Antique Pianos

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There are two facts, which make antique pianos so attractive: firstly they were built for a more sophisticated taste than the current, and secondly the variety of the different brands was so large that one could choose the instrument convenient to ones personal taste.

These instruments have a sound which is richer in overtone and therefore they are more colorful, not primarily banging loud, generally more sophisticated, mechanically lighter and not machine-like, in one word, much more cultivated than modern ones. Somebody who never heard or played a Schubert-sonata on a Viennese grand from 1825, a composition of Liszt on a German or French grand from 1850, a Brahms-Intermezzo on a Streicher-piano from 1870 or a Debussy-Prélude on a Bechstein from 1890, does certainly not know, what a really fine piano can perform. A player can develop a singing, colorful and cultivated tone on a historic piano much better than on a modern one if he does not expect the "advantages" of a modern concert grand and he is willing to accept the piano as it is. At least antique pianos teach a lot about the compositions and the structure of sound, because the whole acoustical appearance is much more transparent.

The variety of different pianos, which could still be found around 1900, was displaced by a boring uniformity. The modern piano is the result of a development, which increased in the USA in late 19th century and which swapped over the whole piano-building and -playing world. So it happens that almost all modern pianos sound more or less similar, because they are built following the same principal rules of construction. One may object to this opinion that the modern piano is the last step of a "darwinistic" process; in fact this is symptomatic for the cultural dullness and global greed of our time.

A deplorable example of this change of taste are the grands with Viennese action, as they were constructed from about 1860 to 1920. Many players, who are trained on the modern piano, say that the actions were too stiff, the dynamic range too small etc. In fact the pianos of the most excellent makers, as Streicher, Bösendorfer, Schweighofer or Ehrbar and many more, were estimated by the most excellent musicians, e. g. by Brahms and Liszt. Playing these instruments requires more finger-control; the explosive sound, generated by the weight of the whole arm and supported by the whole body, is not possible on such pianos. Probably this is the real "disadvantage" in the eyes of many modern pianists.

We also offer and restore early modern pianos, because it is our firm’s conviction that these instruments are superior to new ones, caused by better quality of materials and higher aesthetic approach, which still was existing around 1900.

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Johann Frenzel, Linz 1841, cherry wood, Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum
Johann Schrimpf jun., Vienna 1856 (?), walnut, Schubert-museum Atzenbrugg castle, Lower Austria
Johann Baptist Streicher, Vienna 1851, elm tree root, privat
Johann Baptist Streicher & Sohn, Vienna 1870, rosewood, Klavieratelier
Carl Rönisch, Dresden ca. 1872, rosewood, Klavieratelier
Johann Baptist Streicher, Vienna 1836, rosewood, privat
Johann Fritz, Vienna ca. 1830, curled ash tree, Klavieratelier

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