Sebastien Erard, a French manufacturer of musical instruments, born in Strasburg, April 5, 1752, died in Passy near Paris, Aug. 5,1831. He went to Paris at the age of 16, and apprenticed himself to a maker of harpsichords. He soon acquired great reputation for skill, was dismissed by his master from jealousy, had a workshop fitted up for him in the hotel of the duchess de Villeroi, and here in 1780 constructed his first pianoforte, an instrument which, though invented a number of years previously, and in use in Germany and England, was then almost unknown in France. In connection with his brother Jean Baptiste, he soon after established a manufactory of pianofortes in Paris, which gradually became the first in Europe. During the revolutionary period the brothers Erard went to England, and established a manufactory of pianos and harps in London; but in 17% Sebastien returned to Paris. He constructed the first grand pianos with single action ever made in Paris; in 1808 he much improved the mechanism of the instrument, and in 1823 completed his inventions in this department by the production of his grand piano with repeating movement. Among his many other inventions was his celebrated double-action harp.
The celebrity which his instruments gained remains undiminished, and Erard pianos are still unsurpassed for roundness, fulness, and beauty of tone. - He was succeeded in the firm by his nephew Jean Baptiste Or-phee Pierre, born in Paris in 1794, died in Passy, Aug. 3, 1855. He possessed much of the inventive skill of his uncle; published in 1849 Notice sur les pianos d'Erard en Espagne en Italie, en Suisse, en Russie, etc.; and rebuilt in 1850 the organ constructed by Sebastien Erard in the Tuileries, which had been destroyed during the revolution of 1830. His death is said to have been caused by grief at the injury done to his estate at Passy by the construction of a railway.