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#2055924 - 03/28/13 10:55 PM Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common?  
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Dwscamel Offline
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Apart from Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha (CF line), I hardly come across tier 1 pianos (Sauter, Grotrian, Blunther, Bechstein, Fazioli, etc.) in concert settings. I know that those other makers don't have the same output/presence as, say, Steinway, but I'd think that concert halls would be the place to find those brands. If these tier 1 pianos aren't found there, who actually buys them?

EDIT: I realize now that I phrased my question poorly. What I really meant to ask is "Why aren't tier 1 pianos more common in concert halls specifically?" I'm also willing to bet that most of the classical recordings I own (Horowitz's Carnegie Hall collection, the Ashkenazy-plays-Rachmaninoff concerto collection, others) were done with a Steinway.

Last edited by Dwscamel; 03/29/13 12:08 AM.

Beethoven - Op.49 No.1 (sonata 19)
Czerny - Op.299 Nos. 5,7 (School of Velocity)
Liszt - S.172 No.2 (Consolation No.2)

Dream piece:
Rachmaninoff - Sonata 2, movement 2 in E minor
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#2055927 - 03/28/13 11:03 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Furtwangler Offline
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Uh...well...

#2055929 - 03/28/13 11:03 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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R_B Offline
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People with LOTS of money ?
To put them in LARGE houses.
Perhaps with more money than playing ability ?

Which might explain the sale of the "player piano" option... maybe.


#2055930 - 03/28/13 11:10 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Hi,

My guess is that you are located in the U.S. or Canada. In North America, that situation is certainly the case. But, that is only due to the fairly recent importation of the top level Eropean instruments. Times are changing, however, in reference to 9' concert instruments.

For pianists with the skills and money, all of the instruments you mention are found in many private homes. These are most often of the 7' semi-concert size.

Steingraeber and Shigeru should also be added to your list. "Etc." doesn't do them justice. grin


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
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#2055935 - 03/28/13 11:21 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Most people cannot afford them, and for the quality of their playing, cheaper pianos are sufficient.


Semipro Tech
#2055943 - 03/28/13 11:45 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Norbert Offline
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Quote
If these tier 1 pianos aren't found there, who actually buys them?


Discriminating buyers who prefer to own a BMW over a Cadillac...

Norbert wink


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642 www.eliteheritagepianos.ca Edmonton, Alta dealers for Estonia,
Brodmann 780-405-8908
#2055948 - 03/28/13 11:55 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Hello,

I was able to purchase my brand new Shigeru Kawai very easily here in Michigan, USA. I was able to locate it easily and purchase it without an issue. I purchased it based on the sound it created. It is an amazing piano.


Charles Peck (American)--Metropolitan
Debussy--various pieces
Grieg--various pieces
#2055955 - 03/29/13 12:05 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Schubertslieder]  
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Originally Posted by Schubertslieder
Hello,

I was able to purchase my brand new Shigeru Kawai very easily here in Michigan, USA. I was able to locate it easily and purchase it without an issue. I purchased it based on the sound it created. It is an amazing piano.


That's great! Yeah, I mean, of course people buy pianos for all sorts of reasons. It doesn't really bother me if someone buys an expensive piano just to have it as furniture instead of as an instrument. I was only wondering why the pianos aren't more common in concert halls specifically, and secondly what kinds of customers these brands have. I wish you many years of happy music-making with your piano!


Beethoven - Op.49 No.1 (sonata 19)
Czerny - Op.299 Nos. 5,7 (School of Velocity)
Liszt - S.172 No.2 (Consolation No.2)

Dream piece:
Rachmaninoff - Sonata 2, movement 2 in E minor
#2055963 - 03/29/13 12:23 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Originally Posted by Dwscamel
Originally Posted by Schubertslieder
Hello,

I was able to purchase my brand new Shigeru Kawai very easily here in Michigan, USA. I was able to locate it easily and purchase it without an issue. I purchased it based on the sound it created. It is an amazing piano.


That's great! Yeah, I mean, of course people buy pianos for all sorts of reasons. It doesn't really bother me if someone buys an expensive piano just to have it as furniture instead of as an instrument. I was only wondering why the pianos aren't more common in concert halls specifically, and secondly what kinds of customers these brands have. I wish you many years of happy music-making with your piano!


I read the title and missed reading the edit. My mistake.


