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jefinho Offline OP
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Today was in a piano shop (in The Netherlands) and I asked the seller about several brands, including Steinway and Bosendorfer. He told me that Bosendorfer was not well-known outside the Netherlands. According to him, it is not a renowned brand such as Steinway. However, in the USA, Bosendorfer still has some fame.

Is this true?
I always had the idea that the Bosendorfer brand was equivalent to Steinway and other major brands. But according to this seller, that is not the case in Europe.


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Try another shop and look for some of Andras Schiffs recent recordings on YouTube.


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I am Italian and I know Bosendorfer very well. My jazz piano teacher has a Bosendorfer grand. Generally speaking it is definitely considered one of the top brands here. Expensive but top quality. I would wonder what kind of background does your piano seller have to make statement about the whole Euro market. My 2 c. enjoy.

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Originally Posted by marklings
I would wonder what kind of background does your piano seller have to make statement about the whole Euro market. My 2 c. enjoy.

Thanks for your reply.
He works at one of the biggest piano shops in Europe and sells all the big brands, among Bosendorfer. Maybe this was just a selling technique, for me to look to other brands because I mentioned I wasn't able to afford a new Bosy.


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It is like saying that Rolls-Royce is less famous than Mercedes. Fewer units sold, but the name is out there.

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I am American, but I have spent a fair amount of time in Europe. Bösendorfer has been well thought of by any European pianist I have met. They may not own one, but they are on a number of stages and are generally well respected throughout the continent, at least in my limited experience.

My 2 cents,


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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
It is like saying that Rolls-Royce is less famous than Mercedes. Fewer units sold, but the name is out there.

This analogy sounds pretty apt to me. I think jn the piano world Bosendorfer is really, really well known. It's just not super common because of relative high cost and low volume.


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I would think Bosendorfer would be up there with Steinway and Blüthner


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Bösendorfer is a very famous and revered brand in Europe. Same with Steingraeber, Blüthner, C. Bechstein, etc. The problem that arises is that so many concert technicians are immersed in the Steinway monoculture and know how to voice them, regulated them etc, and the Bösendorfer will often be neglected. Often, at least historically, the Bösendorfers are given less care by the institutions or concert halls and so they appear to be not as good. Bösendorfer is certainly as good as Steinway, but it has a very different sound character. The two pianos are not comparable. Some people find the Bösendorfer to be warm, singing, intimate, and capable of great power when necessary but that power is not directed in the same way as Steinways due to the construction of the rim. Sometimes in large American halls, with lots of soft furnishing, the Bösendorfer's less direct sound can get lost, and so other pianists might find it to be a bit dull. The VC range of Bösendorfer has been designed and built to cope better in these less resonant halls. The traditional build Bösendorfer pianos cope very well in older European halls with their wood panelling. I mean halls like the Ehrbar Saal in Vienna. The Ledger Recital Room of the RCS in Glasgow, which is extremely resonant, has two Bösendorfer 280 VCs in it, and two Steinway Ds from Hamburg (these students are VERY lucky). Their main concert hall has three Steinway Ds, one from '96 and two newer ones, and a CFX, and their opera studio has two D's from '87 that are kept in excellent condition. My word I wish we could have had similar facilities here....

Anyway, the point is, Bösendorfer is a revered name in the piano industry amongst both technicians and pianists. Did they have their rough years? Sure. There were times when Bösendorfer hit tough financial times and couldn't produce the same quality of product as they'd have wished. That time is a long time ago now, 30-50 years at least. Steinway hit the same problems as we all know, and the Hamburg factory was left carrying the flag for the name while the New York factory struggled. That time was also 40-50 years ago, and I do not believe in comparing the new product to the less than stellar product of those times.

All the famous factories are building better pianos than they've ever built before. Although I love rebuilt pianos, I love them for their aesthetic, but I think new pianos are technically better and stronger (personally), and many of them are more musically capable than the instruments of 100 years ago. That said, I do believe that if someone transplanted Rachmaninoff from 1920 into 2022, he'd write differently..... I've gone off on a tangent I'll get back to packing my room!


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Here are some things to practice before visiting a piano store and enduring a salesperson:

"That is not my understanding."
"That is your opinion."
"Do you have a source for that statement?"
"Another piano store told me the opposite."
"Sorry, but I don't believe you."

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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
It is like saying that Rolls-Royce is less famous than Mercedes. Fewer units sold, but the name is out there.

This analogy sounds pretty apt to me. I think jn the piano world Bosendorfer is really, really well known. It's just not super common because of relative high cost and low volume.

