Concert technician Charly Brandl prepares a Bösendorfer grand piano for a concert
© L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik / Staudinger + Franke

Bösendorfer piano factory

Music and sound in perfect harmony – it has to be Vienna. The city has not only always been home to world-famous musicians: instrument makers based here produce the tools that make their incredible feats possible.

The biggest name of them all, Bösendorfer, is almost 200 years old and the oldest piano maker in the premium segment. It takes more than a year to handcraft an instrument with the unmistakably clear and lively Bösendorfer sound.

The secret of the sound

Only 300 pianos are made each year in Wiener Neustadt, just under 48 km outside Vienna – but ‘produced’ is the wrong word: 120 piano-obsessed artisans shape each and every instrument, with painstaking attention to detail. Even the apprentices are given piano lessons. Every employee is part of this musical world – and that is reflected in the sound of the instruments.

In addition to all the passion and care, one kind of tree plays a major role: local spruce. The seasons, the sun, the wind, and the cold allow its wood to mature slowly. It is then left outside to dry in the open air for up to five years before it can be put to use following the Bösendorfer resonance case principle, which states that the starting point and center of the construction plan is the immaterial sound. Bösendorfer builds the instrument “around the sound” for an unmistakable, magical performance.

Each instrument is as individual as its future owner – who is permitted to give his or her imagination free rein when it comes to color, veneer, monograms, or personal dedications. They take delivery of a one of a kind, and classic example master craftsmanship.

Vienna city salon

The most talented pianists play Bösendorfers – from Duke Ellington to Oscar Peterson, from the Beatles to Bernstein, from Liszt to Gulda, and from Michael Jackson to Tori Amos. Star tenor Plácido Domingo sees the sound as a role model: “Some pianists try to sound like a singer. But I try to sound like a Bösendorfer.”

The showroom – the Bösendorfer Salon and Flagship Store – has been located in the Musikverein building, where the capital’s musical heart beats, since 1914. Playing a Bösendorfer means touching the sound – a sound that lives on in the memory forever. 

Text: Susanna Burger

 

 

 

 

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