Founded in Paris in 1847 by Joseph Gabriel Gaveau, this French firm was to gain an excellent reputation for high-quality harpsichords, and in particular small upright pianos.
By 1907, when Gaveau was passed to the founder’s son, Etienne, the firm was producing and selling over 1,000 pianos a year. Etienne Gaveau expanded the factory and had a 1,100-seat concert hall, Salle Gaveau, built in Rue la Boetie in Paris.
Between the 1910s and 1940s, the severe economic climate meant that Gaveau, now joined by his sons Marcel and Andre, had to diversify to compete with their main competitor, Pleyel. Production started of small unfretted clavichords and spinets, made possible by the short-term hiring of Arnold Dolmetsch, who designed these instruments for Gaveau between 1911 and 1914. On Dolmetsch’s return to England, Gaveau returned to producing uprights pianos only.
In 1960 Gaveau joined forces with Erard and a year later with their great rival Pleyel.