In fact, Garrick Ohlsson called the Bösendorfer "the Rolls Royce of pianos" back in the 1970's, Maestro Lennie and Gombessa.


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Isn't Yamaha carrying Bosendorfer distribution now? I saw Bosendorfer pianos in Yamaha dealerships a lot in the US, while other European brands are less seen.


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Bösendorfer is a very famous and revered brand in Europe. Same with Steingraeber, Blüthner, C. Bechstein, etc. The problem that arises is that so many concert technicians are immersed in the Steinway monoculture and know how to voice them, regulated them etc, and the Bösendorfer will often be neglected.

Steingräber is definitely a less known brand than all the others you mentioned. It's a boutique manufacturer with a different focus and I have yet to encounter a Steingräber concert grand anywhere, be it in a concert hall or at a dealership. Even the Viennese Steingräber official dealer doesn't have a concert grand.

Your perception about the Steinway monoculture is incorrect, yet it has a certain truth, because you live in the US and are familiar with New York Steinways. Those Steinways are completely different in terms of their hammers and preparing them for concert service - and that's something you wouldn't do with any European grand, i.e. using lacquer, fabric softeners and the like.

In that sense it's pretty much irrelevant whether you prepare a Hamburg Steinway, a Bechstein, a Bösendorfer or even Yamahas and Kawais. All competent technicians in the concert service over here use the same approach for preparing the action and hammers of any of these brands, because mostly they have identical components inside, especially in the hammers. Renner, Abel and Bechstein are all manufacturers of European style hammers across various lines of piano brands and their composition and density structure is daily bread for every concert technician. My technician is a Japan trained Shigeru MPA and he is in charge of all the Bechstein concert grands in Vienna as well as my personal Steinway and various other instruments.

He'd probably be at a loss in preparing a NY Steinway, though.

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[...] The traditional build Bösendorfer pianos cope very well in older European halls with their wood panelling. I mean halls like the Ehrbar Saal in Vienna.

You will not find any more Bösendorfers in this hall, maybe with the exception of special concerts on historical instruments. Other than that, a Bechstein D 282 is the only available instrument both for concerts and recordingsin the Ehrbar Saal.


Quote
All the famous factories are building better pianos than they've ever built before. Although I love rebuilt pianos, I love them for their aesthetic, but I think new pianos are technically better and stronger (personally), and many of them are more musically capable than the instruments of 100 years ago. That said, I do believe that if someone transplanted Rachmaninoff from 1920 into 2022, he'd write differently..... I've gone off on a tangent I'll get back to packing my room!

Your belief is contrary to my experience, but I'd assume that I've played quite large number of 19th century concert grands that reflect a wide range of different characteristics. Rachmaninoff only encountered Steinway concert grands in substantial numbers when he emigrated to the US. Basically it's only the Paganini Rhapsody as a large scale piano work that he composed on a modern piano according to today's standards. Has his style of using texture, dynamics, colors changed drastically in comparison to his previous works? I think "No" is a solid answer, so I'd not sign up to your opinion about newer pianos being built better and stronger. In fact, my 130 year old Steinway is basically the same as a 2020 model in all fundamental design aspects.

BTW, Rachmaninoff composed his 3rd piano concerto in Dresden around 1909 and his instrument at that time was a Carl Rönisch semi concert grand. I'd say his level of abstraction between what he had in mind and what he actually heard and played was good enough to be transported into any piano of a certain size. Actually, a Rönisch is a nice piano, albeit it's a far cry from a Steinway concert grand tuned to maximum brilliance.

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Originally Posted by Harpuia
Isn't Yamaha carrying Bosendorfer distribution now? I saw Bosendorfer pianos in Yamaha dealerships a lot in the US, while other European brands are less seen.

One reason is Yamaha bought Bosendorfer almost 20 years ago.


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Thank you for your responds!
Steingraeber was mentioned. This brand was also represented in the shop where I was today. In fact, all the models. Including the e-272. This was, by far, the best piano I played today. However, completely out of my budget.

Here in the Netherlands there are plenty of second-hand Bösendorfers on the market, so I hope to find a suitable one. Second-hand Steingraebers are simply too rare.

Last edited by jefinho; 05/08/22 03:45 PM.

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Bösendorfer is a very famous and revered brand in Europe. Same with Steingraeber, Blüthner, C. Bechstein, etc. The problem that arises is that so many concert technicians are immersed in the Steinway monoculture and know how to voice them, regulated them etc, and the Bösendorfer will often be neglected.

