Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano

George Fox University music students now can play arguably the finest piano made today - the Bösendorfer "Imperial" grand.

Recently arrived from Vienna, Austria, George Fox's new Imperial was introduced to the public at a concert Feb. 26, 2006 at Bauman Auditorium.

The Imperial is nine-and-half-feet long and features an unusual nine extra sub-bass notes. The Imperial is the only concert grand piano in the world with 97 keys. The extra strings and length give the instrument additional resonance and richness.

Full retail price for a Bösendorfer Imperial is about $180,000. Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times music critic, has written that the Imperial is "often considered the ne plus ultra of pianos." The Imperial was famously called the "Rolls-Royce of pianos" by Garrick Ohlsson, the first American to win first prize in the International Chopin Competition.

Bosendorfer Imperial grand piano in Bauman Auditorium

Bösendorfer is a 175-year-old Austrian firm whose pianos are handmade and were played by Liszt, Brahms, Dvorak, and Bernstein.

A long-time Steinway player, George Fox music professor Kenn Willson surprised himself and recommended the university purchase the Bösendorfer after hours spent in the both piano-maker's showrooms. He says he was brought to tears by the rich Bösendorfer sound. "The Imperial blankets you in sound," he says. Willson hopes to add a Steinway to the university collection in the future.

The Imperial is one of seven new pianos George Fox purchased this winter to replace and upgrade its piano collection used by students and performers. Five are made by the Germany-based Schimmel company and two by Bösendorfer.

"This gives our students the opportunity to practice and perform on first-class instruments," Willson says. "These acquisitions should be a draw for potential students. Performing on the Imperial in a facility like Bauman Auditorium truly is a rare treat for a pianist."

Professor Kenn Willson performs German Dance # 1 in C-major by Ludwig van Beethoven
on the Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano