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#181938 - 05/24/08 02:13 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Ori Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/04
Posts: 1703
Loc: Stamford CT, New York City .
 Quote:
Originally posted by BoseEric:
I'm going to touch on another of my themes, namely that, at this level, to say that one particular feature or construction technique is better than another is nonsensical. Each of these makers has had a long time to learn what works and what doesn't.

More importantly, each has dedicated themselves to a particular idea of how a piano should sound, and imbued their instruments with this specific, very unique personality. This is why somebody considering purchasing a high end piano should spend more time playing them than worrying about whether something is "better" or "worse" than something else. Each feature plays a critical role in that makers unique sound and personality.

Now, extending this a little, one can also see that this makes sense since composers, at least the ones that people remember, also have very distinctive personalities and sounds. That unique, distinctive, memorable sound is what allows us to identify Brahms from Schubert, regardless if we have any idea of historical styles or not. These high end makers have all had close relationships with the composers and musical styles of their times. The sounds of their instruments have a direct relationship with the experience the company has had with the culture and personalities of their time. This is what makes the world of high end pianos so much fun (at least to me, and at least a couple of other similar nut-cases).

So, extending this a bit further, this is why I have trouble accepting the idea that there is one particular piano sound that is best for all performers, all composers, all halls and all audiences.

But, that's just me. [/b]
Now that's worth quoting, remembering and repeating!
_________________________
Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - New York City and Stamford CT showrooms.

Authorized dealer representing:

Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, August Forster, Haessler, Kawai.

Restored Steinway pianos.

www.allegropianos.com

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#181939 - 05/24/08 02:14 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14266
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
 Quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
More importantly, each has dedicated themselves to a particular idea of how a piano should sound, and imbued their instruments with this specific, very unique personality.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that this is what Norbert is referring to when he mentions "soul."
It's even more so: "identity"

The endless North American "who's the finest on the wall" is not exactly a European tradition where a great deal of manufacturers have always attempted to create something unique and lasting for/by themselves.

This "identity" was often very much influenced and shaped by the unique cultural surrroundings of a particular area, it's tradition of music, its composers, it's political and cultural make up, even religion, food and things like that.

Think of the 'clean' lines of the north, the more colourful shades of the South, the more romantic,almost melancholic tendencies as you move East.

Isn't it nice to have many beautiful flowers in one's rose garden?

This in essence, is what Europe is - and has always been - all about.

Norbert \:\)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#181940 - 05/24/08 03:04 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
N,[/b] your post and BoseEric's are well worth repeating. I've bookmarked this thread.

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#181941 - 05/24/08 05:35 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9398
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
BoseEric,

I have been away but I have something to say after seing this thread for the first time.

Will you adopt me?

Seriously, tremendous post and great thread. Good show!

Also, both you and Alex have my tremendous respect and have always shown yourselves to be true gentlemen. I am glad this thread ended showing nothing but that.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#181942 - 05/24/08 05:39 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
Rich....does that mean you want this thread to end??
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181943 - 05/24/08 05:53 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
pianistical Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/04
Posts: 1377
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Blüthner and Steingraeber featured in the same thread. Wonderful! :p
_________________________
“There are only two important things which I took with me on my way to America, It´s been my wife Natalja and my precious Blüthner.” – Sergei Rachmaninov

1913 Blüthner model 6
1929 Blüthner model 9.
1955 Steingraeber upright.

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#181944 - 05/24/08 08:54 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
"In a world of mechanization and low production costs, the reasons for spending a lot of money on a high end piano often get lost. These pianos represent culture, history, human craftsmanship and inspiration and still exist as real world objects of importance, rather than some museum oddity like a Faberge egg".

Truly beautiful words.
Thanks
_________________________
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

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#181945 - 05/24/08 10:11 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9398
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
double post - please ignore
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#181946 - 05/24/08 10:12 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9398
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
BoseEric said:
 Quote:
Rich....does that mean you want this thread to end??
[/b]

No, no no!! Go on. Please go on.

