Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano manufacturer and, since 2008, a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha Corporation.[1] Bösendorfer is unusual in that it produces 97- and 92-key models in addition to instruments with standard 88-key keyboards.

L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1828; 196 years ago (1828)
FounderIgnaz Bösendorfer
HeadquartersVienna, Austria
ParentYamaha Corporation

History edit

Ignaz Bösendorfer, founder

Bösendorfer, one of the oldest piano manufacturers, was established in 1828 by Ignaz Bösendorfer. It has a history of producing highly respected instruments.[2]

In 1830, it was granted the status of official piano maker to the Emperor of Austria.[3]

Ignaz's son Ludwig Bösendorfer (1835–1919) assumed control in 1859, operating from new premises from 1860.[4]

Between 1872 and its closure in 1913, the associated Bösendorfer-Saal was one of the premier concert halls of Vienna.[5]

In 1909, Carl Hutterstrasser purchased the company and was succeeded by his sons Alexander and Wolfgang in 1931.[6]

In 1966, the Jasper Corporation (later renamed Kimball International), parent company of Kimball Pianos, assumed control of Bösendorfer.[6]

In 2001 Bösendorfer returned to Austrian hands, when the BAWAG PSK Gruppe purchased it.[4]

On 21 December 2007 BAWAG signed an agreement to sell 100% of Bösendorfer to Yamaha Corporation.[7]

Bösendorfer continues to make handcrafted pianos in the same Vienna factory. Almost 300 of these premium pianos are made each year.[5]

Characteristics edit

The oldest preserved square piano by Bösendorfer, dating to 1828

Bösendorfer pioneered the extension of the typical 88-key keyboard, creating the Imperial Grand (Model 290), which has 97 keys (eight octaves). Ferruccio Busoni initially ordered this innovation in 1909 as part of a custom piano, as he wanted to transcribe an organ piece that extended to the C below the standard keyboard.[8] This innovation worked so well that this piano was added to regular product offerings and quickly became one of the world's most sought-after concert grands. Because of the 290's success, the extra strings were added to Bösendorfer's other line of instruments such as the 225 model, which has 92 keys. The extra keys, at the bass end of the keyboard, were originally hidden beneath a hinged panel mounted between the piano's conventional low A and the left-hand end-cheek to prevent their being struck accidentally during normal play; more recent models have omitted this device and simply have the upper surface of the extra natural keys finished in matte black instead of white to differentiate them from the standard 88.

A Bösendorfer piano, model 214CS

The Bösendorfer sound is usually described as darker or richer than the purer but less full-bodied sound of other pianos, such as Steinway & Sons or Yamaha. On the Imperial Grand, this characteristic tonal quality in part derives from the inclusion of nine additional bass notes below bottom A. These extra keys were originally added so that pianists could play Busoni's transcriptions of J. S. Bach's organ works, which required the 32′ bass pipes (usually played on the pedal organ). As very little other music makes direct use of the extra strings, they usually contribute to the piano's sonic character not through being played directly but via sympathetic resonance, when other strings in the piano are struck, contributing additional body to the tone. Moreover, the bass notes of the Bösendorfer, including the extra bass keys, are very powerful, adding volume in demanding literature.

Bösendorfer Kuhn pianos come with 10 Swarovski leaded-glass crystals inserted along the steel structure. The million-dollar Kuhn has 72 crystals installed under the strings.

The rim of a Bösendorfer grand piano is built quite differently from that of all other grands. Instead of veneers bent around a form, the rim is made in solid sections of spruce and jointed together. Spruce is better at transmitting sound than reflecting it. This is perhaps why Bösendorfers tend to have a more delicate treble and a bass that features the fundamental tone more than the higher harmonics.[9] There are also two other features of Bösendorfers that are shared with only a few other piano brands: one is a removable capo d'astro bar in the treble, which facilitates rebuilding of the instrument and, Bösendorfer says, provides greater acoustic separation from the plate, decreasing tonal absorption; the other is single-stringing, providing each string its own individual hitch pin on the plate instead of connecting it to a neighbouring string. This design may slightly improve tuning stability and is an advantage in case of string breakage.[10]

The latest development in the Bösendorfer range is the CEUS digital grand piano reproducing system, which incorporates a computer-controlled mechanism that records a performance on a digital storage medium (magnetic disk or memory chips) and plays it back. The requisite equipment can be fitted to most Bösendorfer pianos to allow the direct recording of pieces while capturing all the keyboard velocity data as a .boe file.[11] Bösendorfer uses a proprietary format to record key and pedal movements as a digital file.

