History Of The Piano — Brodmann

Brodmann pianoforte with bench, c. 1815, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.
Brodmann Pedal-Hammerflügel mit Bank, c. 1815 by Andreas Praefcke. 1

VIENNA: The World of Mozart, Beethoven & Haydn

Renown for its great composers and musicians, Vienna grew to prominence in the early days of the Classical Period (1750 to 1830), attracting the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, to name only a few.

Encouraged by the sponsorship of the aristocracy, public performances were growing in popularity, requiring instruments to project sound further and more expressively. With the exploration of new musical forms, composers began to demand more and more from their instruments; and for many, the piano and its particular range of qualities was central to their work.

It was within this historical setting that Joseph Brodmann emerged; and as fate would have it, he would advance the instrument.

JOSEPH BRODMANN, Burger in Wien (1771-1848)

At the turn of the 18th century, Prussian born Joseph Brodmann became a "citizen of Vienna," where he immediately began making his mark as an exceptional piano maker, attracting the appreciation of distinguished musicians—notably Carl Maria von Weber, who bought a Fortepiano (manufactured ca. 1810) by him in 1813.

Plaque reading 'Joseph Brodmann, Burger in Wien' (Citizen of Vienna).
Burger in Wien Plaque. 2

Drawn initially to the influences of other Viennese makers and working directly under the instrument maker Ferdinand Hofmann, Brodmann's grand pianos would eventually offer a number of improvements, leading to the patent of a triple-laminated soundboard (1829) to meet the demands of increased string tension required by professional musicians.

According to Carl Maria von Weber's son, “the opera Der Freischutz was composed on” a Brodmann fortepiano, one he purchased in 1813.
Edward L. Kottick, Early Keyboard Instruments in European Museums

The Convergence of Two Greats

A young apprentice by the name of Ignaz Bösendorfer would eventually buy out Brodmann's business in 1828, and for the first year afterwards printed the words 'Brodmann's Pupil' on his piano labels. Brodmann stayed on for a few years during the transition and finally retired by 1932.

Portrait of Ignaz Bösendorfer, photographed by Josef Kriehuber in 1859.
Ignaz Bösendorfer by Josef Kriehuber, 1859. 3

Highest among his contributions to the instrument may be the pedigree transferred to the Bösendorfer firm.

To enhance his natural gifts, he preferred the Brodmann piano, a Viennese instrument with a very light touch and narrower keys than the modern piano.
Michael Thomas Roeder on Carl Maria von Weber, A History of the Concerto
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Close-up of the soundboard and logo beneath the strings for a Brodmann piano.

Today, Brodmann pianos offer 'high-end performance characteristics at an affordable price,' utilizing German-made soundboards, hammers, and strings to assert its commitment to the European sound tradition.

The modern pianist has one of three tiers of Brodmann pianos from which to choose:


For the price-conscious buyer, The Conservatory Edition (CE) offers a piano with parts sourced from the Far East while still delivering Brodmann's strict, quality-control.

Grand Models: CE 148, CE 175
Upright Models: CE 118


For players and institutions, a piano made with essential European parts in a variety of sizes and finishes.

Grand Models: PE 150, PE 162, PE 187, PE 212, PE 228
Upright Models: PE 116, PE 121, PE 123, PE 125, PE 130


For quality-minded players, institutions and concert halls, a piano 'Made in Germany' by the highest European craftsmen.

Grand Models: AS 188, AS 211, AS 227, AS 275
Upright Models: AS 132

Did you know that the ever-meticulous Joseph Brodmann "did not put serial numbers on his pianos?"
Marvin Ward, Yi-Heng Yang Débuts the Frederick’s Brodmann
End of Article

Page Sources

Praefcke, Andreas.  "Brodmann Pedal-Hammerflügel mit Bank, c. 1815, Located in Kunst Historisches Museum, Vienna."  Photograph.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 21 Dec. 2010.  Web.  28 March 2015.  Public Domain.
Frederick Historic Piano Collection.  "Joseph Brodmann Plaque."  Photograph.  Frederick Collection.  Frederick Historic Piano Collection, n.d.  Web.  28 March 2015.  No Known Copyright Restrictions.
Magnus Manske.  "Portrait of Ignaz Bösendorfer by Josef Kriehuber, 1859."  Lithograph.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 26 Oct. 2007.  Web.  12 Oct. 2015.  Public Domain.
Additional References:
  • Soundboard & Strings Image © Joseph Brodmann Piano Group, By Permission.
  • Music of Vienna.  "Vienna’s Musical Heritage."  Music of Vienna.  Music of Vienna, n.d.  Web.  28 March 2015.
  • Clinkscale, Martha Novak.  Makers of the Piano Volume 2: 1820-1860.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.  Google Books.  Web.  28 March 2015.
  • Palmieri, Robert, ed.  The Piano: An Encyclopedia.  2nd Edition.  New York: Routledge, June 1, 2004.  Google Books.  Web. 28 March 2015.