Henri Herz (6 January 1803 – 5 January 1888) was a
Herz was born Heinrich Herz in Vienna. He was Jewish by birth, but he asked the musical journalist
In 1825 Herz joined the piano workshop of Henri Klepfer et cie as a partner, but that connection proved unsuccessful, and in 1839 he founded his own piano factory, which became one of the three most important factories in France, the others being Erard and Pleyel. All three were awarded the "Médaille d`honneur" for "Pianos d'une sonorité très-remarquable" at the Paris World's Fair in 1855. Among important developments of Herz's early time as a piano maker in the 1820s and 1830s was the change from a single-layered hammer to one that was multi-layered, on the inside two layers of leather, several layers of fabric, and rabbit fur; on the outside wool felt in up to nine layers of decreasing hardness. The characteristic sound of Frédéric Chopin's grand pianos, to which the labor-intensive, hand-made hammers after Herz's patents make a distinctive contribution, disappeared with mid-century developments in the USA (Steinway). The Herz hammer sets have the drawback that pianos cannot be played quite as loud, because the hammers are less densely pressed, but the dynamics and colorfulness - in combination with traditional materials of wrought iron strings (before the invention of Bessemer steel) - are very finely graduated and fiery. In the second half of the 19th century, simplification and impoverishment of the piano's sound variety occurred with two-layer, industrially produced Dolge hammers. To Herz's work as a piano maker can also be attributed the implementation of a simplified version of Sebastian Erard's double repetition. Through the "Herz spring" (Repetierfeder) the mechanics of the instrument found their modern form.
Among the most important performance venues in Paris were halls built by the instrument manufacturers. In 1838, Herz and his brother Jacques Simon Herz followed this model and built the 668-seat
Herz was married to Pauline Thérèse Lachmann (or Esther Lachmann), a French
A celebrated pianist, Herz traveled worldwide, including tours in Europe, Russia,
Herz taught at the Conservatoire between 1842 and 1874. Of his pupils, only Marie-Aimée Roger-Miclos (1860-1950) recorded, in the early 1900s, for