Bösendorfer celebrates Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday Bösendorfer has released a new version of its Beethoven Model Grand Piano as part of the limited edition Artist Series.

the Beethoven Model Grand Piano seen from the side with the lid open revealing part of the score of the Moonlight Sonata.
Part of Beethoven’s manuscript for his Moonlight Sonata appears on the inside of the piano’s lid (click to expand)

Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in December 1770 (strangely, the precise date is not known). His birthplace at Bonngasse 20, is now the home of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn museum. Here you can see a vast collection of Beethoven memorabilia (rather a trivial word for such a great man), including a quad-strung Graf grand – Beethoven’s last piano. An earlier Graf, also played by Beethoven, is on display at Beethoven-Haus Baden—another museum dedicated to the composer.

Beethoven died in 1827, the year before Ignaz Bösendorfer started producing pianos, so the great composer would never have actually played one of the company’s instruments. However, both were inextricably linked to the cultural epicentre that was Vienna. Beethoven moved to the city in 1792 and spent the rest of his working life there. It was, and still is Bösendorfer’s “home town”.

...looking into the piano that celebrates Beethovens 250th birthday, with the inscription on the music desk and Beethoven's image on the music rest.

With Bösendorfer’s products becoming the “go-to” pianos of the time, there was a close association between Beethoven’s music and Bösendorfer’s instruments. And it is documented that Ignaz Bösendorfer deeply admired Beethoven’s work.

This is not the first time Bösendorfer has paid tribute to Beethoven. Back in 2013 the company unveiled its first Beethoven Piano, released to mark the piano house’s 185th anniversary. This was a limited edition of 32 instruments available as Model 200 or Model 214VC grands. The inside of the lid was decorated with a section taken from Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, Op. 27 No. 2. The composer’s original manuscript (courtesy of Beethoven-Haus Bonn’s archive) was the source material.

The 2020 Beethoven Grand Piano

The new version of the Beethoven Model has the 7ft Bösendorfer 214VC grand piano at its core. Vienna Concert pianos have the identity and tradition of a Bösendorfer grand but with every component analysed and reconstructed using the very latest technologies. This provides a refined, yet classic, acoustic instrument for the 21st century. The recent Bösendorfer Secession is also based on the 214VC.

The piano also features the same score silk-screened onto the lid. An image of a young Beethoven is inlaid into the music rack using mother-of-pearl. Alongside this, the right shelf of the music desk is inscribed with Beethoven’s famous quote “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy”, again in mother-of-pearl (available in English or German).

close-up of the inscription on the piano's right music desk

The appearance of the 2020 model is far more contemporary than its 2013 predecessor. Gone are the traditional octagonal legs. These have been replaced with square tapered ones. The fittings are all chrome, and the frame is finished in silver. The piano is available in both ebony and high-gloss white.

This instrument is formally known as the Collector’s Item 250 Years Beethoven Edition and is classified as part of the Bösendorfer Artist Series. The production run is just 15 pianos. An individually numbered plaque featuring Beethoven’s signature adorns the left key block.

the various special elements of the Beethoven Bösendorfer piano
The Limited Edition numbered plaque, Beethoven’s likeness, and the special anniversary inscription

The Collector’s Item 250 Years Beethoven Edition is made to order, and turnaround time is 4-6 months. The piano can be ordered from one’s local Bösendorfer dealer, and the retail price is approximately $226,000 (USD).

Bösendorfer has been busy recently. This tribute, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday, appears just a few weeks after rapper Drake revealed his Murakami-styled Bösendorfer 280VC.

More information relating to this piano is available on the L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH website.


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