John Broadwood

John Broadwood (6 October 1732 – 17 July 1812), is the founder of the piano manufacturer Broadwood and Sons.


Broadwood was born in Oldhamstocks. He inherited his father James Broadwood's (b1697) profession, that of a wright or carpenter/joiner, and as a young man walked from Oldhamstocks in the Scottish Borders, to London where he worked for the harpsichord maker Burkat Shudi.

Burkat Shudi died in 1773, and John Broadwood took control of the company from his brother-in-law in 1783.

Broadwood and his acquaintances William Stodart and Americus Backers are credited with devising the English Grand Action, an early piano action, and of taking piano design from the box piano to a prototype grand piano. In time his sales of pianos exceeded those of harpsichords, to the point that he ceased to manufacture harpsichords in 1793. He died in London.

Broadwood's other technical innovations in piano manufacture include:

* adding a separate bridge for the bass notes
* patenting the piano pedal in 1783
* expanding the then-standard five octave range upwards by half an octave, in response to a request of Dussek, and then by half an octave downwards

As a company, Broadwood and Sons prospered, and was passed into the hands of his sons, James Shudi Broadwood and Thomas Broadwood. It is the oldest extant piano manufacturer in the world.


John marry Shudi's daughter Barbara in 1769. They had four children, then Barbara died. He then married Mary Kitson in 1781 and had a further six children. Many of his descendants were involved in pianoforte manufacturing in England and some were involved in the British Army in India during the reign of Queen Victoria. Others emigrated to Australia, where Broadwood descendants still live. The Broadwood family tree can be clearly traced back to circa 1580.

The British general Robert George Broadwood (1862-1917) was a grandson by his son Thomas (son by John's second wife Mary Kitson) and Mary Athlea Matthews.


* "Piano: An Encyclopedia", page 57
* "Pianos and Their Makers" by Alfred Dolge, page 244 ISBN 0-486-22856-8
* "Broadwood by Appointment" by David Wainwright, Quiller Press, London 1982

External links

* [ John Broadwood and Sons] , official website
* [ John Broadwood and Sons Piano Manufacturers] by Sally Jenkinson, Surrey County Council

* [http://www.hammerflü Broadwood in the grand piano-Photoarchive]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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