Wolff, Auguste Desire Bernard



Pianist and piano-maker; born in Paris and lived there all his life. He entered the Conservatory at the age of fourteen, where he studied piano under Zimmermann, counterpoint under Leborne and composition under Halevy. He took a first prize for piano-playing in 1839 and several of his piano-pieces were published. At twenty-one he became a piano-teacher at the Conservatory, holding the position five years when he left to become pupil and partner of the wellknown piano-maker, Camille Pleyel. He became a member of the firm (Pleyel, Wolff & Co.) in 1852, and its head upon the death of Pleyel three years later. His great aim was to increase the volume of tone without losing its sweetness, and, with the scientific assistance of his friend M. Lissajous the acoustician, his efforts were untiring. It was due to him that the firm held its own with the best and won so many distinctions. His experiments led to a number of inventions: a double escapement, a transposing keyboard, a pedalier which can be adapted to any piano, and the pedale harmonique, a pedal which can be used while playing chromatic passages. Wolff was honorary president of the Paris Societe des Compositeurs de Musique and founded an annual Pleyel-Wolff prize for the best piano work with or without orchestra.