PIANO ARCHITECTURE:
The Story of Bosendorfer Grand Bohemian Piano

by Alex Davydovich (MGBH)

Once upon a time, a highly-talented musician, Ignaz Bosendorfer (OBM) had the fundamental vision to build a piano that would not only deeply satisfy the performer on a mechanical level, but would also inspire the audience with an exhilarating listening experience.

With this vision he attracted the attention of fiery young composer and artist Franz Liszt.  Known for his impulsive playing technique, Liszt (OBM) had wrecked nearly every piano made available to him, and thus required an instrument that could withstand his notoriously passionate virtuoso performances.

At the recommendation of his friends, Liszt decided to select a Bösendorfer grand for his 1838 concert in Vienna. The audience was thrilled, as was Liszt, who was quite taken by the fact that he didn’t have to hold back his artistic energy, in large part due to the instrument’s durability and powerful, inspiring sound.

In 1839, the Emperor of Austria named Ignaz Bösendorfer “Imperial and Royal Piano Purveyor to the Court”—the first piano maker to be granted this honor. Numerous gold medals and first prizes followed.

As a result, Bösendorfer became famous overnight, as well as the instrument of choice for many concerts to follow. In 1839, the Emperor of Austria named Ignaz Bösendorfer “Imperial and Royal Piano Purveyor to the Court”—the first piano maker to be granted this honor. Numerous gold medals and first prizes followed.

Since then Bosendorfer has become one of the leading piano manufacturers in the world wowing the connoisseurs of art with its beautiful collector editions.

Here is the story of one of them – the Bosendorfer Grand Bohemian Piano.

 

 

The Bosendorfer Grand Bohemian Piano

 

In 2014, an American entrepreneur – owner of the Kessler Luxury Hotels – and an art collector, Richard Kessler (MGBH) who started his endeavor with piano in the second grade, was approached by a representative of a Bosendorfer Company. It was a surprise that he received that day.   He had no idea when he came to work that morning that he would be asked to create an artistic piano for the Bosendorfer Collection Edition.

Kessler Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, NC

 

As he began to think about the project being the design of the Grand Bohemian Piano, he thought of three criteria that were important to him.  The first one was not to diminish or compromise of the instrument itself in any way.  The second criterion was that the design itself needed to be feasible.  And the third criterion, which was the fun part, was creating a piece of art that truly was the piece of art of beauty.  He wanted the Grand Bohemian Piano to be a complement to the instrument itself and to be truly a collector’s piece of art.

The design for the Grand Bohemian was inspired by pieces from Kessler’s personal collection, including a painting of a peacock and a special collection of bronze sculptures.

The design for the Grand Bohemian was inspired by pieces from Kessler’s personal collection, including a painting of a peacock and a special collection of bronze sculptures. Fascinated by the beauty and elegance of the peacock, and the ideal use of bronze for the base of the piano, Kessler selected these themes and works of art to cultivate inspiration for the design (1).

The next thing he needed to do was to choose the artist he wanted to work with for the design of the piano. The name that immediately came to his mind was Mr. Frank Castellucio (MGBH), an international artist of incredible talent.

Frank Castellucio describes the process:

“You begin with the sketches to come up with the design, and when you find something you like, then you create a scale model. And once you have your scale model, then you go ahead and you build a life size model. And from the life size model, which is in clay, you begin to make molds – you make the silicone molds and you pour wax to get duplicates. Once the duplicates are cleaned, you send them to the foundry. Then you get what you sent them in bronze. From that point, the bronze has to be welded and chased and the whole base is assembled.”

 

While Frank was doing all that work, and he was certainly intense about that project, Bosendorfer in Vienna were also busy at work.  They had to do all the design work on the specialty case itself, and that was done and completed as Frank was completing his work.

The pianos are crafted using an exceptionally high concentration of spruce—more than 80 percent, more than any other manufacturer.

The basis of each Bösendorfer Grand is spruce that is naturally dried by air and has proven to be the ideal tone wood.  The pianos are crafted using an exceptionally high concentration of spruce—more than 80 percent, more than any other manufacturer.  The four seasons, sun, wind and wide temperature differences gently prepare this wood for its final purpose – to resonate.   The Austrian spruce must be grown at a minimum of 800 meters above sea level guaranteeing a very dense and regular grain structure.   Harvested in winter, when the sap is at its lowest, it is subsequently quarter sawn for parallel grain.   Additionally, all of the bass strings are spun in our unique way. A steel core string is the basis for 1 or 2 layers of copper.  The carefully spun strings are a substantial element of the warm and sonorous Bösendorfer bass.   Each string is individually attached with a handmade loop. Over time this improves tuning stability and is particularly service friendly.  Bösendorfer is the only piano manufacturer that applies a detachable and independent Capo d’Astro in the upper register to assure most precise adjustment in the upper register guaranteeing the original Bösendorfer Sound for generations.

