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Jeffrey Shackell Piano Technician

The History of the Bosendorfer Piano

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.

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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.

Serial Numbers

YEAR SERIAL NUMBER YEAR SERIAL NUMBER YEAR SERIAL NUMBER YEAR SERIAL NUMBER
1828 4 1913 20482 1945 26728 1978 32102
1830 200 1914 20883 1946 26759 1979 32730
1840 490 1915 21095 1947 26771 1980 33448
1850 3000 1916 21369 1948 26784 1981 34190
1860 5000 1917 21664 1949 26825 1982 35146
1870 6400 1918 21850 1950 26879 1983 35988
1875 8000 1919 22060 1951 26957 1984 36668
1880 9300 1920 22311 1952 27061 1985 37445
1885 10800 1921 22528 1953 27189 1986 38246
1890 11904 1922 22792 1954 27259 1987 39026
1891 12200 1923 23043 1955 27387 1988 39715
1892 12502 1924 23290 1956 27485 1989 40384
1893 12823 1925 23584 1957 27603 1990 41062
1894 13170 1926 23882 1958 27698 1991 41698
1895 13506 1927 24164 1959 27799 1992 42310
1896 13884 1928 24489 1960 27902 1993 42790
1897 14222 1929 24851 1961 28019 1994 43095
1898 14524 1930 25139 1962 28126 1995 43374
1899 14908 1931 25352 1963 28227 1996 43660
1900 15301 1932 25466 1964 28329 1997 43984
1901 15841 1933 25525 1965 26434 1998 44324
1902 16002 1934 25557 1966 28546 1999 44660
1903 16379 1935 25801 1967 28850 2000 45150
1904 16799 1936 26594 1968 28785 2001 45695
1905 17197 1837 25797 1969 28936 2002 46206
1906 17615 1938 25877 1970 29109 2003 46683
1907 18076 1939 26008 1971 29305 2004 47146
1908 18472 1940 26143 1972 29547 2005 47531
1909 18884 1941 26289 1973 29669 2006 47921
1910 19250 1942 26432 1974 30221
1911 19638 1943 26546 1975 30622
1912 20061 1944 26655 1976 31109