Models edit

The removable capo d'astro bar is located across the upper two (treble) sections of the cast-iron plate

Bösendorfer makes eight models of grand piano from 155 cm to 290 cm in length (5'1" to 9'6") and two vertical pianos,120 cm and 130 cm in height (47" and 51"). The Imperial Grand is one of the world's largest pianos.[12] Each numerical Bösendorfer model directly corresponds to its length in centimeters. For example, a Model 170 is 170 centimeters long (approximately 5'7"). The following tables describes the current Bösendorfer models:

Grand pianos edit

Current Grand Piano Models[13]

Model Length Keys
155 155 cm (5'1") 88
170 VC 170 cm (5'7") 88
185 VC 185 cm (6'1") 88
200 200 cm (6'7") 88
214 VC 214 cm (7') 88
225 225 cm (7'4") 92
230 VC 230 cm (7'6") 88
280 VC 280 cm (9'2") 88
290 Imperial 290 cm (9'6") 97

Upright pianos edit

Current Upright Piano Models[13]

Model Height Keys
120 120 cm (47") 88
130 130 cm (51") 88

Conservatory Series edit

To appeal to a wider market, Bösendorfer designed the Conservatory Series for colleges and universities that could not afford Bösendorfer's standard black-model pianos. The production of the two CS Series pianos spends less time in "non-critical areas", cutting down costs of production and purchase, making them more affordable than standard models. The cases and frames are of satin finish, rather than polished and, initially, the pianos were loop-strung[14] rather than single-strung, but those practices have since been abandoned.[15]

Special and Limited editions edit

Bösendorfer has produced a number of specially designed pianos named after famous composers such as Franz Schubert, Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, as well as pianos designed for special occasions, such as Bösendorfer's 170th and 175th anniversaries.[16]

SE reproducing piano edit

Under the ownership of Kimball, Bösendorfer built and sold a small number of Stahnke Edition automatic reproducing pianos based on 3 of the 'Imperial Line' models 225, 275 and 290.[3] The 'SE' designation was for Stahnke Engineering, whose founder, Wayne Stahnke, invented the mechanism. These instruments were fitted with sensors, electronics and mechanical systems to record and play back piano performances extremely accurately through electro-mechanical actuation of the piano keys and pedals. These instruments were designed to work with either performances stored on cassette tapes as digital data, or with an attached MS-DOS IBM PC computer. Using the computer, the SE instruments could be used for recording, editing and playback. The SE system instruments were the first commercially available computer-controlled "player piano" capable of accurately reproducing both the notes and intensity of a performer's playing. This system was not further developed or patented due to its high cost. Competitors soon introduced patented reproducing piano technologies such as the Yamaha Disklavier in 1982.[17]

The Bösendorfer SE instruments were used in a number of well-regarded commercially available audio recordings published on CD, where the performance was recorded on the SE system, but the piano was recorded playing back the performance later in a studio or hall, sometimes on a different instrument. Other audio recordings were produced using converted piano roll recordings from the early 20th century, including a two-disc series entitled 'A Window in Time' featuring performances by Rachmaninoff and produced by Wayne Stahnke.

Thirty two SE pianos were produced by Bösendorfer between 1984 and 1987, including the 225SE, the 275SE, and the 290SE Imperial model pianos. In the 290 range, this included some 290 to 290SE conversions. One third of the production were 290SE models.[18] Most of these instruments are still in use as of 2024.

The research that went into the SE reproducing system later laid the foundation for the CEUS computerized reproducing piano system, though much of the resulting design was completely different.[19]

Designer models edit

Bösendorfer produces a limited number of Artisan Models annually, each available for order only during the calendar year in which it was developed. An example of a designer model is the Bösendorfer Swarovski Crystal Grand piano. Three of these special pianos were produced in 2003 in honour of Bösendorfer's 175th anniversary. Each piano's case is encrusted with 8000 crystals and layers of gold.[20][21]

Three notable architects who have designed Bösendorfer piano models are Theophil Freiherr von Hansen (1866), Josef Hoffmann (1909) and Hans Hollein (1990). There were only two Hans Hollein 225 models produced in 1990; one can be found in the lounge of the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando, Florida.[22]

Bösendorfer artists edit

Franz Liszt giving a concert for Emperor Franz Joseph I on a Bösendorfer piano

Among the earliest artists to be associated with Bösendorfer was Franz Liszt, who at least once opined that Bösendorfer and Bechstein pianos were the only instruments capable of withstanding his tremendously powerful playing. The renowned twentieth-century American composer–conductor Leonard Bernstein has also performed on a Bösendorfer. Another great pianist who championed Bösendorfer pianos was Wilhelm Backhaus.

