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May 27, 2020
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The History of Kawai Pianos

Author: Administrator
The amazing quality of Kawai pianos stems from the careful dedication of the company to maintaining the impressive sound. It`s a sound that has been described as a blanket of velvet...something that one really must experience personally in order to understand.

In the Beginning
Koichi Kawai started the Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory with several other men back in 1927. As a pre-teen, Kawai had been recruited by Torakusu Yamaha as apprentice in his piano workshop. The young man worked hard and was a key factor in the production of many award-winning pianos by Nippon Gakki Co., founded by Yamaha.

Kawai decided to work on his own projects years later, after Yamaha had passed on and the company was in trouble due to a difficult economy. He took 7 co-workers with him and the eight of them formed the new lab.

Kawai`s goal was to create a better piano and his first success was the creation of the very first piano action in Japan. This allowed him to build cheaper pianos, now that it was no longer necessary to import the actions. Within a year, the lab began to turn out upright pianos and then a grand piano.

A Name Change and Expansion
In 1929, just two years after the lab had been founded, the name was changed to Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co. and the business underwent several changes over the following years, including becoming a partnership venture and yet another name change, to Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Ltd.
1930 saw the expansion of the company as they began to produce reed organs. But change was on the horizon.

Pausing for War
Like many production factories during World War II, Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing, Ltd. left off making pianos during the war to produce much needed aircraft parts for the war effort.

Though the war officially ended in 1945, the Japanese struggled to get back on their feet after devastating losses and it wasn`t until three years later that Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing, Ltd. was able to return to the production of musical instruments. It didn`t take long for the business to recover and soon they had over 500 employees and were producing 1,500 pianos per year.

Kawai developed and built his first concert piano, which won the Blue Ribbon Medal of Honor. Just two years later, Koichi Kawai passed away and his son, Shigeru, took over the company, which was now incorporated. He turned the family business into something more modern by updating certain techniques and combining the original handcrafted quality with faster, more modern production.

A Whole New World
The younger Kawai was as much an entrepreneur as his father and pushed hard to grow the company. Once the supply outgrew the demand, he came up with a novel idea to promote sales and started the Kawai Academy of Music to train teachers who were then dispatched to teach in Kawai Music Schools across the country. Door to door sales helped boost the demand for their pianos, as well.

He also set up the Kawai Piano Technical Center to turn out trained piano technicians to provide maintenance of purchased instruments. Within a few more years, the company even had its own retail stores that sold pianos and also provided tuning and repair services. Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd. moved into America in 1969 and was soon established there, as well.

1989 saw a third generation take control of the company and Kawai Pianos are still some of the most popular musical instruments in the world. The company continues to produce top quality products and expand into new areas of development on a continual basis.

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