Contributing greatly to the graceful yet vibrant tone of the Bosendorfer, a special action for the grand piano was developed by the company. They also introduced the over-strung scale and cast iron frame.
In 1824 Ignaz Bosendorfer began refining the handmade pianos of Joseph Brodman, a piano builder in Vienna. Primarily, he wanted to heighten the volume of the instrument, whilst preserving the soft, melodious sound of the string.
During the same year, Franz Liszt became a strong advocate of Bosendorfer pianos. He found delight in them after other Viennese pianos he had tried did not hold up to his powerful playing.
After having won gold medals at industry exhibitions, Ignaz Bosendorfer was awarded with the grand title of ‘Imperial and Royal Fortepiano Purveyor to the Court’ in 1839 by Emperor Ferdinand I. This caused Bosendorfer exports within Europe and overseas to thrive.
The Bosendorfer Piano Competition was first held in 1889, the winner’s prize being a ‘premium piano’. Never before had this type of prize been awarded. The competition is still held today.
The location of the company was moved to a factory in New Vienna in 1860. Alongside it was a concert hall seating 200, which rapidly became too small. In 1870 the piano firm changed locations again, to Graf Starhemberg Gasse 14. This is in Vienna’s Fourth District, and is Bosendorfer’s present headquarters.
Bosendorfer’s reputation soared when one of its particularly ornate grand pianos was chosen as a gift from Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1869. He gave it to the Emperor family when diplomatic relations were achieved between Austria-Hungary and the Japanese empire.
1872 marked the opening of Bosendorfer Hall. Hans von Bulow, a renowned pianist of the time, performed the opening. The Hall, with its clear acoustics, held over 4,500 concerts. Bosendorfer Hall closed in 1913 and up until then, Ludwig Bosendorfer had also been managing another prominent Viennese concert hall in Herrengasse.
Ignaz Bosendorfer’s son, Ludwig, created a new concert grand around the beginning of the 20th century. It was 29 metres in length and had eight full octaves. It had been a proposal from Ferruccio Busoni; the composer responsible for the conversion of Bach’s organ works into music for the piano. Under the name ‘Imperial’, the model is now famous all around the world.
Bosendorfer’s wood storage was completely destroyed by bombs in 1944. Furthermore, Allied soldiers used the pianos displayed at Bosendorfer Downtown for firewood.
In 1966 the American corporate group Kimball purchased the piano firm. Ludwig Bosendorfer had died in 1919, and had no descendants. The company was sold to BAWAG, the Austrian banking group, in 2001.
The company saw many impressive customers around the close of the 19th century, including Empress Elisabeth, Empress Eugenie of France, the Russian czar and the Japanese emperor.
Bosendorfer was awarded an exceptional prize at the end of 2007. The Federal Minister of Economics and Labour presented it with the Coat of Arms of Austria in appreciation of its remarkable achievements.
At the beginning of 2008, Bosendorfer was taken over by Yamaha. The greatly established Bosendorfer’s unique, dynamic sound is cherished by the Japanese company.
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