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185 years of Bösendorfer and Opus No. 50.000

Anniversary of the most tradition-rich premium piano manufacturer in the world – unique gala concert featuring Valentina Lisitsa and Paul Badura-Skoda

Bösendorfer, the oldest premium piano manufacturer in the world, celebrated its 185th anniversary with a grand ceremony. The Austrian company combines tradition and the modern age like no other maker of instruments. In honour of this occasion, Paul Badura-Skoda, Valentina Lisitsa and many other world-renowned pianists performed a unique gala concert at the Musikverein, Vienna. In addition, this prominent location hosted  another anniversary: At the ceremony, Bösendorfer presented its 50,000th instrument, built by hand just like 185 years ago. 

Paul Badura-Skoda

Paul Badura-Skoda

Good things take time

Vienna, 22 October, 2013 – Good things take time. And taking your time is the path to perfection. Founded 185 years ago, Bösendorfer is the oldest premium piano manufacturer in the world. It is renowned for its unique instruments, built with passion and a commitment to perfection at the company’s headquarters – today as well as back in 1828. Dedicated artisans and piano craftsmen work meticulously to achieve the unique and inspiring Bösendorfer sound, admired by pianists and music enthusiasts all around the world. The know-how to accomplish this has been passed down from generation to generation whilst being constantly refined.

Opus No. 50.000

Opus No. 50.000

185 years of Bösendorfer: The oldest premium piano manufacturer in the world

Bösendorfer is rich in tradition and has influenced whole eras. Many famous musicians and composers lived and worked in Vienna. Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss and Gustav Mahler – they all represent the city’s culture of music. Only an environment like this could make the development of an extraordinary instrument such as Bösendorfer possible. „When Ignaz Bösendorfer founded the company in 1828, he was dedicated to the idea of creating the best instruments possible, no matter how long it took”, explains Brian Kemble MBE, who has been managing the business since 2010. “His son Ludwig continued to pursue this vision and now, in the 21st century, it still remains valid for us as the manufacturer of the instrument with the inspiring sound- „Der Klang, der berührt.“ Great things in this world always take time - and the journey to this milestone, the Opus No. 50.000, which we presented on 22 October, has been long, exciting and eventful.”

Presentation of the 50,000th grand piano built in Austria

Since its early years, Bösendorfer has been building instruments for collectors and enthusiasts in addition to regular grand pianos. This offered a rich source to draw from for the piano craftsmen working on the grand piano with the Opus number 50,000. It was ultimately inspired by two neo-classical instruments built for the 1867 World Fair in Paris.

Opus No. 50000 in Brahmssaal Musikverein

Opus No. 50000 in Brahmssaal Musikverein

At the anniversary ceremony, Bösendorfer presented the grand piano Opus No. 50,000 - a neo-classical instrument for the 21st century. It features extensive amounts of gold as a fundamental element of design. The cabinet has many gold leaf mouldings, whilst the actual piano frame is completely covered in gleaming gold leaf that was applied by hand. In addition, it features handcrafted and 24 carat gold-plated female figures – caryatides – on the front.Its design  was a perfect fit for the Brahms Saal. Indeed, Maria Mazo, winner of the International Beethoven Competition, Vienna 2013)  said „ Boesendorfer concert grands and the halls of the Musikverein are just made for each other.“ The Opus No. 50,000 is based on the grand piano Model 225 that dates back to the time of Ludwig Bösendorfer. This semi-concert grand features a unique sound and an abundance of tonal colours – from delicate pianissimo to bold fortissimo.