Charles Peck (American)--Metropolitan
Debussy--various pieces
Grieg--various pieces
#2055987 - 03/29/13 01:25 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Norbert]  
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Originally Posted by Norbert


Discriminating buyers who prefer to own a BMW over a Cadillac...

Norbert wink


It depends on whether it's the BMW made in Spartanburg, South Carolina or the Cadillac made in Rüsselsheim, Germany wink


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
#2056009 - 03/29/13 02:31 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Most people cannot afford them, and for the quality of their playing, cheaper pianos are sufficient.


Yes - most people can't afford them.

But, I'd dispute this second point - that someone like me, who loves to play, but is only "average" and "ordinary" - should not be able to experience the joys of a piano which plays like a top grade piano does.

I had a technician attend to my previous piano a few times (he was the dealer's tech) - and when I pointed out irregular regulation and voicing, he pointed out that my playing didn't warrant any better, and that I didn't require ("deserve" implied) a better piano. Uggh. He became my ex-technician.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-15)).
#2056016 - 03/29/13 02:56 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: backto_study_piano]  
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"I had a technician attend to my previous piano a few times (he was the dealer's tech) - and when I pointed out irregular regulation and voicing, he pointed out that my playing didn't warrant any better, and that I didn't require ("deserve" implied) a better piano. Uggh. He became my ex-technician."

That is the most dreasful, insulting, arrogant remark e could`ve made to anybody. And you let him go with his head still on his shoulders??

I hope his piano gets woodworm . . .


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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#2056022 - 03/29/13 03:10 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Sometimes it's easier to go with the flow. When he realised I was serious about upgrading, he pushed hard to buy the one his dealer had. I didn't even consider giving him the pleasure of a commission on a sale - and went elsewhere.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-15)).
#2056042 - 03/29/13 05:57 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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This is quite easy.

Before World War 2, in Europe, there were many brands of pianos in concert halls. The Royal Albert Hall had an Ibach, the Wigmore Hall had a Bechstein, there were numerous Challen and Chappell concert grands to be found throughout the old British Empire. In Europe you'd find many Bluthners, Bechsteins, Grotrians, on concert platforms. In Austria they have Bosendorfer and it still occupies a prime spot on their concert stage. Bluthner's new showroom in Vienna is also helping push the brand there.

OK, why Steinway? Well, simply, they had two factories. Everywhere else in Europe was bombed. Piano factories were prime targets because they were producing ammunition. So, when the Steinway factory in Hamburg bit the dust, there was still the factory in New York with all of the blueprints for the pianos. Everyone else had to start from scratch.

So, the main concert piano was the Steinway. Combined with Steinways aggressive marketing and the fact they were producing fine pianos (they still are), it became 'the' piano to have. In the US Baldwin had a fair footing for a lesser known brand as well.

Sauter, Schimmel, Grotrian, etc, these days are simply not well enough known, and pianists, venues and promoters in general like to stick to what they know - which is Steinway and Yamaha. Kawai still doesn't have a strong hold in the UK to be considered as a viable concert instrument in a major venue. Every piano I see on a concert stage here is a Steinway or a Yamaha. I see other makes when they've sponsored the concert, but that's it. That's not to say that the pianos are not good - they are often excellent, but it's the unknown factor. Also, there is, unfortunately, a bias amongst some concert technicians to say that anything that is not a Steinway is a lesser piano, and that other makes are just not capable of taking the punishment. I've heard this said of Fazioli, and it's completely untrue.

This is not true of every tech of course, and it's a general trend. When you go outside London, and you start to find techs that don't know what other makes should sound like, and they try to make every piano sound like a Steinway..... etc etc etc ....

So, in the UK at least, that's why it's the Steinway or quits. I mean, Steinway make a really fine piano, so for pianists, yeah, it's fine. However, it's nice to hear another voice. I love, for instance, Grotrian pianos, and Steingraeber in particular, and I've played some beautiful Shigeru Kawai Ex pianos in Italy, and some stunning Bluthners.

#2056065 - 03/29/13 07:39 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Another point which was mentioned in another thread on this forum was: Pianos for concert halls are not necessarily bought by pianists, but rather by officials or employees who may not know much about pianos, but have to answer to their superiors what they did with the taxpayer's money (or the money of the sponsor). And so they will select a piano from a well-known brand.

Because if they choose a lesser known brand, and for some reason, there are problems, then they will have to explain why they bought an "obscure" brand, when Steinway, Bösendorfer and Yamaha (all brands with a fantastic reputation) would have been available.

