About nearly 4 years ago, we decided to invest in a grand piano for our daughters to practice and play music on. Our friend who has great experience in buying pianos was on hand to help out. In April 2011, a Bosendorfer 170 Grand Piano was advertised on eBay for a very reasonable sum of money. Hence we arranged with the family to go down to Hastings to audition the piano along with our friend, before committing to buying it; our friend owns a Yamaha grand piano, so clearly knows about such things.
When we talk about the best concert grand pianos, the first name that comes to mind is Steinway. But these are expensive and require to be sited in a large room to sound its best – so clearly on both counts this is not for us. Then there is the Bosendorfer which is an Austrian company, who have been manufacturing pianos since 1828 i.e. one of the earliest manufacturers of the piano. They are renowned for their superb craftsmanship and attention to details – each piano takes 62 weeks to build (to which you have to add 5+ years for the drying/seasoning process for the wood prior to piano construction).
Many top artists do endorse the Bosendorfer – in fact, Franz Liszt the famous German composer and pianist endorsed the Bosendorfer as a piano which was capable of withstanding his tremendously powerful playing (he was ‘destroying’ pianos – parted strings and shattered hammers – with his monumental technique of piano playing).
The Bosendorfer flagship piano (the Imperial) has also been dubbed the ‘Rolls-Royce of pianos’, which in itself is quite a compliment. But the piano we were looking at was the more modest Bosendorfer 170, which is the commonest model one finds in the UK. It is noted for its warm rich tonal quality which is suited for the smaller living space.
We made a two hour trip from Oxford to Hastings which is down south. We went via Aylesbury to pick our friend up for this, as he knows about pianos. When we arrived at Hastings, we took an instant liking for that piano, both how it looked and sounded. There and then we offered to buy the piano from them.
But as the family had already promised a few other interested parties to come and audition the piano over the next few days, we had to wait before they could make their decision. And we were certainly pleased when we heard the good news that were going to sell the piano to us, which made the round trip to Hastings worth while.
History of the piano:
There is a fair bit of history behind this piano, which we learnt about during the audition. The piano had belonged to their father, a composer by trade who had passed away. As none of the children played the piano, they wanted to sell it – but they wanted it to go to a good home; they chose this over getting more money, as they wanted this piano to continue making music (and hence perpetuate the memory of their father) in a family who would treasure it.
We were told that their mother had received a fair sum of money as her inheritance a few decades ago, and had decided to put the money into buying this piano for her husband. And this piano has been in their family home ever since. Being a piano manufactured in 1924, it is now over 90 years old and still going strong. About three strings have been replaced from the original and there is some wear and tear on the casing, but the piano itself is still going strong. It is not perfect, but considering its history and legacy, it is priceless indeed.
Moving of the piano:
After paying for the piano, we arranged for a professional piano removals company to collect the piano from Hastings and transport it safely back to our house in Oxford; we wanted it done properly, to protect this piano. It did arrive safely, and was reassembled very swiftly in our living room by the professional piano removalists. My wife had managed to take photos of the piano arriving in our house (sorry for poor quality – iPhone pics).
Reflections of my family:
My daughter has recently passed her grade 6 exam, having practised on this piano over the last 3 years. Currently she is practising on the piano nearly every day of her own accord, mainly playing the songs she loves to listen to. Only recently has she commented on how good a sound this piano makes, especially when compared to our Yamaha electronic piano. We have all been pleased with the music this piano makes, but for my daughter to realise this for herself is quite a revelation in itself.
The fact that it is now over 90 years old and still producing great music, is a sign of how good Bosendorfer are in manufacturing pianos. This is probably one of the best investments we have made, particularly as it has given us unlimited enjoyment from the music played on it by my daughters, and yes, even my wife is known to play a good tune on it from time to time. And the thought that the legacy of this piano passed on to us from the family who sold it, will continue to live on in our family as my daughters play music on it, is not something that money can buy.