August Förster

Established by F.A. Förster in Löbau, Germany, in 1859, this company has continued to produce instruments of above average quality. In the 1920s the company were among the first to experiment with quarter-tone pianos, and in the 1930s produced an electric piano known as an Elektrochord, at which time the company were making around 2000 instruments a year. August Förster continues to produce instruments today.




























Carl Bechstein was born in Germany in 1826 and while still young was taught by his stepfather to play piano, violin and cello. One of his sisters married a piano-maker, Johann Gleitz, and as Bechstein reached maturity it was decided that he was to become a piano­maker and would serve an apprenticeship with Gleitz.

Following his apprenticeship, Bechstein travelled. He visited the piano-maker Pleyel in Dresden, and then moved to Berlin where his talents soon got him a position of responsibility running the small factory of the famous German piano-malker G. Perau. But Bechstein wanted to learn more about the French school of piano-making, then considered the best in the world, and in 1849 he left Berlin for Paris where he was fortunate enough to be able  to study the methods of both Pape and Kriegelstein. He learned much frorn the excellent French craftsmen and designers, in particular how to obtain greater sound levels from both upright and grand pianos, and also acquired valuable knowledge of the commercial side of the piano industry.

Bechstein returned to Berlin in 1852 to takt charge of the Perau factory, and arter another spell as superintendent at Kriegelstein in Paris he finally settled back in Berlin. He set about designing his own piano. By 1856 he had attracted the attention of the famous pianist Hans von Bulow, who subsequently praised the Bechstein instruments.

A few months later Bechstein went to a concert given by Franz Liszt and, like Ignaz Bösendorfer some three decades earlier, was amazed by the ferocity of Liszt's playing. Bechstein witnessed the snapping of the strings of Liszt's Erard piano, and decided his instruments had to be able to take this kind of punishment.  He enlisted  Bulow to test his designs and eventually persuaded Liszt and Bulow to perform together using Bechstein pianos. Liszt became a great supporter and a personal friend of Bechstein. In keeping with the other great piano manufacturers, Carl Bechstein established  in 1892 the Bechstein Hall near Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

In the first seven years of its existence, the Bechstein company produced 176 instruments. By 1900 (the year Carl Bechstein died) production had increased to nearly 3,700 instruments. Although Carl  Bechstein had not been a great innovator, his forte had been to utilise the best ideas from other manufacturers and to put them together to make a truly great instrument. On his death Carl Bechstein left his sons Edwin, Carl and Johann in charge of the business.

Business continued to thrive after Carl's death. and in 1912 the 100,000th Bechstein was produced. The popularity of Bechstein instruments continued for many years, althoug output never increased above 5,000 pianos a year. The Bechstein company were always keen to innovate. In 1926 they introduced the Lilliput grand (a 7X-octave instrument that was just 5ft 4in long) and were also  active in producing player pianos using Welte & Sohne mechanisms. Bechstein embodied the Moor system for two keyboard and also produced the Neo Bechstein, their first and only foray into the world of the electric piano.

The years of the Great Depression saw production slump (they built just over 600 instruments in 1933) and with the death of the brothers the company was owned primarily by Helene Bechstein. During the late 1930s production began to increase, and it was alleged primarily by other German manufacturers that Karl Bechstein was a personal friend of Adolph Hitler and that the Becbstein company made the official piano of the Third Reich,consequently obtaining great commercial gain at the time.

The Becbstein factory was badly damaged by bombing towards the end of World War II, although the Bechstein company managed to return to business soon after the cessation of hostilities. Initially they restored and repaired instruments, but by 1950 they were making close to 100 instruments a year.

 In 1963 Baldwin purchased the Bechstein company and continued to run it on traditional lines. In 1986 retailer and master technician Karl Schulze and two partners bought the company back into German hands from Baldwin. They completely restructured the Bechstein operation, closing down three of the company's factories, and setting up a new high-tech facility in Berlin in 1989.

 Bechstein fabrikken.











The foundations for the Baldwin company were laid in 1857 when Dwight Hamilton Baldwin settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and began to teach piano and organ. He subsequently set up an instrument dealership, primarily selling Decker Brothers pianos, and in 1866 he employed Lucien Wulsin as an office clerk. Wulsin became an important part of the organisation and in 1873 became a partner in D.H. Baldwin & Company, and thanks in part to Wulsin's input Baldwin became the largest dealer in keyboard instruments in the American Midwest.                                                .