Once Frank was finished, and all the parts were sent to Vienna, they assembled all the parts to make the Bohemian Grand come alive.

“It is certainly exciting to be part of this and to see my part of the project being the base, being incorporated with a box. It’s so unlike any other project that I’ve ever done where I complete a whole sculpture. This sculpture is a combination of different artisans from around the world. It’s amazing,” says Frank.

 

“Bosendorfer started building pianos in 1828, which makes us the oldest premium piano manufacturer in the world. For such a project, we would never compromise in the acoustical setting of the piano. However, for the exterior, we have almost unlimited possibilities, and the Grand Bohemian piano is a perfect example of traditional craftsmanship and a magnificent design,” says senior product designer Ferdinand Brau (MGBH).

 

The unveiling ceremony of the Bosendorfer Grand Bohemian piano took place at the Imperial Hotel in Vienna, where both Mr. Richard Kessler and Mr. Frank Castelluccio were invited as the honorary guests.

In the US, until recently, one could hear the Grand Bohemian Piano at the Bosendorfer Lounge of Richard Kessler’s Bohemian Hotel in Orlando, FL.  Now this beautiful instrument, however, enjoys its residence at Mr. Kessler’s home.

And since there are only nine of these pianos made worldwide, I wonder, where did the other eight find their home?

 

 

References:

 

(1) https://www.boesendorfer.com/en-us/pianos/collectors-item/grand-bohemian

 

Enjoyed the article? Please, consider donating a small amount to the author to express your appreciation.


                                                                               

VENUES: DISNEY HALL

Article by Alex Davydovich (MBGH)

 

Built relatively recently, the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown Los Angeles, CA opened its doors on September 24th, 2003. It catches the eye not only with its sail-like exterior, but also with the beautiful and breezy interior.  It’s no surprise as the hall was designed by the two very talented men – the architect Frank Gehry (MGBH) and a master acoustician Matsuhiso Toyota (MGBH).  It seats 2,265 people and serves, among other purposes, as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.  The walls and ceiling of the hall are finished with Douglas-fir and Alaskan yellow cedar while the floor is finished with oak.  The round auditorium features a sailing ship motif that the architect Frank Gehry likens to Noah’s Ark.  Columbia Showcase & Cabinet Co. Inc., based in Sun Valley, CA, produced all of the ceiling panels, wall panels, and architectural woodwork for the main auditorium and lobbies. (1) The Hall’s reverberation time is approximately 2.2 seconds unoccupied and 2.0 seconds occupied. (3).

The Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery, housed inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, was designed by Hodgetts and Fung Design Associates and made possible by a generous gift from the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust for the Benefit of the Library of Congress.  The gallery is situated on the second floor of Walt Disney Concert Hall and rotates its collection bi-annually. (3)

With the initial donation of $50 million made by the widow of Walt Disney, Lilian Disney, in 1987, the County of Los Angeles added $110 million and sold bonds in order to build the garage.   The Disney family later added $34.5 million with another $25 million from the Walt Disney Company.

 

Disney Hall consists of the Main Performance Hall and two smaller performance spaces.

Walt Disney Main Performance Hall

 

BP Hall is an intimate space with chairs, wood floors, walls, and ceilings that hosts pre-concert talks, musical performances, receptions, and private events for up to 500 guests.

BP Hall at Walt Disney Performance Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall Founders Room features a signature Frank Gehry sculptured plaster ceiling which rises 50 feet to reveal a skylight. This 4,800-sq. ft. dining room includes custom lighting, millwork, private dining patio with travertine stone, and landscaping of the exterior patio area.  The exclusive Founders room hosts pre- and post-concert parties for major donors.

 

Walt Disney Hall Founder’s Room

 

A REDCAT Theater performance space holds avant-garde and experimental music, dance, theater, movies, and art.

Walt Disney Hall Map

 

Since its opening, such pianists as Lang Lang (MGBH), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (MGBH), Daniil Trifonov (MGBH), Armen Guzelimian (MGBH), Keith Jarrett (MGBH), Helene Grimaud (MGBH), Benjamin Grosvenor (MGBH), Garrick Ohlsson (MGBH), Alessio Bax (MGBH), Murray Perahia (MGBH), George Li (MGBH), Krystal Zimerman (MGBH), Scott, Dunn (MGBH), Alpin Hong (MGBH), Emanuel Ax (MGBH), Eduardo Delgado (MGBH), and Yundi (MGBH) graced the stage of the main hall with their performances.

 

 

Frank Gehry’s Sketch of Disney Hall

 

 

In an interview with Deborah Borda (MGBH), Frank Gehry shares his experience of working on Disney Hall.

