitch 440
> So, the original so-called Stuttgart Pitch seems to have won out in the end and has been used ever since 1926.
> Interestingly, I can find no reference to pitch as used by German pianomakers.
> In the early days of Steinway, only God knows what pitch was used as a design parameter—probably either “Stuttgart” or “French” pitch. During the 1870s it seems to have been rather high, varying from 454 to 458. In 1891, however, Steinways must have agreed to and used 435 until 1926 when the International Standard Pitch of a-440 was adopted world-wide.
> As far as old pianos are concerned, I would say that one should tune them to 440. If something lets go, chalk it off to age rather than to any difference of design parameter.
> Best to all, As ever
> Fritz Steinway
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.