The Imperial Concert Grand piano is one of the most highly regarded pianos in the world. It is the Rolls Royce of pianos costing substantially more than a Steinway concert grand piano. This piano was owned by a formidable pianist, Harriette Thompson who taught piano at Boston University and performed at Carnegie Hall on several occasions. She also has the distinction of being the oldest woman to ever run a marathon at 92 and set speed records for anyone close to her age!
This particular Imperial has a rich history. The piano came from the noted Konzerthaus in Vienna. In 1974-5 the piano was restored by Bösendorfer with new strings, hammers and other parts. It was also refinished with 17 coats for a rich, lasting finish. It also got a new set of one piece keytops (from elephants) which are no longer available on pianos. All the work was performed by Bösendorfer in Austria.
The Imperial is set apart from all other concert grands in a number of ways. Aside from the meticulous craftsmanship which is obvious visually, mechanically and sonically, the piano has 9 extra keys in the bass going down to low C below the regular low A on other pianos. This came about over a century ago by a suggestion by composer Ferruccio Busoni who transcribed large organ works of Bach for the piano and needed the extra low bass notes. Other composers also have written music to take advantage of the deep low notes offered only on the Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand.
The 9 12 foot Imperial also has an exceptionally wide tail which is accommodated by the rim which is in sections as pianos were made in the 1800’s instead of the more typical continuous rim found in pianos today.
There are 2 benefits to the extra notes on the Imperial Concert Grand Piano
1. When depressing the damper pedal, the extremely long strings in the bass add to the sympathetic resonance enriching the tone of all the notes of the piano.
2. The massive soundboard has extra area which adds to the richness of the sound.
This piano was lovingly presided over through the years keeping everything in top-notch condition. When we got the piano we went through at took it to an even higher level of performance with concert level regulation and voicing. The instrument has a warm sound with the trademark clarity found in the best Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand pianos. Finding an Imperial in great condition provides a rare opportunity for someone who desires the best of the best in a piano.