It was inevitable that the company would become a manufacturer, and from 1889 several production companies Welt formed, including the Hamilton Organ Company, which built reed organs, and the Baldwin Piano Company, which made higher-priced pianos.

Dwight Hamilton Baldwin died in 1899 and left his estate to fund missionary causes. Wulsin purchased the Baldwin estate and took controI in 1903, arter which the company grew rapidly.ln the 1920s Baldwin were one of the first companies to experiment with electronies. The technology was used in the Baldwin electronic organ of 1946, an instrument so successful that the company mushroomed into the Baldwin Piano & Organ Co.

From 1963 to 1986 Baldwin controlled the Bechstein operation. The Corporation today makes pianos and organs under the Baldwin, Chickering and Wurlitzer names. One of the best known players of Baldwin pianos was Liberace, and most of his spectacular instruments were made especially for him by the company.

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Julius Bliithner was horn in Falkenhain, Germany, in 1824 and like so many piano makers started his career as a cabinet maker. In 1853, having worked for the German piano makers Hölling and Spangenburg in Zeitz, he set up on his own with very little capital to build grand pianos.

The key to the marketing achievements of the company followed the success of Bliithner's pianos at the Industrial Exhibition of 1854 in Munich. Julius Bliithner subsequently had his pianos accepted into the Leipzig Conservatory of Music, which attracted international students. Such was the quaIity of Bliithner's instruments thaI the Conservatory's students spread the word about these great new pianos, and demand for Bliithners soon followed '. from around the world.

The growth of the Bliithner company was remarkable. By the end of its fourth year the company employed 14 men and by 1864 there were 137 workers on the payroll. Until 1900 Bliithner was the second biggest manufacturer of pianos in Europe, making some 3,000 instruments a year. It is said that Julius Bliithner still managed to check every instrument that left the factory.

Bliithner was not highly educated but he did have a remarkable 'ear' and through constant experimentation developed several techniques to improve grand pianos and upright pianos. His greatest contribution was the aliquot system, in which he added a fourth string to notes in the upper octaves. This string was left free to vibrate sympathetically and was tuned in unison with the other three strings in the extreme treble (and an octave above in the tenor section). Bliithner developed this system over a period of several years following his theoretical work with H. Gretschel, and patented it in 1873. The extra strings add a pleasing 'singing' quaiity to the tone of the upper octaves, and the system is still used on Bliithner instruments of today.

Julius Bliithner died in 1910 in Leipzig, and the company was taken over by his sons Max, Robert and Bruno. However, the growth of the earlier years was not sustained. During World War II the German factory was completely destroyed by bombing, bot arter the war the company was encouraged by the East German government to resume production, and to facilitate production Bliithner shared many of its facilities with the Bechstein company. link til Bliithner














This company based in Leipzig, Germany, was founded by Julius Feurich in 1851. By the turn of the century the company had a staff of 360 and was producing 600 grand pianos and 1200 uprights each year. During the World War II the factory was destroyed, bot the firm survived and by 1950 Feurich were back making nearly 300 pianos a year.  Feurich







































Both the Grotrian-Steinweg company and the Steinway & Sons company derive from Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (Steinway) and the building of his first piano in 1835. In 1850,in order to escape political upheavals in Germany, Heinrich. and most of his family emigrated to the US and settled in New York where they subsequently established Steinway & Sons. G.F.Theodor Steinweg, Heinrich's eldest son, was left in charge of the German operation.

Friedrich Grotrian, who was born in 1803 near Braunschweig, Germany, had for 25 years owned a thriving musical instrument store in Moscow, Russia. In 1855 he was left a substantiaI inheritance by an uncle and decided to sell up and return to his homeland, Germany. Soon afterwards he met up with C.F.Theodor Steinweg, and in 1858 Grotrian became a partner in the Steinweg company. Unfortunately Friedrich Grotrian died just two years later, but his son Wilhelm set about establishing the company as one of the great German piano houses.