In his memoirs, Arthur Rubinstein recounts having insisted on a Bechstein instead of the hall's Bösendorfer before a recital in Austria. After the performance, the then-head of the Bösendorfer company came backstage to meet this young artist who refused to play a piano highly cherished by his Russian namesake, Anton Rubinstein; Rubinstein claims he thereafter always sought out Bösendorfers when in Austria.

In the late 1970s, following a concert performed in Vienna, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson turned to his impresario, Norman Granz, with the words: "Dammit, Norman, where does this box go? I also gotta have such a thing!" Such was his reaction to playing a Bösendorfer 290.[23] Musician/comedian Victor Borge also played Bösendorfer pianos.[24]

More recent examples of notable artists who have played the Bösendorfer include Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter claiming it had a preferable pianissimo sound and control, according to his own interview);[25] Hungarian pianist András Schiff; Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel; Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli; American free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor and American singer-songwriter Tori Amos;[26] German pianist Wolfgang Rübsam; Austrian pianists Friedrich Gulda, Walter Klien and Paul Badura-Skoda;[27] British pianists Leon McCawley and Mark Gasser[28] as well as the Irish pianist John O'Conor. Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa has recorded DVDs of Chopin and Schubert-Liszt[clarification needed] on a 1925 model Bösendorfer, and has released a new video set of a recital using the 97-key Bösendorfer Imperial.

Minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine chose a nine-foot Bösendorfer as the vehicle on which to perform his 1974 composition Strumming Music. Released as his first compact disc in 1991, it features in excess of 45 minutes of Palestine forcefully playing two notes in rapid alternation, slowly expanding into clusters, with the sustain pedal depressed throughout.[29] As the music swells (and the piano gradually detunes), the harmonics build and the listener can hear a variety of timbres rarely produced by the piano.

Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett performed the solo improvisations (his Köln Concert) at the Cologne Opera House in Cologne, Germany, on 24 January 1975 on a Bösendorfer and became a Steinway & Sons artist in 1981.[30]

The jazz singers/pianists Nina Simone and Shirley Horn performed on Bösendorfers many times throughout their careers.

In a recent interview for Broadway.com, Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz stated that he purchased a Bösendorfer after the initial success of his musical Wicked.

Recordings edit

Bösendorfer pianos have appeared on numerous records. Some examples are:

