Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Sauter Pianos

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

I have begun a study of the history of some of our famous piano makers over the centuries.

There have been some absolutely captivating builders.  Among them of course was Sebastien Erard, Jonas Chickering, Theodore Steinway, Johan Ibach, Ignaz Bosendorfer and of course Joseph Brodmann along with one of my favorites; Carl Sauter.

Little is known of some of these guys in the U.S. because the importing of pianos at that time but, Europe has a totally different idea of music, music making and the building of fine instruments than in other parts of the world. But I am very captivated by Mr. Sauter.

Here is the story.  Johann Streicher owned a piano company called Streicher pianos.  Streicher had risen to fame because Ludwig van Beethoven had purchased several instruments from them and the Streicher was his personal favorite, in fact he often requested that  a Streicher piano be provided for his concerts.  The company had attracted  much attention and got the attention of a young man named Johann Grimm.

Some time after Johann had joined Streicher Pianos, Mr. Streicher passed away and left his company to his daughter Nannette, a freind of Beethoven and extremely close to another composer and artist of this era named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  They actually performed together on Streicher pianos on several occasions.

After several years of service to Streicher, Mr. Grimm decided to branch out on his own.  He created what was to become the Sauter Piano Company in 1813.  To date this piano company is the oldest family owned piano manufacturer and the oldest continuous running piano maker in the world.  The company has always been controlled, owned and operated by a Sauter.

Today, Urlich Sauter is in charge and continues to make pianos in his factory in Spaichingen, Germany at the foothills of the infamous Black Forest.  They continue to manufacture pianos with the concept that Johann Grimm used in 1813 but have integrated  modern day technologies. Today the factory is a state-of-the-art factory that is quite impressive and builds approximately 450 pianos a year.  In Europe, Sauter is highly regarded as one of the finest instruments available.  In the U.S. there are only a few dealers that carry the instrument.

Once you have the opportunity to experience the Sauter piano I am sure you will agree that this instrument is one that quietly grabs your attention and seems to say “is that all you got, come on get with it”.

More on some of the other famous manufacturers coming soon

Until then-

Ric Overton

posted by Ric Overton of http://PianoSD.com via  http://MaxMorganDesign.com

Visit in Germany

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Russell Kassman, a dear friend of R Kassman Pianos in Berkely, Ca. is in Germany and was nice enough to put in a post on the world famous www.PianoWorld.comabout his trip to Germany.  I was so jealous but, after reminding myself how beautiful Nipomo, Ca. is I decided to be satisfied with my present surroundings and live vicariously through his experiences in Germany.  I contacted him via www.Facebook.com, of course, and asked his permission to re post his report of his trip to the home of pianos.  Here it is-via R Kassman Pianos, Berkely, Ca www.RKassman.com

Repost from www.PianoWorld.com

AN EXPENSIVE DAY IN BAYREUTH!!!
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I just left Bayreuth and the Steingraeber & Sohne factory and am on my way to the Black Forest to visit the Sauter piano company. I was honored to be the first person outside of factory workers to play/test the new Steingraeber 192. THIS is going to be a fantastic piano! I am posting a picture for you to have a look. It is remarkable, and has the same action as the Steingraeber 212 – very quick and decisive and an immense amount of power for the size… think Steingraeber 170 on Steroids. All of you going on the PW European tour might be able to try it as well (if you beg and plead with Udo smile)I also played (for several hours) three Steingraeber Concert Grands and selected one to replace the one we just sold to composer Gordon Getty. The new one I selected is a fabulous instrument with majestic power and a depth of tone like the Grand Canyon. I am really excited about this instrument, BUT I am doing cartwheels about another piano I bought! During my “testing time”, two factory workers rolled in a 232 (7’6″) that had just come from being used for a recording. I sat down to try it and COULD NOT pull myself away from that piano for nearly one hour. IT IS FABULOUS. After begging, pleading, and SEVERAL glasses of Schnapps, I got Udo Steingraeber to agree to sell it to me. Anyone who wants to hear one of the finest pianos I have EVER played in my many years should either go on the PW Tour and ask Udo to play Russell’s D-232 or you can beat a path to Berkeley when it arrives.

Now, on to the Black Forest area tomorrow morning for a visit to Sauter Pianos. Wow, what a great trip but my Mastercard is screaming!

and now if I wasnt jealous enough – Post from Sauter from www.PianoWorld.com

As if my visit to Bayreuth, and the Steingraeber factory weren’t enough to cause serious damage to my credit card, my visit to Ulrich Sauter, and the Sauter factory, resulted in me being waken in the middle of the night by my credit card shreaking in agony!First, you should know that the drive from Bayreuth to Tuttlingen is quite beautiful, and as you leave the city of Stuttgart and head into the Schwarz-Wald (black forest) the scenery becomes everything you imagined as a child reading Hansel and Grethel. The Sauter factory is located in Spaichingen, which is a small town in the larger series of “stadts” of Tuttlingen (best known for the worlds most advanced surgical devices – and coo-coo clocks) and Rotweil (as in the dogs, the Romans, and the oldest community in Europe). It is also the home of the Lake of Constance which has borders on France and Switzerland, and it is where the Danube River begins – so you get the influence of German baking, French sauces and Swiss presentation. My hotel was at the wood bridge over the mouth of the Danube (you should be jealous about now). I spent my first evening, after my drive, gorging on Venison in a lingonberry sauce served with Spaetzel (sort of noodles) and Spargel, which is white asparagus that is in season. Of course, we had to have something to wash all of that down, so Uli ordered a wonderful local white wine that went perfectly with our meal. Ah, life is good. Of course, dinner was followed by more schnapps.

