Pratte

Pratte. A trade name of pianos which began to be manufactured in Montreal in 1889. Arriving in Montreal ca 1875, Louis-Étienne-Napoléon Pratte (b Princeville, Que) opened a music store and began to deal in pianos.

Pratte

Pratte. A trade name of pianos which began to be manufactured in Montreal in 1889. Arriving in Montreal ca 1875, Louis-Étienne-Napoléon Pratte (b Princeville, Que) opened a music store and began to deal in pianos. In 1882 he was joined for a short time by his young brother Antonio (b Princeville 1865, d Saint-Célestin de Nicolet 9 Jan 1943). After taking music lessons from Dominique Ducharme and Charles-Marie Panneton, Antonio studied piano manufacturing as an apprentice 1882-9 with the Dominion Organ and Piano Co, in Bowmanville, Ont. Another brother, Évariste (ca 1867-1913), accompanied him and studied tuning. Both then went to New York for further training before returning to Canada. In 1889 Antonio Pratte began turning out pianos to which he gave the name L.-É.-N. Pratte; Évariste handled sales and L.-É.-N. promotion and advertising. The Pratte Piano Company/La Compagnie de pianos Pratte was formed officially in 1895 and immediately acquired the Cornwall reed organ factory in Huntingdon, Que; it brought in skilled workmen from the USA and Europe. Between 1894 and 1909 Antonio Pratte obtained patents from the Canadian, US, and even European governments covering improvements he made to the upright piano.

In 1896 the firm proudly listed names belonging to 'the elite of Canadian musicians and teachers who have chosen and purchased the Pratte piano in preference to all the US ones,' adding that its pianos 'possess artistic qualities not found in any other US or European pianos. Their system guarantees in addition to the rarest musical qualities, maximum solidity and durability in extreme climates' (L'Art musical, Nov 1896). In 1898 Victoria Cartier introduced the Pratte piano to Europeans at a concert in the Institut national des jeunes aveugles in Paris. The Pratte firm won a grand prize at the Paris International Exposition in 1900 and in the same year offered its patrons the first Canadian-made player piano.

L.-É.-N. Pratte was founder and owner-publisher of the monthly magazine L'Art musical(issued from Oct 1896 to Jan 1899).

In 1911, when L.-É.-N. Pratte died, Antonio Pratte became head of the company. In 1912 Antonio's first grand piano, the design of which he had been developing since 1896, was introduced to the public at a concert at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal by Victoria Cartier. Also at this time Pratte produced a new kind of harmonium 'with a transposing keyboard' for use in churches and chapels. The Pratte Piano Company began manufacturing phonographs in 1918 under the name of the Prattephone Co.

In 1926 the company merged with the firm of J.-Donat Langelier Ltée, which in 1963 merged with N.G. Valiquette to become Langelier-Valiquette Ltée.


Further Reading

  • 'Le palais de musique de L.E.N. Pratte,' Le Commerce de Montréal et de Québec et leurs industries en 1889 (Montreal 1889)

    Pelletier, Frédéric. 'Le piano Pratte,' La Musique, vol 4, Jan 1922

    Biographies canadiennes-françaises (Montreal 1923)

    Kallmann History of Music in Canada

    Musiciens canadiens

    Roll Back the Years