On Friday 29th September, Luigi Borgato will unveil his latest piano to the public at a special event to be held in the Palazzo della Ragione, Padova (Italy). This will be a very special occasion as the instrument in question, the Borgato Grand Prix 333 is the longest (designated) concert grand piano in the world. There are a couple of longer pianos, but these are considered one-offs, and (debateably) not true concert grands.
Luigi Borgato, together with his wife Paola, design and hand-build ground-breaking concert grand pianos, in Sossano, Vicenza (north-east Italy). Their first instrument was the Borgato L282, an innovative concert grand utilising 4 strings per note in the upper register.
Inspired by a piano Anton Walter built for Mozart, their next design was the “Doppio Borgato”. This was an L282 concert grand combined with a 37 note pedalboard piano (P398). Mozart used this type of instrument for both composition and live performance.
Borgato Pianoforti’s latest creation, the Grand Prix 333 is claimed to be the longest concert grand in the world. Bass strings need to be thicker and longer than those in the higher registers – if all the strings were the same thickness then the piano would need to be unfeasibly long. But thicker strings are less flexible and lead to harmonic distortion, so manufacturers have to compromise trading off string length for thickness. Virtually all (except Fazioli with their F308) restrict the length of their instruments to under 3 metres.
The Grand Prix 333 as the name implies is 3m 33cm in length, which allows the bass strings to be 30-50cm longer, and produce a bass timbre with much greater depth. This is a stunning instrument in many ways. The spruce used for the soundboard comes from Passau in southern Germany. This is a very special wood as it transmits sound at over 6,000 meters per second (apparently this is twice as fast as normal spruce). It costs 28,000 euros per cubic metre, and contributes to the piano’s unique harmonic signature.
No expense is spared in producing an instrument of the highest quality. The Grand Prix 333 weighs in at 700 kg, and would sell for over 300,000 euros, but this first instrument is not for sale.
Padova and Cristofori
Borgato wants to use Friday’s event in Padova both as an unveiling of the Grand Prix 333 and as a celebration and tribute to Bartolomeo Cristofori, the original inventor of the piano. Cristofori was born in Padova (known in English as Padua) in 1655.
Host for the evening will be Giovanni Viafora, and speakers will be Luigi Borgato and musicologist Prof. Quirino Principe. Giovanni Bertolazzi will be playing the Borgato Grand Prix 333.
The presentation will start at 8.45pm. Entrance is free, but seat numbers are limited. If you wish to attend you should contact Borgato Pianoforti, before September 27th, to ensure space is available. Some seats will be available on the night.