Steingraeber 2023 Bayreuth Conference - A Trip To Germany
We have been honoured with the opportunity to visit the Steingraeber workshop and house recently in the beautiful, culture-rich city of Bayreuth. Will and Joseph, two of our professional piano technicians, were sent to represent the Shackleford Pianos team and learn more about how Steingraeber crafts its top-tier pianos.
You can see them below - Will (the one with glasses) and Joseph (the one with glasses).
Will Davenport Joseph Kaminski-Gaze
The trip included an exclusive tour of the Steingraeber & Söhne workshop, the Steingraeber house, a visit to the spectacular Margravial Opera House and even a visit to the house of the renowned composer Richard Wagner, which the city is famous for.
The Road to Bayreuth
But first they had to get there - so they boarded their plane, sat back and relaxed - as much as you can on an aeroplane (babies etc.) - on their way to Germany.
And once they landed in Frankfurt, they had to board a train and sit back and relax - as much as you can on a high speed train (crowds, babies etc.) - on their way to the city of Nuremberg. When they got there, they sat. Waited. Boarded another train, and finally made their way to the lovely city of Bayreuth!
The scenery along the way was lush, vibrant and full of life - a wonderful landscape that made for some perfect photos and establishing shots.
And Finally... Bayreuth
Then they finally arrived in the cultural, historical and pristine city of Bayreuth.
Bayreuth is famous for its history. It is home to Steingraeber & Söhne pianos, the location of the magnificent Margravial Opera House and, most notably, where the composer Richard Wagner lived in 1872 until his death on a trip to Venice in 1883. His body was brought back to Bayreuth and buried there.
Franz Liszt also lived in Bayreuth and died there in 1886. Indeed, this city was the birthplace of many of his iconic pieces and has a deep connection to the world of music.
Our duo then made their way to the Steingraeber house, an impressive building and home to the Steingraeber family, owners of a piano company that excels far beyond most.
Upon entrance, they were greeted with what can only be described as a pianist's dream...
Inside, they found a splendid museum, containing treasures such as Richard Wagner's piano, the Gralsglocken - a unique instrument made specifically for Wagner's Parsifal performances and more.
If you, too, are an avid piano lover - the Steingraeber house and museum is the place to be, a must for musicians and pianists alike!
Above: An exhibition upright piano with its interior action revealed.
Above: A stunning exhibition grand piano made by Steingraeber, with a beautiful inlay.
Above: Richard Wagner's Steingraeber grand piano.
The two above: Franz Lizst's Steingraeber grand piano, with elegant cabinetry in an angelic white finish.
Above: The Gralsglocken, a musical instrument made specifically for Wagner's Parsifal performances. Find out more and watch it being played by Udo Steingraeber here.
Above: The Steingraeber house showroom
The Workshop Tour
Next on their Steingraeber adventure, Joe and Will were given an exclusive tour of the Steingraeber workshop, so they could witness for themselves the astonishing craftsmanship and top-tier technology that creates such a spectacular sound within their apex pianos.
The tour of the workshop granted insight into every aspect of the Steingraeber method of piano building - true piano artisanship! Joe and Will were given access to the veneer room, regulating room, a peek into the spray booth and more.
The three above: The veneer room, containing shelf after shelf of high quality veneer for luxurious cabinetry.
Above: A state-of-the-art soundboard storage room, containing soundboards of the highest standard. Artisans at Steingraeber's workshop take additional steps such as tapping, thinning out and listening to the soundboard. This is to ensure that the soundboard produces that exceptional sound and frequency that Steingraeber & Söhne pianos are renowned for.
Above: The completed rim storage, where all of the the finished and perfected piano rims are stored for later use, when a fresh piano needs to be crafted.
Above: The regulating room, where the piano action playability is put to the test and made responsive to the touch.
Above: A professional standard pillar drill, used for numerous tasks such as drilling the shank holes or hammer heads in the action.
Above: A phenomenal Steingraeber action - among the best in the world - granting outstanding playability.
Above: Finalising the hammers for, a finishing touch that provides that brilliant sound Steigraeber is known for.
Above: An expert Steingraeber piano artisans sanding a grand piano fallboard.
