Philadelphia’s oldest and most respected piano company, Cunningham Piano Company, boasts a legacy spanning over 130 years. Beginning in 1891, the company has been a testament to the tenacity, vision, and commitment to quality embodied by its founder, Patrick J. Cunningham. Today, under the guidance of co-owners Rich Galassini and Tim Oliver, this iconic institution continues to resonate the sweet notes of innovation, heritage, and craftsmanship.
The Humble Beginnings
Cunningham Piano was founded by Patrick J. Cunningham, an Irish immigrant with a profound passion for the piano making craft. Under his visionary leadership, The Matchless Cunningham Piano quickly earned a reputation as a fine musical instrument, perhaps the finest ever built in Philadelphia. From its inception until the Great Depression, Cunningham Piano thrived, securing awards for both design and quality. However, the company hit a pause just before World War II, refocusing its energies on aiding the war effort.
Restoration: Rekindling Old Magic
Post-World War II, Cunningham Piano reinvented itself, focusing predominantly on piano restoration. Even today, visitors can be amazed as they witness the finest craftsmen in the industry restore vintage pianos to their former glory at one of the world’s most respected piano restoration factories. This emphasis on restoration also made the most challenging project in almost 100 years possible - the reintroduction of the Matchless Cunningham piano!
The Legacy Continues: Rich Galassini and Tim Oliver at the Helm
The new millennium saw Cunningham Piano’s reins being handed over to Rich Galassini and Tim Oliver. It was this partnership that reintroduced the Matchless Cunningham Piano to the world.
Rich Galassini began with the company in 1987. A self proclaimed “piano geek”, Galassini’s interest developed into an unwavering commitment to providing his customers with the best historical insights into the piano's development and understanding of best industry practices.
Likewise, Tim Oliver, with his passion for vocal arts and an experienced manager in the music products field, found his calling with the company in 1997. Their shared vision culminated in buying the company in 2008 and ushering it into a new era.
Today, Cunningham Piano Company not only excels in restoring pianos but also crafts them with components sourced globally. They remain at the forefront, collaborating with giants like Yamaha and handling musical needs for iconic artists such as John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Elton John.
The duo has been instrumental in navigating the company through modern challenges while retaining its historic essence. Both being professional musicians with a deep respect for their craft, they have introduced contemporary visions without forsaking the company’s core values.
An Institution of Musical Excellence
Cunningham Piano is not just a business; it’s an institution. Legends like George Gershwin composed iconic pieces such as "Porgy and Bess" on a Cunningham piano.
The walls of its showroom are adorned with photos of legends like Luciano Pavarotti, M. Night Shyamalan, Robert De Niro, and more, signifying the trust they placed in the brand. Even the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia saw Cunningham Piano playing a significant role by providing the organ for the Papal mass.
From George Gershwin's selection of a Cunningham piano for his magnum opus "Porgy and Bess" to its current-day recognition as a leader in piano restoration and cutting edge digital piano technology, Cunningham Piano Company remains a testament to dedication, innovation, and pure musical excellence.
Brands of Distinction
Over the years, Cunningham Piano Company expanded its offerings, representing a bouquet of world-renowned brands:
- Yamaha: A name that epitomizes precision in sound.
- Bösendorfer: The luxurious touch of Viennese musical legacy.
- Petrof: A celebration of classic European piano craftsmanship.
- Estonia: Representing the pristine tones of Northern Europe.
- The Matchless Cunningham: Philadelphia’s iconic brand once more available
In addition, the company remains a leader in exquisitely restoring pianos, with legendary vintage instruments by Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, and others gracing their showrooms.
The Digital Shift
As the musical landscape evolved, so did Cunningham Piano Company. Offering and understanding technology has made it natural for the world’s leading keyboard technologies to partner with Cunningham. Here are a few:
Beyond Germantown: New Showrooms and a Bright Future
While preserving its storied history, Cunningham Piano continues to innovate. Recent expansions include showrooms in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and its newest showroom in Delmar, Delaware, managed by the esteemed Glenn Clutter, former manufacturer rep for Petrof Pianos.
In conclusion, the journey of Cunningham Piano Company is a tale of dreams, challenges, reinvention, and enduring passion. From the vision of Patrick J. Cunningham to the current offerings, the company stands as a beacon of musical excellence and dedication.