I meant that the potential verbal sparring ended. You were both gentlemen.

Usually it is best to ignore me, BoseEric. ;\)
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#181947 - 05/24/08 10:16 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
Just goofing on ya, buddy
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181948 - 05/24/08 11:32 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
Kenny, if you will go back just a few months and read the very long thread on cantileavered bridges, you will find that a few modern pianos have decided to not use them. Some people are rebuilding old pianos without them as well. Del Fondrich wrote at length why he is against them. His pianos do not have them as well as the Charles Walters he designed not having them.
BoseEric, Thanks for this wonderful thread. I know how very much work you are putting into posting your report. Thanks for the effort to post the pictures.
_________________________
Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

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#181949 - 05/25/08 07:27 AM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
Thanks to all who have said good things about this thread. Perhaps you can tell that I'm passionate about the subject. Glad it's finding kindred spirits out there.
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181950 - 05/25/08 08:27 AM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
After poking around Bayreuth, including some grave hunting, we hit the road for Braunschweig and Schimmel.

Braunschweig has medieval roots, but now is an important part of Germany's industrial core. I did not find the same kind of connection there like Bach or Wagner, which doesn't take anything from Braunschweig. It's just explaining why I don't have any scenic pictures.


Schimmel has staked a different place in the European piano world than the 2 other makers I visited. While Schimmel shares a long history and family management, Schimmel has committed itself to high volume (relatively speaking) production, making the significant investment in equipment and processes and taking the price advantages and product range advantages that come with that strategy.

They are a true German piano maker with the same commitment to an individual sound and style. But they are also committed to making high quality German pianos available to a wider market, both in price points and a truly huge range of models, styles and features.

Schimmel did not let me take photos and I have an appreciation of why. Many aspects of their approach could be copied by other manufacturers interested in higher volume production. Of course, all the traditional piano making techniques are present in the factory. However, different product lines and price points show different combinations of machine work and handwork. The handwork steps are as well known and as transparent as at other makers. However, some of the ways of easing materials handling, mechanizing certain repetitive steps and processing components in large volume are creative and unique.

Lothar Kiesche, the Director of Sales and Marketing gave us the tour and I really appreciate his taking to time to do so. Schimmel is expanding their focus on the higher end of their model line, the Konzert Collection. One feature of this series, if I understand it correctly, is to use the same action (key length in particular) in a series of different sizes, allowing consistency in touch.

There is another Schimmel innovation that I love and think all makers should adapt. There are a couple of critical dimensions in bass strings, including the distance from the back of the bridge to the hitch pin loop. On notes where there are 2 (sometimes 3) bass strings, the traditional design has the hitch pins staggered, meaning that this "tail length", from the end of the bridge to the hitch pin, is different for the 2 strings of a unison. This is why, when ordering individual replacement bass strings, you have to count tuning pins rather than keys. Schimmel has the hitch pins in a straight line for each note, meaning this tail length is the same for each string, greatly easing production and avoiding mistakes when ordering replacement strings.

I know, this is a small issue that only a piano manufacturing geek like me could get excited about, but I'm stuck with my personality and have chosen to embrace it rather than fight it. I'll post a photo of this feature later.

_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181951 - 05/25/08 08:33 AM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Starting Over Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 1290
Loc: Toronto
Norbert said...

 Quote:
This "identity" was often very much influenced and shaped by the unique cultural surrroundings of a particular area, it's tradition of music, its composers, it's political and cultural make up, even religion, food and things like that.

Think of the 'clean' lines of the north, the more colourful shades of the South, the more romantic,almost melancholic tendencies as you move East.

Isn't it nice to have many beautiful flowers in one's rose garden?

This in essence, is what Europe is - and has always been - all about.
Indeed. Well put!
_________________________
Buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
Will Rogers


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#181952 - 05/25/08 08:35 AM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
Remember, this thread is first a travelogue with some thematic sideroads. I'm not trying to duplicate websites or marketing material in describing all the features and aspects of each maker. Each maker has lots and lots of individual features they consider important and unique. Trust me, they would LOVE to describe each one in detail (as would I about Bosendorfer). But that is not my purpose here.

