This pedalboard, which the Derdeyn firm patented in 1905, is placed under an upright piano, enabling the pianist to play the notes of the bass register with his feet rather than with his hands. The pedalboard has its own strings and hammers, and its soundboard is independent from the piano it is added to. With its long and narrow keys it has a compass of thirty notes, from C to f1 (English notation; American notation: C2-F4).

Organs have had pedalboards since the thirteenth century. In the Baroque era pedalboards were added to clavichords and harpsichords to enable organists to practise without an assistant to work the bellows. Pianos were provided with pedalboards from the eighteenth century onwards. Mozart owned a pianoforte with a pedalboard made by Anton Walter. He must have had this instrument in mind when he composed his famous Concerto in D minor K466 in 1785. In the nineteenth century many compositions were written for the instrument, in particular by Alkan, Schumann and Gounod.  

The Derdeyn firm was founded in Roeselare (West Flanders) in 1846 by the music teacher, composer and pianist Louis Derdeyn (Ruddervoorde 1827 - Roeselare 1887). It met with such success that it opened a branch in Brussels in 1878. After the founder's death, the firm was taken over by his sons Albert and Louis. In 1905, when this pedalboard was patented, they won a gold medal at the world exhibition in Liège. The Derdeyn firm ceased its activities in 1959.

Pascale Vandervellen


Pedal Board, Louis Derdeyn, Roeselare (West Flanders, Belgium), inv. D2011.001