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Bluthner Piano History

Bluthner Piano History


On 18th November 1853, with a budget of "1660 talers, 2 new groschen, 1 penny and 1 farthing", Julius Blüthner opened his pianoforte factory in Leipzig.

In the middle of the 19th Century, Leipzig was one of the cultural centres of Europe and already well known for it's international trade and university. Changing circumstances meant that education was no longer reserved for the rich and during this period, entrepreneurs such as Blüthner were able to prosper.

Production of Blüthner pianos began in a rented workshop with the help of three men. Ten instruments were made in the first year, eight grands and two square pianos.

Production increased due to extensive marketing. Using the media of his day, Blüthner spread the word about his pianos and articals from the day speak of his pride of new designs being added to his production lines and his machinery being driven by steam. His premises had to be enlarged to cope with the demand for his pianos. Blüthner began to gain a wide audience for his pianos by showing the instruments and presenting new innovations at exhibitions and trade fairs all over Europe.

Soon the instruments captured the attention of experts, top pianists and musical authorities. Blüthner began to win awards from entering his instruments into competitions and Blüthner pianos built up great acclaim for being a serious concert instrument. Some of these awards can still be seen on the piano soundboards to this day. Blüuthner's reputation grew to such an extent that Artists such as Brahms, Jadason, Liszt, Mahler, Moscheles, Nikisch, Rachmaninov, Schumann and Tschaikovsky were welcome guests in the Blüthner house.

The appointment as purveyors to the court of Queen Victoria, Tsar Nicolas II, The Danish King, the German Emperor, Turkish Sultan and Blüthner's own king, the King of Saxony, underlines the approval bestowed on Blüthner pianos.

In 1890 Blüthner was able to build a new factory suitable for 1200 workers and a large manufacturing area to house the various production departments. Export was an early goal for Blüthner and considering that at the time Germany and many other conries in Europe were still concentrating on their home market, protected by the custom barriers of the time, it showed great foresight that Blüthner created a distribution network around the world.

During this time of rapid growth, it was important to Blüthner to keep his company a family business. He believed that only thorough knowledge of the product assures excellence and as a result he sent his sons to various parts of the world to learn the business in detail and gain a full understanding of the production process. On the 1st July 1892 Max Blüthner started as a partner in the enterprise. Like his brothers Bruno and Robert, he learned the craft of piano making and oned his skills in London and Paris. Soon he began to manage the technical side of the instruments production and bit-by-bit the business was handed down to the three brothers, Max, Bruno and Robert. Even to this day all aspects of the business are handed down the generations of the Blüthner family.

In 1932 Dr Rudolph Blüthner- Haessler, Julius Blüthner's son-in-law took over the reigns of the company and guided Blüthner Pianos through the Second World War.

In 1936 Blüthner gained great public interest when the German leaders selected Blüthner to build a piano for the famous airship Hindenburg crossed the Atlantic for the first time with a Blüthner Grand Piano on board. This particular instrument was made of an aluminum alloy weighing only 162 kg (356 lbs). The frame, rim, fallboard, and top lid were made of duralumin, and the legs, back bracing, and lyre were made of hollow duralumin tubing and the outside covered with parchment. It served for the first piano recital from the air, which was broadcast live by 63 radio stations around the world.

However events did not remain so fortunate and in 1943 the factory was hit by an air raid and nothing was left. It was not until 1948, after the war that family and friends encouraged the family to rebuild the company and production of the Blüthner Piano began once again.

After the death of Dr Rudolph Blüthner- Haessler on 16th June 1966, his son Ingbert Blüthner-Haessler took over the management. However in 1972 the leadership and nationalization of East Germany took place and due to this Blüthner pianos was nationalized. However in 1989, after the fall of the wall Ingbert reorganised the company back into a family business and like family members before him, he extended the production capacity and modernised the manufacturing process. From 1994 to 1997 a new factory was built near leipzig and since 1995 Ingbert Blüthner-Haessler shares the management of the company with his two sons, Dr Christian Blüthner-Haessler, who is in charge of sales and finance and Knut Blüthner-Haessler, who isin charge of production and all technical aspects.

To this day Blüthner have an international reputaion for outstanding quality with subsidiaries and service centers in Great Britain, United States, Russia, France, Netherlands and Asia. Blüthner are still comissioned by the elite, and are currently creating a piano for Vladimir Putin.

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Julius Bluthner Bluthner on the Hindenburg Bluthner Awards

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