The next morning, a lite mist was over the valley when Uli picked me up from the hotel and we headed to the factory a few minutes up the road. My goal was to just take pictures of two pianos I already have on order for customers so that I could show them the progress and to try to get out of town without tripling my debt. Yeah, right, sure.

While going from the office area to the main factory, there was a piano sitting in the factory concert area that stopped me dead in my tracks. True, it was the look of the piano that set my heart pacing, but when I sat down to it, I was left breathless by the depth and quality of sound. While I am lucky to represent many fine piano makers, and several are of comparable quality standard, I can’t think of any that equals Sauter in its ability to make uprights that equal the musicality of most grands. Add to that the stunning quality of the furniture and you have an unbeatable combination.

This piano is called a “PURE”, and it’s cabinet was designed by Peter Maly, the “guru” of contemporary furniture design. It has a polished ebony background and the keyframe/keybed/fallboard is in polished Zambrano. Now, I had never seen or heard of Zembrano before, but Uli indicated it is in the Rosewood family. But really, saying it is like Rosewood is like saying wine is like grape juice. I am posting pictures on our FACEBOOK PAGE : LINK HERE – Scroll down to the end of the FB post for the pics.

Well, I already have a great selection of Sauter uprights in my shop, with a few on order, so I began to plot what I could possibly do to get this one. I continued on my factory tour, taking pictures of my customer’s pianos, and plotting my next move on the Zambrano upright. Luckily, later that day, I was able to catch Uli in a well planned trap.

You see, over the years I have visited the area quite a bit. And Uli knows that I won’t leave Tuttlingen without a visit to this one farmer who makes a combination apple/pear schnapps that you can buy. Oh Wait, YOU can’t buy it but I did :P. So, after lunch that is exactly where we headed. To my surprise, the farmer now has a sort of tasting room, and has added several other versions of his ware, including an “herb schnapps” which has a sort of rosemary/thyme flavor, a sort of anise schnapps, and several others – whose names I can’t remember for reasons better left untold (aka too much tasting).

So, it was in this tasting room that I decided to make my move with Ulrich, and I convinced him to let me buy this piano now, with the agreement that if I haven’t sold it by NAMM, I will let him use it for the display in January. Heheh, I guess you could say yet another German piano maker has fallen into my schnapps trap.

Together with the pianos I bought at Steingraeber, we are going to have a fantastic collection going into summer and fall. But, all that tough negotiating (read schnapps drinking) made me feel I deserved a bit of a vacation, so I headed to Zurich (one hour from Tuttlingen) and got on a plane for Barcelona – and on the beach I sit, writing this and drinking – I’ll bet you’re thinking Schnapps – no way, Sangria!

Unfortunately, all of this ends on Monday when I have to fly back home to San Francisco to open the store on Tuesday, and rejoin Weight Watchers Tuesday night. I hope all the PW members going on the European factory tour have as much fun as I have had. And take it from me, if you fall in love with a piano on your journey and want to find a way to bring it home with you, grab the factory owner and a bottle of Schnapps and see where things go!

So naturally I was very jealous!!!! I asked him if I could relate his story and he happily agreed.  I hope you enjoyed his post as much as I did.

Where is it from

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

There has been a lot of gossip, speculation and talk about where certain pianos are being manufactured.  You expect and know that certain brands are made in Asia.  You would hope that certain pianos are made in the U.S. and you are convinced that others are made in Europe. So I want to discuss this topic.

Europe is the origin of piano manufacturing.  Germany specifically is the country where most people arguably agree that pianos are the finest.  For example, the top five rated pianos presently come from Germany.  The next question is just how much that means.

In this age of globalization, even pianos that come from Germany have parts that are made in Asia.  According to a friend of mine in Salzburg, only a small handful of companies produce pianos that are 100% Germany.  One of those companies is Sauter also Grotrian and August Forrester.

What this means is that these piano makers actually guarantee that each and every piece that is used in manufacturing has Germany as their country of origin.  This is a very difficult process and quite impressive.  It does show in their pricing.  For example you would expect to pay considerably more for a 6 ft. grand that is made by hand in Germany than one that is mass produced in China.

I for one have high regards for companies that are able to accomplish what  Sauter has accomplished in using only German parts in the process of making pianos.  However, I’m not convinced that having parts  from China (for example) is not acceptable as long as those parts are made with the same specs as those from a much higher caliber part.

If specifications are followed and the parts come out within acceptable tolerances, I feel that they are equal in performance value.  We have long been aware of some very high profile pianos that use certain parts made in China or Japan and until recently have done so with little or no comments from anyone.

I am proud of the American heritage of building pianos. However, to my knowledge there are only two American pianos left.  The Steinway of New York and Charles Walter are both made in the U.S. and claim to only have U.S. made parts.  I can not confirm nor deny this but, Iwill have to say that you also can see a difference in pricing from these two great piano makers than you see in an import.

So does this make the piano finer?  You will have to determine that based on your own opinion when played.  There truly is a difference in these pianos not only from the process of building but also in playing.  The textures of sound are much different and the touch of the piano is quite different.

I would encourage you to go to a piano store and try these pianos out to see the differences in each one.  It will be a test for you and hopefully, proof of what we are talking about here.

I will continue to offer opinions and profiles in the near future.

Ric Overton

www.PianoSD.com via www.MaxMorganDesign.com

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