A grand piano believed to have been constructed around 1870 is by Ludwig Bösendorfer (1835-1919) who had taken over his father’s business in 1859. The instrument uses the traditional Viennese mechanism, however with much larger and heavier hammerheads than those on the Clara Wieck grand piano built four decades previously. A further important deviation between the two instruments is the cast iron frame on the Bösendorfer instrument. Unlike on today’s grand pianos, on this historic instrument there is no cross stringing whereby the longer bass strings run diagonally across the treble strings. Thus, here the tonal colours of the individual registers are, as with a singing voice, more greatly differentiated in tone.
The audio sample is Johannes Brahms’ Capriccio b minor Op. 76 No. 2 played by Anthony Spiri on the Bösendorfer grand piano. This recording was taken during a concert at the Robert Schumann House on June 11, 2007.