Another point about Schimmel is their sophisticated keyboard manufacturing capability. This is a benefit of their volume and ability to selectively vertically integrate.

Making keyboards is surprisingly difficult which explains why most makers don't do it. There is a management technique called "stick to your knitting" that most high end makers adhere to in regards to actions and keyboards. However, Schimmel has been able to surmount the keyboard making issues in house.
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181953 - 05/25/08 11:05 AM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 687
Loc: Virginia
BoseEric --

Thanks for the vicarious thrill your posts have provided. You and your son have just lived my dream vacation.

I do have one questgion about your itinerary. I didn't know Schimmel's factory was in Braunschweig, but I'm well acquainted with the town's name because I owned a Grotrian 189 for 18 years and that's where their factory is located (or was the last time I checked). Why would you go right next door to Grotrian's plant without dropping in to visit them too? (I may have read this thread too quickly and missed the explanation. If so, I'm sorry; if not, I'm just puzzled.)
_________________________
Phil Bjorlo

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#181954 - 05/25/08 11:38 AM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
No reason except for time constraints and because of the informal relationship between Bosendorfer and Schimmel I felt I should visit them first.

Grotrian is definitly on my future list.
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181955 - 05/25/08 12:03 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
 Quote:
Which brings me to one of my themes: high end makers often have qualities that come from their locale, either geographic or cultural or both. In my opinion the Bluthner piano is a great example of a unique individual instrument very much a product of its cultural environment.
eric,
i am really enjoying your travelogue, and reliving my own visit to steingraeber through yours.

i would love it if you could please elaborate on the statement i quoted from you. this is something i intuited during my visit to the region, but could not quite put my finger on, being new to that part of the world. can you give some tangible examples?

how is a bluthner a product of its geographic and cultural environment? can you characterize the geography and the culture, then characterize the traits in the bluthner that you feel mirror them?

also, did you get a chance to visit the heart of braunschweig and see the amazing recreation of its medieval buildings and churches? (all destroyed in the war.)
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#181956 - 05/25/08 12:19 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
polostrings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 216
Loc: Hawaii
This has to be one of the best threads in the piano forum. Thanks for sharing!!
_________________________
Aloha!

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#181957 - 05/25/08 01:06 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 687
Loc: Virginia
BoseEric -- I should have remembered that kids' spring breaks don't last forever. Let us hear about your next trip too.

Perri -- I've been curious about your book and finally decided to check it out at your website. If you play half as well as you write, you could have made a career in music. I was hooked halfway through the first page. Interestingly, it was something non-musical that grabbed my attention. My mother and siblings live in Colorado, and I've often marveled at the beauty of aspen leaves shimmering in a gentle breeze. Your description -- "Quaking aspen lined the banks of the Boulder River; their burnished leaves turned up their bellies to the wind and trembled in unison . . . " perfectly captured one of nature's great beauties. Then I read the rest of the excerpts and bolted for Amazon to order some copies.

Good luck keeping your piano in voice, and let us know when we can expect more writing like this. Congratulations on a creating a wonderful reading experience.
_________________________
Phil Bjorlo

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#181958 - 05/25/08 02:15 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
lluiscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/06
Posts: 152
Hello. I visit Blüthner factory last April. Herr Ingbert Blüthner-Haessler let me to take pictures and explained me everything about its pianos. Really a great man and a wonderful visit. Anyway I want to say that I was a little suprised about diferences of tone of the newest pianos against my older one (6'3" grand from 1921, recently I reconditioned). Really I prefer the old sound, with its incredible sustain and unique warm tone. May be Blüthner pianos are like the best wines, growing up with the age??
All the best,

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#181959 - 05/25/08 02:56 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
pianistical Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/04
Posts: 1377
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Hi lluis,

I am glad to see a fellow vintage Blüthner owner on this forum. The crispness, clarity, warmth and depth of tone of old Blüthners are hard to beat IMO.

