Historical features of piano touch and sound should be included in modern piano construction – a plea for a reinvantion of lost registers and sounds

Six pedals were available to pianists from Beethoven to Chopin – some (e.g. Beethoven) switched between different pianos because of different key depths . . . the goal of piano design should be to allow performers the maximum expressive possibilities in artistic interpretation. Do we piano builders in the 21st century really contribute enough to the maximum richness of variations? Or were our colleagues of the 19th century superior to us?

Udo Steingraeber is the 6th generation to head up Bayreuth’s piano manufacturer, Steingraeber & Söhne, where he also learned piano building. He studied law and theatre at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Eduard Steingraeber the founder of the company in Bayreuth was his great-great-great uncle. Between 1980 and 2009, Udo Steingraeber and the Steingraeber design team developed three new concert grands, various chamber and salon grands, and concert pianos. Most were for his own firm, but some, such as the new Pleyel grand piano 280, were commissions from colleagues in the piano industry. Since 1988, Steingraeber & Sons’ innovations have continuously won prizes at every Paris piano test of the top-flight instruments. Some were awarded independently, some jointly with the five, top-quality colleagues that comprise the small group of the world’s A-1 best manufacturers, as they are designated in the US rankings.

Steingraeber & Söhne abides by his credo, “The technical development of the piano is never completed as the musical development goes on as well”. The Steingraeber construction design team has created a whole series of innovative products that complement Steingraeber & Söhne classic pianos, which are built along extremely traditional lines. These innovations include e.g. carbon fibre soundboards, SFM actions for upright pianos, Sordino and Mozart rail for grand pianos, magnet-controlled pedals for wheelchair users and recently the Transducer piano.  

As the longtime Chairman of the Federation of German Piano Technicians (BDK) and Vice President of the EUROPIANO Association, Udo Steingraeber is particularly dedicated to the improvement of education and training for European piano builders. He has also been the guiding force behind the development of the European Piano Technician Degree from 2003 to 2006.  

Historic Steingraeber Haus in Bayreuth, a 1754 Rococo palace, is his favourite pastime. Its strictly historic restoration continues year after year, along with the promotion of modern art, piano museum with a large Franz Liszt exhibition and a cultural program of moren than a hundred events per year, for which the Steingraeber Haus Bayreuth is open to the wider public. For all of these reasons, as well as his patronage and sponsorship of social and cultural institutions, Udo Steingraeber has been awarded two cultural prizes.

In 2023 he plans to pass over the leadership of the company to his children Alban and Fanny Steingraeber.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 2.45 pm, Room Universe 1


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