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date: 25 January 2020


  • Leon Botstein


Austrian firm of piano makers. Ignaz Bösendorfer (b Vienna, 28 July 1796; d Vienna, 14 April 1859) founded the firm in 1828 after an apprenticeship with Joseph Brodmann. He recognized the need for an instrument that could respond to the demands for volume and pitch stability made by the virtuosos of the 1830s. In a legendary incident only a Bösendorfer piano survived an evening of Liszt's playing. In 1830 Bösendorfer received the first ‘kaiserlich und königlich’ designation granted to a piano maker. The firm reached its technological zenith and greatest fame under Ignaz's son Ludwig (b Vienna, 15 April 1835; d Vienna, 9 May 1919), who trained with his father. Ludwig's patents from the early 1860s concentrated on improvements to the Viennese action. He was staunchly conservative on issues of piano design, resisting the innovations made by Steinway and Chickering between the 1860s and the 1890s in both the use of metal and the technique of framing. Ludwig moved and expanded the factory but retained an artisan system of production. The output between the 1860s and ...

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