Philip H. Kompff started out primarily as a piano dealer and retailer in New York City just before the Civil War. He is first listed in 1859 at 203 Avenue #3, moving several times as his firm expanded over the next 30 years. By 1860 Kompff was building a small number of pianos under his own name while also retailing pianos by other makers. In the early 1870s, Kompff began building and retailing other musical instruments including drums, tambourines, brass instruments, and banjos. In 1876, he admitted his son William into the firm, changing the name of the company to 'Kompff & Son'. This was a short-lived partnership, and his son withdrew in 1877. Philip Kompff continued building pianos under his own name until the mid 1890s.