Pianists however will choose the instrument they like best, since they don't have to respond to taxpayers or sponsors (unless the sponsor is a piano manufacturer).

Last edited by patH; 03/29/13 07:46 AM. Reason: Included sponsors as decision makers for piano buyers

Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
#2056074 - 03/29/13 08:23 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Steinways are ubiquitous in concert halls around the world because only Steinway has the 'Steinway Artist' program which more or less obliges (in USA, almost forces) Steinway Artists to play only Steinway in concert. Garrick Ohlsson ran into big trouble when he dared to play a Bösendorfer in a concert in USA (and he went on to play a Mason & Hamlin as well as Bösendorfer when he made his Chopin and Beethoven recordings for Arabesque).

In Europe, there are already a few pianists who have bucked the trend: Angela Hewitt now plays almost exclusively on Fazioli; Louis Lortie plays Fazioli when he gets the chance; Daniil Trifonov is soon to follow in their footsteps, as he gains more recognition and therefore more clout with concert promoters. Mikhail Pletnev played exclusively on Blüthner in the last decade; Artur Pizarro also played mostly Blüthner (and almost all his CD recordings are on Blüthner), though he also plays on Yamaha.

And I don't know how he managed it, but Pierre-Laurent Aimard played a Yamaha CFX in a high-profile concert in London's Royal Festival Hall a couple of years ago (which was broadcast live by the BBC), despite being the front man for a promotional Steinway documentary film (Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037).......

But I have yet to see Steingraeber, Sauter or Grotrian-Steinweg on a big concert platform.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2056083 - 03/29/13 08:43 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Arent concert pianists tied to a certain brand via an endorsement?

Last edited by LarryShone; 03/29/13 08:44 AM.

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#2056098 - 03/29/13 09:12 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Originally Posted by Dwscamel
I was only wondering why the pianos aren't more common in concert halls specifically, and secondly what kinds of customers these brands have. I wish you many years of happy music-making with your piano!
Steinway has worked hard for more than a century to dominate the concert hall market. They have the largest collection of available instruments and it's a very expensive network to maintain. If you need an instrument in Peoria they have one available, my guess is Bosendorfer doesn't. Concert halls are run by business people not artists, their concerns is the availability of instruments and the reputation they gain by owning a particular brand. Thoughts like, "wouldn't it be interesting to play Haydn on an authentic Austrian piano" never enter their heads. And that's okay, concert halls stay in business because they're run by business people.

I answered thsi question because no one on page one had. I see now that the question has been addressed quite well.

Last edited by Steve Chandler; 03/29/13 09:17 AM. Reason: add mea culpa
#2056161 - 03/29/13 11:01 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Norbert]  
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Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
If these tier 1 pianos aren't found there, who actually buys them?


Discriminating buyers who prefer to own a BMW over a Cadillac...

Norbert wink


...Rather have a Cadillac. (At least I'd get to drive it on the roads, instead of looking at it in the shop...) wink


Charles R. Walter 1520 QA Mahogany #531739 w/ High Polish, Renner and Quiet Pedal
#2056176 - 03/29/13 11:23 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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"...when I pointed out irregular regulation and voicing, he pointed out that my playing didn't warrant any better, and that I didn't require a better piano..."

Just when you think you've heard everything. But you have hit a new low in a tech who can neither tune, regulate, nor speak civilly. The only remedy is what you did: say goodbye (or say, "Get out").

I would imagine you probably provoked him in some way, but still.


Clef

#2056199 - 03/29/13 11:52 AM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Originally Posted by Dwscamel
Apart from Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha (CF line), I hardly come across tier 1 pianos (Sauter, Grotrian, Blunther, Bechstein, Fazioli, etc.) in concert settings. I know that those other makers don't have the same output/presence as, say, Steinway, but I'd think that concert halls would be the place to find those brands.


Why? Why would concert halls spend $200,000 on a Bechstein or whatever when well over 90% of today's headliners choose Steinway?

Now, how did it get to be this way? It's a complicated answer. Savvy marketing on Steinway's part? Absolutely. Particularly with their longtime strategy of cultivating artists and nurturing these relationships. There was also a bit of luck, too. The Great Depression wiped out many domestic brands, and WWII didn't help out the German piano builders much, and then after the war, some companies were trapped by the iron curtain for several decades. This left Steinway in a unique position to corner the market.



