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#214104 - 09/19/05 08:39 AM Liszt's pianos
David Ramezani Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 226
Loc: Sweden
Does anyone of you know anything about Liszt's pianos? What qualities did he search for in a piano? How did he have it adjusted and tuned?

Best regards,

David Ramezani
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David Ramezani

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#214105 - 09/19/05 08:56 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9188
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
David,

Liszt was given or bought many pianos. The quality he looked for was for one that did not fall apart when he played in concert. (This was a chronic problem for him)

I know he was a friend of the Bosendorfer family and there are several letters to them praising their pianos..... but he did not play exclusively on them.
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#214106 - 09/19/05 09:21 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
I. Bruton Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 861
Loc: Raleigh
I speculate that had he been given the opportunity to play on a Bosendorfer, he would have chosen one. His praise for the instrument is/was widely known.

I just did a quick Google search:
The Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre museum is the reconstruction of Liszt's last Budapest home in the old Academy of Music, where the world-famous composer lived and taught from 1881 to 1886.

The most valuable part of the collection consists of Liszt's instruments:
two Chickering pianos,
a Bösendorfer piano,
a concert harmonium (cabinet organ) made by Mason (Hamlin, a combined instrument ("piano-orgue") by Erard and Alexandre,
a glass piano ("piano-harmonica") patented by Bachmann,
a unique composing desk with a built-in keyboard (made by Bösendorfer)
and a travelling piano.

Hope this helps.
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#214107 - 09/20/05 07:39 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
jon-nyc Offline
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Registered: 02/09/05
Posts: 2022
Loc: the left bank -- of the east r...
I've been to the Liszt museum in Budapest and saw the above-mentioned pianos. Most were gifts to Liszt, which makes sense since any manufacturer of the day would wnat his 'endorsement'.

I remember being particularly struck by one of the Chickerings. It was just gorgeous and very large, IIRC.
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#214108 - 09/20/05 08:33 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1516
Loc: New York
I have read that Franz had a pianos in just about every room. They were given to him.

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#214109 - 09/20/05 10:17 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
Diarmuid2 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/02
Posts: 871
Loc: London
According to Alan Walker Liszt's favourite piano was his concert Erard, but I believe he liked many different pianos for various reasons. And he was certainly given a LOT of pianos, most of which he gave away to pupils, friends or other causes he felt were deserving.

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#214110 - 09/20/05 10:36 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
yhc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/04
Posts: 150
Loc: NYC, NY
Allow me to quote from Carl Lachmund's Diary, page 13(from "Living with Liszt")

"In courtesy to the country in which he happened to be, Liszt always used an instrument of the principal piano maker of that country; thus in vienna he used Bosendorfer; in Paris an Erard or in London a Broadwood. The Steinway, Chickering, Mason and Risch(Toronto) or other pianos that were sent to him he presented to one or another of his intimate friends. There was also an upright piano of local make in his studio"(from footnote: This local upright was probably a Hohle. Liszt's famous Ibach piano which is featured in so many photos of the time, was not delivered to Liszt until April 1885.

At 1880s, there was a Bechstein grand in his studio at Weimar. Also if I remember correctly from Alan Walker's Biography, in Liszt's Altenberg years, he also possessed Beethoven's and Mozart's pianos.

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#214111 - 09/20/05 01:47 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
David Ramezani Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 226
Loc: Sweden
I know a lot about his different pianos. He also had a Bechstein which he was very fond of at the end of his life.

What I want to know is if he had his pianos adjusted to his own taste. I mean, he must have had them tuned, so why not some regulation too?
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David Ramezani

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#214112 - 09/20/05 01:52 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
Regulation can't deviate that far from the specified parameters that a piano was designed to funtion properly at. So I doubt the Franz wanted anything more than the piano to be in tune, and the action to be regulated to perform at it's best.
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#214113 - 09/20/05 01:54 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
MahlerAdagio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/05
Posts: 510
I am sure that Liszt was given pianos for a major benefit of marketing. I mean, lets face it, how would you feel if your brand of piano is owned by Liszt? I would feel pretty excited if Beethoven owned a Yamaha, which means I got a piano that's obviously a fine one, if Beethoven owned it too. \:D

Of course Yamaha didn't exist at Beethoven's time. Heck even Japan didn't exist until World War II. After all, they're all Jewish Migrants.

