From The Blog Of Ric Overton...

Wolfgang Forster of August Forster Pianos 5/6/33 – 6/30/12

Today, I want to celebrate the company and heritage of one of the most famous names in the world of fine pianos.  Wolfgang Forster.  Wolfgang passed away on June 30, 2012.

May 6, 1933 Wolfgang Forster was born into a very famous and important family inLobau,Germany which is located in East Germany moments away from Poland to the East and Czech Republic to the South.  The piano company that he owned and operated with his daughter Annekatrin, this fourth generation piano company is among the most prestigious names in the piano industry today.

Before you read the story below you might find interesting:

August Forster Story

History of August Forster Pianos

 

Friedrich August Forster  was born on July 30th 1829 in Oberseifersdorf, Germany.  By the time he reached 20 years old August had a love of pianos.  Under the tutelage of Mr. Hieke and Mr. Karl Eule he passed his extensive examinations and by April 1st of 1859, August Forster had begun the journey of making the first piano that would have his name and would eventually become very important.

Frederick August Forster of August Forster Piano

 

In 1862 he August founded his first factory inLobau,Germanywhere he manufactured pianos until his death in 1897 at the early age of 68.  At this time the factory was placed in the caring hands of August’s son, Casar Forster.

 

August Forster’s Son, Casar Forster

 

Although Casar’s life was cut short after only 18 years of control, he was able to accomplish a lot in the midst of some very troubling years.  In 1915 the company was inherited by his two sons, Gerhard and Manfred.  Although Gerhard was a very accomplished piano maker, Manfred was the business man and the two of these gentlemen worked together to create a very strong and viable company.

 

Casar Forster’s Sons, Gerhard and Manfred

 

Gerhard and Manfred Forster

 

One of the advancements Casar made during his reign was to open an extended factory inGeorgswalde,Bohemia(nowJirikov,Czech Republic) which was just across theBohemiaborder to the southwest a few miles away.  In 1945 the Czech government nationalized the factory. Although Forster no longer owns this factory, the rules of that day allow the factory the ability to produce pianos with their name on it.  These pianos are not associated with the famous August Forster of Germany.  Although this is somewhat confusing to the consumer it is important to note that anyone who purchases these products should see some documentation or imprint of the “country of origin”.

 

On a note that I found VERY interesting, August Forster actually introduced an electric piano called the “Vierling-Förster” in 1937.  This was one of the very first electric pianos ever created and successfully marketed.

 

August Forster Logo

 

Manfred Forster’s Son, Wolfgang

 

In 1952 after the passing of Manfred Forster, his son Wolfgang Forster and Manfred’s brother (Wolfgangs uncle)  Gerhard Forster continued to operate the company in the same tradition that the family name had become known.  It was not until 1966 at the death of Gerhard Forster that official changes in ownership took place.  However, the change in ownership brought about a new challenge.

 

The inheritance taxes forced Wolfgang to sell shares of the company to the German government.  In 1972 the German nationalization forced the company to rename the pianos it produced to VEB Flugel-und Pianobau Lobau.  In 1976 and even though Wolfgang Forster still ran the company, the government wanted the August Forster name to disappear but, the successful nature of the company and the now famous brand name forced the government to change the name to VEB Forster Pianos Lobau.

 

An interesting point here is that 1976 was also the first year that Forster began importing into theUnited States.

 

There were many political challenges during the socialistic reign of the German Democratic Republic.  One of the biggest was the ability to purchase parts from countries other than their own.  But, because of the success of Forster in other countries they were granted the right to purchase Renner action parts in 1987.

 

When the German Democratic Republic finally collapsed the country changed dramatically. One of the good things that happened was that Wolfgang was finally able to re-privatize the August Forster name.

NAMM interview with Wolfgang Forster

 

 

 

Wolfgang Forster’s Daughter, Annekatrin

 

In 2008 Wolfgang passed this family heritage of piano building in the same tradition as his Great Great Grandfather, August.  Her name is Annekatrin Forster.  As owner and manager of August Forster pianos, Annekatrin has continued to build the company.

August Forster Today

The list of accomplishments and awards this company has been awarded over the years would be simply to many to list.  Some of the most famous names in the music industry have used or owned a German made August Forster piano.  Names like Richard Strauss, Sergei Prokofiev, Giacomo Puccini, Robert Fischer, Alex Duke and even Anton Kuerti have been among the most famous who have used August Forster pianos to one extent or the other.

The world famous Larry Fine has written about August Forster pianos and given them an excellent rating.  They are listed in Group 1 of the Highest Quality Performance Pianos category. The reason is their demand of the finest raw materials available to be used by the very finest craftsman to go into one of the very finest pianos available in the world.

With all of the history and accolades, this fourth generation piano manufacturer makes approximately 120 grand pianos, 150 upright pianos with a staff of  forty or so employees.

Our condolences to the family of Wolfgang Forster.

Visit http://PianoSD.com

Ric Overton

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