There are different concert halls in Paris, but Salle Pleyel is perhaps, together with the smaller and older Salle Gaveau,,the only ones really built as such.
Pleyel and Gaveau were both French piano makers, as was Erard. Erard was the oldest one, starting production in 1777. Haydn owned number 28 (manufactured in 1800), Beethoven number 133 (manufactured in 1803). In 1960 Erard merged with Gaveau which had started production in 1847. Their pianos were 1971-94 manufactured by Schimmel in Germany. Finally Pleyel took over Erard, Gaveau, and Rameau.
Pleyel started production in 1807; family members were excellent musicians and composers and their pianos reached a great reputation and were Chopin’s, Ravel’s, de Falla’s and Stravinsky’s favourites. Already in 1885 Pleyel manufactured some 2500 pianos a year. Today the French piano production is all handled by a company called La Manufacture Française des Pianos and they produce only a very limited number of high value Pleyel pianos.
Pleyel and its then manager decided to build the concert hall Salle Pleyel, which stood ready in 1927, with some 3000 seats. However, the 1929 crisis led to bankruptcy and a bank took over the concert hall in 1933 and owned it until 1998, when La Manufacture Française des Pianos took over as well the piano production as the concert hall. After an important renovation 2002-06, the concert hall belongs since 2009 to the Cité de la Musique, a group of institutions dedicated to music, most of them situated in the Paris La Vilette area (see previous post). A new larger symphony concert hall is there under construction. This may lead to a different future concert program at Salle Pleyel.
But since 1927 and still today, Salle Pleyel is a reference for the highest international level of especially classical music performers, orchestras, soloists… It’s the home of the Orchestre de Paris the Orchestre Philhamonique de Radio France. However, also some world leading jazz musicians and modern bands, groups and singers have performed here.
After the latest renovation with further improved acoustics, the number of – now comfortable – seats has been reduced to some 1900.
The design is very much 1920/1930, exterior and interior, and is very simple – the music is supposed to play the major role.
I had the chance to visit the place while the Orchestre de Paris had a pause in a rehearsal. It gives you a chance to stand on the scene,
It’s surprising to see the little – and simple – space available behind the scene.
This is the door through which the artists enter.
Below the large concert hall there are some smaller ones, which occasionally are used for solo performances or chamber music, but mostly seem to serve as rehearsal space.
Despite the name of the place, I found more Steinway than Pleyel pianos around.
On a second floor you can find a bar / café / restaurant, of course open in connection with concerts, but also as an everyday lunch restaurant.