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#214114 - 09/20/05 02:43 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
David Ramezani Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 226
Loc: Sweden
I mean, Glenn Gould and Horowitz, for instance, had very specific requests as to how their pianos should feel and sound. Glenn Gould's Yamaha had a rebuilt action. Horowitz Steinway had a downweight of 44 grams, where about 56 grams would have been normal for his piano. Furthermore, Horowitz wanted his piano to be voiced in a special way.
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Best regards,

David Ramezani

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#214115 - 09/20/05 05:08 PM Re: Liszt's pianos
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
The factory spec for downweight on a S&S D is 52 grams in the bass, tapering to 47 grams in the treble. The only thing Horowitz wanted special in terms of voicing was that the hammers be lacquered to death.
_________________________
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Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

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#214116 - 09/21/05 01:26 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
David Ramezani Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 226
Loc: Sweden
Is that the spec for a new D or one from the fourties? Well, perhaps it hasn't changed.
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David Ramezani

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#214117 - 09/30/05 01:48 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
Baron de Cardenale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/05
Posts: 61
Loc: USA-Russia-France
I know for sure that Liszt has also owned several grand pianos made by Conrad Graf (as it can be as well seen on several paintings portraying Liszt playing piano surrounded by his friends like George Sande).

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#214118 - 09/30/05 08:16 AM Re: Liszt's pianos
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 1010
Loc: NM, GE & Wash. DC
A blurb from Austral Piano World, an Australian Bechstein dealer's website, http://www.pianoworld.com.au/main-bechstein.html

And before him Franz Liszt...
the unsurpassed king of the keyboard, celebrated by the whole of Europe as a piano genius. He translated the unheard-of violin virtuosity of the legendary Paganini to the piano. The great magician gave decisive stimulus to the continued development of the Bechstein grand piano. Before Bechstein pianos were available, he had sometimes needed several grand pianos in one evening - just one was not enough for the requirements of his majestic playing. Carl Bechstein was the first piano maker to supply an instrument that understood his language and enabled his powerful temperament to find full freedom of expression. Bechstein became Liszt's lifelong instrument. His pupils also followed his example, particularly the great Hans von Bulow, the first Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

A Liszt quote about Bechstein pianos (the one they use in their promotional literature):
"I have now played your instruments for 28 years, and you have maintained your supremacy."


Historian, Jeffrey Dane, wrote an article called "Pianos of Beethoven and Other Famous Composers" that mentions Liszt's Bechstein. See http://www.frugalfun.com/pianohistory.html

"A legendary (and documented) characteristic of Liszt's piano-playing was a tone of distinctive and peculiarly effective carrying quality. Today at his house (now a museum) on Marienstrasse in Weimar, Germany, one finds two pianos in the music room, the keyboards nearly facing each other, with a piano stool between them: a huge seven and a half octave, Berlin-made Bechstein concert grand, (acquired by Liszt in 1869) which dominates the room, and, against a wall behind it, an upright piano made in Cologne by Rudolf Ibach & Sohn (now located in Schwelm), a gift to Liszt in 1885. At one point during the years he lived in Weimar, Liszt had his own personal "collection" of pianos: in addition to the two now on display, he had a concert Erard, Beethoven's Broadwood, and a piano once owned by Mozart. It may have been the enormous Bechstein which Liszt used when composing his last piano works (such as Nuages Gris), some of the harmonies of which belong to the dawn of 20th-century music."


I saw Liszt's Bechstein on display at the Bechstein Centrum in Berlin during a visit there a few years ago. No, they wouldn't let me play it. I've got a picture of it somewhere.

As others have mentioned, Liszt had many pianos over the years. Piano manufacturers were falling over each another to associate their pianos with his name. It wouldn't surprise me if Liszt was given a piano by every important piano maker of his day. However, Liszt played a Bechstein most his professional life, and as Rich mentioned, he was fond of Bösendorfers too.

JP
_________________________
"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy

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#1685099 - 05/26/11 04:53 PM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: JPM]
Anna Ivanova Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 31
Loc: Belgium (Eu)
Hi JP

Maybe you like this video. Probably you recognize the Bechstein.
The Ibach stands under Liszt's picture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuSLq82Pj8A

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#1685459 - 05/27/11 10:21 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3459
Loc: US
During the days when he was a touring artist early in his career he was most closely associated with Erard, not Bechstein. Later he played a variety of instruments and owned many different ones (often given to him) as has already been mentioned.