Your perception about the Steinway monoculture is incorrect, yet it has a certain truth, because you live in the US and are familiar with New York Steinways. Those Steinways are completely different in terms of their hammers and preparing them for concert service - and that's something you wouldn't do with any European grand, i.e. using lacquer, fabric softeners and the like.

You might not be aware, but Joseph lived in the UK until about 3 years ago. He studied in Vienna. He is quite European.

Originally Posted by OE1FEU
BTW, Rachmaninoff composed his 3rd piano concerto in Dresden around 1909 and his instrument at that time was a Carl Rönisch semi concert grand. I'd say his level of abstraction between what he had in mind and what he actually heard and played was good enough to be transported into any piano of a certain size. Actually, a Rönisch is a nice piano, albeit it's a far cry from a Steinway concert grand tuned to maximum brilliance.

This is interesting. I have heard from Blüthner people that Rachmaninoff owned a Blüthner until he moved to NYC in 1918. They tell a story that he cried when his Blüthner was carried out and his Steinway was moved in. Frankly, I never put stock in that story, but I would love any further explanation you can share.

We have rebuilt a Carl Rönisch that was an absolutely gorgeous piano - and was originally built in St. Petersburg.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by Harpuia
Isn't Yamaha carrying Bosendorfer distribution now? I saw Bosendorfer pianos in Yamaha dealerships a lot in the US, while other European brands are less seen.

One reason is Yamaha bought Bosendorfer almost 20 years ago.

In 2008 to be exact. The Bosendorfer VC looks like a product to capitalise on Yamaha's worlwide distribution.


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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Bösendorfer is a very famous and revered brand in Europe. Same with Steingraeber, Blüthner, C. Bechstein, etc. The problem that arises is that so many concert technicians are immersed in the Steinway monoculture and know how to voice them, regulated them etc, and the Bösendorfer will often be neglected.

Your perception about the Steinway monoculture is incorrect, yet it has a certain truth, because you live in the US and are familiar with New York Steinways. Those Steinways are completely different in terms of their hammers and preparing them for concert service - and that's something you wouldn't do with any European grand, i.e. using lacquer, fabric softeners and the like.

You might not be aware, but Joseph lived in the UK until about 3 years ago. He studied in Vienna. He is quite European.


Yes, I think virtually everyone knows that Joe's European. Only in the U.S. pursuing his doctorate. But he has a balanced view of things, not to mention very knowledgeable and experienced.


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Originally Posted by jefinho
Today was in a piano shop (in The Netherlands) and I asked the seller about several brands, including Steinway and Bosendorfer. He told me that Bosendorfer was not well-known outside the Netherlands. According to him, it is not a renowned brand such as Steinway. However, in the USA, Bosendorfer still has some fame.

Is this true?
I always had the idea that the Bosendorfer brand was equivalent to Steinway and other major brands. But according to this seller, that is not the case in Europe.


That's strange feedback. It doesn't even make sense that an Austrian piano brand would be well-known in the Netherlands, but not more widely across Europe! And then more so in the U.S. I'm shaking my head at that one.


Bösendorfer is well-known throughout Europe, and probably better known there than in the U.S., although it's also highly regarded in the U.S.


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Rachmaninoff's close connection to Rönisch is well documented and the instrument he used in Dresden is now part of the Ivanovka-Exhibition in his former Russian home. That Blüthner allusion is probably a myth transported by later marketing efforts, since Blüthner now owns some naming rights to Rönisch.

http://www.roenisch-pianos.de/en/about-roenisch1.html

I am well aware of Joseph's career and his origins. I wasn't so sure about his intricate knowledge about fundamentally different things between prepping a NY Steinway and a Hamburg one - drawing parallels to what is standard in concert prep all across the world, including Europe, with the single exception of NY Steinways having a completely different approach.



That's not how I want my technician work on my hammers. For them a hammer consists of two components: Keratin and Lanoline and the way you treat a hammer in the first place certainly considers its fibre tense distribution. Pouring an unspecified amount of whatever liquid into it isn't part of the program over here. It might be at a later point in timer after thoroughly working on the hammers, but that will usually come in homeopathic doses to even out minimal stuff.

In that it's quite irrelevant whether a concert technician over here works on a Steinway, a Bösendorfer, a Kawai, Yamaha, Steingräber or Bechstein; the approach to voicing a hammer is pretty similar.

I hope this helps to clarify my previous posting.

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