Maria Mazo, winner of the 14th International Beethoven Competititon

Maria Mazo, winner of the 14th International Beethoven Competititon

Ceremony and gala concert celebrating the anniversary at the Musikverein, Vienna

Bösendorfer celebrated its 185th anniversary and the production of the 50,000th instrument in Austria with a gala concert held in the Brahms Saal of the Musikverein, Vienna. The ceremonial presentation of the anniversary grand piano took place during the concert. The completely full Gala concert celebrating the double anniversary was themed “From Classical to Modern” and offered a wide-ranging programme featuring a selection of artists, some of whom have been associated with Bösendorfer for a very long time. The evening was opened by the current recipient of the Bösendorfer ring, Paul Badura-Skoda. He was followed by pianist Valentina Lisitsa, Maria Mazo , Italian Carlo Grante, Jan Jiracek von Arnim, Daniel Serafin, Marialy Pacheco and the Janoska Ensemble. During the first half of the evening, the artists performed on a grand piano Model 280, on which Mario Mazo won the 2013 final of the Beethoven Competition. During the second half, the pianists played the artcase Opus No. 50,000. The piano was unveiled by 2 dancers Jasmin Avissar (choreographer) and Krisitina Ermolenok with music played by the composer Oliver Graber of Wiener Staatsballet, who also moderated the event. „It was wonderful to celebrate our anniversary with many of the artists and guests that have been linked to us in friendship for years, and our staff” Kemble commented. “It is not only a time to look back on our tradition, but also forward towards the future: Acquiring a Bösendorfer grand piano is a lifelong dream for many people. For them, we will continue to use all our passion and professionalism to create something very special – the ‘Bösendorfer among the grands’.” Paul Badura-Skoda gave an opening address. Brian Kemble welcomed the guests and passed on the greetings of the Federal President, Dr Heinz Fischer. Mr Gyoten, General Manager of Yamaha Corporation of Japan congratulated the company and emphasised Yamaha’s commitment to the „Wiener klang“ and to manufacturing in Austria; and Dr Richard Schenz (WKO) presented an award.

Dr Richard Schenz (WKO) presented an award to Brian Kemble, Managing Director

Dr Richard Schenz (WKO) presented an award to Brian Kemble, Managing Director

Artists' quotes

In a press conference earlier in the day the Artists were asked about their feelings for Boesendorfer.Paul Badura Skoda said „what an honour it has been for me to receive the Boesendorfer ring 35 years ago. I grew up with Boesendorfer and love its beautiful singing tone..... Boesendorfer Pianos of today still have that good Austrian Boesendorfer sound but what has changed is that they have become much more playable and responsive. It is faithful to its sound and unlike others does not try to copy Steinway“
Valentina Lisitsa said how „Boesendorfer has a unique, different sound. Not only a special voice (it talks, it sings) but it carries a special tradition- a historical heritage. Boesendorfer is part of who I am“

Valentina Lisitsa

Valentina Lisitsa

Marialy Pacheco just wanted to take Opus No 50000 home with her, and said „Boesendorfer  has the perfect sound for what I play“.Carlo Grante described the Boesendorfer piano as my „piano friend.. and the ideal piano for a pianist striving for perfect multi-dimensional sound landscapes..“The singer, Daniel Serafin described the sound as „liquid amber“. Frantisek Janoska  talked of „singing virtuosity in glamorous timbres- that’s Boesendorfer“ and showed his love for the instrument by actually applauding it on stage that evening after a passionate closing performance.Jan Jiracek spoke of seeing the wonderful Vienna music tradition in every Boesendorfer and was so inspired by the occasion that he decided to change one of his pieces from „Isoldes Liebestod“ , and „not to die but to dream with the help of Liszt’s „Liebestraum“.“Oliver Graber spoke of its „sonic inspirtion.“
The famous Viennese pianist, Paul Gulda, who was a guest, commented on how wonderful it was to see how many different colours Boesendorfer could bring with the different artists.

Marialy Pacheco

Marialy Pacheco

Carlo Grante

Carlo Grante

Daniel Serafin and Jan Jiracek

Daniel Serafin and Jan Jiracek

The unveiling

The unveiling

Opus No. 50.000 was unveiled by 2 dancers Jasmin Avissar (choreographer) and Krisitina Ermolenok with music played by the composer Oliver Graber of Wiener Staatsballet, who also moderated the event.

Janoska Ensemble

Janoska Ensemble