The Art of Piano Making in Bayreuth
Steingraeber’s upright and grand pianos are handcrafted in the time-honoured tradition of piano building since 1852 and are among the finest instruments produced by an elite group of manufacturers.
Steingraeber remains a leader on the cutting edge of developments in the construction of world-class instruments with a strong goodwill of important artists, concert halls and music universities worldwide.
Udo Steingraeber (6th generation), has headed up the firm since 1980, with the 7th generation already waiting in the wings. Not only has the family tradition remained strong; so has the historic residence of the firm in the Wagner City of Bayreuth. Steingraeber Haus (1754) has been preserved largely in original condition.
In the “Rococo Hall” the original Liszt grand piano (1873) can be seen and heard. And Steingraeber Haus remains a meeting place for artists to this day. Pianists often come up with improvements, and so Steingraeber always has its finger on the pulse of innovation.
Are there still secrets to piano building that you can hear and feel? Yes! Despite higher standards for mass-produced pianos, when it comes to the very few top-of-the-line instruments on the market, nature and skilled craftsmanship remain critical factors.
With pianos made by Steingraeber & Söhne, you can expect top quality!
All five grand piano models enjoy the benefit of more than 160 years’ experience and reflect our commitment to an ideal sound, which is transparent, rich in overtones and extremely versatile. Twenty percent more upweight and non-slip key tops make the touch of our grand piano absolutely perfect.
There are good reasons why what they say about the full sound of Steingraeber grands also holds true for the upright pianos: Our model 130 is acoustically equivalent to a 160 cm (5 ft. 3 in.) baby grand, model 138 to a 180 cm (6 ft.) salon grand piano.
And model 122 is a classic, well-suited for house concerts and eminent stages like the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.
Many pianists praise the E-272 as one of the most distinctive and outstanding instruments on the market. Unique features include the sound reflecting rim, the star-shaped/half-timbered braces, and the “unbelievably enjoyable” (to quote C. Katsaris) action. Steingraeber is the only manufacturer that has reduced the sound surface of the treble soundboard and restored its classical relationship to the short treble strings. Thus, Steingraeber strings have 27% less wood weight to set in motion.
Model 130 has been our most successful upright for ninety years. In music academies and universities it replaces grand pianos. It is mechanically superior to mass-produced studio grand pianos and, it has a markedly fuller sound. The basic models are the 130 T-PS with sostenuto pedal and the 130 T-SFM. This piano can also be special ordered with chamber music bass dampening, which allows for exceptionally precise secco (“dry”) playing.
This concert upright is the acoustic equivalent of a 180 cm (6 ft.) long salon grand and awarded “Best in the World” in Paris. Universities, small concert halls, and churches are using them in place of grand pianos. They come standardly equipped with our classic action (grand-piano-like SFM action optional) and enhanced chamber music dampening for the single string sections. The cabinetry for our 138 upright piano comes in K-Klassic, B-Baroque and many other designs, including your own!
Electronics are not always used to serve artistic and creative expression in the world of music. They are often used for muting, or in ‘player pianos’ for example, and in pop music where, of late, the sound just booms out directly from the piano’s soundboard. A musical enhancement? Hardly!
However there are a multitude of professional applications that electronics can offer music and Steingraeber & Söhne has demonstrated just that in a series of trial runs* by composer Robert HP Platz from the University of Musik Würzburg, and pianist Clara Murnig from the Beethoven Institute at the University of Music Vienna.
This particular transducer technology was born out of a collaboration between Robert HP Platz and IRCAM Paris, and subsequently optimised in SWR’s (Südwestrundfunk) Experimental Studio in Freiburg. The startlingly-authentic grand piano sound is thanks not to out-dated sampling techniques, but to the physical modelling approach of piano sound ‘Guru’ Philippe Guillaume and his firm Modartt/pianoteq.
Here are just some of the things a Steingraeber Transducer Grand Piano has to offer:
It can play in all temperaments, including historical or non-European, as well as all in registers, switching from one to the other instantly at the click of a mouse.
Live performances of quarter-tone music, by Charles Ives and Alois Hába for example, can be created easily, as the sound of the piano’s own strings is mixed flawlessly with that of the transducer, all within the same soundboard. The Transducer Grand Piano is controlled by both the pianist themselves and the sound engineer at the computer.
Compositions requiring a piano with live electronics no longer need an external loudspeaker.
The transducer acts as a ‘booster‘ to the sound of a live piano, perfect for open-air concerts.
The key-dip became deeper and deeper through three hundred years of piano history; starting under 5 mm it went down to more than 10 mm today – a real challenge for pianists! Steingraeber’s Mozart Rail® reduces key-depth in grand pianos down to 8 mm, and hammer distance to the strings is reduced down to 36 mm.
This makes softer pppp playing and faster repetition possible. It is available in two different versions: a knee lever to use it while playing or a hand rail to adjust it between 8 and 10 mm before starting to play.
George Steingraeber developed this pianissimo pedal in 1894 and it was also used by Engelbert Humperdinck.
In the first third of the nineteenth century, Sordino used to be a standard feature on all grands made e. g. by the piano companies Graf (Vienna) and Erard (Paris).
Thanks to a suggestion from the pianist Jura Margulis, Steingraeber has now reintroduced this feature as pedal* or knee lever.
A very fine piece of felt goes horizontally between the hammers and strings, allowing thus tone colourations/modifications as it is required e. g. by Franz Schubert’s “fp” marking.
* optional 4th pedal or by switch interchanging with the sostenuto function.