DB: It’s fair to say that the Walt Disney Concert Hall has changed the way how a concert hall should involve people.  When I first saw the design, I was absolutely blown away hoping to be a part of it.  When you worked on it, did you design the hall inside out of from the outside in?”
FG: Inside out. When people look at the buildings I designed, they assume I designed from the outside in.  That I make a form and jam stuff in.  And I think a lot of my colleagues do that, maybe.  But I don’t.

DB: What’s the one thing that stands out in your memory the most about the opening concert?
FG: I can’t help to remember taking the bow with Esa-Pekka […Salonen, the Music Director of Los Angeles Philharmonic] and the confetti and all that stuff.  I never experienced that before. Architects don’t do that very often.

DB: But you must have also had a special pride. We had designed those programs together.  You were the artist. That’s why you were up on a stage. I don’t know if people know, but you are one of the most regular concert attenders I know. What do you think now looking back ten years later, is the most successful aspect of the hall? From your point of view.
FG: Well, I think the clarity of the sound has got to be number one.  And the relationship between audience and performer is right up there. It’s subtle.  So when the orchestra is full on, they feel a receptive audience, because the audience can hear them. They feel it. It’s like a theater. You feel how you are coming across.  And when the orchestra hears that, it makes them play better, believe it or not. I think.

 

Disney Hall Pipe Organ, “The French Fries”

Inside the main concert hall we can see a beautifully designed 6,134-pipe organ, sometimes referred to as “French Fries.” Composer Terry Reily called it “Hurricane Mama.”

The organ was built by the German organ builder Caspar Glatter-Götz (MGBH) under the tonal direction and voicing of Manuel Rosales.  It cost $ 3 million to build, which was a gift to the County of Los Angeles from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.  How many instruments have a building attached to them?  The building not only didn’t exist, its design kept changing.  “There were many hurdles that had to be overcome.  And they were civic hurdles and architectural hurdles,” Deborah Borda (MGBH), the President and CEO of LA Philharmonics.  “We studied all organs that we could find in history and did a thorough analysis of what they looked like,” said Frank Gehry. “And it seemed like there were a lot of variations possible.”  Mr. Gehry went back and worth with Manuel Rosales on the shape of the tubes. “I was told to walk off this project. This would ruin my career. This was insane.  The organ would be a complete disaster. Nobody would pay any attention to it.  It took two and a half years to reach this design and well over forty different models.[…] The organ went through many hoops to please the artistic sense of Frank Gehry.  I had to make sure that whatever he designs, works ultimately as a musical instrument,” shares Manuel Rosales in an interview.  “Because in the room like this, you don’t put sculpture, it’s focusing on the music, so we thought there was a rationale for the organ to have some spunk,” shared Frank Gehry in his conversation with Deborah Borda.

The concert hall houses celebrity chef Joachim Splichal’s (MGBH) landmark fine dining restaurant Patina designed by Belzberg Architects.  Open for dinner and late-night supper, French-born and trained executive chef Tony Esnault’s exquisite dishes are made from the best ingredients available from local and regional farmers, ranchers and fishermen.  Chef Esnault also offers a special tasting menu at the private Chef’s Table for nine, which offers guests an unobstructed, behind-the-scenes view into kitchen dynamics.

Accommodating 240 seated guests, including a private dining room for up to thirty, Patina welcomes guests into a warm, inviting interior undulating with organic ceiling curves and ripples of carved walnut walls. Patina also features an impressive bar display where guests can unwind before dinner or enjoy a late-night cocktail on the patio. (4)

 

Walt Disney Hall Community Garden, the Famous “Rose for Lily” Frank Gehry Fountain

On the third level of the building, visitors will find the community garden that features outdoors performance space and beautiful Southern California landscaping. The community garden is open for public and can be a cozy refuse from the loud noises of the busy city life.  In the middle of the garden is a beautifully carved fountain in the shape of a rose, subsequently named, “A Rose for Lily” in honor of the main donor for the Disney Hall – Lilian Disney.

A concert hall, an educational space, a park, an office, and a cultural landmark – all rolled into one.  Walt Disney Hall represents the best of the city of Los Angeles and the performing arts, an LA’s Phil is proud to call it home. (5)

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

(1) http://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/articles/columbia_showcase__cabinet_co_inc_-_an_acoustical_journey_127691448.html#sthash.S9HM2Erb.dpbs – retrieved March 16th, 2017
(2) http://www.nagata.co.jp/e_sakuhin/factsheets/wdch.pdf – retrieved March 16th, 2017
(3) https://www.musiccenter.org/about/OUR-VENUES/Our-Theatres–Concert-Halls/ – retrieved March 16th, 2017

(4) http://www.laphil.com/visit/patina-walt-disney-concert-hall – retrieved March 16th, 2017

(5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAEd1uDOZJE – timing 7:00 – retrieved March 16th, 2017

 

 

Enjoyed the interview? Please, consider donating a small amount to the author to express your appreciation.