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#1685521 - 05/27/11 12:11 PM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: Anna Ivanova]
PianoZac Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1424
Originally Posted By: Anna Ivanova
Hi JP

Maybe you like this video. Probably you recognize the Bechstein.
The Ibach stands under Liszt's picture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuSLq82Pj8A


That is amazing. Thank you for posting that. That Bechstein absolutely sings. I didn't realize that the pianos at that time sounded quite that good. Would you happen to know the size of this piano?
_________________________
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#1685599 - 05/27/11 02:50 PM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10467
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
One endorsement of many:

“For twenty-eight years I have used Bechstein pianos, and they have maintained their superiority.” - Franz Liszt
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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1685702 - 05/27/11 07:14 PM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3459
Loc: US
Another:

Weimar, 1883
Mr. Steinway,

Most Esteemed Sir: Again I owe you many and special thanks. The new Steinway grand is a glorious masterpiece in power, sonority, singing quality and perfect harmonic effects, affording delight even to my old piano-weary fingers. Ever continuing success remains a beautiful attribute of the world-renowned firm of Steinway & Sons.

In your letter, highly esteemed sir, you mention some new features in the grand piano, viz., the vibrating body being bent into form out of one continuous piece, and that portion of the strings heretofore lying dormant, being now a part of the foundation tones and incorporated therein as partial tones. Their utility is emphatically guaranteed by the name of the inventor.

Owing to my ignorance of the mechanism of piano construction, I can but praise the magnificent result in the volume and quality of sound.

Very respectfully and gratefully,
Franz Liszt

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#1686382 - 05/29/11 02:57 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
BHCGY Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/11
Posts: 24
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
Apparently many pianos should be......Liszted.


Edited by BHCGY (05/29/11 03:55 AM)
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#1686777 - 05/29/11 10:30 PM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
Gary at Encore Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/09
Posts: 250
Loc: Dallas, TX
The Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed a Erard that Liszt owned the last 15 years of his life. You will want to read the Met Press Release and see the Met Picture of Erard The Met also has a recording of the piano on their website.
Also if anybody is interested. We have a very similar Erard piano for sale in our store. It is almost the same and from the same time. It looks the same but our piano is longer.

I am wondering of there are more recording to be found made from this Erard. I have looked on the web but not found any more info or recordings.


Edited by Gary at Encore (05/29/11 10:33 PM)
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#1745774 - 09/03/11 05:15 PM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
Anna Ivanova Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 31
Loc: Belgium (Eu)
Dear David

I am one of the happy very few who has been able to play (and will play) grand piano's which were owned by Franz Liszt.

Franz Liszt was very fond of Bechstein. On YouTube you can see me playing his Bechstein that is displayed in his former house in the Liszt Museum in Weimar. Please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuSLq82Pj8A&feature=related )please note that despite the announcement in the movie that this is not the 576 !! In october I will be back in the museum and provide more details about the piano.

Here also is displayed his Erard buffet piano.

Very recently I made some recordings in Berlin on his real Bechstein 576. These will be published on YouTube as well.

In 2012 I will play his Steinway from 1860 which is now owned by the instituto Liszt in Bologna.

In Bayreuth Germany is a Steingraeber and Sons on which I hope to play in 2012 as well.

What did I find of the piano's? Very light playing, enhanced bass (the 576 has an enhanced bass belly) This last one was very low. My knees did not fit under the keyboard.
Probably the Italian Steinway will be very similar.

On wikipedia I also will put pictures of the 576.

Kindest regards Anna

PS here is some of my latest work on a modern Bechstein:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1J-KCyHyfs&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZf2e5a_F2Q&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwArD2qi76w&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL


Edited by Anna Ivanova (09/03/11 05:16 PM)

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#1746095 - 09/04/11 06:01 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: Anna Ivanova]
Gregor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 434
Loc: Münster, Germany
Originally Posted By: Anna Ivanova


In Bayreuth Germany is a Steingraeber and Sons on which I hope to play in 2012 as well.