Classical (recordings made with 19th century Bösendorfer pianos) edit

  • Wolfgang Brunner, Michael Schopper. Anton Bruckner. Piano Works. Label: CPO. Played on a Bösendorfer piano (before 1835).
  • Christoph Eggner. Anton Bruckner. Piano Pieces from the Kitzler-Studienbuch. Label: Gramola.
  • Hardy Rittner, Teunis van der Zwart. Johannes Brahms. Early Piano Works Vol. 2. Label: Dabringhaus und Grimm (MDG). Played on an Ignaz Bösendorfer piano (1849-1850).
  • Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Teunis van der Zwart. Johannes Brahms. Horn Trio Op. 40, Violin Sonata Op. 78, Fantasies Op. 116. Label: Harmonia Mundi. Played on a Bösendorfer piano (1875).
  • Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov. Albert Dietrich, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms. Violin Sonatas Op. 100 & 108. Label: Harmonia Mundi. Played on a Bösendorfer piano (1875).
  • Alexander Melnikov. Franz Schubert, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, Igor Stravinsky. Four Pianos, Four Pieces. Label: Harmonia Mundi. Played on pianos by Alois Graff (c. 1828-1835), Érard (1837), Bösendorfer (c. 1875) and Steinway (2014).
  • Italian Piano Quartet. Johannes Brahms. Piano Quartets Op. 25, 26 & 60. Label: Symphonia. Played on a Bösendorfer piano (1880).
  • Maria Milstein, Jozef De Beenhouwer. Johannes Brahms. Hauskonzert bei Brahms - Mürzzuschlag, 23. August 1885. Label: Brahms Museum Mürzzuschlag. Played on a Ludwig Bösendorfer piano (1882).
  • Simona Eisinger, Zuzana Ferjenčíková. Sergei Rachmaninoff, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss. Seelenverwandt. Label: Schwechtenstein-Records. Played on pianos by Johann Baptist Streicher (1847), Friedrich Ehrbar (1878) and Ludwig Bösendorfer (1893).
  • Alexander Baillie, John Thwaites. Johannes Brahms. Sonaten für Violoncello und Klavier, Vier ernste Gesänge. Label: Somm. Played on pianos by Karl Rönisch (1860), Ehrbar (1877) and Streicher (1878).
  • Radoslav Kvapil. Antonín Dvořák. Dvořák Piano Works. Label: Alto. Played on the composer's own Bösendorfer piano (1879).
  • Radoslav Kvapil. Antonín Dvořák. Dvořák Piano Works II. Label: Alto. Played on the composer's own Bösendorfer piano (1879).
  • Jan Michiels. Antonín Dvořák. Suite Op. 98, Poetische Stimmungsbilder Op. 85, Humoresken Op. 101. Label: Eufoda. Played on a Bösendorfer piano (1884).
  • Jan Michiels. Johannes Brahms. Klavierstucke & Intermezzi Opus 116-119. Label: Eufoda. Played on a Bösendorfer piano (1884).

Classical (recordings made with modern Bösendorfer pianos) edit

  • Costantino Catena has recorded on new Bösendorfer VC280 the CD "Dedications—Schumann-Liszt / Costantino Catena plays the new Bösendorfer 280VC" for Camerata Tokyo[43]
  • Zoltán Kocsis recorded on Bösendorfer, together with conductor Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the complete work for piano and orchestra by Bela Bartok for Philips.

Popular edit

In popular culture edit

  • A Bösendorfer was featured in the 2017 Academy Award–nominated film Call Me by Your Name.[52]
  • A Bösendorfer, with artwork by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, is seen in the video for Drake's 2020 song "Toosie Slide".[53]
  • Bösendorfer samples are used extensively in Yamaha's flagship Clavinova lineup.
  • A Bösendorfer was mentioned, shown and played in the final episode of the Netflix Show "Pieces of Her"
  • A Bösendorfer was featured being played by Dr. Evil in the 1999 film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • A Bösendorfer piano featured prominently in the radio drama series The Adventures of Harry Nile episode 97, first aired on 10/05/1997, titled The Bösendorfer Matter

General bibliography edit

  • Fine, Larry (2007). 2007–2008 Annual Supplement to The Piano Book. Brookside Press ISBN 1-929145-21-7 and ISBN 1-929145-22-5 (electronic edition).
  • Fine, Larry (2001). The Piano Book. Brookside Press ISBN 1-929145-01-2
  • Kunz, Johannes (2002). Bösendorfer: A Living Legend. Molden Publishing Co. ISBN 3-85485-080-8

