In July of 1890, Mihály Reményi, a newly appointed “master violin maker,” opened a tiny violin shop in his native city of Budapest, Hungary.
Although orphaned at an early age, Reményi was heir to a distinguished musical legacy through a predecessor, Edouard Reményi, who was known as an illustrious musical figure of the 19th century. Violinist, world traveler and intellectual, Edouard Remenyi also held posts as court violinist to Queen Victoria and Louis Napoleon. He was a lifelong friend of Franz Liszt, and is the man credited with bringing the talents of Johannes Brahms to light, after discovering the impoverished, barely 18-year-old genius playing in a sailor's saloon on the Hamburg waterfront.
The early stages of the business laid a strong foundation for the violin shop to be accredited for fine craftsmanship and expertise. Reményi submitted instruments to many great international expositions held throughout Europe and received numerous medals and distinctions. Subsequently, many excellent violin makers apprenticed and were employed by the Remenyi firm, and Mihály was responsible for several inventions and patents including a “tone escalating” violin bass bar, and the “Resonator”, an early version of today's shoulder rest.
When the founder's two sons joined the firm, the store began to take on the form that it is today. Lászlo, the elder, like his father, became a violinmaker who gained experience in Paris, Hamburg, London and Zurich, before returning home as an internationally regarded violin expert. Zoltán, the younger son, expanded the firm into the many other areas of the music trade (pianos, band instruments, gramophone records etc.) including manufacturing and distribution.
Reményi soon became the country's largest music house, appointed as suppliers to the Royal Court and major musical institutions throughout Austria-Hungary. The business was a highly respected fixture on the dynamic cultural scene of Budapest, occupying two large buildings beside the renowned Franz Liszt Musical Academy. In the 1940's, Reményi was commissioned to produce the first rhythm instruments for Zoltán Kodály's teaching method for children, which remains popular today. Surviving two world wars and economic & political upheavals, the business was confiscated in 1951 when the communist regime terminated private enterprise.
The firm was re-established by Zoltán Reményi upon immigrating to Canada in 1959 with his wife and son. Growing from a tiny 13-foot wide store on Toronto's Queen Street, they moved to their present location on Bloor Street in 1979, adjacent to the campus of the University of Toronto and The Royal Conservatory of Music.
Today, the Remenyi building presents three floors of quality pianos, string instruments, accessories, repair shops, and the Music Bookstore, which specializes in sheet music and educational materials.
Musicians, music lovers and distinguished artists from around the world continue to visit the house, which is currently operated by the founder's grandson, the third generation committed to musical excellence.