Above: A deluxe, high standard Steingraeber frame and soundboard, glowing gracefully in the cabinet of a soon-to-be Steingraeber grand.
Above: An efficient, high quality sanding planer for sanding efficiently. A very expensive piece of machinery!
Above: A massive spray booth for professional spraying. This is where Steingraeber & Söhne pianos are made majestic and beautiful!
Above: Watch how the experts do it! Here is a Steingraeber piano technician at work, tuning a newly crafted upright piano.
Above: This handy tool is used to measure bass strings, allowing the Steingraeber technicians to use the correct length of string needed, and so that they can take measurements of string lengths.
Above: Here we have some of Steingraeber's piano artisans working together to build a grand piano rim. The clamps hold the piano rim in place as the heavy-duty glue helps it stick into place.
And finally, after all of the work is done, the result is something truly breath-taking - an inspirational work of craftsmanship in the form of a piano, shining bright with beauty and emitting a sound that will amaze. Whether a grand or an upright, the Steingraeber team will never fail to produce a piano of top-tier longevity and musicality that will always enchant the listener with its melodies.
Transducers - A Talk With Pianoteq
During their visit to the Steingraeber workshop, Joe and Will also got the opportunity to learn more about Pianoteq in a talk by Philippe Guillaum, owner of the company.
Pianoteq has been working with Steingraeber on special transducers. These transducers can be installed on Steingraeber pianos and are used to generate any sound you like. If you wanted to, you could make your Steingraeber sound like a harpsichord!
Other possibilities include the ability to play in all temperaments, whether historical or non-European, can be used as a self-playing system, it increases the soundboard vibrations for a greater volume and much more.
The Magnificence of the Margravial Opera House
Our team of two was also lucky enough to get to visit the Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth - a marvel to behold, built in a brilliant baroque style which people look upon with awe. The building is so extraordinary, in fact, that it is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Looking at the image below, you can see why...
The building was built according to the plans of French architect Joseph Saint-Pierre whilst its glowing interior was designed by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena, a designer of immense talent from Italy.
Every corner is overflowing with decoration, colour and ornate features of the Baroque period. Take a look at that ceiling!
Above: Margravial Opera House structural model
A Visit To Richard Wagner
Next up on their journey, Joe and Will went on a visit to the house of the world famous Romantic era composer - Richard Wagner. Wagner is loved and treasured throughout the world and is known for many classics in the music world - such as "The Ride of the Valkyries", "Parsifal", "The Flying Dutchman: Overture" and many more.
Richard Wagner moved to Bayreuth in 1874, where he lived until his death 1883. But his spirit still lives on in the town, and comes vividly alive once more during the Bayreuth Festival - a festival dedicated to the composer. It is held annually and celebrates the life and astonishing work of Wagner.
Above: The interior of Wagner's elegant house with one of his graceful grand pianos.
Above: A picture of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner in the Wagner museum.
Above: One of Richard Wagner's original scores
The Würzberg Residence
Above: The everyday streets of Würzberg
Above: A fabulous fountain flowing with water in the city of WürzbergNow, the trip was coming to an end. But first, the two decided to visit the nearby city of Würzberg to have a look at another building - the Würzberg Residence. This ornate building shines like gold in the daylight and is a beautiful sight to behold!
The palace was built in the 18th century. Involved in its construction were Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, Maximilian von Welsch, Robert de Cotte, Germain Boffrand and the principal architect - Balthasar Neumann. The Baroque style palace had been completed for the Prince-Bishops of Würzberg who previously resided in the Marienberg Fortress.
Unfortunately, the palace had been heavily affected by allied bombing during World War II. Thankfully, it has been restored to its former glory and has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture.
Finally, it was time for the two to leave Germany and return home, with a newfound knowledge of all things Steingraeber, new experiences and, of course, bags of pretzels, beer and bratwurst!
Written by Joshua Wardle
Photography and filming by Will Davenport and Joseph Kaminski-Gaze
Photo Editing by Will Davenport
A special thanks to the Steingraeber family for inviting us to have a look at your amazing piano workshop and showroom in the music-rich city of Bayreuth. Joe and Will loved the visit and were grateful for the invitation.