Citations edit

  1. ^ "Yamaha History". Yamaha Corporation. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Yamaha calls the tune in fight for pianos". The Times. London. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b Palmieri, Robert (11 September 2003). The Piano: an Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415937962.
  4. ^ a b "History". Bösendorfer. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  5. ^ a b "History – About – Bösendorfer". boesendorfer.com. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Heritage and History: The Story of Bosendorfer – Yamaha Music London". yamahamusiclondon.com. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  7. ^ g_fasol (21 December 2007). "Yamaha acquires Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH". Europe-Japan. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  8. ^ "Model 290 Imperial". Bosendorfer. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  9. ^ Fine, Larry (2007). 2007–2008 Annual Supplement to The Piano Book. Brookside Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-929145-21-8. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  10. ^ Fine, Larry (2001). The Piano Book. Brookside Press. p. 103. ISBN 1-929145-01-2.
  11. ^ "CEUS digital grand piano reproduces virtuosity and emotion". Bösendorfer. Archived from the original on 12 March 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Bösendorfer Standard Models". Bösendorfer. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Bösendorfer Klaviere und Konzertflügel. Pure Emotion". boesendorfer.com. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  14. ^ Fine, Larry; Jarrett, Keith; Gilbert, Douglas R. (2000). The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New Or Used Piano. Brookside Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-1-929145-01-0.
  15. ^ Fine, Larry (2010). Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer. Brookside Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-929145-35-5.
  16. ^ "Limited Edition". Bösendorfer. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  17. ^ "Development of Yamaha Products". Yamaha. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  18. ^ "CEUS Reproducing System Of My Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano". M Cohen. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  19. ^ "CEUS Reproducing System Of My Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano". M Cohen. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  20. ^ "Special and Designer Models". Bösendorfer. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Photo Finish". Honolulu Star Bulletin. Vol. 12, no. 5. 5 January 2007. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  22. ^ Kunz, Johannes (2002). Bösendorfer – A Living Legend. Molden Publishing Co. p. 213. ISBN 3-85485-080-8.
  23. ^ "IN MEMORIAM Oscar Emmanuel Peterson – (August 25, 1925 to December 23, 2007) Bösendorfer grieves for a friend..." (Press release). Bösendorfer. 28 November 2007. Archived from the original on 3 January 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  24. ^ "He Introduced Me to the Bosendorfer Imperial: Victor Borge". company7.com. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  25. ^ "Richter – The Enigma (DVD)". Ciao!. 22 May 2005. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  26. ^ "A wonderful piano evening in Farmingdale" (Press release). Bösendorfer. Archived from the original on 30 August 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  27. ^ "Reference List". Bösendorfer. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  28. ^ "Piano Transport". maestro.net. 9 February 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  29. ^ Duguid, Mark (April 1996). "Charlemagne Palestine Interview". Est. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  30. ^ "Keith Jarrett – Steinway & Sons". steinway.com. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  31. ^ Cameo Classics catalogue entry for CC9016CD – Havergal Brian: The Complete Piano Music
  32. ^ "Professor Peter Hill (Emeritus Professor of Music)". University of Sheffield. 8 March 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  33. ^ Oppitz, Gerhard (1989). Johannes Brahms: Das Gesamtwerk für Klavier (CD). BMG Eurodisc. RD 69245, 5 discs.
  34. ^ Pratt, Awadagin (1999). Pratt: Transformations (CD). EMI Classics. 72435 56836.
  35. ^ Richter, Sviatoslav (1972). J. S. Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier (CD). RCA Victor Gold Seal. GD 60949.
  36. ^ Rosenberger, Carol (1992). "Water Music" of the Impressionists (CD). Delos. D/CD 3006.
  37. ^ Rosenberger, Carol (1992). Beethoven Piano Sonatas op. 57 Appassionata op. 111 The Last Great Piano Sonata (CD). Delos. DE 3009.
  38. ^ "Remarks on Moritz Rosenthal's Recordings". EarthLink. Archived from the original on 6 March 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2008.
  39. ^ [1] John Atkinson: "Ludwig van Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas," Stereophile, January 2001
  40. ^ Silverman, Robert (2000). Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas (CD). OrpheumMasters. KSP 830.
  41. ^ Official Web site, "Piano" section, accessed 9 September 2012 Archived 7 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  42. ^ Official Web site, front page, accessed 9 September 2012.
  43. ^ "献呈 シューマン=リスト/コスタンティーノ・カテーナ | カタログ – Camerata Tokyo".
  44. ^ Wheeler, Fred (2002). "Interview with Bradley Joseph". Indie Journal (archived version of indiejournal.com). Archived from the original on 1 November 2004. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  45. ^ Words by Jim Steinman, Jim Steinman's official blog, 19 July 2006. Accessed 8 September 2008
  46. ^ Notorious Owners of the Bösendorfer Imperial: Dr. Evil & Mini-Me
  47. ^ "Bösendorfer Pianos – Fine investments as both a musical instrument and a work of art".
  48. ^ Keith Jarrett – Der amerikanische Jazzpianist im Porträt. 2007, 30 Min., written and directed by Frank Zervos and Ekkehard Wetzel, ZDFdokukanal
  49. ^ Matt Bellamy decided on Boesendorfer
  50. ^ Small Moments
  51. ^ "Tori Amos".
  52. ^ "Music and touch in Call Me by Your Name". 23 January 2018.
  53. ^ Saponara, Michael (3 April 2020). "7 Things You Might Have Missed Inside Drake's House in 'Toosie Slide' Video". Billboard. Retrieved 4 April 2020.

External links edit