Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano – the unmatched quality

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Source: Yamaha Music London

The first Imperial Bösendorfer was produced in 1909. This was after a composer Ferruccio Busoni suggested the manufacturing of a piano with special extensive features. Busoni had just finished transcribing Johann Sebastian Bach’s organ works. To perfectly achieve this on a piano, he would need the octave brought down to CO to make up for the 16 to 32 feet bass pipes which the organ justice boats of.

Bösendorfer rose to the challenge and took up the task. Born in Vienna, Austria, on the 28 July 1796, Ignaz Bösendorfer was the son of a master carpenter. He went through an apprenticeship and worked in piano workshops from age 19 until he established the Bösendorfer piano company on the 25th of July 1828.

When the Bösendorfer Imperial was finished, it had a total of 97 keys, featuring eight complete octaves. The exceptional resonance quality of the Bösendorfer Imperial 290 was instantly appreciated by many. Eventually, pianists like Debussy, Bartók, and Rave would take advantage of the uniqueness of the piano to compose works which completely utilized its keys and sound potentials.

bosendorfer imperial 290

The Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano became Bösendorfer’s most significant model with a dimension of 290 cm (9 ft 6 in) in length and 176 cm (5 ft 9 in) by its width and weighs 552 kg (1,217 lb).

For close to a century, the Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano was the only concert grand piano with 97 keys the world over. However, in 1990, exactly ninety years after its production, Stuart & Sons; a company based in Australia and founded by Wayne Stuart, produced a piano with an equal number of keys.

The Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano has been described as the Rolls-Royce of pianos. This is due to the amount of craftsmanship, effort and overall man-hours which goes into the production of the Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano.

The materials used in its production are very carefully selected, and it takes up to a full year for dedicated artisans to finally put it all together.

bosendorfer imperial 290

The soundboard and rim case is made from the best quality naturally aged spruce, which is the same material used in making more than 80% of the instrument. The wood for the piano is harvested from a forest of mountain spruce at high altitudes and with minimal humidity. Care is taken to select only straight tress without branches and with the tree ring spacing not more than 1mm.

These qualities are painstakingly checked and maintained to achieve the best of sound quality.

The raw frames are kept for six months outside of the factory to relieve it of all internal stress. This offers pure stability to the instrument when its strings are eventually tensed.

To ensure tuning stability, every individual string is attached separately using a handmade loop. This makes the piano service-friendly.

The Bösendorfer is fitted with a detachable Capo d’Astro. This ensures that the upper register enjoys precision in its adjustments for that unique sound which the Bösendorfer piano is known for.

The faintest sound variations in the Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano can be heard all through the pianos entire range including the highest notes. This nullifies the tininess associated with almost all of the other grand pianos within the same frequencies.

Notable composers and producers who have been known to have played the Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano include Victor Borge, Carol Rosenberger, Garrick Ohlsson, Charlemagne Palestine, Keith Jarrett, Valentina Lisitsa, András Schiff, Wibi Soerjadi, Tori Amos, Cecil Taylor, and Oscar Peterson.

Until date, the Bösendorfer Imperial 290 Piano had remained known for its impressive sound and imposing appearance, and indeed, the Rolls-Royce of grand concert pianos.