The Avant-Garde Piano

Bosendorfer designed by Holleinclick on image to get larger picture

Bösendorfer, Vienna 1990. Designed for Bösendorfer by the world-renowned Austrian architect Hans Hollein, this piano employs a modern style based on strong color and extensive use of brass. The design is not a 'one-off' for a particular location, but was produced as a limited edition over several years. Hollein has headed a master-class in architecture at the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna since 1979, and has designed many important buildings in Austria and Germany. Architects are quite often hired to design special casework. They are thought to combine a detailed knowledge of materials with artistic flair. Note that this piano has no prop stick for the lid. It has an electric lid opener!

Since the middle of the 20th century, the impact of technology on the traditional 'acoustic' piano has show itself most clearly in the casework. The extraordinary art-case pianos of the turn of the century were unique individual creations. Now, however, improvements in materials and manufacturing technology have made it possible for visually stunning designs to be produced in greater numbers and on commercial production lines.

In the past it was neither economical nor practical to use these esoteric pianos as the basis for production instruments. Nowadays, however, new materials and computer-controlled machining techniques have made it possible to produce unusual designs in small numbers without costs reaching astronomical levels such as the Hollein piano here demonstrates.

 The pictures and text in the Virtual Piano Museum are copied with permission from Piano by David Crombie, published by Backbeat Books. This book is a beautiful volume of pictures and piano history. See more about it on its Web Page.

Photos Copyright 1995 Balafon, used by permission. All rights reserved

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