Yes, it is this one. I have played it this week during my Steingraeber factory visit:





Gregor
_________________________
piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany
www.weldert.de

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#1746105 - 09/04/11 07:14 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Gregor, thanks for posting the pics. It was out at a concert when the PW tour was there.

Elegant!

Do you know what year it was made?
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#1746107 - 09/04/11 07:18 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: Gregor]
Anna Ivanova Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 31
Loc: Belgium (Eu)
Hi Gregor

very nice and very different from the other ones.

By the way I forgot another Bechstein. It is in use in the Conservatory of Siena in Italy. I do not know any further detail (yet)

K rgds Anna

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#1746679 - 09/05/11 04:51 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
Gregor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 434
Loc: Münster, Germany
That Steingraeber was built in 1873. Yes, elegant and different. Did you notice that is has 4 legs?

BTW, I also played the Steingraeber No. 1. What a difference. I was surprised that the Liszt piano was somewhat "modernish". I expected just another old piano, but touch and tone was not so ancient like expected, at least compared to the Steingraeber No.1. Eduard Steingraeber used to be the concert tech for Liszt a few month.

Gregor
_________________________
piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany
www.weldert.de

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#1746707 - 09/05/11 07:05 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: David Ramezani]
Lluís Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 313
Loc: Barcelona,Spain, European Unio...
The piano that Liszt loved more was a great Boisselot ( http://www.klassik-stiftung.de/fileadmin/liszt/img/boisselot.jpg ) that has recently been copied by Paul McNulty! ( http://www.myspace.com/vivianasofronitsky/photos/3946690 )

Liszt composed on his Boisselot piano for about 40 years!!
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#1746712 - 09/05/11 07:22 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: Gregor]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Originally Posted By: Gregor
That Steingraeber was built in 1873. Yes, elegant and different. Did you notice that is has 4 legs?

Gregor


Thank you.

Unless I am seeing double, I even see a 5th leg!!!

wink
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"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1746727 - 09/05/11 08:27 AM Re: Liszt's pianos [Re: JPM]
BerndAB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/10
Posts: 543
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: JPM

I saw Liszt's Bechstein on display at the Bechstein Centrum in Berlin during a visit there a few years ago. No, they wouldn't let me play it. I've got a picture of it somewhere.


When we visited the Bechstein Zentrum in the Stilwerk in Berlin West in spring 2010 with a group of 40 german piano addicts, we were allowed to play on Liszt's Bechstein grand. ... Marvellous. This grand was IIRC an eight footer built in the 1870ies.

Liszt's personal pianos must have covered a wide range. When he was a young man, he very often had two or three grands on stage, as he managed to smash some strings, hammers or other parts of a grand during a concert..

The former viennese pianos were not able to endure his sort of powerful play (wooden under-structure, max. tension sum 5-6 tons), until Ludwig Bosendorfer specificially started to build a grand which was strong enough for (or against?) Liszt's kind of playing. The very first piano which resisted his brute forces was the Bosendorfer concert grand which was an eight footer in these times (ca. 240cm).

There was also a change in the metallurgical methods how to produce steel wire for piano strings in 1855: the invention of the Bessemer steel melting procedure - which resulted in much stronger strings which could be put under higher tensions, which then caused several needs to put in "more iron" into a grand to make use of this. This started with some iron clamps over the hammer gap, went further in one to four iron bars connecting and spreading pinblock and hitch plate against the increasing tensions, and ended in the actual one-piece-cast-iron full frame which can stand up to 25 tons of added string tensions.

Also the hammer felts changed. When Liszt was young, the hammer cover material often was leather. Later on the hammers changed to felt.

Liszt could watch all these changes in piano technology. When he was an old man, he could play on the Steinway concert grand of his son-in-law, Richard Wagner, in Bayreuth, who got an early "Centennial" grand #34xxx in 1877 to celebrate the opening of his opera house.

Liszt's house in Weimar was filled with pianos sent to him, like a piano shop. Nearly every room was said to have had in the minimum one piano. I once read a biography of Liszt, and IIRC he avoided to prefer one piano make over another. He recommended pianos, but did not recommend exclusively.


Edited by BerndAB (09/05/11 08:32 AM)
Edit Reason: typing errors
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