Friedrich Grotrian (1803-1860) was the founder of the Grotrian family's piano building tradition since 6 generations until up to this day. In 1858 Friedrich Grotrian purchased the patrician house of a medieval mayor on Bohlweg 48, home for the family, central meeting point for their guests and birthplace of a steadily growing figure of excellent instruments.  Grotrian





















The Ibach company is the oldest surviving piano manufacturer in the world, and it has remained in the Ibach family's control since its establishment. Johannes Adolf Ibach (1766-1848) completed his education at the Beyenburg monastery in southern Germany and travelled around Germany to learn something of his country. During this period he learned about organ and piano manufacture from some of the best craftsmen, and returning to his home town obtained the contract to refurbish the great organ at Beyenburg. However his interest had been fired by the piano, and he felt that such an instrument had enormous potential. He subsequently set up a piano manufacturing workshop in 1794, primarily supplying local musicians who had also been won over by the new instrument.

A.. Rudolf Ibach took the company through World War I, and J. Adolph Ibach through the 1939-45 war, the latter resulting in the complete destruction of the Ibach factory which prevented the company fromproducing instruments until 1952. The Ibach tradition continues with Rolf and Christian, the sixth generation, running the family business, while the next generation is being trained for the future. No other piano company can boast such a strong family heritage, and few instruments can match the enduring quaiity and craftsmanship of those that bear the Ibach name.























A well respected English company founded in 1936 by Alfred Knight, the company had the reputation of producing some of the best upright pianos in England in recent times. They also produced specially-strengthened NAAFI and ENSA pianos for use in entertaining British troops during World War II. Nine such pianos went ashore during the Normandy landings in 1944.

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In 1845 Carl Rönisch, in his early 30s and with virtually no money, managed to establish his piano making company in Dresden, the cultural centre of Saxony (later part of East Germany). The grand pianos and uprights that Rönisch built were very good and became extremely popular on the German market. Rönisch also knew how to sell abroad, and such was his success in Russia that he built a factory in St. Petersburg. Rönisch was personally honoured for his achievements and was appointed purveyor of the cour t of Saxony, which led to the company bearing the tille 'Carl Rönisch Court Piano Factories Dresden'.

Rönisch died in 1893, and his sons Albert and Hermann took over the running of the company. Rönisch were later sub-contracted to make pianos for Ludwig Hupfeld's self-playing instrument company. Eventually it was clear that a merger between the companies would be sensible, and this happened in 1918. Together they produced a line of pianos and a collection of different automatic instruments, including the Phonoliszt-Violina (a self-playing piano with violins,) and many Orchestrions (self-playing instruments containing most of the instruments of a small dance orchestra).

With the advent of radio and the gramophone, along with the decline in demand for automatic instruments, . the company concentrated its efforts on grand pianos, and despite difficulties throughout World War II the company survived. In 1947 it becarne known as Leipziger Pianofortefabrik, hut under nationalisation becarne the Deutsche Piano-Union Leipzig. Following re-unification the Leipziger Pianofortefabrik name was reinstated, and today the company produces a full range of up right and grand pianos.

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Johann Grimm, a carpenter, left his home town of Spraichingen, Bavaria, in 1813 and travelled to Vienna where he settled and began to learn the business of piano-making. He was apprenticed at the Streicher workshop for six years, arter which he decided to return home, In 1819 he built six square pianos with the assistance of his adopted step-son Carl Sauter, and together they subsequently assembled a team of craftsmen to produce further instruments. So began another important piano house whose controI has remained in the same family through six generations, Sauter continue to build pianos of a very high quality, and concentrate on producing instruments that sell at the higher-priced end of the market. Sauter fabrikken
































Steinway & Sons se bilde>

This company was founded by Heinrich Engelhard Steinway, who emigrated from Germany in 1850 and formed with his sons the corporation of Steinway & Sons in New York City in 1853. A few earlier pianos made by the founder in Germany are still in existence, the earliest of which is in the possession of Steinway & Sons in New York City. It was manufactured in Germany, in 1836, and bears the label "H. Steinweg, Instrumentenmacher." Hamburg Factory opened 1880.

The oldest son Theodor formed a separate corporation in Germany which he sold on emigration to the United States in 1860 to three of his employees - Grotrian, Helffrich and Schulz. This company is now known as Grotrian - Piano Co.