#2056212 - 03/29/13 12:10 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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All good comments.

Another perspective I would offer is that compared to some of the fine European instruments, the S&S may be more of a durable "workhorse". Some of the other level 1 instruments (not true of Baldwin or M&H) will rapidly degenerate into lumber if they are exposed to some of the environmental situations we have here in North America.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#2056223 - 03/29/13 12:27 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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"Some of the other level 1 instruments (not true of Baldwin or M&H) will rapidly degenerate into lumber if they are exposed to some of the environmental situations we have here in North America."

Such as???

#2056226 - 03/29/13 12:37 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Other possible reasons: the versatility, wide tonal color palette and dynamic range of Steinways, and their ability to project sound in a concert hall are reasons I've heard cited by concert artists for their preference for Steinways.

#2056276 - 03/29/13 02:16 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel]  
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Quote
Why? Why would concert halls spend $200,000 on a Bechstein or whatever when well over 90% of today's headliners choose Steinway?


Concert Halls hardly will spend $ 200,000 on a new grand, most spend barely half of that.

Getting a concert onto stage is fierecely competitive and I know case where manufacturers [outside Steinway] have gone to great lenghts to make it possible.

Public announcements or newspaper releases such as "concert Hall just spent $ 200,000 on new ....grand" are mostly false.

Aside from few possible exceptions, they simply serve as publicity stunts....

Norbert grin


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642 www.eliteheritagepianos.ca Edmonton, Alta dealers for Estonia,
Brodmann 780-405-8908
#2056282 - 03/29/13 02:24 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Norbert]  
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True. Nobody pays list price. I am sure politics is a part of it, and the fact that nobody ever gets fired choosing the industry standard, and this applies to anything not just pianos.


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
#2056296 - 03/29/13 02:49 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Norbert]  
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Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
Why? Why would concert halls spend $200,000 on a Bechstein or whatever when well over 90% of today's headliners choose Steinway?


Concert Halls hardly will spend $ 200,000 on a new grand, most spend barely half of that.

Getting a concert onto stage is fierecely competitive and I know case where manufacturers [outside Steinway] have gone to great lenghts to make it possible.

Public announcements or newspaper releases such as "concert Hall just spent $ 200,000 on new ....grand" are mostly false.

Aside from few possible exceptions, they simply serve as publicity stunts....

Norbert grin


How much they pay is not the point. Artists play Steinway pianos, except for a few picky ones who can afford to be picky, so it doesn't make good financial sense to have anything else, except for perhaps, Yamaha.

#2056342 - 03/29/13 04:27 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: beethoven986]  
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Thanks for the interesting, informative responses everyone! I am pleasantly surprised at the awesome discussion that came out of this.


Beethoven - Op.49 No.1 (sonata 19)
Czerny - Op.299 Nos. 5,7 (School of Velocity)
Liszt - S.172 No.2 (Consolation No.2)

Dream piece:
Rachmaninoff - Sonata 2, movement 2 in E minor
#2056480 - 03/29/13 08:26 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Furtwangler]  
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Originally Posted by Furtwangler
"Some of the other level 1 instruments (not true of Baldwin or M&H) will rapidly degenerate into lumber if they are exposed to some of the environmental situations we have here in North America."

Such as???


Boesendorfer would be a prime example. Schimmel another (although there may be debate about category 1). I think it is a general characteristic of some of the European makes which in some ways are more refined in construction but in other ways not as monolithically massive as the top American brands.

This is not to say these instruments are bad -- just like as with expensive race cars, they may require a higher level of care and feeding to survive our climatic environment and also the institutional setting.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#2056511 - 03/29/13 09:22 PM Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: kpembrook]  
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Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,642
Danville, California
Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Furtwangler
"Some of the other level 1 instruments (not true of Baldwin or M&H) will rapidly degenerate into lumber if they are exposed to some of the environmental situations we have here in North America."

Such as???


Boesendorfer would be a prime example. Schimmel another (although there may be debate about category 1). I think it is a general characteristic of some of the European makes which in some ways are more refined in construction but in other ways not as monolithically massive as the top American brands.

This is not to say these instruments are bad -- just like as with expensive race cars, they may require a higher level of care and feeding to survive our climatic environment and also the institutional setting.


Interesting.

Anybody else out there care to comment on this subject?

I must say this is news to me.

Our climatic environment in which climate zone perchance? Michigan? Arizona? Florida? Southern California?


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