KASRIEL – the last French harmonium makersadmin
Louis-Maurice KASRIEL (1815-1899) was a musical instrument maker who was born in Krotoschin, Prussia – today’s Krotoszyn in Poland.
In 1839, he started a company in Paris that would specialise in making harmoniums, harmoniflutes and guide-chants. Louis Maurice Kasriel was married to Sara KAHN. The company was awarded medals for the portable harmoniums and harmoniflutes constructed, including a gold at the 1878 Paris Exhibition and a silver for the Paris Exhibition in 1900. Their son Edouard (1839-1882) had represented the company in Saint-Louis (USA) and in France, but moved into painting and had already died when his father Louis Maurice passed away in 1899. Therefore, in 1900 the company was continued by the grandchildren – Louis Kasriel and his cousin Albert Freitag under the name Les Petits-Fils de Maurice Kasriel. The company seems to have started making regular harmoniums at around that time.
Before the outbreak of WW1, the company grew, expanded and acquired other businesses. It bought the Louis Kuster free metal reed factory. It also bought the Chaperon harmonium manufacturing business, thereby acquiring the brands Cottino, Christophe & Étienne and Rodolphe & Debain. Louis Kariel submitted a patent in 1936 in France relating to improvements on transposing or non-transposing harmoniums. Then he submitted another in 1938 for an accordion mechanism.
Between 1943 and 1945, Kasriel’s descendants were deported and exterminated in Nazi concentration camps.
Following the end of the Second World War, the remaining heirs passed over the management of the company to the Pisson-Brunet family, who owned the company Elcké – a supplier of pianos and singing guides to the French Ministry of Education.
It is estimated that Kasriel produced a total of around 80,000 instruments. After 150 years of production, in 1984, it finally closed its doors as the last French harmonium manufacturer.