Technical developments originated by Steinway & Sons include: The first overstrung full iron plate grand piano 1877; the accelerated action 1935; the diaphragmatic soundboard 1937; the Steinway Permafree Action 1961; the Stein­way Hexagrip pin block 1964.

Steinway square pianos were discontinued in 1888. The Model "O" was discon­tinued in 1923 and replaced with the Model "L." The Model" A" was discontinued in l94I.




























Thurmer are an important German manutacturer, founded in 1834 by Ferdinand Thurmer in Meissen, Saxony (later part of East Germany). The company achieved an output of 2,800 pianos a year in 1908, making it the fourth largest producer in Germany at the time. The company carries on today, run by the fifth generation of the Thurmer family, and continues to make high quality instruments. The present Thurmer factory, located in Bochum, Germany, incorporates a 450-seat theatre which is regularly used for piano concerts and, since 1984, an annual piano festival.

































Nordiska Piano

Over 100 years ago the Nordiska Piano Company was founded in the Swedish town of Vetlanda. Soon after, Nordiska pianos were known throughout Europe for their advanced scale design and superior sound. In 1988, Europe was in the midst of a deep recession, and the Swedish piano manufacturer ceased operations. The Dongbei Piano Company, located in China, was looking to produce a superior Chinese piano and proceeded to acquire the scale designs, machinery and virtually everything else from the Nordiska Piano Company.

Following the acquisition, the Dongbei Piano Company constructed a factory dedicated to handle the production of its high quality Nordiska piano line and the assigned their finest craftsmen to work in the Nordiska factory. Advanced technology and equipment was imported from Japan, Germany and Sweden and used in forming a large-scale assembly line of international standards and quality. The relocated and enhanced Nordiska Piano Company soon won numerous gold medals for acoustical excellence at a variety of international fairs.

In 2000, Geneva International introduced the Nordiska piano line to the United States market where it has been embraced for its superior quality and performance. Geneva International and Nordiska work together to maintain and improve upon the magnificent sound and style of Nordiska pianos.

From the selection of the highest quality materials to the use of the finest components, Nordiska pianos are committed to providing the highest standard of excellence in the industry. Never before has such a quality instrument been available at the value presented by the Nordiska piano line.

The journey begins with Nordiska’s ability to select premium lumber from the Siberian and native Asian forests which are noted for providing wood with exceptional tonal qualities. Due to their positioning in the Jingkou Liaoning Provence in the Northeastern portion of China, the Nordiska company is among the first companies in China to select properly aged lumber, thereby ensuring a high standard of quality.

To accompany the high quality materials used in the handcrafting of their instruments, Nordiska utilizes only the finest components to provide each piano with a superior sound. The use of German-made Abel hammers throughout the entire Nordiska grand and vertical piano line (with the exception of the 109CM) confirms the Nordiska commitment to quality.

European Roslau wire is imported to provide the finest strings and highly skilled craftsmen wind the bass strings by hand at Nordiska’s exclusive factory.

Since first being imported into the United States in 2000, the Nordiska piano line has made a dramatic impact in the music industry. Today, the Nordiska piano line is embraced by pianists of all skill levels – from students to professional musicians – who appreciated a quality instrument.

Pianobyggare Torbjörn Lager.

1973 började arbetet vid pianofabriken.

- Att konstruera och bygga var min grej. Det var en rolig bransch. Branschen var liten. De kontakter som formades med Finland, Italien, England och Tyskland var desto mer betydelsefulla.

1977 åkte Torbjörn Lager till USA och arbetade söder om Chicago vid en koncern som tillverkade pianon och elorglar.

- Det var nästan att jag stannade kvar, säger Torbjörn. Landskapet och naturen är så storslagen och oerhört omväxlande och man kan ju söka den typ av natur man önskar.

Men Torbjörn Lager kom tillbaka efter 1,5 år och fortsatte jobbet vid familjeföretaget, som levererade ca 4000 pianon per år.

- 1981 var ett otroligt besvärligt år i branschen. I denna depression försvann hälften av tillverkningsföretagen i Europa. Vi gick i konkurs.

- En kusin och jag fick med stöd av banken starta om men i mindre skala och jag var kvar till 1984.

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