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That concert grand was an iron curtain era piano from behind that curtain. Unless a lot has been done to it (and done well) it probably doesn’t perform anywhere near as beautifully as a modern Förster. And of course you have to contend with the likelihood of prior institutional use for who knows how long.


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It may be the recording but the piano does sound rather"old"
Apparently during those days some if not all August Forsters were made in the Petrof factory or were there more than one factory? I am not suggesting the piano is useless, but that the price is far too high for this "exotic old beauty"


My piano's voice is my voice to God and the great unknown universe, and to those I love.In other words a hymn.That is all, but that is enough.Life goes on, despite pain and fear.Music is beautiful,life is beautiful.


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Re. August Förster production during the cold war, there were two factories producing under the AF brand. The piano in question has "Löbau“ on the plate, which is the location of the current production (the original, German facility).

Re. the question of the OP,. I was in a similar situation 4 years ago, with slightly less funds to spend. None of the available rebuild or renewed Steinway or Bösendorfer or Blüthners were worth it - beautiful instruments, but all with inconsistencies, that I could not live with paying the same as for a brand new C3X or GX3. In the end I got a good deal on a brand new Shigeru Kawai SK2, that I'm really happy with. However, I've tried a beautiful specimen of the Feurich 218 since, that I would have seriously considered, had it been available when I was shopping.

In the market around here, with that kind of money, I would recommend waiting for the right deal on a new piano and negotiate for the right price.


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August Förster (Lobau) production during the iron curtain era had "DDR" cast into the plate.


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Yes, I remember seeing that cast in the plate on the one AF from that period I spent a few days around. My recollection (this was 10 years ago, and I think the piano was all-original) was the piano (a 7 footer) had a nice sound and a train wreck of an action.


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Do not buy that AF unless you absolutely love it. I wouldn’t dream of buying an iron curtain era piano from any maker of that region unless it was fully rebuilt with a new action and keys and new soundboard. They just didn’t have the resources then to build a good piano although the scale designs could be good.


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Germany was reunited in 1997, if memory serves. Prior to that date August Förster had been a state-run company, but after reunification it was returned to the family. From the August Förster site:

Quote
During the last wave of government nationalization in 1972, the company was transformed into the state owned VEB Flügel-und Pianobau Löbau. Still under the management of Wolfgang Förster, the company was annexed be part of the German Piano-Union Leipzig. Even though the ruling ideology of the time tried to push the Förster name into the background, the character and brand name Förster was sustained due to its successful export business.

The family name was added back into the company name in 1976 and it was re-named VEB Förster Pianos Löbau.
Despite numerous awards and medals for various grand piano designs presented at the most important international fairs, it was difficult for Förster, as well as all other factories in the socialistic economy of the German Democratic Republic, to secure needed parts. The significance of being a source of foreign currency made it possible to procure parts from non-socialistic countries and so it was that Förster able to use Renner piano actions as early as 1987.

After the collapse of the government of the German Democratic Republic, Wolfgang Foerster was able to re-privatize the family business.

The general economic recession of the early 1990`s lead to a restructuring of the production and staffing of the company. In the following years, numerous investments were made for the upkeep and development of the traditional production facility.

From 1966 till 2008 Wolfgang Förster directed the company before he passed on the heritage to his daughter Annekatrin Förster.

Because of this history, I personally would not purchase a Förster from the pre-1997 days. My AF 215 dates from 2002 (first sold in 2004). And, for what it's worth, I love it. Also, it was in the $35,000 ballpark.


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The Berlin Wall fell in 1989.


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Originally Posted by tre corda
It may be the recording but the piano does sound rather"old"

Never judge a Caruso piano from recordings! Their quality seems "variable".


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Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by tre corda
It may be the recording but the piano does sound rather"old"

Never judge a Caruso piano from recordings! Their quality seems "variable".
Actually I got the A Forster from Michelle's confused with the Caruso recording.I Actually preffered the sound of the piano from the Caruso dealer.It was the the recording from Michelle
Pianos I did not like.Probably the old fashioned song that he played put me off as well.That piano is really worth trying unlike the one made in the communist era.

You can never tell much by recordings anyway.The action of the older piano would have to be checked.Imagine ordering an unplayed "train wreck especially at that price"😳

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Originally Posted by Withindale
The Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Yes, the wall fell '89, and I think the official reunification was 1990. The USSR was not far behind, it fell on 26th December 1991.

As far as the former DDR piano makers were concerned, the manager of Blüthner London told me in 2003 that it took the company ten years to really get back on top of the game, so pianos made before 2000 I would regard as less than stellar examples of what they can do now. I cite Blüthner, but I imagine August Förster would be the same. In fact I think that some August Förster uprights were made in the Blüthner facility. There was a particular model of piano that was released under the names Hupfeld, Zimmerman, Gebr. Niendorf, Wilhelm Steinberg, and I'm sure I've seen some August Försters the same. There was also a model of baby grand that would basically fit into a small apartment, probably built for music students East of Berlin to have a good instrument at home. I've seen a few of these baby grands in the UK, they were about 4'8 long and they actually had a surprisingly good sound for the size, although they weren't really good instruments on the whole. Sometimes they hit the second-hand market for about £1500-£3000, and to me they're nothing more than a kitsch curiosity really, kind of like the Trabant of the piano world.


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Thanks for all of the advice and perspectives. I think I'll end up going with a new Yamaha. While I totally agree that a better deal could be had in a gently used model, I don't think I have the time or patience to drive all over looking at used pianos and then having a technician check them out. Maybe if I knew more about the inner workings of a piano myself (and could do some of the "mechanical" evaluation myself), it might have made more sense. But now that we are in tax season, I'll do well to find time to play, let alone shop AND play smile

This is a great community and a great resource!

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Keep us posted when your purchase, Mark!

I've never played a Yamaha CX piano, only the C-series. Some day... smile


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I bought my Steinway A3 from there. Very reasonable, friendly and I love my piano.

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