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.

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 No.
 
Year
Serial No.
 
Year
Serial No.
 
Year
Serial No.
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