Although I admire other pianos and can be impressed with them only the tones of Blüthners have this far brought tears to my eyes.
_________________________
“There are only two important things which I took with me on my way to America, It´s been my wife Natalja and my precious Blüthner.” – Sergei Rachmaninov

1913 Blüthner model 6
1929 Blüthner model 9.
1955 Steingraeber upright.

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#181960 - 05/27/08 06:20 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
BoseEric Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 731
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
 Quote:


i would love it if you could please elaborate on the statement i quoted from you. this is something i intuited during my visit to the region, but could not quite put my finger on, being new to that part of the world. can you give some tangible examples?

how is a bluthner a product of its geographic and cultural environment? can you characterize the geography and the culture, then characterize the traits in the bluthner that you feel mirror them?

[/b]
Pique

In a word (or 3) no, I can't. In my opinion, Bosendorfer and Bluthner both have very individual, distinctive tone. I'm very familiar with the relationship between Bosendorfer and the history of piano building and music in Vienna and how that has shaped the tone of the instrument today.

I'm extrapolating when considering that Bluthner also has a very distinctive, identifiable sound (again, in my opinion) and also comes from a city with a long and vibrant musical and cultural history, quite different from Vienna. After all, Martin Luther spoke at St. Thomas church!

It would be great if someone else can elaborate. But I have to admit, I stated my opinion, not fact.
_________________________
RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#181961 - 05/27/08 06:53 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
Add me to the lovers of the old Bluthner sound - not beating up the new ones - but just a preference.

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#181962 - 05/27/08 07:50 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
I have prepared new Blüthners and have played new Blüthners others have prepared that have had the same historic voice as the early 20th century instruments.

I think it is critical to point out that when one hears a new Blüthner that has been modified or not prepared with that historical ideal in mind the pure experience cannot be realized.

I also think that Leipzig being a center for commerce, education and culture was the perfect place for Blüthner to be established. The idiosyncratic nature of the instrument reflects the type of cutting edge innovative thinking that attracted so many such as Goethe, Wagner and Nietzsche.

The reunification of Germany began in Leipzig as did the war of nations, it is historic, beautiful and significant just like the piano that comes from there.
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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#181963 - 05/27/08 09:05 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1244
Loc: London
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernandez:
I have prepared new Blüthners and have played new Blüthners others have prepared that have had the same historic voice as the early 20th century instruments.

I think it is critical to point out that when one hears a new Blüthner that has been modified or not prepared with that historical ideal in mind the pure experience cannot be realized. [/b]
Alex, could you clarify this? I am not clear what you are saying. Are you implying that some special preparation is necessary for new Blüthners to have the same historic voice as the early 20th century instruments? If so, what sort of special preparation is required?

Or are you saying that if a new Blüthner sounds different from the "historic voice", it is probably inadequately regulated and voiced?

I think several of us Blüthner lovers are very interested in this point.

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#181964 - 05/27/08 09:24 PM Re: Visit to Bluthner, Steingraeber and Schimmel
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by David-G:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernandez:
I have prepared new Blüthners and have played new Blüthners others have prepared that have had the same historic voice as the early 20th century instruments.

I think it is critical to point out that when one hears a new Blüthner that has been modified or not prepared with that historical ideal in mind the pure experience cannot be realized. [/b]
Alex, could you clarify this? I am not clear what you are saying. Are you implying that some special preparation is necessary for new Blüthners to have the same historic voice as the early 20th century instruments? If so, what sort of special preparation is required?

Or are you saying that if a new Blüthner sounds different from the "historic voice", it is probably inadequately regulated and voiced?

I think several of us Blüthner lovers are very interested in this point. [/b]
David,

I guess what I am saying is that the Blüthner blood lines run very pure. There is no doubt that there is some differences between the old and new as design changes would ensure, but the basic tonal character remains consistent.

To achieve this historic sound requires familiarity and sensitivity to both the historic sound and modern instrument.

I call it chasing the golden tone, with enough practice you can catch it. \:\)
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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